Golden Ju­bilee of Sr. Rina Rasiah

Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka) - - FEATURES / APPRECIATION - By Louis Rasiah

The year 2019 is the Ju­bilee year for four nuns of the Holy Cross Men­zin­gen in Sri Lanka. Their fidelity to the prom­ise for 50 long year cel­e­brated on 11th. Fe­bru­ary. Bravo. After years of prayer, guid­ance, and con­sid­er­a­tion, they came to the con­clu­sion, that they could re­main com­mit­ted to their prom­ise for life by the grace of God. So they are priv­i­leged to­day, to cel­e­brate this year. May the Good Lord Bless them to con­tinue for Many more years with sound health and faith­ful­ness. We thank God for help­ing them sail through all the ups and downs of life. We thank God for pre­serv­ing them in His love.

It was Fe­bru­ary 11, 1969, these nuns, just in their twen­ties, dressed in white long rob and white veils on their head, adorned with flower crowns, knelt be­fore bishop Rt. Rev. L.R. Antony then aux­il­iary to Rt. Rev. Emil­ianus Pil­lai, bishop of Jaffna, in the lit­tle chapel of the Holy cross con­vent at Beach Road, Colom­bogam, Jaffna, pro­fess­ing, Poverty Chastity, Obe­di­ence and per­se­ver­ance in the ser­vice of God. As the Blessed Mother Mary, they have said «Fiat» on this day and started their jour­ney of ser­vice as Mary to her cousin El­iz­abeth.

These 50 years were not the bed of roses as they would have imag­ined on that fes­tive day of their fi­nal pro­fes­sion. Apart from their day to day crosses, they were called to bear in their rou­tine lives, they faced the civil war, the ex­o­dus and the con­se­quences of it that took place dur­ing their life­time.

Fi­nally, the war came to an end in 2009 but did not bring peace to the peo­ple of the Is­land Na­tion. Dif­fer­ent needs of these war-stricken peo­ple were han­dled by dif­fer­ent Char­ity or­gan­i­sa­tions, non­govern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions and re­li­gious or­gan­i­sa­tions. With lim­ited re­sources, the nuns of the Holy cross took a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive to face the af­ter­math of the war, since peo­ple be­gan to ex­pe­ri­ence a host of men­tal dis­or­ders. The nuns took up the chal­lenge, came out of their clois­ters, to ad­dress this sit­u­a­tion. They be­gan to di­ver­sify their mis­sion, while, nei­ther the health sys­tem nor the so­ci­ety was pre­pared to ad­dress the Post-trau­matic stress, anx­i­ety, and de­pres­sive dis­or­ders. Sr. Rina, One of these four Ju­bi­lar­i­ans, took a very ac­tive role in treat­ing the post-war af­fected peo­ple No sooner the war ended Rina was sent to fur­ther deepen her coun­selling strat­egy by fol­low­ing a coun­selling, psy­chother­apy, in At­madar­shan, a Re­treat and Coun­selling Cen­tre, run by the Je­suit Fa­thers of Patna in, Bi­har, In­dia.

Her lan­guage, com­put­ing & mu­sic skills were ad­di­tional qual­i­fi­ca­tion to be of ser­vice to the com­mu­nity. The far sight of the ear­lier su­pe­ri­ors has pre­pared her by giv­ing her the op­por­tu­nity to study the tech­nics of psy­cho­so­matic treat­ments, by send­ing her abroad both to the United King­dom and Rome. In the UK at the In­sti­tute of St. Anselm, an ac­cred­ited In­ter­na­tional Cen­tre for Lead­er­ship Train­ing, she ob­tained a diploma which trained her to rec­og­nize the im­por­tance of the emo­tional in per­sonal growth and of the need to clear de­struc­tive, detri­men­tal emo­tions from the body, a nec­es­sary part of spir­i­tual evo­lu­tion. Equally, ear­lier in the mid-eight­ies, she fol­lowed a course for for­ma­teurs in Rome. Though this for­ma­tion was pri­mar­ily in­tended to serve the pos­tu­lants and Novices of the con­gre­ga­tion, it be­came very handy to treat the post­war vic­tims.

When the Oblates of Mary Im­mac­u­late (OMI) Jaffna prov­ince wanted to run the cen­tre for post-war af­fected peo­ple, Sr. Rina Rasiah was ap­pointed the first di­rec­tri­ces in the Coun­selling cen­tre at Chundikuli. Rina not only at­tended on the af­fected but also, trained the fo­ma­teurs at the same time, Many who ben­e­fited from the cen­tre will bear wit­ness to the un­tir­ing ef­forts of this nun.

The Ju­bi­lar­i­ans, this year, should now be able to look back, rec­ol­lect on the path they trod to sing ‘Te Deum’ to thank the Lord. But Sr. Rina un­for­tu­nately, now could not rec­ol­lect her past, to thank the Lord, though she is cel­e­brat­ing the 50th. year of her pro­fes­sion.

When Sr Rina joined the sis­ters of the Holy Cross with lot of de­ter­mi­na­tion, she wit­nessed the Holy Cross Nuns at­tend­ing on her ail­ing mother at the Gov­ern­ment Hos­pi­tal in Kayts, from where she hails. The ded­i­cated ser­vice the love and care they showed to the pa­tients in the Hos­pi­tal sowed the seed of the vo­ca­tion in this young girl’s mind.

The year 1948 was a very Lucky year, es­pe­cially the 22nd of April for the fa­ther of Philom­ena Vas­an­tha­ra­nee, that is the bap­tismal name of Sr. Rina. Just the night be­fore his first daugh­ter was born, Mr. Rasiah a Teacher, (Rasiah master, that was how he was known in Kayts), staged a well ad­mired «nattu kuthu», (an an­cient dra­matic form,) which he wrote and di­rected on the life of Saint Philom­ena. That ex­plains the name given to his daugh­ter after the Saint, whose authen­tic­ity came un­der ques­tion many years later. Sr. Rina was the sec­ond in the line of five sib­lings to Mr. Tham­bimuttu Antony Rasiah and Mary Agnes Aru­mugam.

As for Rina, she is only in the present with­out nei­ther the rec­ol­lec­tion of her past nor the plan­ning of her fu­ture. She was held cap­tive of her own com­mit­ments and fallen vic­tim of her en­gage­ments. She is un­der­go­ing treat­ment for de­men­tia. At this stage, she is taken good care of by her suc­ces­sive provin­cials and the sis­ter nuns un­der con­di­tions suitable to her present sit­u­a­tion. As the Lord said « This hap­pened so that the works of God might be dis­played in her. » The Almighty has en­trusted her into the safe hands. We wish those tak­ing care of her, courage and en­durance.

The Au­thor one of the fam­ily mem­bers of Sr. Rina, along with all her fam­ily mem­bers, takes this op­por­tu­nity to thank the Holy Cross con­gre­ga­tion for tak­ing good care of her as their own.

As the Lord said this hap­pened so that the works of God might be dis­played in her

When the Oblates of Mary Im­mac­u­late (OMI) Jaffna prov­ince wanted to run the cen­tre, Sr. Rina Rasiah was ap­pointed the first di­rec­tri­ces in the Coun­selling cen­tre

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