We have an End: The glory of the Heart of Jesus.A Mission: To Discover and make known the Love of His Heart.A spirituality: to be United and conformed to the Heart of Jesus. A Service in the Church and in the world of today: Transformative Education with a Preferential Love for the poor.
28. April, 2015Vocations No comments
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I was baptized Menona Preciosa Vallery Sodder and was the third of five children. My eldest sister and youngest brother were born on 24th and my elder brother and younger sister were born on 7th -different months of course! Only I was born on 23rd August. I come from a rather rich, well known family in Goa, but my parents especially my mother decisively chose to live a simple ordinary middle class life in Mumbai. We were brought up the hard way with the “Ethic of Enough”. Small flat, no car, no table boy and butler as our close relatives had! Later in life as an adult when I asked her why she did this, she explained to me that she wanted us her children to understand others especially the poor. She was a woman for others and taught by example. My other-centeredness and love for the poor came from her.

I went to a co-ed diocesan school run by priests. I liked priests and always wanted to join the seminary, never a convent! I had many spiritual crises beginning from age three and every time God bailed me out. I even encountered death, but was miraculously saved. Thanks to my mother’s faith. Secure in the love of my family, I was a topper in school, had a critical mind and was taught to make decisions only after careful considerations. We were brought up not to give in to superficial glamour and to base our faith solely on God.

God did extraordinary things for me and I wondered why. When I stood first for the Secondary School Certificate examination, despite my near death experience, I felt sure that God saved me for a purpose. When a family friend, an Engineering Professor told me he was in love with me and proposed to me, I was shocked and bluntly refused him. However when he attempted suicide but was saved, driven by guilt I decided to marry him. My mother and a priest, whom she asked me to see, made me realise that I was not responsible even if the Professor had died. The final test came when I stood first in the Mumbai University for my Masters and got a scholarship to do my PhD in the US. I refused it and joined religious life. Many thought me mad. Only I knew that God was accompanying me in this madness. I was to join another congregation but finally joined our congregation because of the kindness of Sr Mary Braganza RSCJ and especially because of my devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

I was a college lecturer and very fashionable. When I entered as a candidate, Sr. Gaitonde the Provincial then respected me and left me free to take my time to give up my worldly ways-high heels, fancy gowns, accessories, make-up et al. This was a very liberating experience for me. Sr Marie my Novice Mistress gave me the trousseau list but told me not to buy anything as family and friends would want to give me gifts for my first vows…. and so it happened.

My first year of Noviceship in a village was tough. I had much to adjust to and my knowledge of scripture and religious life was almost zero but I learnt a lot in the living. The second year I was the only novice. I stayed in a Brahmin family to learn Maharashtrian culture, asked and was allowed to go to our community in a tribal area where I did some research. For my First Vows, due to a happy mistake the sister who had just returned from Final Vows printed Perpetual instead of First vows. I was delighted!

However, when the time came for Final Profession I did not want to leave India. Finally the Society gave me an ultimatum and God gave me the grace. The international experience in England widened my horizons and eliminated some of my prejudices. Sr Aideen Kinlen RSCJ invited me to Ireland. I visited Sr Barbara Farquharson RSCJ in Scotland and Mother Napier RSCJ (who had worked in India) in Belgium. In our house at Wales I saw the caravan in which Sr Brigitta CSMV had lived as a hermit. I knew her and had learnt much from her. I experienced great connectivity and the riches of internationality. My father died in India in February 1993 while I was in Rome. Not being at his funeral was the biggest sacrifice I ever made in my life. I chose to come back to India to make my final vows amidst my people.

I was a college lecturer by profession but I chose to do many different ministries especially collaborative ministries which I see as an important value of the congregation as it requires vulnerability, openness, inclusion, diversity and difference. Due to my Donkey Spirituality which I developed along life’s journey, the essence of which is-The Lord has need of you.

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I responded to three crying needs of the province namely to be Mistress of Discipline in Sophia College, a companion to Sr Vandana at Jaiharikhal (where I had to change my name to Mudita for the sake of mission) and to work at Kazli among the tribals.

My Donkey Spirituality fits very well with the Sacred Heart Spirituality of incarnated love, humility, disponibilité together with Ignatian Spirituality of finding God in everything and everything in God. I am a passionate lover of the environment and thus find much meaning in Inculturation, Inter-Faith dialogue and Interculturality as Indian religions are close to Mother Earth. My philosophy is to use any method or technique that helps me to pray better e.g. Mandalas, Vipassana etc.

Today, God is the only Absolute in my life. There were many ups and downs and life offered many challenges. Two years after final vows I did seriously contemplate leaving religious life due to an injustice done to me. The late Fr George Soares S.J, Fr Kurien Kunnumpuram S.J (both my Theology Professors) and the late Sr Geeta RSCJ, helped me tide over this crisis. Today my call to religious life transcends all externals. His grace is enough for me. I have been in the Society for 35 years now. Making sisterhood a living reality is the challenge of religious life today. Community living does not come with the wave of a wand. Relationships have to be built daily; some friendships are deep and spontaneous while a few sometimes demand much effort and even faith.

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I have a cheerful disposition, am an extrovert with a lot of spontaneity and zest for life. I am curious and want to seek and give up-to-date answers to current challenges. But I also have a great need for solitude and silence, seriousness and reflection. My aptitude for love is enormous and this source arises from my own experience of being loved greatly. I have many friends of all ages and I am alive to the needs of the world, united and serious about my own commitment as a religious. I find that there is no end to the adventure of searching with God’s people the ways of the Good News of the Kingdom.

Today at 58, my colleagues in college tell me that I have the energy and enthusiasm of a teenager. That’s how God has blessed me, despite two major operations and artificial knees! He turned my scars into stars, my pain into gain. Involvement with people has always enriched me. People especially youth have always attracted me.

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They bring out the best in me, energise me and keep me young. Youth need to be trusted as persons but not according to our expectations. Being with them is an experience, in which I constantly catch sight of God as communion. I enjoy conducting educational field trips, nature walks, hikes, nature trails, camps, picnics, parties and the like.

As College Counsellor, Professor of Sociology, Co-ordinator of English Proficiency Classes, General and Environmental Studies and Foundation and Mentoring-my hands are full, yet I make time to give programmes as a resource person for Eco-Spirituality, Women’s Empowerment, Interculturality, Inter-Faith Dialogue, Transformative Education etc. I participate in various seminars, workshops, conferences, colloquiums etc, e.g. I attended two UN Conferences at Hyderabad and Ahmedabad and have kept in touch with Sr Cecile Meijer RSCJ since many years.

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Recently I actively participated in a Vatican Colloquium at Bodh Gaya. I write and present a few scientific papers, articles for magazines and newspapers and cherish the quiet and solitude of nature and of my room. I am also co-ordinator of JPIC in the Indian Province. While justice issues especially with the poor have been taken up in a big way in the Province, environmental issues seem side tracked and neglected. I do a lot with students and other religious but feel helpless with our own Sisters.

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Every involvement has been enormously enriching and I am truly grateful to the congregation for the opportunities and freedom I have received to do the things I enjoy doing. Each ministry and situation only added to make my life kaleidoscopic and more beautiful. We all belong to the great human family. Another world is possible and for this to become a reality we each need to develop the best of humanity within us.

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Sr Mudita Sodder RSCJ

9th March 2015

Who we are..?

We are a small, diverse and inclusive group, welcoming in our midst a variety of socio-cultural backgrounds, ages and temperaments. Primarily an educational congregation, our earliest ventures were in the field of education

Sophia College for Women in Mumbai was our first foundation in 1941, and remains the institution with which we are most often associated. The College has continued to grow in the years since then, and while some sisters continue to work there, a number have moved on into other areas of service. Today, the range includes Schools, Colleges& Nursery Schools.