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.
Sr.Phila Gomes RSCJ

28. April, 2015VocationsNo comments

I cannot trace my vocation to any dramatic encounter with God before I entered the Society. I believe the seed of the call was nourished because of a favourable environment at home. Neither my father nor mother went to Church daily but their lives reflected Christian values – honesty, simplicity, a spirit of service, good relations with the neighbours, fidelity to each other, responsible caring for us their children , respect and a high regard for priests and religious sisters. Certain devotions were a part of the family spirituality – attending the Eucharist on the First Fridays of the months, family Rosary, annual consecration of the family before the enthroned picture of the the Sacred Heart of Jesus . Both my parents were members of the Legion of Mary. Both also belonged to other Church groups- the Sodality, The Ladies’ Altar Society etc.

Life at home was disciplined, regular with fixed times for the family Rosary, meals, studies, play, going to bed, waking up in the morning. My father would regularly take us out for little treats, holidays, picnics. Our home on 64, Straight Mile Road faced the Dalma Hills( blue in the distance).The hills, with their solidity and permanent presence were an important part of outer and inner environment in my childhood and teens.

Neither of my parents was demonstrative of their affection. I think my father believed that praising children was not good for them so we were hardly ever appreciated for anything. Emotions, feelings were for the most part not openly expressed at home. It would be many years later that the affective side of me began to be opened up. Though I went to dances, parties, picnics in mixed groups I was basically shy.

I studied with the Apostolic Carmelites in Jamshedpur. One of their forward-looking Superiors, whom I liked, said to my mother once: “We want Phila for us.” (Something my mother told me about only after I had decided to enter our Society). I was not attracted to the ACs then because I found some of them rather narrow in their outlook on certain things. After my SSC I was all set to join the Loreto College in Calcutta (overnight journey from Jamshedpur). I had been given a seat in the hostel. A month before the college could re-open, we were informed that as the hostel was being demolished, the Sisters had decided not to admit any new students to the hostel. (Was this part of God’s plan to direct my steps towards the Society?) My father asked me if I wanted to join Patna Women’s College also run by the ACs. My answer was a firm NO. He had read about the famous Court case of Sophia College and asked if I wanted to study there then (a 36 hour journey from home). Despite the distance I said yes since quite a few girls whom I knew from our school were already studying there.

As I began relating to our sisters at Sophia, and observing them and their lives I found that they were refreshingly ‘natural’ (not artificial), human, approachable, warm, wanting to interact with us. I also sensed something of the strong sisterly bonds among them. The atmosphere of prayer that pervaded their lives touched some deep spaces within me. I began to attend the Eucharist daily. A hymn that the sisters sang often, one of my favourite hymns at that time stirred something within me:

“Jesus the very thought of Thee, with sweetness fills my breast

But sweeter far Thy face to see and in Thy presence rest…….”

I picked up many positive vibrations from our sisters and lay staff as well – our Maltese sisters peacefully attending to their duties in the hostel, the glow of happiness on the pink cheeks of Sr. Patricia Pippet as she passed us daily on the hostel corridor, the down-to earth, warm and humourous way in which Sr. Anita related to us in the hostel, the academic excellence of the lay staff and their open, friendly attitude to the students and so much more spoke to me at some level of my consciousness of a WHOLESOMENESS, COMMITMENT, AT-HOMENESS IN THE PLACE. I thought ‘Religious Life has not taken away the humanness of these Sisters.’ I also felt drawn to their way of life and thought I would like to belong to such a group that is human that prays, loves, educates in a way that frees persons, that is respectful and appreciative of our Indian culture, traditions and customs.

During the two years of studies for the B.A. I joined the Legion of Mary unit in the college. We had Sr. Bertha Wilcox as our Spiritual director. A lay student and I were given the assignment of visiting the children in the Foundling Home in Byculla. For those familiar with the Legion of Mary, the weekly meetings comprised prayer, a spiritual orientation and a reporting on the tasks done during the week by each duo. I enjoyed being a part of the Choral group in the hostel with Sr Ward in charge. I was also a member of the hostel choir that met every week for practices.

In my final year in Sophia, I spoke to Mother Ward about my desire to join the Society. She suggested I return home, work for some time and in the meanwhile keep in touch with her by writing to her every First Friday of the month which I did faithfully ( sometimes staying up latoys oget the letter done). During the one and a half years I was at home, I did a Secretarial course. After I had finished it, I was invited to fill in a leave vacancy in the second term in Loyola High School for boys, which I accepted. That was my first experience of teaching a class of students and this too, boys of Std. II who were particulary troublesome because of the sudden change of teacher. I continued teaching from the beginning of the next academic year by which time I had learnt better ways of relating to the naughty boys. I wanted to resign at the end of the first term without informing the Principal and staff why I was doing so but my father said courtesy demanded that I let them know why I was leaving. The day I broke the news to the Principal and staff that I would not be continuing in the second term because I was joining a religious congregation I cried and cried. I was touched deeply by the fond fare-well I got from the staff and the little boys.

I entered as a postulant with Fleurette on 10th February 1965. As I gradually accepted and began to work on my woundedness, the image of God which for long, in the depth of my consciousness, had been that of a demanding task-master gave way to and is still moving towards that of a God of faithfulness, tenderness, compassion and Love.
Phila Gomes rscj

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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.

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