Mangaluru : Bridgettine Nun Sr Flavia D’Sa celebrates 50 Religious and Joyful Years Serving the Lord

” Dear Heavenly Father, open My life and let it shine. So all may know, that I am thine. Give me the courage to say a Word, to all I meet, for you, dear Lord. Help me to show by my very religious life, what it means to be a Catholic Nun” – Sr M Flavia D’Sa O.Ss.S.

Mangaluru : A half century ago a maiden of tender years knelt before the altar of God to receive the habit of the Bridgettine Order. On that day she began the period of preparation that was to culminate a year later, in the furnace of her love for God that triple band of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience around her heart which was to bind her henceforth irrevocably to God. Let us not imagine that that sacrifice cost her no struggle. I dare say that the struggle was as great for her as it has been for so many others. I dare say that the bright, happy world, the world of ease, the world of prosperity and of pleasure came to her that morning and pleaded with her. Yes, it cast itself down before her and begged her not to forsake it. But this valiant woman spurned its solicitations, she turned her back upon it even though it contained a father’s love and a mother’s tears. And she turned to Christ, her heavenly Bridegroom and said: “Thee alone will I love. Thee alone will I always serve.”

That is the sacrifice that Sr M Flavia D’Sa O.Ss.S (Bridgettine) made fifty years ago. And it is for this reason that I offer her my congratulations and pay tribute to her in thanking God that she has been spared to repeat that same sacrifice every morning for a half century. It may be profitable for us to consider briefly just what that sacrifice entails, the sacrifice which every religious makes at her profession when she pronounces her vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience. By the vow of Poverty the religious man or woman renounces all earthly riches and all luxury that wealth and treasure can procure. Worldly comforts of any kind are forever banished from religious communities. The food and raiment are determined by strict rule and must be ordinary and inexpensive. Nothing may be possessed by the religious as her own property but simply loaned to her for her temporary use by the community.

By the vow of Chastity the religious takes Christ as the only object of all the affections of her heart and therefore cuts herself off from all those pleasures that are lawfully enjoyed in social life. She places a guard over her senses by rigid mortification. By the vow of Obedience the religious sacrifices her dearest possession, her own will, placing it in the hands of her superior. Her daily life is regulated by the rule of her Order. Nothing is left to arbitrary choice. Such a word as “I will” or “I will not” never passes her lips. The judgments of her mind as well as the work of her hands must all be in strict accord with the judgments and the commands of those placed over her, no matter what their age, their capacity or their nationality may be.

The hundredfold in this life will include the gift of peace. The religious have left all to follow Christ, and as a reward He gives them perfect peace and tranquility of spirit. They lead lives free from sin, they have torn out of their hearts every fibre of worldliness; they have no worldly preferment’s to gain, they have no worldly honors or distinction to lose. Their hearts and minds are centered on God; hence they enjoy a peace of which this world has no conception. The hundred fold in this life will also include a great amount of consolation. There is the consolation accruing from good works, be it in the class room or in the more humble occupations of the convent. It is the religious who seeks Christ and truly finds Him, and with Him all those untold consolations that His Sacred Heart knows so well how to bestow.

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As Sr Flavia completes her 50 long years as religious life, she did it with full assistance of God. So it would be right to call this achievement of her religious life, a fulfillment of God’s plan in her life and of course it does not stop here-it continues till her last breath. Sr Flavia deserves mine and yours congratulations and good wishes while she is celebrating her Golden Jubilee serving Christ.. She has lived for fifty long years under the rule of Bridgettine Congregation, true to her vows, true to the spirit of the Founder of Bridgettine Order, true to her heavenly Bridegroom, Christ Jesus. Her jubilee celebration befits this year very well since this year has been dedicated to Consecrated life- this makes her celebration even more meaningful and graceful.

It is said that a life of a religious person nay be compared to a building of a Cathedral-once a firm foundation has been laid, the building rises slowly. It is true with the life of Sr Flavia, where she built her house on the rock like a wise man so she was able to preserve it for so many years and this foundation she received in her family itself. Born on December 9, 1942 in Mangaluru to Salvadore and Lucy D’Sa, a God fearing and loving parents, Sr Flavia had a very spiritual and moral upbringing. It is at home that the seed of religious life was sown in her. After completing her college studies at St Agnes College-Mangaluru, she joined the convent of Bridgitine Order at Marikunne, Calicut-Kerala on February 4, 1964.

She started Postulancy on Feb.12,1964; entered Novitiate on Oct. 7,1964; made her first commitment by professing three Evangelical counsels of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience; did her theological studies from 1968-1971 in Bengaluru and Goa; on May 4,1971 she made her final perpetual profession; she was transferred to Bengaluru and was made in-charge of the Novices and Juniors there; in 1981 she was appointed as Secretary and councillor to the delegation in Bengaluru; she worked relentlessly as secretary for 15 years, and for 33 years worked as a Councillor for Delegation; she served as a Superior in four convents in Mysuru, Puttur, Bengaluru-and at Nanthoor, Mangaluru- and for the past 14 years she has been serving in a Convent at Chickmagaluru.

Sad to not that Sr Flavia’s religious life was not only a bed of roses, she too had hr enough share of sufferings and pain. Her health took a a bad shape in 1993, and since then she is on medication. In 2013 she had a severe fall which resulted in broken hip bone and left hand, requiring serious operation. But in spite of all these sufferings and hurdles, Sr Flavia had carried her Cross and followed Christ whole-heartedly. She is a virtuous religious person blessed with various talents, a person of great spiritual depth, a intellectual woman, compassionate, humble and many more good qualities.

Sr Flavia D’Sa who is a person of courage, strong faith, values, ideals, love, and years of wisdom makes her who she is. She always stands up for what is true and what is right and knows what is truly important in life. Her spiritual life bears witness to the joy of loving, the dignity of every human person, the value of little things done faithfully and the surpassing worth of faith in God. We simply should adore her qualities and ideals, thereby accepting her as a role model in our lives. To live as a true daughter of Charity for a single day demands a special assistance of Almighty God. What a chain of graces then must Sister Flavia have received to persevere for fifty years as a true Bridgettine nun. And she is and always has been true to every characteristic laid down by her holy Founder; and her as a daughter of love, caring and Charity, know better what that means than I can explain to you.

It means to be docile as a child to her superiors; it means to be chaste as the lilies of the field; it means to be as poor as the beggar on the street, who has nothing but what is given to him by another; it means to be strong in faith and hope and love; it means to meditate, to fast and to pray. I say to do that for a single day needs God’s special graces,and, think of it,– Sister Flavia has done it, — has done it faithfully before men and angels for fifty years. Oh, how good God has been to her. Looking down from Heaven to-day God loves her as He loved her that bright and happy morning fifty years ago. The iron bands she forged about her heart have in these years been changed by the alchemy of divine love—-first to silver and now into purest gold; and if it pleases His holy Will, may each golden band be studded with sparkling gems in the diamond years yet to come, until ripe for heaven, full of merit and of grace, her heavenly Bridegroom will meet her at the gates of Paradise with the well-known “Veni, Sponsa Christi,” ( “Come, O Spouse of Christ “), receive the crown which the Lord has prepared for you from all eternity. Amen.

Speaking to, Sr Flavia said that she always loved the church and her vocation but couldn’t imagine where life would take her. “Never in my wildest dreams” she chuckled. “When I felt, ‘I don’t know if I’m good enough, I’m very shy,’ but God said to me, ‘Never fear, I am always with you.’ This is what has kept me lively in my vocation. I really felt like this is where I belong and what I need to do for the rest of my life, no matter what. I praise God for this gift of my vocation and I really thank God because I am so fulfilled, I have been so happy and I feel like I have a lot to share. Even now. God gives me people that give me the opportunity of service. It’s a beautiful life.”

The celebration of the Golden Jubilee of Religious Profession of Sr M Flavia D’Sa was hosted by hr brothers, sisters and family members on 10 October 2105 – the concelebrated Eucharistic celebration was held at St Vincent Ferrer Church-Valencia-the mass was celebrated by Fr Leo Lobo-Parish priest of Bajpe Church, along with Fr Peter Gonsalves- Asst. Director, St Anthony’s ashram, Fr William Barochus- Visiting priest-Valencia Church and Fr James D’souza-Parish Priest, Valencia Church. Felicitation and formal celebration was held at the Conference Hall-valencia Church, where the toast was raised by Arthur D’Souza-a family friend of Sr Flavia.

In conclusion, now that Sr Flavia has reached her Golden Jubilee year and moves into a new spiritual landscape I join you all and pray that she will with a new energy and deeper joy, celebrate ‘the breadth and the length, the height and the depth’ of Christ in her life. This is a Holy time, a time to ‘listen thickly’ and be fully present to the mystery that holds her. Who can tell the treasures the Lord has in store for her, the gifts still hidden in his heart? Who can know the wonders that the love of Christ, ‘which is beyond all knowledge’ will open for her? We, and she, can only pray to Jesus Christ, ‘Glory be to him…’ May she journey well and lightly and, as she embraces the whole of her life, the weave of youth and maturity, May God grant her good health so that she continues to serve the Lord till her last breath, May she be an inspiration and role model for all of us on our religious journey.

While our blessings and our prayers go with you, dear Sr Flavia D’Sa on this your Golden Jubilee year, let me end this column with the thought-provoking lyrics from the psalm: “I will sing forever of your love, O Lord.” –

“I will sing forever of Your love, O Lord
I will celebrate the wonder of Your name
For the word that You speak is a song of forgiveness
And a song of gentle mercy and of peace

Let us wake at the morning and be filled with Your love
And sing songs of praise all our days
For Your love is as high as the heavens above us
And Your faithfulness as certain as the dawn

I will sing forever of Your love, O Lord
I will celebrate the wonder of Your name
For the word that You speak is a song of forgiveness
And a song of gentle mercy and of peace

I will sing forever of Your love, O Lord
For You are my refuge and my strength
You fill the world with Your life-giving spirit
That speaks Your word
Your word of mercy and of peace”.

With Fond, Loving wishes and Compliments from : Tilly Peris, Mangaluru

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