Friday, June 30, 2006

I am ready to die for them because they are children of God (Rani Maria Vatallil)

Maryam Vatallil was born to a Catholic family in Kerala. Her decision to enter religious life was objected by members of her family, but her grandmother said, “Why do you oppose Marykunju joining the convent? Is she not going for a noble cause? How many parents desire that children become priests and nuns? But does that happen? The vocation to the religious life is not given to all. God gives it only to some.” Joining the Franciscan Clarist congregation, she took the name Rani Maria. As a nun, she worked among the poor and helped alleviate their lives. She was met with opposition by men in power. One nun remarked about her, “Sr. Rani Maria mostly worked among the adivasis and among those who were marginalized by the society. They loved her as a mother because it was for the first time that they saw a person who shared their life, lived with them and acted in their favour. Her nature was not one that would run away from difficulties and oppositions.”

Sr. Rani Maria faced opposition from those in authority. For example, in Odgady, she protected the poor people whom she had helped from abusive money-lenders. Sr. Rani made the poor people aware of their rights. She was faced with opposition from the money-lenders, but she continued serving the poor.

During the 1994 elections, the police arrested many innocent poor people. Sr. Rani worked for them, hired a lawyer and had them released. The angered police and a political leader sought of ways to kill the nun. They knew that she would be going to Kerala to visit her parents.

On February 25, 1995, Sr. Rani was on a bus bound for Kerala. A hired murderer in the bus stabbed Sr. Rani repeatedly. The bus stopped, and the people left out of fear. Then, he dragged Sr. Rani outside the bus and continued stabbing her until she died. She died crying out the name of Jesus. She died in the midst of the people, many of whom she knew, some of them whom she did help. But they could not do anything. The murderers abandoned her body and ran away.

About 12,000 people took part in Sr. Rani’s funeral. Because of Sr. Rani’s death, the missionaries gained the trust of the people and found it easier to work with them. In the year 2002, the nuns visited Sr. Rani’s murderer, who was in prison. It was the day before the feast of "Rakshabandhan'. 'Rakshabandhan' is a feast of sisters. A sister would tie 'Rakhi' (hand ring) on her brother's hand and the brother assumes the responsibility to protect his sister. This ceremony fosters the love and unity between brothers and sisters. Sr. Selmy, Sr. Rani’s sister, tied the rakhi on the hands of the murderer as a sign of forgiveness. They ate together, and Sr. Selmy assured the murderer that she forgives him.

Sr. Rani once said, “I am deeply convinced that I am called to work for the poor and the oppressed. I am ready to die for them because they are children of God and as such our sisters and brothers.”


Blogger Unknown said...

It is amazing. I am a priest and a native of Rani maria. Thank you very much for this wonderful work

8:14 AM  
Blogger jose said...

I am jose,from Pulluvazhi.I am so proud to say that sister and me were studying together.Thank u for this posting.

9:32 PM  

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