Sr. Josephina, who hailed from Kuppiyil Idakala family of Kizhakkambalam in Kerala state, India was the first member of S.D. Even when she chose an adventurous life without any financial stability on security, her mind that was rooted in the simple faith that she possessed from Baptism soared high unto God. . She used to meditate, with the help of books for meditation; she prayed gazing at the Eucharist Lord. From this prayer & meditation she acquired the spirit of lowliness and simplicity of Jesus. A sense of contentment in being the humblest of all prevailed in her. She had a sincere and spontaneous love and respect for all. “Consider others better than yourselves” - Phil.2:3. this word of God had a deep impact on her.
Despite her tiredness and sickness she used to get up when any superior came to visit her, showing her love and reverence for them. This humility and submissiveness reveals the greatness of her lowly life. She had a sensitive heart that could understand the sufferings and pains of the fellow sisters that she promised her prayers for them. The sisters deeply felt her love and empathy. It seems that self emptying spirit of Jesus who “though rich, became poor for our sake, so that we might become rich” (cf. 2cor8:9) had been infiltrated into Sr. Josephina by Jesus Himself. Hence she, the first member of the Little Sisters of the Poor, lived in the awareness that she was poor and humble. This is a life style that each member of SD has to possess and practice.
A special interest to collect and utilize even silly things without wasting them was always seen in Sr. Josephina. She was very cautious and careful to manage her needs by herself as far as possible, so that she might not cause any troubles to others. She was glad to get informed of the current state and affairs of the Congregation. These were all the signs and manifestations of the big heart of that affectionate mother. She partook in the sufferings of Jesus by accepting the suffering that she encountered in her personal life, in sickness and without any complaints. This enabled Sr. Josephina to console the poor aged brethren in their sufferings and to advise and inspire them to accept the adversities with a vision of faith. She was happy to share whatever she had with the old people.
Thus Sr. Josephina, who lived doing the lowly and humble duties in the convent, loving and honoring fellow sisters considering them as greater, and being contented with humble conveniences of life and simple food, was pointed out as the brightly shining star of S.D. to the younger generation, by Rev. Fr. Valliarampath, the Spiritual Father.
The charism of the S. D. in its totality has flowed into Sr Cicily (Aleykuty) born to Mr Antony and Mrs Anna Madthiparampil of Kizhakkambalam. Driven by the inner urge of the love of God, she came forward courageously. She spent her days and nights in fasting, prayer and penance until the will of God was revealed through the authorities of the Church.
Together with the young virgins who shared her insight when their efforts to attain their goal did not bear the desired result, the courageous faith and leadership of Sr Cicily stood by their group as its strength and inspiration. She worked hard for the community, and her sisters with her face radiant with the rays of love burning within her. This passionate love, firm faith and her confidence enabled her to be faithful to her ideals and to participate in the sufferings of Christ by accepting the occasions of humiliations and sufferings with greater love. Sr Cicily who spent a lot of time on her knees in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament drew out the honey of His merciful love thence and shared it with her younger generations by her words and deeds of love.
She was filled with a lowly disposition that sprang out of her awareness that she was nothing before God who is everything. Her words and actions betrayed her convictions and manners that even the least of her brethren are greater and more important than herself. As she was mindful of the needs of others, she was ever on the alert to meet their every need. No sooner she came to learn someone was sick than did she sent succour personally or by someone else. To go to the aid of others, setting aside her own was a special quality of Sr Cicily. The love of God burned in her, reached out to others the destitute and the labourers in particular. She enjoyed an unlimited satisfaction at her rendering them her services of love. By assuming their burden upon her she made their lives less burdensome. Sr Savio recalls how Sr Ciclily expressed her respect and submission to her superiors thus: “Valliachan and Valliamma (Superior General) are the pillars of our Congregation. We must love them and must live in submission to their directives.” Sr Cicily who was delighted to see the growth of the Congregation and its members used to express her alertness and joy in imparting them her knowledge and experience. Her life was aglow with the spirit of austerity, penance, and mortification. She exhibited maximum frugality and simplicity in her food and clothing. As if to taste the life of penance she used on the floor. Sr Cicily had a deep experience of kenosis (self-emptying) when she could not make her perpetual profession along others of her batch. However, she accepted it in faith and humility and thus identified herself with Christ, who humbled himself to utter lowliness. The jewel of the Congregation that was shaped in the crucible of suffering with the love for the Congregation completed her oblation of love, fixing her gaze at the Sacred Host in the hand of the priest. On learning of her death, Fr Dominic Koikkara announced in the Church at Aluva, “A saintly sister has passed away at Chunangumvely. It is good for all to pay her last homage.”
Sr Gertrude, Rosa, daughter Mr Antony and Mrs Alley Mazhuvancherry, also hails from Kizhakkambalam. He was filled with joy because of her sincere love, appreciation and respect for the Congregations. She could not share but with emotions of love her opinion on Fr Founder, the early days of the Congregation, or the service rendered by the two Carmelite sisters. Her tender love the superiors and her fellow sisters and her attitude that they are her own, were her hearty experiences. In case anyone had to suffer anything, she would pray sincerely like an affectionate mother and used to ask after their well-being.
Sr Gertrude was always joyful. Two of the main contributing factors of this were her forgiving love and innocence that filled her. Even in slight matters if she happened to offend any of the sisters, she would ask forgiveness immediately. She would kneel in front of any superiors anywhere to ask pardon. Her child-like innocence was an example to everyone.
She was a great devotee to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She took great pride in saying with her heavenly patroness that if Jesus was not in the Tabernacle He would be in her heart. It was this Christ experience that was the source of her joy and forgiving love. As she never enjoyed a good health, she used to be exempted from heavy duties. She used to spend a lot of her time in prayer. She also used to inspire others to pray without ceasing. She was careful to make her conversation at work or at recreation should edify others.
She was insistent on doing whatever she did to its perfection. This sense of perfection, punctuality, neatness and cleanliness in her dress etc were signs of her interior innocence and perfection. Gentle as she was, she had a soft corner for the poor and the destitute. She had a great affection and love for the newcomers to religious life. While dealing with them she shared divine matters, encouraging and helping them spiritually. She used to share S. D.’s initial stories with them, thus leading them to its deeper spirit.
Staying alter for the Lord with intense delight she used to express very strongly in her last days her inner aspirations to be united to her Beloved Jesus.
As one of the brave virgins who came forward to build up the S. D. Congregation, Sr Kochuthresia is an important person filled with God-given natural talents and gifts of grace. She has a distinction among the pioneer group as the lone sister from Chunangumvely. She was the daughter of Mr Anthony and Mrs Mariam Ottancherry.
She was equally filled with interior recollectedness and spirit of prayer and she was also very down to earth in her approach. She was endowed with the grace of discernment and prudence. She, with her jovial nature, made the community happy. She lived in the presence of God, observing external silence and maintaining interior recollection. Sharing her Christ-experience gained at her contact with the Divine with her sisters at recreation and workplace was informative and educative. The sincerity and concern this elder sister exhibited to convince them in love on seeing their shortcomings and to encourage the goodness in them, were praiseworthy. Sr Kochthresia did not have any higher education, but every movement was very intelligent and knowledgeable. She was submissive, obedient and respectful towards her superiors. She was easily approachable and her manners exhibited lowliness and serenity. She taught her colleagues and those who joined in later with love and generosity whatever she knew. Proficient in tailoring and cooking, she trained her younger sisters in a very professional manner. Simple lifestyle and spirit of poverty stood out in her life. The spirit that Fr Fonder demonstrated in his service of the sick elderly persons which he had passed on to her calling her by name was with her as her patrimony. The Christ-experience that proceeds from seeing Christ in every sufferer and the good news of intense love born of sharing the compassionate love in acts of mercy permeated in the S. D. through Sr Kochuthresia. Capable of grasping and personalizing anything spiritual and temporal began to grow in wiS. D.om and holiness. She gained self-discipline and respectability by controlling her sense. It was evident to everyone in her interpersonal relationships, in the refectory and in the parlour, and so on. One could see her gratitude and love being she as drops of tears Fr Founder was being spoken of.
Sr Kochuthresia used to be keen to observe devotional practices and to keep the daily timetable meticulously and with self-discipline even on her sickbed. Her lowly life went ahead in accordance to he place of God with little complaint or preference to anything. She firmly believed in the dictum “if you keep the rule, the rule will keep you.” Even when she was operated upon due to her respiratory ailments, “he “compelling love of Jesus” made her even more aglow with love.