Sr Valsa John’s martyrdom day observed

November 14, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

New Delhi, November 14, 2016: Friends, colleagues and admirers of Sister Valsa John marked her fifth “martyrdom day” with a seminar on “Education of the Girl Child for Nation Building.”

Sr John, a member of the Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary, was axed to death on the night of November 15, 2011, in a remote village in the Pakur district of Jharkhand state in eastern India. Her work among tribal people earned her the wrath of coal mining firm that exploited indigenous people.

Sr Valsa John “courageously and tenaciously carried the struggle for human rights of the poor to the point of getting killed,” said Archbishop Anil Couto of Delhi, the chief guest at the November 12 memorial program in New Delhi.

Recalling the murder of Sr Rani Maria under similar circumstances, the prelate acknowledged that consecrated women have given leadership to the Church in selfless sacrifice in fighting for human rights and justice.

Sister Maria, a member of the Franciscan Clarist Congregation, was stabbed to death on February 25, 1995, by an assassin hired by some landlords who were upset over her work among landless laborers in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

“By remembering them we do not become complacent in our comfort zones or look only for our security when hundreds of thousands of suffer oppression and exploitation,” Archbishop Couto said. He said the slain Catholic nuns encourage Church workers and others to “stick our neck out against forces who are out to eliminate those working for human rights and justice.”

The prelate applauded the organizers of the program, the archdiocesan women commission and the women council of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, for keeping Sr John’s memory alive. The Media House of Delhi also collaborated.

M P Raju, a leading Supreme Court advocate and friend of Sr John, in his keynote address pointed out that the slain nun had led a heroic life. He said people who searched her possessions after her death found only the Bible and the Indian Constitution as the only valuable items.

The senior lawyer questioned attempts to impose Vedic values as the ancient Indian values in the draft education policy. According to him, Sister Valsa had found the Indian Constitution upholding universal values. “It is quite in the fitness things that Valsa had the two took books exactly at the same place in her possession. Of course she had to pay a price,” said the visiting professor to Montreal University, Canada.

He decried those playing the “game of values” in the name of improving education in the country and said the worst victims of such actions are the girl children. Sister Valsa had struggled to educate girl children as she realized women’s emancipation was key to real development in India.

“When you decided to take sides at the time of polarization you have to pay a price and Valsa did that,” asserted the lawyer, who reminded the gathering that society needs more such people. “We need Valsas, and we need to make ourselves Valsas,” he added.

Sister Rose Joseph, vice provincial of Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary, says Valsa’s is “a story of self –giving.” According to her, the slain nun remains “a source of strength and energy” to tribal people and activists working among them.

“Immersion and participation” were no longer mere words for Valsa but she showed it by “eating rat meat” which was offered to her with love. She had accepted frugality as “a lifelong companion,” Sr Joseph added.

Sr Valsa was silenced by her murderers but her life and values inspire the hearts of all those who struggle for and with the poor, said Sister Mary Scaria, the organizer of the seminar.

Madhu Prasad of Delhi University, Bulbul Dhar of Jamia Millia Islamia University and Michael Williams, Dean of Carmel Education Society also addressed the gathering. They urged participants to fight against the new Education policy, proposed by the federal government.

– matters india

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