FLORENCE – You won’t believe this… She looks to be the oldest member of the group with flip flop shoes too large for her feet. Dressed in cream colour sari with salt and pepper hair she walks erect on a telescopic golden colour walking stick. When the Project Mornese group of the Salesian Sisters to which she belongs, goes on a long trek or do some arduous climbs, Sr Regina Joseph stays back.
It was on the bus in Florence en route to Turin (Sunday 6 June) that I caught up with her. She sat alone praying her beads while the rest of the 30 Sisters took the opposite direction hoping to board the bus that would meet them Lungo Arno Secco.
From Ponte Vecchio our last visiting spot, it is only one more bridge and then you are at the bus pick up point. In stead, the group walked in the opposite direction in the mid day sun passing four bridges arriving at the Garibaldi statue near the American Embassy along the river Arno, when good sense prevailed with help from an US Embassy security staff!
We retraced our wearied steps the whole way back in single file along the river passing six bridges. On the return march, tired, thirsty, hungry and angry, I led the pack of dispirited nuns who tried to cheer themselves signing some quaint songs!
So, there I was now sitting with Sr Regina Joseph who had been student in Italy over 40 years ago. She tells me how she was the only daughter of her parents, had been principal of schools in several prestigious Auxilium schools in Tamilnadu and currently engaged in full time prayer ministry for some 40 years, operating now from Auxilium Kodambakkam near Chennai.
She adds with great frankness how Jesus “just sends people in need of His graces” to her for prayers…
Whether Hindus, Muslims or Christians, “I first tell those who come seeking prayers that it is Jesus who told them to come. Otherwise, you could have gone to anyone elsewhere!”
“How many hours do you spent for sleeping, eating, reading, studying, watching television, listening to radio and music etc…? What about praying?” she asks the perplexed prayer seeker.
Normally, these people have no time for prayer, she tells me.
So, Sr Regina, insists with people, to allot just 15 minutes a day for prayer.
And she writes out the mantra (a magical set of words that a master utters in the ear of a worthy disciple)…
Once I saw her writing out the mantra in Italian for a tourist whom she met for the first time and with whom she got speaking in Italian.
She wrote out the same mantra in Italian and English for me.
She says, we have time for everything except for God…
So, why don’t we just give 15 minutes of quality time for Jesus? she asks.
She tells that we have to say this prayer 81 times (9×9 novena style) a day, that works out 15 minutes a day.
She impresses me further with a file she pulls out from her bag. It has thanksgiving letters in English, Italian and Tamil for graces received. “These are letters from people who received miraculous favours from Jesus like, long time childless couple getting child, unemployed persons getting job, girls not getting suitable partners finding them, chronically sick get healing, cancer and heart patients getting cured, all these, soon after starting the mantra…
Here is the prayer:
“May the Sacred Heart of Jesus
be loved, adored and glorified,
daily throughout the world
now and forever!”
Let the person who needs the grace pray more fervently and insistently, says Sr Regina, “and then you will see how Jesus will bless you abundantly…”
Only one condition she whispers, the person who desires the grace must say the prayer devotedly for just 15 minutes a day or 81 times, not necessarily all at one go…
Long live Sr Regina of the Sacred Heart of Jesus!