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The Sisters of St Joseph of Tarbes in India

Eulogy of Sr. Margaret Mary
News / by Tarbes Sisters

A noble soul, a shepherdess leader, a true role model, an ardent disciple of the LORD who lived the gospel values to the full, a faithful religious of the sisters of St. Joseph of Tarbes for whom living its Charism was the primary goal, A stalwart who steered the Congregation in serving the humanity by shouldering numerous responsibilities through the provinces entrusted to her care, this beautiful soul was found worthy to be received by the Creator to the eternal abode yesterday at 4.30 a.m. as the master called her “ Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the Foundation of the World”. This beautiful soul is the person of our beloved sister Margaret Mary.

Sr. Margaret Mary was born on the 10 th February 1934 the youngest of the Pereira family of six children from Quilon, Kerala, decided to completely dedicate her life to the Lord at the tender age of 18 in 1952. From then onwards there was never any wavering and no looking back.

Her complete consecration was reflected in every step of the way, every little act of hers, the entire life. She completed her B Ed in 1961 and post graduate Degree in Mathematics in 1966. Teaching was her first ministry. She taught in Conoor, Springfield and in Bangalore and was the Principal of Jyoti Nivas College till 1980. While teaching, she also shouldered additional responsibilities as animator. In between from 1966 to 1971 she was the junior mistress. From 1980 till 1989 for three consecutive terms she was the Provincial of the Bangalore Province. Three important tasks as General Councillor, Junior mistress and animator, were hers from 1989 to 1991.

After that while serving as Junior mistress, she was the animator of Jyoti Nivas Community and warden of the hostel till 1998.

Her undiminished, unusual zeal at the age of sixty four to serve the Lord took her overseas to Africa in 1998.

In Nairobi, Kenya she served in multiple positions as sector coordinator, Regional Superior, Junior Mistress, General Councillor and Provincial Superior from 1998 till 2010. Back to homeland she spent THE LAST PART OF HER LIFE though frail still continuing to work actively as Asst. animator and occasionally preaching retreat till 2016.

Her final days in this world TILL 4:30 a.m. yesterday were prayerful and peaceful, well deserved for an amazing life lived truly consecrated to the very end.

Sisters in the SJT Family were greatly impressed by the reflection given by Sister Margaret Mary to live the evangelical counsel of poverty fervently. Sr. Margaret Mary had organized sessions to deepen and renew this spirit. On the whole Sister Margaret Mary was focused on the spiritual animation of the province. She had a stringent practice of evangelical life with the main concern of deepening the prayer life of sisters in the institute.

At one of the chapters, Sr. Margaret Mary proposed and emphasized that Sisters of St. Joseph of Tarbes need to have an hour of personal prayer daily and advocated the need to pray before the Blessed Sacrament as long as in good health. She insisted on a life of humility and faithfulness to prayer: her exemplary life inspired the sisters.

Having led the province continuously for nine long years, as a Provincial, Sr Margaret Mary was able to bring about ample awareness among the sisters to prioritize serving the poor. Keeping the ongoing movement in the Institute, a number of new insertions of sisters’ presence and ministries were initiated to serve the poor.

She was a visionary and an exceptional leader to carry on the mission of Jesus beyond regions. She took up a bold lead to start our mission in Kenya and North India, particularly choosing interior rural areas. Under sister’s guidance and initiatives she always stressed on integrated life of prayer, community life and mission.

As a champion of service, she was a meticulous planner and organized programmes for the province in order to keep the mission alive. Having lived a life with deep spiritual sensitivity, many sisters, even those in authority had unwavering trust and confidence in her approach for personal accompaniment. One of sister’s main concerns was to make the Charism of our Congregation to reflect credibly and visibly.

Sister Margaret Mary in the beginnings of Kenyan mission, as a sector coordinator encountered many financial constraints to manage the sector. She has taken a lot of initiatives to help the sisters to embrace a life of simplicity according to the milieu to make their communities self-sufficient.

Despite her advanced age, she adapted to the Kenya food habits, culture & environment. She insisted the sisters to respect the differences, values & opinions of others, in order to nurture respect for individuals and build communion. She was upright and just in her dealings. Therefore she had to bear the painful consequence of losing friends.

When Kenya became a Province, she started a new mission in Malawi, which is a poorer country in central Africa and Sister Margaret Mary continued to stay in Kenya until the sisters were ready to shoulder the responsibilities of the Kenyan province and she prepared them well on various levels.

As a Provincial she was in contact with the Bishops of the Dioceses, to ensure that our sisters were well supported.

One of Sr. Margaret Mary’s student opined that, she was a wonderful human being and a nun true to her calling, She knew exactly how to shape the young lives entrusted to her care. She was like a piano wire, slender strong yet gentle in her approach. Sr. Margaret Mary, a Principal very much ahead of her times, was an excellent leader and a mentor. Sister often said “We have to constantly develop relationship with Jesus, remain faithful and deepen it.” Sister led a life of discipline and obedience and therefore when other sisters refused transfers or any other obedience, without a reason she could not accept it. For her Obedience to God, is to be total and unconditional and she expected the sisters to live that way.

Our dear sister whether as Manager, Principal, Provincial, or a humble social worker in Kenya, she remained as Wordsworth would have said: A perfect human, divinely blessed, With grace, glory, endurance strength and will Who daily with her angelic lights, became our beacon of eternal grace.

Towards the end of her life, during the past few months she was requesting the sisters to pray, not for her healing but that Jesus may take her soon to himself. Two weeks ago she shared with one of the sisters, that she had stopped asking to take her, instead with an attitude of deep surrender to say “May your will be done my God”.

The members of SJT family and the biological family of our dear Sr. Margaret Mary will miss her physical presence but we praise and thank the Lord for the life she lived, we commend her to the Lord and pray that her soul may rest in peace.

Sad Demise of our Dear SR. MARGARET MARY PEREIRA - SJT


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