Saturday, September 29, 2007

A Tribute to my Class teacher - Sister Mary Deepa

I feel lucky enough to study from one of the best convent school in Bihar, Notre Dame Academy.I remember my school days, when I was a real naughty boy who loved playing pranks,making noises in the class and bursting crackers in the school bathrooms.
The sisters used to make me understand , gave punishments also a few times, but my immatured soul full of pure fun was unable to realize these learnings and take their words.
Sister Mary Deepa, was my class teacher in ninth std, who was very strict and always trying to make us undersatnd the disciplined way of living.
She always used to say " Once you go out of this school, no one will stop you doing wrongs in life and then you will miss us". I soon realized it after passing from my school and still these words always linger in my mind.
She was a strict disciplinarian with a pure soul, very hard from outside but totally soft from her heart.
She died in 2003 fighting with cancer. I write this post as a tribute from my side and Notre Dame Academy students.
Following is the excerpts on her life, taken from the website

Born: Sept. 1, 1946

Died: July 12, 2003

Sister Deepa, nee Claramma Cherian Kadaprayil, was born on September 1, 1946, in the village of Peringulam in Kerala and was baptised on September 7th, receiving the beautiful name of Clare. She soon adjusted to a large family, being the ninth child of fourteen.

She was quite a tomboy in her childhood, running around and climbing anything she could. Claramma received her education under the tutelage of the Clarist Sisters whose tender care she always felt. She was brought up in a very spiritual environment. Morning and evening prayers were a must, and Our Lady bore a central role in the family. The family members all took a turn in attending daily mass. Since the church was a distance of two miles from the home and there were duties to be taken care of, not everyone could attend on a regular basis.

During her high school years, Claramma became a member of the Mission League and of the Sodality. For some time she had her eye on the missions in the North, and despite protests to the contrary from her relatives, she wrote to Rev. Joseph Maliparampil for information about the missions. He told her about different convents, and she chose to apply to Notre Dame. On July 8th, 1963, in the company of 21 companions, she ventured north with Sisters Anima and Pratima and joined the candidacy on July 13th, 1963. She entered the postulancy on June 17th, 1965, in Jamalpur and was invested on Jan. 6th, 1966, receiving the name of Sister Mary Deepa. She made her temporary profession of vows on Jan. 6th, 1968. Later, on June 21st, 1974, she made her perpetual vows in Patna.

Sister Deepa was privileged to have a younger sister, Sister Mary Shobha, who also entered the Sisters of Notre Dame. Sister is at present on mission in Shinyanga, Tanzania, East Africa. Sister also has a Salesian priest-brother, Father Jose Kadaprayil. Both arrived in time for the burial service at which Father Jose officiated. Sister Tanuja, her niece, who is also a Notre Dame Sister, made it in time to spend the last moments with her aunt. During Sister Deepa's long period of illness, Sister Tanuja periodically visited her and was a source of consolation to her.

Sr. Deepa had been a dedicated teacher in many schools: Hartman School, Patna; Notre Dame Academy, Jamalpur; Campus School, Pantnagar; Sophia High School, Bangalore; Notre Dame Academy, Patna; Loyola School, Gomia; and again a long period of teaching from 1993 - 2001 at Notre Dame Academy, Jamalpur.

Certain features stand out when we look at Sister Deepa:

* Her prayerfulness. She was seen reflectively reading the Bible many times a day. She was known to say three rosaries daily and to have a great devotion to Our Lady.

* Her general knowledge about things. She was a well-read person and was always abreast on current developments, especially in science.

* Her conscientiousness as a teacher. She loved the high school students, especially the boys, and they in turn admired and loved her. She found teaching in an all-girls school a bit boring. "Boys are fun to teach. They don't hold grudges," she said.

* Her love of fun time. She enjoyed a double pinochle game with anyone, especially with those who enjoyed a good laugh and an argument about the score,

* Her giftedness as a cook. Her mushroom soup and her various types of pickles and preserves gave much joy to her Sisters.

* Her loyalty as a community member and as a friend. She stood by her friends come what may.

* Her ability to challenge anyone on any topic. In fact, we could always expect Sister Deepa to refute whatever we said with a "No, that's not right!" Of course, she often recapitulated and came over to our point of view when she knew that what she was saying could be argued with.

* Her love of all created things, especially of plants. As a teacher of biology, she inculcated this love of God's creation in all her students.

Having fallen victim to cancer towards the end of 2001, it remained a mystery to her as to why she had been chosen to suffer this particular cross. It was a cross she courageously accepted, and she endured all the pain, discomfort, and distress unflinchingly. In fact, not one of us could really make out the depths of her suffering.

At the offertory of a mass celebrated by her brother Jose, Sister Deepa prayed: "Lord, I am not asking why or how. I ask for the grace that each one who is praying for me will grow in faith and trust. I am overwhelmed by the love and concern which I am receiving."

Her last days of illness were filled with suffering and uncontrollable moanings of pain, expressions which she had been able to keep well under control when she was better. She surrendered her soul quietly to the Lord at 12:35 on the morning of July 12th, the feast of Saint Julie, our spiritual Mother. It was also a Saturday, a day in honour of Our Blessed Mother whom she loved so well.

Sister Deepa cherished community life. Even in her illness, she participated in the daily eucharistic celebration and community prayers and gatherings. She was ever grateful for all the services rendered to her by the Sisters. Sister Deepa's presence will be missed by the entire province. May her memory live on and inspire her sisters, collaborators, and students.

And so we all say: May your soul attain that eternal happiness, Deepa, that we are all striving for.


Vinay Nihalani said...

After long time I read something interesting in a personal blog.
Very rarely we get to see tributes to school teachers in this so called busy life / wired life.
Hats off 2 u man.
This is not just a tribute to Sister Mary Deepa but to entire Teaching Fraternity.
I take a bow again.

amitsinha said...

Thanks vinay. I totally agree with you, the service that a good teacher does is equivalent to the God.
We forget them, but its they who shaped a larger part of our life.

Viraj said...

seldom do we realize tht to a large extent our success in life depends on our teachers n truly blessed r d ones tht get good teachers. for d first time i have seen someone acknowledging a teacher. keep up d gud work.


amitsinha said...

Thanks Viraj..I was a naughty kid in school, and I used to get scolding from her, but I realised later, the meaning of those scoldings.