SALT LAKE CITY — Three Holy Cross novices from Saint Mary’s Convent in Notre Dame, Ind. are in Salt Lake City for a three-month mission experience before taking their first vows in June.
They arrived Sept. 28 and will stay through December. They are living with the Sisters of the Holy Cross in the Diocese of Salt Lake City to learn to live in community and to live the vows of obedience, poverty and chastity.
Sr. Jane Aluku Masangir is from Kenya, Sr. Royne Costa from Bangladesh and Sr. Khochem Mossang from India.
The 20 novices in Indiana come from various countries in Africa and Asia as well as from Mexico and the United States. "We were united right away as we were trained to be hospitable, loving and welcoming, and to be deep-rooted in our diversity in terms of culture and traditions," Sr. Jane said. "The most important thing in living in community is to be inclusive."
The sisters share their cultural differences through prayer, "which has really enriched our lives," she added. "We need prayer, and the Eucharist is the summit of everything and that is where I get my strength."
The idea of becoming a sister came to Sr. Jane before she was 10 years old, but her father told her she must first get an education. "I went to college in Nairobi and became a teacher. But I found something missing in my life. I found a spiritual director and he told me ‘God calls you at his own time.’"
Sr. Jane became active in the Catholic Church, helping children and also teaching in a Catholic school run by the Assumption Sisters of Nairobi, she said. "During Adoration one day I met a priest who asked me if I was a sister and I said, ‘no,’ and he told me to pray hard," she said.
She visited various religious orders, but "my thirst was not being quenched, so I went to Uganda to meet the Holy Cross sisters, and when I reached the compound I felt at peace," Sr. Jane said. "My friends were trying to discourage me, but I was happy. They have empowered me and made me feel like a person Christ wants to send to the whole world."
While in Utah, Sr. Jane has been assisting at Saint John the Baptist Elementary School.
Sr. Royne’s has been assigned to help students in kindergarten and 1st grade at Our Lady of Lourdes School in Salt Lake City. She has known the Holy Cross sisters since she was a small child in the Holy Childhood program. "I liked the sisters for their simplicity and how they responded to the needs of the people," she said. "I wanted to be a nun since I was young, so I would go to their Advent Come and See program year after year and I saw a lot of support among them."
After Sr. Royne finished high school, her family supported her decision to join the Holy Cross sisters. She lived with a Holy Cross community for five years before becoming a candidate.
"I am so grateful to God and the congregation for the opportunity to come to the United States and to live with and learn from all the different people," she said. "I have learned a lot in the novitiate about myself and my relationship with God. In all of the Holy Cross communities I’ve lived in, I’ve felt happy and like I am home. That is why I want to help the people of God through this congregation. I have learned so much from the teachers and the students; the kids are so smart and loving."
Unlike Sr. Royne, Sr. Khochem was older when she became Catholic.
Sr. Khochem was brought up in India in a non-Christian family who worshipped nature. When she was 13, her family converted to Protestantism, while her aunts and uncles became Catholic. When she was 22, "my father wanted us all to be one religion, so we were baptized Catholic," she said.
She became active in the Catholic Church and was interested in theology, so her bishop sent her to another state in India to study. While there, she was introduced to the Holy Cross sisters and other congregations. After learning about the Holy Cross charism and the lives of some Holy Cross sisters, she decided to join.
According her culture, as the first-born child, she was expected to get married, Sr. Khochem said, and although her parents told her to go ahead and become a sister, her brothers did not approve.
Through prayer, Sr. Khochem has learned that the God who lives in her lives in others, she said. "My actions and my prayer life should go together," she said, adding that the way she lives her life is a prayer."
Sr. Khochem is assisting students in the Holy Cross Ministries School Readiness and after-School programs at three schools in Park City, she said.