Sr Teresa Rose – Nun who helped people see God’s Fatherliness, Motherliness dies

Story By: Malini Manjaly

Our Mother-Father in Heaven? –  Published in Matters India, February 13, 2016

                           (Note: We say Holy Mother Church to highlight God’s unbreakable deep love(even if your mother forgets you I will not) for humans. Similarly we recall the parable of the prodigal to magnify the mercy of an ever forgiving fatherly God. When the Church fails to exhibit its motherliness we taunt her calling “Holy-Father Church”. What is intended is God is both father and mother to us always. This is what Sr.Teresa Rose clearly depicts, an American in Indian Sari. God adapts himself to the needs of every devotee. Hence the saying: “God appears in the form of bread to the hungry.” Sisters of Charity of Nazareth are very dear to me because my own youngest sister, Philo Kottoor, happens to be one of its members,now the Vice-Provincial of Patna Province,  and a month ago  while in Chicago, I had a chance to visit Kentuky, their headquarters in US known for Kentukky Durby(horse race) and the Mamoth caves. The mission of the Church is to bring God down to earth in order to raise humans sky high imitating the incarnational  principle shown by Jesus = earthly humility and heavenly divinity. A change in the dress code is the most out spoken sign and simbol of one’s identification with the people one serves. That James Kottoragain is the reason for the deafening cry against the gorgeous, pompus dress code in silk and saten of the princes of the church who often appear in public like brides on their marriage day, as described by the French Theologian Congar. How did Jesus the carpenter of  Nazareth appear to the public? Like the boorish other worldly high priests of his time or in ordinary dress of the people  of the place? Try to dress up the Carpenter of  Nazareth like the High priest of his times to see what a  comic figure he would look? That is what  our Cardinals and Bishops look like today “peacocking” in the words of Pope Francis, or  glittering like a “Christmas Tree” as referred to a US cardinal. When will our top brass in the Church wake up to the tragic comedy (baffoning)  or of counter witnessing Jesus in their daily dress code? When will our Ordinaries with the Capital ‘O’ become ordinaries like the rest of us with the ordinary ‘o’ in the lower case to beome   jesus-like? james kottoor, editor)

Patna: Sister Teresa Rose Nabholz, an American nun who helped people to see both father and mother in God during her four decades of service in India, died on February 11. The member of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth was 85. She died at a congregation’s headquarters in Kentucky, US.

“Teresa Rose contributed not only to her community but to other religious communities and the Church in India by initiating the Apostolic Orientation Program through her leadership in the Conference of Religious in North India,” said Sister Amala, former provincial of the Sisters of Notre Dame in Patna, Bihar.

The Indian who had associated with the American missionary nun for years, said she had “lived through a period of major changes in the Church and India and she responded to the new way of thinking even though she was a foreigner.” Sr Teresa Rose’s “collaborative” spirit also helped the Notre Dame congregation to manage the changes, Sr Amala added.

Patna is the Indian base of both the congregations that have their roots in the United States.Jesuit Father Robert Athickal, Sr Teresa Rose’s one time spiritual director, said her spirituality “encompassed the whole universe” and she always radiated “a relaxed sense of at home with the planet and its inhabitants.”

The Jesuit, who is the founder director of the Patna-based green group Tarumitra (friends of trees), said the Church has lost a “very courageous woman” who was counselor, spiritual guide and an enlightened seer. “She spoke of a God, as a Star Dancer, pirouetting across galaxies of the multiverse,” he added.

He also said Sister Teresa Rose’s “sense of well being made her totally at home with this planet, which inspired her to donate her mortal remains to the Louisville University for medical research.”

Another Jesuit, Fr Joe Kunnampuram, who directs Atmadarshan, where Sister Teresa Rose had worked as a visiting resource person, recalls that she had helped those who came to the spirituality center in Patna, “see both motherliness and fatherliness in the image of one God.”

Teresa Rose helped more than 1,000 priests, religious women and men during her ten-year stay in Atmadarshan, he added.

He found the American nun “loving, caring, creative, full of life and enthusiasm for the service of humanity and to spread the good news of Jesus.” He also saw “a champion of gender equality” who integrated left and right brain processes in her teaching to make classroom presentation highly creative.

“She also was an expert presenter of the Enneagram process, Myers-Briggs inventory based on Jungian depth psychology. She was so deeply spiritual and close to God that she was able to endure her prolonged illness and suffering in the spirit of Jesus,” Fr Kunnumpuram added.

Sister Teresa Rose travelled across India giving retreats, the Myers-Briggs inventory and Enneagram process to many religious congregations. She served as reflector and facilitator for provincial chapters of several religious congregations.

Sister Teresa Rose came to Mokama, some 60 km southeast of Patna, in 1962 as a trained nurse to serve at Nazareth Hospital. She was appointed director of candidates, novices and young sisters. She inculcated in them love for God, community and mission. She also served as regional superior and later as the first Provincial Superior of her congregation’s Patna Province.

After serving forty years in many capacities in India, Sister Teresa Rose want as a missionary to Belize in Central America in 2002.

Jose Kavi, editor of Matters India who knew her for years, said he could see how she had guided many girls from conservative societies of Kerala and elsewhere to discover their womanhood and assert for their rights. “If the Indian SCNs are so effective in society now, much credit should go to that great lady from the States” he added.

Sister Teresa Kotturan, an SCN nun serving as the UN representative of Charity Federation in New York, said Teresa Rose “brought out the best in others for the sake of community and mission”

Another SCN, Sister Rose Plathottathil, said her former provincial “zealously moved along with the changes the Vatican II brought about in religious life and the Church. Sister Teresa Rose embraced inculturation whole heartedly not only in word but in deed by adopting the Indian garb.”

Sister Bridget Kappalumakal, a former SCN provincial, said her predecessor had always a smile on her lips.

Sister Olive Pinto, another SCN, found in her a “friend, mentor and a companion throughout my life sharing joys, sorrows, confusion and achievements.”

According to her, Sr Teresa Rose was ahead of her time, daring to take risks in initiating new forms of mission and immersion in to the lives and struggles of the people on the margins, as the present Pope invites Religious to do today.”

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