Spreading Cheer

by Fr. Nascimento Mascarenhas

One of the most startling lines I have ever read in any book was in The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. Anne wrote the book while she was being hunted down by the Nazis. While she was literally running for her life, Anne Frank wrote this in her diary, “I do believe that deep within his heart, every person is good.” When I read that line and considered the circumstances under which it was written, I kept asking: Do you really believe that, Anne Frank, do you?  With all the malice that you are experiencing, in the midst of all hatred directed towards you because you have Jewish blood in your veins, while you are in hiding and frightened by every noise, can you really believe that ? Is it true that every person, deep within his heart, is good?

I also recall encountering a very healthy view of others at the Sada Jail, Mormugao. I was visiting a prisoner there. While being admitted with the other visitors, I found myself walking next to Sister Mary Jane, SFN ( née Rita Pinto), from Cotula in Saligao, who was exuding love and greeting everyone around her. Sr. Mary Jane was doing her best to make the dismal atmosphere of the prison seem cheerful. I finally said to her, “I think that you must spread a great amount of cheer in this world. You really like people, don’t you? She replied, “Oh, thank you. You know there are no strangers in my world. There are just brothers and sisters, some of whom I haven’t met.”  I kept on looking at her. She really meant that. In her deepest self she really meant that. No wonder she was happy and loving.

On 31st May, 2011, Sr. Mary Jane celebrated her Golden Jubilee as a religious belonging to Holy Family of Nazareth, Sancoale. Among the number of important posts she held in her religious life all these 50 years of dedicated service to her congregation and to society, what comes to my mind at this moment is her wholehearted dedication to the Prison Ministry in the Archdiocese of Goa & Daman. Twice she has held the post of Superior General of her congregation. May her life and service be emulated by many young girls who will also decide to dedicate themselves to the service of the Lord and humanity. This is a short tribute to Sr. Mary Jane on this great occasion in her life.

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