Sisters Shardin Suting, CSC, and Ribilin Thongnibah, CSC, professed their perpetual vows as Sisters of the Holy Cross on April 29, 2023, in Shillong, Meghalaya, India. We rejoice with them and their commitment to lives of consecrated service with the Congregation and the Catholic Church. Here, they share reflections of their momentous day and their journeys in Holy Cross.
Reflection by Sister Ribilin Thongnibah, CSC
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you. I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” —Jeremiah 1:5
A journey of discernment
When I began my journey as a discerner in Holy Cross Study House, Shillong, India, I was not sure it was what I wanted or what God wanted me to do. There was only one thing I was sure of. From my time in grade school, I wanted to do something for others, especially people in need of help. I have seen in my own village and town how people are struggling even for their basic needs.
Knowing the Sisters of the Holy Cross was the best thing that happened in my life. Immediately I felt at home with their hospitality and welcoming gestures. And the community life that they live was very different from what I had experienced in my own parish hostel. I was so taken by their humility, kindness and being close to the people. After some time as a discerner, I was happy to be part of the community and serving those in need.
Embracing the mystery
Like Mary who said, “Let it be done according to your will,” I, too, never understood what this call would mean. Trusting in God’s providence was all I could do, as with other life uncertainties, on my journey in Holy Cross. At the end of each stage of formation, I thought, “Let me try one more step. Then I will be able to understand later.” But years go on. It has been 10 years since I joined the community of the Sisters of the Holy Cross. I realized that God’s calls are a mystery, and that I could never understand fully their meaning. I only know that God’s plan is the best plan.The day of my perpetual profession, I committed myself to the call to serve God and others for the rest of my life. I give thanks to God for all the sisters in the Congregation and my formators in different stages of formation. I am grateful to my family and everyone who contributed to strengthening my journey in the Family of Holy Cross. As I continue to journey in this life, with all your prayers and loving support, we can fulfill God’s mission.
Reflection by Sister Shardin Suting, CSC
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit.” —John. 15:16
Living as an instrument of God
With joy I have committed myself to live a consecrated life with the Sisters of the Holy Cross. In doing so, I am also committing to the Lord and surrender to him for the rest of my life. I pray that this experience of God’s grace stays always with me, in any situation that I may face in my life. Through God’s help, I am able to say ‘yes’ each moment on my life journey. During the profession ceremony, I was inspired by the homily of Archbishop Victor Lyngdoh. He shared, “The first call is to be with the Lord, rooted in him. And with him, we can serve the mission that is entrusted to us; to grow in spirit, knowledge, wisdom as an instrument of God.”
This strong phrase echoes within me as I look back on my life journey and reflect on my vocation. Discernment, reflection and prayer helped me to choose and make a decision for my life. Yes, I feel strongly that it was God who called me. He chose me from among many who are better and who can do better work or ministry. But God chose me because he has a purpose for me. He has a plan for me that I cannot understand on my own.
A walk of faith, trust and gratitude
As God says to Jeremiah, “I chose you before I gave you life. And before you were born you were selected to be a prophet to the nation.” There were times when I tried to go back home. I was thinking maybe this life was not for me. But some force inside me pulled me back, and I opted to stay and try again with energy from God. If God had not chosen me, I would not be here today.
Mother Mary is the model to obey God’s will. She did not fully understand what it meant when the angel Gabriel brought the Good News that she would be the mother of God. With strong faith and total trust in God, she responded. “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). Many things in my life I do not understand with my limited knowledge. I had the courage to move on. As God said, “I will never leave you, I will never abandon you” (Hebrews 13:5).
I know it will not be easy to face the unknown and unfamiliar, but God will guide me. He will lead my path, and even the crooked road he will make straight. “For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). When I have deep trust in him, to be with him, I can do many things. But on my own I can do nothing. Through prayers and support from many people, I could surrender my life to God. I could say, “Here am I, Lord, I have come to do your will.”
I am very thankful to my family members, friends, and St. Paul Church for their prayerful support, love and encouragement. My thanks also go out to the sisters in India and Bangladesh, who served as the foundation of my formation. Their love, care, support and encouragement sustain me in my day-to-day life. I also thank those sisters who stood close to me during my ups and downs and helped mold me. My deep gratitude extends to the General Leadership team and Congregation, for their support and prayers throughout my formation journey.