The highlights of events that happened between 2001 – 2007, during my tenure as the President, through the commendable services of Sister Doctors in various fields especially during the disastrous situation, we were able to take the Forum forward in Government circles, in the Churches in India and also in some of the International Agencies.
I was elected as the 2nd President of SDFI during the VII AGBM convened at CARITAS complex Goa from 22nd to 25th Feb 2001 with the new Board members. The theme for the AGBM was ‘Triple Intelligence’ Sister Doctors who were involved in the Relief Work at Gujarat rescuing earthquake afflicted, shared their experiences during the AGBM
The Church celebrated the 10th International World Day of the Sick from 9th to 11th February 2002 at the shrine of Our Lady of Good Health at Vailankani, India with the theme: ‘In the Footsteps of Jesus, the Divine Healer’.
The VIII SDFI AGBM was held on 9th February 2002 at the Shrine and the members participated in all the events of the celebration. We had the privilege of meeting the Vatican dignitaries privately and introduced our Forum to them. They were surprised and thrilled to see 200 Sisters Doctors gathered in one place and happy to know that we are a total of 500 Sister Doctors as on 2002 in India, the largest number in the world. As a reply to our letter to the Holy Father John Paul II, we received a letter from the Secretariat of Vatican on 22nd February 2002 signed by the Nuncio Monsignor Pedro Lopez Quintana.
He had mentioned in that letter, “I have the honour to assure you that His Holiness has prayed for the members of the Forum commending all of you to the intercession of Mary, Health of the Sick. He cordially imparted his Apostolic Blessing.” Now that he has been canonized as Saint, he will definitely bless all Sister Doctors from Heaven.
With the help of Fr. Alex, who was then the Secretary of Health Commission, and Archbishop Bernard Moras, the Chairman, SDFI was officially recognized by the CBCI.
The IX AGBM and CME programme was held at the Retreat Centre, Bandra, Bombay, on 7th, 8th and 9th Feb 2003. His Eminence Ivan Cardinal Dias attended the Inaugural function.
- About 4 Sister Doctors attended the 11 month HIV Physician Training programme at CMCH Vellore.
- Some SDFI members participated in the workshop on PM TCT of HIV/AIDS at Delhi on 17th and 18th March 2003, organized by CHAI and CMAI.
- Another heartening happening, was the step taken by the CBCI Health Commission to create awareness about HIV/ The President of SDFI participated in the International consultation on ‘Church’s collective Response to HIV/AIDS and a scale up action in India’.
- Two groups of Sister Doctors attended a HIV/AIDS course for 6 days at Snehadan, Bangalore organized by SDFI & CHAI in December 2003 and January 2004.
- The X AGBM cum Conference of SDFI held at Chennai from 27th – 29th Feb 2004, was attended by 120 Sister Doctors. The theme: ‘Access to Health through Clinical Hypnotherapy’
- Sister Doctors in all the regions conducted activities on HIV/AIDS programme and some regions held a course on Neuro-Linguistic Programme (NLP).
On 26th December 2004, when the Tsunami struck the coastal area of Tamil Nadu, the Sister Doctors teamed up with CHAI and reached the spot.
- The XI AGBM cum Seminar was held at Sevakendra, Kolkata from 18th to 20th Feb 2005. 127 Sister Doctors attended The theme: ‘Holistic Empowerment through Integrated Health Care.’ His Grace, Lucas Sirkar, Archbishop of Kolkata celebrated the Inaugural Mass. Sr. Nirmala MC, who was the Superior General of Missionaries of Charity, addressed the assembly on Spirituality of Healing. Sister Doctors had the opportunity to visit and attend the Eucharistic celebration at the Tomb of St. Mother Teresa.
SDFI members were present when the Church in India finalized the policy of Health and HIV/AIDS. Launching of the policies on Health, HIV/ AIDS was done on 31st August 2005 at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi. A good number of Sister Doctors representing SDFI were present for the function.
- The Tsunami was followed by the killer earthquake on 8th October 2005 in Kashmir. Members of SDFI from the Northem Region, Jansi, Kamataka and Tamil Nadu, were involved in the relief work at Kashmir in the midst of the disastrous and tragic situations, in collaboration with CARITAS, CRS andJ&KMSS.
- The XII AGBM cum Seminar was conducted at the Renewal Centre, Kochin, from 17th to 19th Feb 2006 and was attended by a large number of Sister Doctors. The theme was: ‘Health for all – A Mirage’. The Inaugural function was presided over by His Eminence Cardinal Mar Varkey Vithayathil.
- The Sister Doctors underwent a 5 day course in computer skills application and update in two batches at BICS, Yelagiri Tamilnadu.
The XII AGBM cum CME was held at Holy Family Hospital, New Delhi, from 28th Feb to 2nd March 2007 with the Theme: ‘Ecology and Health’.
The Inaugural address was given by His Eminence Archbishop Pedro Lopez Quintana, Apostolic Nuncio. Other dignitaries present were His Grace Most Rev. Archbishop Bernard Moras, Chairman, CBCI Health Commission and Dr. Anbumani Ramdass, Health Minister. He released the CD “Sister Doctors Forum oflndia, Down Memory Lane”.
The Participants enjoyed the Delhi darshan. The icing on the cake was they being audience with the Late President Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam at Rashtrapati Bhavan. This event, at the Rashtrapati Bhavan has brought recognition to the Catholic Sister Doctors. Sr. Dr. Lina was elected as my successor during the General Body meeting with the New Board members.
Members of SDFI have always been working for the healing of the sick, the holistic interests of the downtrodden and the people affected by the calamitous situation. I am deeply indebted to the Board members and the members of SDFI for their cooperation during my tenure as President of the Forum. I am thankful to God for using me as an instrument to contribute towards the initiation and growth of the SDFI.