…. continued

Sr Grace Lee

When I landed in Rome the second time, I did not find anyone waiting for me. Oh dear, what shall I do now? I asked myself. I am in a strange country without knowing its language. But I had hopes and courage. I asked people if they knew the Daughters of St Paul which some kind soul translated for me into Italian. They shook their heads but I insisted that these sisters are here in Rome. Finally I discovered that the real name of the congregation is THE PIOUS SOCIETY OF THE DAUGHTERS OF ST PAUL.

After waiting for some time, I saw two sisters coming forward to claim me. One of them was my future Novice Teacher. Later they explained to me that they had expected me with the first flight but then I was not there. Happily I was brought home to our convent for my first taste of Roman life.

At that time, I was a pre-novice, and all pre-novices lived in Alba our Mother House in the north of Italy. Since it was December and cold, my Novice Teacher did not want to expose me to the freezing temperature in Alba, so she allowed me to stay on in Rome with the Novices. When the weather became milder, she then sent me to Alba where I experienced snow and the wonders of spring time.

Coming from the hot climate of Singapore, it was exhilarating to feel the frosty air outdoors and to embrace the warmth of the roaring fire in the fireplace. As winter retreats, nature dresses itself in so many different shapes and sizes.

I was thrilled to see little green buds peeping out, soon to blossom into full blown flowers.  The birds splashed themselves in the water created by the melting snow. Signs of life were everywhere. I thought to myself, this is Resurrection.

Where was Jesus? He was in my heart and in every person’s face. Since I was the first Asian face to be seen by the people in that part of north Italy, everyone made a big fuss over me. Grandmothers would come up close to me, stare at me with amazement and pinch my cheeks. Old folks used to kissing everyone, planted so many wet kisses over my cheeks. I thought my face would be worn out by those wet kisses!

That was 1961, the year of unforgettable memories. Soon I settled down to life as a novice and then a year later, made my religious profession in the grandiose sanctuary of our church, Queen of Apostles, together with 50 other girls. We were formally admitted into the Pious Society of the Daughters of St Paul.

After my religious profession in June 1963, I was sent to Genoa in north-east Italy for some experience of our mission to the people bringing good books and films for their spiritual growth in their life of faith. Two by two, like in the Gospel where Jesus sent the disciples to preach in all the villages, we too walked the  whole countryside visiting every house and  bringing the good news of the Gospel to them.

August was hot but we were young and everything was just wonderful. It was the season of peaches.  The people we met, showered us with so many peaches from their farms that we ate peaches, in the morning, at noon and at night.

Then it was September, time to return to the Philippines where I was given my first assignment. I made the journey from Rome to Manila by boat in 30 days. Incredible adventures befell me in the boat where 12 nuns and eight priests were also travelling to their destinations in Asia.

Since we were in pre-Vatican times, each priest celebrated his own individual Mass. Imagine our holy  activities early every morning trying to catch as many Masses as possible. Life onboard the ship was so interesting and amusing.

An Indian man wanted to eat as much as he could, so he started at the first item in the Menu. Not knowing Italian, he could not understand what was written. The first item on the Menu was the date, and he asked for it. One day the steward said to me, “One body is coming to occupy the upper berth in your cabin.” His English was a translation of Italian, so I was not alarmed by the “body” which was coming to stay with me.

When our ship crossed the equator, there was a ceremony of splashing water over whoever was near the swimming pool. Some people were pushed into the water, all for fun, to show that we had crossed the invisible line. And they gave us a certificate to prove we had really crossed the equator.

Soon our journey ended. I joined the young Junior Sisters in our convent in Manila. After 13 months they told me I would go to help out in Malaysia where the sisters had just begun their new community. Again after another short period they sent me to India. They needed an English teacher to teach all the girls who had joined our congregation. My job was to polish up their elementary English so they could join the community which was speaking English at that time.

What I had narrated was only the beginning of my religious life. Many marvellous events followed. Till today I cannot thank God enough for all                           the surprises and precious gifts he has given me and all the remarkable people                              he gave me as companions on the journey. Praise the Lord for he is great.


to the Lord

Earlier adventure

Sr Grace's Folder Sr Yan Yan's Post-it APCs' Sharing More Sharing

Inside the Folder

Counting My Blessings

Sr Grace has taken an account of the blessings God has given her …

Advent with Mother Mary

Advent is the time when we prepare ourselves to welcome Jesus …

My Home-coming

After spending 24 years in Hong Kong, Sr Grace returned to Singapore …

Mini Miracles

Sr Grace talked about how she felt God’s love …

60 Years of Pauline Adventure … continued

Sr Grace resumes her adventures in Italy …

My Many, Many Christmases

Every year my Christmas begins with the traditional nine day novena …

60 Years of Pauline Adventure

A few days ago, it struck me that I have been a Pauline sister for 60 years…

A Senior’s Pressing Concerns

Sr Grace talks about some of the pressing concerns in her everyday life …

More articles

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