A solemn ‘YES’ at Pune Carmel!

Sr. Pooja of the Holy Trinity made her Solemn Profession on the 23rd of May 2018. Having nurtured a vocation to the contemplative life since the age of around 8, Sr. Pooja has now consecrated herself totally to the service of our Lord and His Church.

The Eucharistic Celebration was presided over by Most Rev. Thomas Dabre, Bishop of Poona. The Carmelite Friars, Frs. Prasanna and Joe D’Souza from the Talegaon community and Fr. Joy Francis from Pushpashram community, Mysore were present. The Jesuit fathers from the neighboring De Nobili College and the priests from Sr. Pooja’s home parish of Ajra also graced the occasion.

Her family members along with the friends and Benefactors of the community joined in the celebrations.

Pooja Khandekar was born on the 12th of March 1992 at Belgaum, the 1st of 2 children born to Monappa and Pramila. Although born in a Hindu family, our Lord began to draw her to himself at a very early age. Her first vivid memory of Jesus is from the age of three when she saw a movie on Jesus that was playing in her village. The most striking scene to her then was the scourging at the pillar. Being very little, she soon fell asleep in her mother’s arms. The next day, however, she remembers the whole village talking about the movie being about a “Christian God”. She also remembers being drawn to a certain building which she had never entered before. A few years later she was to find out that that building was a Church.

Her attraction towards Jesus was further fostered when, at around the age of 6 or 7, she started watching the TV serial Daya Sagar which was on the Life of Christ. At the age of 8, Sr. Pooja started schooling at the Jesuit run Rosary School at Ajra where she first encountered Christians and from where her own momentous journey towards Christianity began.

Even as a Hindu, Sr. Pooja was searching for God, was pious and was devoted to prayer. At school, the holiness of her principal, late Fr. Franklin D’Souza, S.J, left a deep impression on her. His simplicity, gentleness and uprightness convinced her that whatever he spoke, without any doubt, had to be true.
Her father being in the Army, the family frequently had to relocate to different places in India which started disrupting the education of the children. With the desire to have their children receive a good education at a Catholic Institution and, for academic stability, at the age of 10, her parents admitted her into the Holy Family Boarding, adjoining the school. It was here that her prayer life began to sprout. Daily Mass and prayer was part of the time-table of the Convent, which she faithfully followed.
The seed of her vocation to Carmel was sown when she read a children’s comic book on the life of St. Thérèse (Little Flower). So inspired was she with the life of the saint, that she herself decided to follow Jesus by becoming a Carmelite. The virtuous life of the sisters in her own boarding further nurtured her desire to become a nun. She realized that the first step towards the fulfilment of this desire was to become a Catholic. That year (at age 11) when she was home on vacation, she informed her parents of her decision to become a nun and a Catholic. So sincere and zealous was the desire of their child that her parents themselves agreed to become Catholics.

That same year, her parents and brother began their Catechetical formation under the spiritual guidance of Fr. Fremio, of the Diocese of Belgaum (who is also present with us here today) while Sr. Pooja was catechized at her School and Boarding. The family had to face a lot of resistance both from within their family as well as from the Parishioners of the local Church. However, with the kind help of Fr. Fremio, the necessary permissions were sought from Bishop Peter Machado (former Bishop of Belgaum).

26th of February 2004 was that day of the Lord’s favour when the Khandekar family received the grace of Baptism and Fist Holy Communion too. Sr. Pooja was studying in the 5th standard at that time. Their extended family, being displeased with their decision, severed all ties with them. Two years later, in 2006, Sr. Pooja received the Sacrament of Confirmation ministered by Bishop Allwyn Baretto (Bishop of Sindudurg).

In the 9th standard Sister met Fr. Rocha, S.J who was visiting the Rosary School and communicated her intention to become a nun. She clearly informed him that she was looking for an enclosed convent only, but that she had no information about where such convents existed. Little did not know that she was talking to the Confessor of the Sisters at Pune Carmel. Due to her tender age, Fr. Rocha did not inform the community immediately of the probable candidate. He, nevertheless, kept in touch with Sr. Pooja. It was only 5 years later that he informed the community. In the meantime, Sr. Pooja continued her education. Her vocation was supported and encouraged by her parents who never let her zeal slacken.

In 2011, after her 12th std exams, Sr Pooja, began to sense an urgent call from the Lord to join immediately but was persuaded by her spiritual director, Fr. Anthony D’Souza, S.J, to continue her studies in order to ascertain her vocation. A year later, seeing her determined determination, he gave his consent.

0n 24th May2012 (Exactly 6 years back), accompanied by her parents and Fr. Anthony, Sr. Pooja was admitted into this Carmel to ‘Come and See’ their life. After a month’s stay, she returned back 11 days later to enter the monastery as a Postulant on the 6th of June, the Feast day of St. Maria Goretti. From then on began her hidden life of service to the Church through prayer and self-denial. She was vested in the Holy Habit of Our Lady on the 3rd of July 2013 and was given the name Sr. Pooja of the Holy Trinity. She made her 1st profession of Vows on the 1st of May 2015 and three years later, she made her final commitment for life, through Solemn Profession on 23rd of May, 2018.

Copyright © 2006   KG Carmelite Province, Bangalore

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