A septuagenarian Catholic nun has won the hearts of people, mostly Hindus, in western India with her work among mentally ill persons found living on roadsides. Many call her the “Mother Teresa of Mithapur.” The local Catholic prelate is so impressed that he urges others in the church to follow the example of Sister Elsie Vadakkekara of the Sisters of St. Ann of Providence in India, where preaching the Gospel has become increasingly difficult due to religious bias.
As reported by mattersindia.com, “The people in Mithapur treat Sister Vadakkekara like a living God,” says Hasmukh Bharati, the priest of Nageshwar Jyotirlinga, a local Hindu temple. “Nobody can do the work she does,” he told Global Sisters Report, referring to the sister’s care for people with mental illness who are found abandoned on roads. She feeds them every day. Many in Mithapur, a coastal town in Gujarat state, see in the 79-year-old bespectacled nun the presence of the divine among humankind.
As the nun’s yellow vehicle passes through various lanes around Mithapur, covering a radius of 17 square miles with at least 40 stops, people rush toward the vehicle to collect their share of food. Currently, she feeds 45 people who are mentally ill and living in unhygienic and inhuman conditions. In some cases, the sister or her driver calls out their names and they come out to collect their meals. Others remain at their place, under a tree or in the corner of an abandoned building. In that case, the nun or Siruka seeks them out to hand them the food. “The sister has given each one a name and they respond immediately when we call them,” Siruka says. Himmant Bhai, a wholesale dealer of onions and potatoes, says he is ready to sponsor anything for Vadakkekara. Bhai offers her as many free onions and potatoes as she wants. “Even at midnight, if I get a call from the nun, I open my shop,” he told GSR. “If there is a shortage in my shop, I purchase the items from another shop for them.” Dev Bhai, a retired private company employee who is now engaged in watch repairing, says he prays to God to grant Vadakkekara long life so that she could help more destitute people. “She serves those who need help the most,” he said. Many like him say that only Christians can do this kind of work.