Sister Lucy Lalsangzuali, CSC (August 13, 1974-June 4, 2020)

She called herself a pioneer. Sister Lucy Lalsangzuali was the first young woman from India to enter the international Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross. Sister lived fully her 21 years in Holy Cross, her formative years beginning and ending in Shillong as a daughter of the Church and spiritual mother to many. She died during the week of the feast of Pentecost in Shillong, Meghalaya, India, on June 4, 2020. Lucy’s father and mother were simple farmers in Lungtan, a small, remote, multi-ethnic village in Northeast India in the highlands of the Champhai district of Mizoram. John Rualpela and Carmeli Rokhumi Varte were devout Catholics and active parishioners in an enclave with a long history of Christian missionary activity and high literacy. Lucy, born in Lungtan on August 13, 1974, was the fifth child of four daughters and four sons. Her older brothers and sisters attended school, and her parents, despite some hardship, arranged to educate Lucy at the Holy Cross Brothers’ School in Champhai, where she also boarded and worked from 1988 to 1993. Eventually her parents settled in Khawzawl, where the Holy Cross priests had opened a parish.  Lucy completed her higher secondary education in 1996 and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at Khawzawl Government College in 1999. For six years she had considered a religious vocation as she accompanied various clergy on their pastoral visits. However, she felt an obligation to her family first and helped support them while teaching. It was Father Simon Fernandez, CSC, and Father Harry D’Silva, CSC, who encouraged Lucy to enter the Sisters of the Holy Cross. With the encouragement of her parents, Lucy Lalsangzuali began her formation in Holy Cross in Shillong on May 24, 1999, as an aspirant, then as a postulant. On December 7, 2000, she began her novitiate in Savar, Dhaka, Bangladesh. She was the only Indian among her peers in Bangladesh. Ironically, her Indian passport was often questioned by her countrymen whenever she crossed the border back into India, since the Mizo people also have tribal and ethnic origins in western Burma and eastern Bangladesh. On November 29, 2002, Sister Lucy, taking first vows said, “I enjoyed the hospitality, equality, friendliness, freedom and openness of Holy Cross—traits very similar to and connected with the culture from which I had come.” She felt called to serve all people “in the plains and hills, over the mountains and across the ocean.” Sister Lucy subsequently completed her professional government teaching degree (equivalent to a Bachelor of Education degree) at the College of Teacher Education in Shillong in 2010 and earned a Master of Arts in sociology at Madurai Kamaraj University, Shillong, in 2011. During those years of study, she was simultaneously engaged in ministry. She was an enthusiastic teacher of youth and a social worker with women in her years of ministry from 2002 to 2017, teaching in Agartala, West Tripura, India, twice at Saint Andre High School and at Our Lady of Holy Cross School.  When Sister Lucy lived in community in Bodhjungnagar, she found time to sing and plan activities for her neighbors, the orphans of Holy Cross Boys Town. She found great joy playing her guitar to help them settle down and focus. Sister Lucy’s last two missions were in Meghalaya, India, at St. John Bosco Secondary School in Nongstoin and St. Paul Higher Secondary School in Jatah village, East Khasi Hills District.  From 2012 to 2014, Sister Lucy crossed several borders by participating in the Sisters of the Holy Cross Leadership Development Program, beginning in Ghana, West Africa. The hospitality and experience of the Ghanaian sisters made her realize that she was not the only pioneer in Holy Cross. Her administrative internship continued in Salt Lake City, Utah, at Holy Cross Ministries and at Saint Vincent de Paul, Our Lady of Lourdes and J.E. Cosgriff Memorial schools. Sister Lucy’s leadership was affirmed when she was elected a delegate to the sisters’ General Chapter in May 2019. Later elected a counselor for the Area of Asia, she assumed office in November. A short time later, she took seriously ill and never fully recovered. When Sister Lucy made her perpetual profession of vows in Shillong on October 31, 2008, she committed her heart forever “to Jesus who died for me.” Responding to God’s love song, she likened herself to “a guitar in the hands of my Music Master.” A chorus of Alleluias is now being sung in the Mizo language in the heavens above, among those of every tribe and nation.—Written by Sister Catherine Osimo, CSC with editing assistance by Edwin Donnelly

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