Medical Missionary Sisters in India Create Center for Rest and Healing Amidst the Miracle of God’s Creation | earth strike

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A sunset over Samanvaya is an example of God’s beauty and wonder at the Eco-Health Center in Pune, India. (Rowena Miranda)

The Medical Missionary Sisters are pioneers in the healing ministry. When the Congregation was organized in the United States in 1925, the focus of our mission was direct medical care through hospitals and pharmacies, as this was the urgent need of the day.

But a pamphlet containing our Founder’s talks states that our understanding of our charism of healing has evolved as hospitals began to offer direct medical care since we began our hospital ministry in Pakistan in 1926 to meet the needs of the time.

Mother Anna Dengel, doctor and our founder, often said to her sisters: “We have to adapt to needs, needs don’t adapt to us. And in that spirit, the healing mission of the Medical Missionary Sisters has evolved over the years.

Our experience of dealing with sickness and disease has led us to realize that it is not just the physical body that needs treatment or healing, but the whole human being and from curative to supportive to preventive health care we have our healing ministry around the Justice expanded as an integral part of healing and health, pioneering the shift to holistic healing with alternative health therapies in the 1980s.

We soon realized that the care and healing of the planet was very closely related to the healing and health of people. Since 1985, we have strived to include caring for the earth and healing the planet as essential to human healing and health.

Medical Mission Sr. Rowena Miranda, center, stands with sisters in front of the convent at Samanvaya Eco-Health Center.  (Courtesy of Rowena Miranda)

Medical Mission Sr. Rowena Miranda, center, stands with sisters in front of the convent at Samanvaya Eco-Health Center. (Courtesy of Rowena Miranda)

We believe that we cannot have healthy people or communities on a sick planet.

Over the past 62 years, through toil and hard work, missionary sisters have turned a once barren hillside in Pune, India, into a green “lung”. With a diversity of about 3,000 trees, we have tried to preserve the flora and fauna where everyone who comes in enjoys the freshness and pure air, listen to the birds singing, have a fantastic view of sunsets and live in solidarity the community – Reptiles, rodents, peacocks, squirrels and a variety of birds.

In his encyclical Laudato Si‘ Pope Francis calls for an “ecological conversion” in people’s hearts to care for the earth as our common home in responsible stewardship of God’s gift of creation. In response to this call and the crying need of the hour, our community has opened a new Eco-Healing and Health Center on our hilltop site in Bibwewadi overlooking the city of Pune.

(Rowena Miranda)

(Rowena Miranda)

The environment with lots of greenery – away from the hustle and bustle of the city offers a conducive ambience for rest, meditation, retreat to commune with nature and experience healing of body, mind and spirit.

The center is called Samanvaya and means harmony, integration, coordination. The logo shows a harmonious coexistence of man and nature.

With this center, our community hopes to create awareness and encourage a more harmonious life with all of creation in the spirit of living together, which will surely have a positive impact on the person and allow them to experience healing, health and wholeness.

The center has individual units spread across the campus. The units are: a residence with an administrative building for the staff of the Medical Missionary Sisters, a chapel with a meditation room, a conference room, a dining room, a dormitory with two wings for 20 people, five hermitages for 10 people and two quarters for colleagues.

Along the way there are rocks to sit on, stones with inspirational words and statues. Each statue has a story to tell: Mother Dengel, Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Joseph sleeping, the Holy Family and at the end Jesus with open arms inviting everyone to rest. A labyrinth invites visitors to take a meditative stroll and a lotus pond refreshes the mind.

Our vision is to create a space that supports people in a healing way to live in harmony with each other and with all of creation.

Our mission is to promote earth care, healing and health for all people and to provide space and an environment where people can touch the divine in themselves and all creation through silent reflection, communication with nature and study sessions.

Our philosophy is respect for every person, regardless of creed, caste, gender, status and social, cultural or economic background; and care and reverence for all creation.

Medical Missionary Sisters want to spread the good news about how you can take care of yourself and the earth—our mother and our home—in a holistic way. We have installed renewable energy systems – solar water heating and lighting, wastewater recycling, rainwater harvesting, bio-enzyme composting, waste sorting and recycling. We hope to make this place a plastic and pollution free zone.

The center is called Samanvaya and means harmony, integration, coordination.  The logo shows a harmonious coexistence of man and nature.  (Rowena Miranda)

The center is called Samanvaya and means harmony, integration, coordination. The logo shows a harmonious coexistence of man and nature. (Rowena Miranda)

Samanvaya can provide space for individuals or groups seeking quiet time, a retreat or just communing with nature. It will offer awareness programs in eco-healing and health, provide a place to learn from nature, promote renewable energy and – for those who desire healing – offer natural and herbal remedies. The facilities are also available to groups wishing to conduct their own programmes.

The eco center will work in conjunction with our existing holistic health center which offers acupuncture, naturopathic treatments and basic holistic health education programs. It is also involved in HIV/AIDS work.

Three medical missionary sisters moved to the center in August 2021 to start a new community and begin planning, overseeing and establishing the eco-healing and health ministry. In the midst of the pandemic and its confinement, we are blessed with natural social distancing, enjoying breathing pure fresh air and being caressed by gentle cool breezes. We wake up to the beauty of the sunrise and end the day glorifying God for the breathtaking sunset. We also enjoy the gifts of nature – fruits and vegetables. Our three staff are a blessing as they help us care for all those who come to the center.

Visitors to the center – including city and government officials – are amazed to see such a space in the heart of Pune city. Groups who have used our facilities have found them ideal for rest, reflection, retreat and healing amidst the wonder and beauty of God’s creation.

We are grateful to Mother Anna Denge who bought this hilltop property in 1953 with great vision.

The campus of the center includes five hermitages that can accommodate 10 people.  It also includes a chapel with a meditation hall, a conference hall, a dining room and a dormitory.  (Rowena Miranda)

The campus of the center includes five hermitages that can accommodate 10 people. It also includes a chapel with a meditation hall, a conference hall, a dining room and a dormitory. (Rowena Miranda)

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