Indian Catholic News

Nazareth nun who pioneered mission in India dies

She was a champion for girls’ education.

Sister Ann Roberta Powers
By Sister Malini Manjoly, SCN

Sister Ann Roberta Powers of Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, who pioneed their mission in the Indian villages soon after Indian independence, died June 27 in Bihar. She was 90.

A native of Clover port, Kentucky, she entered the congregation in 1942.

In 1947, Sister Powers, the youngest of six sisters embarked on the Congregation’s first mission to India at Mokama, Bihar, to begin a hospital to care for people affected with leprosy. She was 22 when she departed from Brooklyn, New York, aboard a cargo ship.

As the first born of Everett August Powers and Eva Mae Elder in 1924 at Clover port, Kentucky, USA, Roberta Marie Powers was a role model for her four sisters and five brothers.

Though she was a trained teacher, she served at Nazareth Hospital, Mokama, doing whatever the superiors asked of her during the initial years. She was the first non-formal teacher for children and women, besides teaching them catechism after Sunday Mass in Mokama.

In 1950 Sister Ann Roberta along with her three companions laid the educational foundation of Nazareth Academy, Gaya and was one of the popular teachers from 1950- 61. Sister served as the superior of the first SCN community at Ranchi, Jharkhand, from 1967-69.

Sister Ann Roberta started the first Hindi medium school for Tribals, in the remote, rural area of Chatra, Jharkhand, in 1969 . She was a champion for girls’ education. She believed firmly that changes in the society can happen by empowering women and girls.

True to her generous nature Sister responded to the needs of the Province and from 1975 onwards served the Province in various capacities such as Director of Social Work, Province Treasurer, Superior and teacher in the formation house.

Sister served in the Office of Nazareth Academy, Gaya from 1995 onwards. Her last days were spend at Shalom, Mokama and served in the Apostolate of Prayer.

Her burial mass was conducted on June 28 in the convent chapel followed by burial at the Cemetery in Mokama.

Sister Ann Roberta adopted fully Indian way of life. She had an extremely good memory that she could recall in detail her trips to India and all the events with names of people and places.

She was the last American SCN to be the member of India Province.

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