WINTER PARK | Four new sisters are welcomed to the Diocese of Orlando as diocesan religious celebrate their friendships at the Sisters Jubilee Mass and luncheon at San Pedro Spiritual Development Center, Oct. 28.
Three sisters of the Congregation of the Mother of Carmel traveled to Orlando from California. Sister Ranit Nellissery, the congregation’s superior, said all three were led there by God and friend, Father James Tharakan who encouraged Sister Nellissary to come. He assured her there would be a place for them. After much prayer and without assigned positions, she trusted the Lord’s guidance.
“I can’t express the gratitude I have for Bishop (John) Noonan because I never expected a bishop would call me personally from his phone because he got an email about us. I never expected that from a bishop.”
Bishop Noonan went so far as to call around to help the trio find jobs. “I told my sisters, this is our place. We need to be here. I don’t know what we’re going to do here, but I had this strong feeling this is our place,” Sister Nellissary said.
Although she could not attend the jubilee, she said she was so happy to see the warm welcome her sisters received, noting this intentional communion of orders within the diocese is new to them.
Sister Nellissary works as a nurse at DaVita Dialysis Center, a natural extension of her vocation.
Growing up in Kerala state, India, she found herself surrounded by the Sisters of the Congregation of the Mother of Carmel who served at the local orphanage and retirement homes. She was touched by their care of infants and the elderly.
At age 14, she decided to join the convent, but her parents and eldest brother, a priest, felt she was too young. So, she fasted for two weeks until they gave in. Sister Nellissary entered the order in 1993 and worked in California until they arrived in central Florida in August of this year.
Sister Asha Kooliyadan entered just a few years prior, in 1989. Like Sister Nellissary, Sister Kooliyadan is a nurse. “It is very hard to work as a nurse in California,” she explained. So, when she was asked to go on a different assignment, she was open to it. Sister Kooliyadan now serves St. Mary Magdalen School in Altamonte Springs as a school nurse and spiritual counselor.
The youngest of the three, Sister Anitta Kallukaran, arrived in California only five years ago. Also from Kerala, she professed perpetual vows in 2007 and taught in a parish. Here she serves as a pastoral associate coordinating Sacramental preparation at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Winter Park, where the three sisters are parishioners. She said she loves Orlando because “the people are more religious.” “I just want to give Christ to others. I feel the younger generation is moving away from God. As a religious, as a nun, I feel it is my duty and my calling to lead others to Christ and I hope I’ll be able to do that.”
From the Missionaries of the Holy Family comes Sister Evangeline Kiambati. Her vocation began at age six, but she didn’t realize it then. Later as a high school student in Kenya, she met the missionaries and the title “Holy Family” stood out, along with their charism of unity. “I wanted to be like them,” she recalled. Her parents did not agree at first, but eventually gave in. She professed perpetual vows in September of 2009. Her missionary work took Sister Kiambati from Kenya to Zambia, Illinois, and now Florida. She teaches religion at Basilica of St. Paul in Daytona Beach.
Staff Report, November 2, 2023