Sr. Rani Maria
Sr. Rani Mariawas born on 29th January 1954 in the village Pulluvazhy, Ernakulam District, Kerala. ‘Marykunju’ was brought up by her God fearing parents - Paily and Eliswa - in Christian faith. She was the second of seven children in the Vattalil family. According to her parents, little Mary was a child of faith, prayer, simplicity and always showed a deep concern for the poor and the oppressed. she wanted to become a nun to serve God and humanity. As soon as she completed her high school studies she joined the Franciscan Clarist Congregation in the Province of Ernakulam, Kerala.
During her formation period she had an unquenchable desire to serve the poor, the needy and the oppressed. Her Postulant Mistress remarked “Even in her earlier days of formation she was courageous to speak out the truth and stand for justice before anybody. She never complained about anything but was fully content and cheerful”.
On 1st May 1974 she committed herself to the service of God and humanity and took the name ‘Sr. Rani Maria’. Realizing her great missionary zeal she was sent to Bijnor mission in U.P. in 1976. She was first asked by her superiors to go to teach in a school. She accepted the new apostolate wholeheartedly. But she was restless and was searching for the Will of God that was still to be revealed. She opened herself to God. Realizing her personal vocation that she is called not for teaching but for dedication herself to the poor, she humbly willingly, courageously and enthusiastically stepped into her ministry of serving the poor.
For seven years, Sr. Rani Maria had been a member of St. Mary’s convent, Bijnor. Feeling one with the poor she used to say “I will die for these poor”. Miles and miles she walked to meet villagers. Deeply convinced she used to say. “This is my vocation, to serve the poor and I will do this till the end of my life”. She was true to her words throughout her 21 years of committed life.
Then she concentrated her work on the Harijans and the illiterate who were the most exploited. At Odagady, many a time she had been threatened. Courageous as she was, she never got disappointed, instead this deepened her faith and strengthened her missionary zeal. The problems could only push her forward to witness Jesus even at the cost of her life. It was step by step that God was guiding His martyr to embrace and accept Jesus on the Cross.
In 1992 Sr. Rani Maria arrived at Udainagar, Indore, M.P. after 16 years of dedicated missionary work with a reputation of being a very committed social worker, organizer and animator. With the arrival of Sr. Rani Maria, the missionary activities in Udainagar took a turn for the better, to an organized way of functioning. At Udainagar Sr. Rani Maria’s life time was short but busy.
The immediate reason for the cold blooded murder of Sr. Rani Maria was the way she helped a group of poor, litterate and ignorant Catholic villagers, when they had been arrested after a fight with a local mafia leader to seek justice in the Court of Low. That Sr. Rani Maria continued to heed to her ‘inner-voice’ to help the poor, to seek justice, even after repeated warning from the anti social elements, is a tribute to her courage, dedication, determination and conviction to stand up for the cause of justice and truth.
On 25th February 1995, when Sr. Rani Maria was on her way to Bhopal to go to Kerala, she was assaulted in a local bus while travelling from Udainagar to Indore. The bus was stopped when it reached a jungle area about 25 km. away from Udainagar; Sister was stabbed, dragged out of the bus and brutually stabbed to death.