Fifty years of dedicated service to the downtrodden
On Saturday 30 July 2011,Sr.Colette Selvam IJ celebrated her 50 years of service to the Lord as a nun.Sr. Colette is best remembered for her more than 20 years of relentless efforts to uplift the poor in the slums of Mak Mandin in Butterworth.
When I first went to work in Butterworth in 1993 I met the then parish priest Fr.MurphyPakiam who is now the Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur and told him I was interested in joining some ministry to serve the poor. Without hesitation he recommended Sr.Colett who was actively working with the hardcore poor in the Mak Mandin squatters in Butterworth.In fact to many in Butterworth she was known as the nun of the slums of Mak Mandin.
Sister used to stayin very modest environment among the poor and was doing her best to uplift their lives especially the children by educating them. Her home was the education centre for the children in the squatters many of whom come from broken families and hardly have food let alone attending regular school. A number of volunteers from the parish were involved in helping her to teach the children who gather at her house every day.
Sr.Colette had been a great inspirational force for me, motivating me to a little good for others whenever and wherever I can. She made me realize that helping the poor is not just giving out money, food, gifts or celebrating birthdays and Christmas with them. It is more of getting involved with them at a more personal level as to be able to reassure them, allay their anxieties and most important giving them hope. It short it is to be there when they need you most. This is most difficult but Sister Colette was one person who was there for them 24hours without fail.
She admits that was not easy and she failed more often than succeed but says, “I took up this task knowing that I may not succeed, success was not my aim, doing my best is”. These words opened my mind to accept such failures with a positive mind.
Another thing that I remember of her is what she said about trying to change the poor to become better, “I tried very hard to change people but failed, in the process all I could achieve was to change myself”.
Yes 50 years ago Sr. Colette accepted her vocation with full conviction, knowing that she may not succeed but she gave her best. After all these years of selfless service she remains humble to admit that she failed to change others but instead changed herself.
We salute her for her 50 long years of dedicated service to God as a nun.She was not an ordinary nun but one who had a special place for the poor in her heart. We salute her for her 50 years of dedicated service to the poor and downtrodden in whom she saw Jesus.
Let’s pray that God grant her many more years of good health and vitality so that she can continue bringing His love into the lives many more in need and be a symbol of a what a true Christian should be.