Catholic widow’s life inspires hundreds

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By DCD Reporter 

Kandhamal, Odisha, October 8, 2021: A Catholic widow in Kandhamal who inspired others died on October 6 of old age.

Mariya Magdelena (Toili) Nayak, 96, a widow for 45 years, brought up eight children.

“I have received eight children as gifts from God. It was a great responsibility to take care of them with full of challenges,” she had said when she was sick. 

Life is a gift and death is a wish from the Lord which everyone has to accept even if it is a hard reality, said Mariya in her last breath. 

She was the second of three siblings of Haribandhu and Laxmidebi Nayak from Kerubadi, a remote village of Kandhamal district under Our Lady of Rosary Parish at Daringbadi in Cuttack-Bhubaneswar Archdiocese, Odisha, eastern India. 

Her death on October 6 brought sorrow to many irrespective of caste, creed, and religion. 

The bereaved family received thousands of condolence messages from priests, nuns, and people across the state soon after the demise of Nayak.

She married Dandasena on September 8, 1943, at the age of 18. She lost her husband in 1976.  

“We are proud of our mother and admire her commitment, sacrifice, and responsibility to bring up the children,” said her children.

Mariya educated all children without any stable source of income but depending heavily only on daily wages.

She is the inspiration for us all because she could make one son a headmaster of Middle English Medium, another a Catholic Priest, two daughters college graduates and other up to high school and married them successfully.  

“Going for daily wages and bringing up children is a challenge and tough time in society all alone for 45 years. The poverty could not defeat her determination and faith in God. It has become a model for everyone,” said Father Ratikant Ranjit in his homily during a requiem Mass held on October 8 at Kerubadi.

According to the priest, God blessed her abundantly with courage and strength by which she single-handedly looked after her children after her husband’s death. 

Quoting Deuteronomy 10:18 (‘God defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow and loves the alien giving him food and clothing), Mukund Balliarsingh, the parish priest of Our Lady of Holy Rosary Parish at Daringbadi, said, “God is loving and kind. He is always ready to accompany widows and orphans.”  

It is not only government employee can bring up one’s children and educate them, but a daily-wage labourer can care for children and educate with a strong faith in God, added Baliarsingh.

As many as 13 priests, two nuns, and two hundred Catholics attended the Mass, presided over by the priest-son Purushottam Nayak.   

“I am proud of my mother who has become an inspiration to many in our region,” said Nandini Nayak, the youngest daughter who was in the womb of her mother at the time of death of her father.

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