Ajna George (27), who went to her eternal rest had been fighting cancer for the last 5 years. A very active Jesus Youth, she was a former Coordinator of Jesus Youth in SH College, Thevara and was also part of the Ernakulam Teens’ Team and the All Kerala Music Central Team. Here is a beautiful reflection was written by her parish priest Rev. Fr. Jean Felix Kattassery, Vicar of St. Patrick’s Church, Vyttila, Archdiocese of Verapoly, Kerala:
“A life set apart in devotion to the Holy Eucharist from a very early age, forbearing acceptance and offering of the excruciating pains of cancer for the glory of God, embracing the Eucharistic Lord with a smile even as death drew close… This is not a reference to Carlo Acutis whom the Church recently declared Blessed. This is about one whose life closely resembled that of Carlo’s holy life; about Ajna George, a 27-year-old Jesus Youth, who left for her heavenly abode on 21 January 2022.
Striving to love Jesus… Smiling even when the cancer cells claimed her eyes, ears, liver, mouth, and jawbone… Adamant in her desire to walk to church for Mass every day even when her body was wracked with pain… Stubbornly demanding to receive the Eucharist even during the lockdown… Asking Jesus for greater suffering even as everyone prayed for her release from a world of pain… There could be no more fitting appellation for Ajna, who amazed everyone around her, than that of “Sister of Blessed Carlo Acutis”.I have read about saints who prayed for suffering and have also heard about saints who dedicated their lives to Jesus in the Eucharist. However, my eyes fill with tears as I ponder on God’s will, that granted me the opportunity to witness a holy life at such close quarters and allowed me to provide for her spiritual needs – O God, you are so great! The Church elevates a person to sainthood only after long years of intensive study and scrutiny. But as someone who has known Ajna personally for around 17 years, I can testify that her life resembled that of a saint!
Ajna must have been around 10 years old when she was introduced to me as the sister of my classmate Ajman. As she grew older, her love for Jesus grew. She often spoke of the spiritual nourishment she received from being active in Jesus Youth as a student in college. Having completed her undergraduate and postgraduate studies with excellent grades, she was appointed as Assistant Professor in the Department of Commerce at Sacred Heart College, Thevara. It was at this juncture, around four and half years ago that cancer cells were first detected in her jawbone.
Following treatment including emergency surgery, she resumed normal life, but those days of good health were short-lived. Even when cancer began to affect her eyes, ears, liver, jawbone, and lips, the smile on her face never faded, and the praise of God was ever-present upon her lips. During this time, cancer did not just rob her of her vision in one eye and hearing in an ear, but also the beauty of her face. Two months back, she lost most of her ability to speak.
I deem it God’s will that as she entered the last phase of her suffering, two and a half years ago, I was appointed vicar of her parish. Those days gave me an insight into her deep devotion for the Holy Eucharist. It often seemed to me that she was striving to love Jesus even more than Jesus loved her. She never stopped attending daily mass, something she had been accustomed to since childhood, even on days when she was in great pain. She came to church for Holy Mass holding her mother’s hand, like a toddler learning to walk. How can I ever forget the words with which she stopped me from arranging transportation for her to come to the Church, “You’re tempting me to evade suffering, aren’t you?”
Her persistence was astounding as she stubbornly insisted on receiving Holy Communion even when churches were closed to the public during the lockdown. Many are the times I was subjected to questioning by the police during my journeys to her home with Holy Communion! The very last week of her stay in the hospital at the height of her illness will forever be the most memorable days of my pastoral life, days when her hospital room was converted into a chapel of Eucharistic adoration. Only after offering an hour of silent worship and adoration of the Blessed Host that I brought her would she receive Jesus on her tongue. And it was thus, having received the Eucharistic Lord that she went to her eternal rest. (It is to be noted that since she could not open her mouth, she used to receive the Eucharist dissolved in water, through a gastrostomy feeding tube. This had been her mode of receiving communion over the last seven months). That holy death will never fade from my mind. Having received the anointing of the sick and the Holy Eucharist, she held my hand and recited the ejaculatory prayer “Jesus, Mary, Joseph…” for almost half an hour, her voice slowly fading till finally her life-breath, her offering to God, ceased. It was on a Friday, at exactly 3 o’clock in the afternoon, the very time Jesus gave up his breath! O God, were you making me witness a saint’s entry into heaven? I wonder.
But of one thing, I’m certain – her sole desire was to share Jesus in the Eucharist with everyone she met. While on her sickbeds, like St. Therese of the Child Jesus and St. Alphonsa, she offered all the suffering she endured for this very intention. Perhaps that is why her very death became a proclamation of the Holy Eucharist. How many are the glowing tributes to her love for the Eucharist posted on social media?
Despite the pain of losing a loved one, her parents Muttungal George and Achamma (St. Patrick’s Parish, Archdiocese of Verapoly), a couple who gave birth to a saint and their family can rejoice, and all those who knew her can take pride, knowing that from her place near Jesus who loved her and whom she loved, even more, she will continue to help us in our prayers to grow in devotion to Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. Our greatest blessing is that we lived in the same time that she did. Ajna, do remember us when you are in Paradise…”