Sr Maria Riva


I am Sister Maria. I was born in a quiet little town north of Milan, Italy in 1932 from hardworking parents who were rich in their profound faith. My mother was very pious, a woman of God who bore three daughters and a son. I was the youngest in the family.

I was the third in my family to join the Canossian Daughters of Charity. My two sisters joined the Congregation in 1943 and 1945. After their formation the elder sister was missioned to Argentina. The second sister to Singapore first, then to Australia. As the remaining daughter and the youngest in the family, my father’s expectation to have someone to look after him in his old age, put an obstacle to follow the Lord’s call. I used to follow my parents to visit my sisters. Each time I felt very happy and peaceful.

I was deeply touched by the young postulants and novices who love God enough to leave their families and to take the road less traveled. Looking at them I said to myself: “If they can succeed to follow Jesus, why not me?” As I grew up, I was very active in the parish catechism, Catholic action, etc. All these helped me to foster my vocation and to be closer to God. I knew that the call to religious life is a gift. I was very enthusiastic and full of joy knowing that when the Lord calls, He gives the grace and the courage to take up the challenge. My `yes’ was the beginning of various difficulties and struggles with myself first and with my father. I felt I was not worthy of such a noble life with Jesus, then I was afraid that my father will not allow me to go, as he had already given to the Lord my two sisters, Esther and Carla.

Through prayers and spiritual direction, I was determined to wait for the right time. The Lord settled everything in His time. My father gave me permission to follow my vocation, my call.

I joined the Canossian missionary novitiate in Vimercate in 1953. After my first vows I was sent to Rome to prepare myself to be a kindergarten teacher, and later on to Milan to be trained to teach the hearing impaired students.

After my perpetual vows I was missioned to Singapore, arriving in August 1963. I helped out in different fields of apostolate with the borders, teachers in the hearing impaired school, catechesis in our schools and in the parishes.