No one has greater love than this , to lay down ones life for ones friends. (John 15: 13)
The life and sublime action of Sr.Leyola bears testimony to this word of our Lord. The brave death she embraced will always remain evergreen in the hearts of the multitudes who remember her. There is no exaggeration to call her a Prophet of silence services. She always tried to radiate the loving message of her master Lord jesus Christ in all her deeds.
Born as the youngest daughter of Philippose and Mariamma of the illustrious Koippally Kunnathara family she was the darling of her parents. Baptised as Anna she was lovingly called Annakutty. She had her middle school education from St.Thomas UP School Champakulam and her High School education from St.Teresas H.S.Vazhappally. By listening the inner call , she joined in Alappuzha Carmelite Convent in the year 1944.She took her First profession in the year 1946 & completely surrendered herself to the God in the year 1949.
Her joy knew no bounds when she was appointed as a teacher in a High School. It was a relationship of his dream career. She tried to emulate the Lord in all possible ways. A damsel of extraordinary physical beauty she was fascinatingly exuberant in her inward beauty too. Her inner strength and style were qualities worthy to be imitated for the society.
Though Sr.Leyola rendered her service as a teacher in many institutions, St. Antonys High School Alappuzha was the institution that was close to her heart. She had been a teacher there for so many years. Her meticulous and dedicated service was something to be imitated not only for the students but for the teacher community as well. In the year 1971, she was entrusted with the responsibility of Mother Superior in Pulincunnoo Carmelite Convent.
After her retirement in 1975 from St.Antonys High School, she was appointed as the warden of St.Rose Hostel run by the Carmelite Sisters of Alapuzha. It was indeed a difficult endeavor to satisfy the ever changing and unending demands and needs of the hostel inmates, who represented people belonging to different fields. She won the hearts of the inmates not by preaching or commanding but by abiding to what she preached. She was a saintly figure who always stood for the uplift of the marginalized .The convent where she lived had visitors from different walks of life. This itself is a true indication that Sr.Leyola was kind and caring to the poor and sidetracked.
The ill-fated chlorine tragedy took place while she was the warden of St.Roses Hostel, on 23rd April 1981. No doubt this will always remain as a black day in the history of the hostel.
It was nearing 9 0 Clock. Torrential downpour, thunderstorms, and thunderbolts hovered the city of Alapuzha. A pall of gloom descended the entire city. The inmates who belonged to different creed, culture, profession and age were getting ready to sleep. Among them were students, officers, teachers, nuns, and working women from different society. Most of them were struck dumb by a big explosive sound. It was louder than the sound of a thunderbolt. It took time to realize that the big chlorine cylinder kept in the PHED pump house had burst out. Most of the inmates opened their windows to see what had happened. They were all welcomed by a pungent smell which spread that place. Within seconds the fangs of death danced all over the hostel. Some fell unconscious, some had suffocation, some others vomited and some cried for help.
As usual Sr.Leyola, was preparing to call it a day after her usual prayers. When she heard this unusual sound she rose up to the situation. It is to be admitted that she had the rare talent that to observe the seemingly nonexistent hidden dangers. Realizing the gravity of the incident she started rescuing the inmates from this stranger. She tried by all means to move the inmates out of the hostel. She carried students on her shoulders and ran out. Her repeated rescue operations made her weak. Many advised her not to go in again. They all realized that she had become exhausted. But Sr.Leyola did not listen to her friends words. Her motherly care and affection wanted to make sure that no one has been stranded inside. She made up her mind to take the risk. She climbed up the stairs, searched nuke, and corner, locked the unlocked rooms and came down with wobbling steps. This was fatal. She had enough of chlorine in her lungs. Though physically weak she came to the nunnery and asked for some water. Completely exhausted she fell unconscious. The sisters sprinkled water on her face, but they could hear, nothing but a faint voice repeating the chant , Jesus my Saviour, She was rushed to the nearby hospital. Though the doctors tried their best to save her life their efforts turned futile. Lord wanted her to adorn His eternal garden. Sr.Leyola offered her soul to the one whom she had always loved.
The generations yet to come will remember this noble soul as a prophet lived ahead of her time. She proclaims that Service to humanity is the best work of human life. What is there more superior to offer other than ones own life. She subjugated her personal agendas and surrendered her ego to the supreme will of God. A humanitarian par excellence, a martyr of Christ, a nun who heroically proclaimed her faith, Rev.Sr.Leyola is truly a precious jewel not only to CMC but to the whole world. In January 1983 the Kerala Govt. bestowed on her SARVOTHAMA JEEVAN RAKSHA PADHAK as an honour after her sacrificial death.