MUMBAI, India – Mother Giovanna Saveria Alberoni was a “humble missionary at the service of life,” according to Mumbai’s Cardinal Oswald Gracias.

The former superior general of the Ursulines of Mary Immaculate congregation died on Jan. 18 at the age of 94.

The nun was noted for converting a 22-bed nursing home to a full-fledged multi-specialty institution and medical research center in Mumbai.

The Italian-born nun arrived in India in 1948, earning a degree at the Lady Hardinge Medical College in New Delhi. She began working in the maternity wards of hospitals in Kanpur, Calicut, Vaiythiri and Mumbai.

In 1978, she managed to turn a small nursing home into the Holy Family Hospital, which has 268 beds.

“Mother Giovanna selflessly and consistently promoted the culture of life, as a religious and medical doctor,” Gracias told Crux.

“She was a pioneer with her vision, her ethos and her encouragement that made Holy Family Hospital what it is today. From a modest nursing home to a hospital that delivered state-of-the-art diagnostics and treatment, emergency care, preventive medicine, and teaching and research initiatives. When it was handed over it was a very small 12-bed setup, but now you can see how huge it has become,” the cardinal continued.

Gracias said this success was due to her ethos and her highly professional approach.

“She was really the moving spirit behind it all – encouraging, optimistic, good organizer and a good leader. Her passing away is a big loss. Holy Family Hospital has become the premier institute it is today because of Mother Giovanna’s continued encouragement and spurring on. The Archdiocese of Bombay is very grateful to her,” he said.

Ursuline Sister Beena Madhavath, the deputy director of Holy Family Hospital told Crux that Alberoni was a missionary with a vision.

“She spent 72 years in India. After completing her studies in Lady Hardinge Medical College in Delhi, she worked as a gynecologist in different parts of India. She was instrumental in expanding Holy Family Hospital from a 22-bed nursing home to 268-bed multi-specialty hospital and research center,” she said.

“Through her caring ways and winning smile, she captured everyone’s heart. She served the Congregation of The Ursulines of Mary Immaculate in various capacities – as superior of the Indian Mission, Provincial Superior of the Central Province and Superior General. Through her dedication and hard work, she opened a mission branch in Africa. Above all she was a wonderful human being. She treated everyone with motherly affection,” Madhavath said.