Editoriale Giornalino n5
In the previous Rosminian News it was beautifully brought to our attention how we responded ‘in one mind and one heart’ to the invitation of Jesus “Fill the jars” during our General Council Leadership Meeting in Stresa in June/July 2014. The task of ‘filling the jars’ as in other parts of the Rosminian world is also courageously undertaken and continued in India and precisely in Kerala and Maharashtra where the Providence of God has called us to fulfill the initial plan or desire of our Blessed Father Founder Antonio Rosmini to begin a mission in India.
So, following the indications of Providence we, the Rosminian Sisters started our Mission in India in 1991 and precisely in Kerala, in the Latin Diocese of Trivandrum which today is an Archdiocese
The first activity requested by the people to whom we paid great attention, guided by the wisdom of our Parish Priest Rev. Fr. Joseph Gomez, recently called to his heavenly home, was EDUCATION: A school for the poor in that small part of the country which formed, we discovered later, the 8th part of the City of Trivandrum. To us then, it looked like a simple small fishing village and nothing more!!! So, from then onwards we called it our ‘City 8’.
Accordingly, we reserved a part of the Convent building (the Convent was built in 1992) for this purpose. The School was begun in February 1993 by our dear Sr. M. Monica D’Cunha with a great spirit of faith and trust in Providence. She had never taught the little pre-primary children but, when the need arose, she generously and courageously dedicated herself to this mission making it a success. We are grateful to her and at the same time, sure that from Heaven she will continue to take good care of us.
To meet the needs of the children a new school was built in 1997 and a few years later in 2004, a second big building had to be put up in order to provide for the increasing number of children in the Pre-Primary and Primary sections which Sr. Maristella Vaz was asked to take charge of in June 1994. By the grace of God and with hard work, sacrifices and many tears too, she not only made it grow slowly and steadily but also obtained a very good reputation before handing it over in 2010 to the new Headmistress Sr. M. Grace Joseph. Over these years It has been a real pleasure to notice the good relationship maintained with many of our ex-students who inform us of their success and their positive achievements, thanks to the good foundation they had received in their beloved School.
Rosmini Convent School is a private school which is still working hard for its recognition from the Government. One of the conditions is three and a half acres of land which we do not have but, we are in the process of buying a plot. Being a City area the price is very, very high but it is a must. It is a tough struggle no doubt but, trusting in Providence we are sure the victory will be ours and hopefully soon, thanks to the generous contributions of our benefactors, too. Four of our Sisters which include the Headmistress, are working in the School along with a staff of 18 lay teachers, a Secretary and three general service workers. The School also provides two buses with its own drivers and two helpers to serve the students coming from the surrounding areas.
In all this process of growth and development we are grateful to our Major Superiors who gave us all their support along with the precious financial help received also from our dear benefactors. Without them it would have been impossible to go on ‘filling the jars’ and continue as we do to this day.
Right from the beginning the Sisters also began to take part in the pastoral activities of the Parish and continue their mission very much appreciated by the people today in teaching Catechism, preparing the people for Sacraments, in counselling at the Parish and diocesan level, participating at the Unit and Parish Council meetings, visiting the families and caring for the sick and needy according to our capacity.
Something wonderful to note is the unity and collaboration among the Bishops of India who work together in taking care of the human and spiritual growth of their flock well mediated at the level of the Parishes through the zealous work of the Priests, Sisters and now, the lay people too. Special attention is given to the families and to catechesis with organized programs at various level which not only keep the faith of the people active and lively but, makethe Sunday Eucharistic Celebration meaningful and life-giving. Our Sisters take part in all the different activities which enrich them, first of all.
From the period of its foundation until today many young girls came to experience the life and the Charism of the Congregation. Our District in India has all together 18 members: 12 Finally Professed Sisters and 6 Junior Sisters. At present in Kerala, it is composed of the two communities of Cheriathura and Vettuthura, both of which are Houses of Formation. The Noviciate House in Vettuthura wasblessed by the Bishop of Trivandrum in May 2000 where presently 2 Novices are residing with a Community of 7 Sisters, including the Superior of the Districtand the Novice Mistress whereas the two Aspirants are in Cheriathura. Two of the Junior Sisters are coming to an end of their Degree Course in St. Xavier’s College in Trivandrum and the other two are studying Nursing in the Holy Cross Nursing Hospital in Kottiyam. In both the Communities the Sisters are involved in the education and pastoral ministries
Once established quite well in Kerala, and in reply to the reorganization of our resources undertaken by the General Chapter of our Congregation, the Indian Delegation felt that the time had come to offer its services to other Dioceses and we received an invitation from the Diocese of Belgaum which is not far from Goa
We were invited to give our service which began in August 2009 with the help of the Canossian Sisters with a few Pre-Primary kids. A few months later in January 2010 we had to take over all the responsibility of the school from the Canossian Sisters as they could not continue. In this Diocese too, one of the first things the people asked of us was a school for their children as no other school existed then, in that area.
The area where we work is a poor rural area where we wholeheartedly dedicate ourselves for the uplift of the poor, especially the youth who otherwise fall an easy prey to drugs and drinks at a very early age as there is no one to guide them.
Here too, after many struggles and real patient hard work we at last were able purchase a plot to build our School and a multiuse hall for various activities besides building our Convent on the plot kindly donated to us by the Bishop of the Diocese. We are eagerly looking forward to begin these constructions which will enable us to carry our apostolate according to our long treasured dream in favour of the people we sincerely love. This is really a Mission area where a lot has still to be done to empower particularly, the People of God and strengthen their faith which suffers setbacks from contacts with other religious practices. Mass in the outstation is celebrated in the evenings from time to time in order to favour the participation of those working in the fields. As you can well imagine they come tired and exhausted but, desirous to meet the Lord of Life. The house in which the Mass is celebrated passes from a ‘sacred place’ prepared for the moment to a simple dining room where the people cordially share their frugal supper after Mass. These are important moments of religious instruction.
With the help of the Parish Priest we were able to find a suitable house on rent in which we are still living today with a great spirit of sacrifice and pure love for Christ. Unfortunately, there was no other place available for a school except, the old abandoned church. The Parish Priest did the needful to make it look a wee bit decent and naturally, the Congregation had to provide for all the expenses. Partitions were set up to divide the classes, toilets were built outside and up to this day we are still conducting our school in that shabby old building to which only the presence of the children gives beauty! The numbers began to increase as the children went up to the Primary and so permission was given by the Bishop to make use of the new Church along with the sacristy for Std I, to Std.IV.
You cannot imagine the sacrifices the Sisters had to go through and are still going through. Besides doing all the household duties from cleaning to cooking to gardening, they have to be ready by 6 o’clock with their lunch tiffin prepared, have their breakfast and say their prayers in order to leave the house by 6.30 a.m. for the Parish Church where they pray the Rosary with the people before the 7 o’clock Holy Mass. Some time for meditation and then the Sisters begin preparing the classrooms. Meanwhile the children begin to arrive and the Sisters are with them from until 3.30 and much later in the afternoon until all go home.
The children are eager to learn and the parents are happy to see the progress they make, but we cannot do much as the space we have is very limited.
The Sisters are marvelous in doing all the activities done in other schools: celebrations, outings, plays and dancing etc,. If we had our own building we certainly would have been able to give a more dignified and qualified service. For this purpose we need the kind contribution of your precious prayer and any possible help.
With the help of the donations received, we have been able to purchase several items necessary in the school which in the beginning had absolutely nothing except the huge black cobwebs on the dirty walls. All that has been put in: partitions charts, benches, chairs, tables, shelves, filter for drinking water, uniforms etc, is thanks also to the kind and noble heart of our dear benefactors to whom we will never be able to express all our sentiments of gratitude, adequately.
As you see, the task of ‘filling the jars’ with the blessing of our Bl. Rosmini has to kept going and this is exactly what the Sisters do not only in India but in every other place where Providence calls us to work. May the Lord grant success to our work of ‘filling the jars’ with the only gift we ask of Him with All the Saints, “To rejoice in the Lord always and serve Him with gladness” in accord with the constant request of the Holy Father Pope Francis to us religious.