Mangalore, Dec 22: The Bethany Sisters, located near Bendur Church, will observe a sacred year in honor of their founder Msgr Raymond F C Mascarenhas (1875 - 1960), also known as “Servant of God.” He is the first Roman Catholic in Mangalore who has been recommended for sainthood, one of the few Indians to receive such an honor. This year-long observance in his honor will be inaugurated by Fr. Aloysius Paul D’Souza, the bishop of Mangalore, with a Holy Mass followed by a prayerful programme on Dec 23, at 10:30 a.m.
Msgr Raymond has been thus honored because of his exemplary service in Mangalore and its surrounding regions. First and foremost, he founded the only indigenous religious order, the Bethany Sisters, in 1921. He also founded the flourishing Bendur Church and parish in 1914 - 1931.
Msgr Raymond F C Mascarenhas was born into a Roman Catholic family on Jan 23, 1875. He completed his early education in Milagres School and St Aloysius High School, Mangalore. He received his ordination on March 4, 1900 and began life as a priest by serving the parishes of Milagres, Udyavar, and Agrar. He then chose to become the first parish priest of Bendur, which was then just a piece of barren land. He served as the parish priest of Bendur from 1914 to 1931, transforming it into a social and spiritual centre.
Msgr Mascarenhas largest contribution was the establishment of the Bethany Congregation of Sisters for local women who wished to lead spiritual lives. Today, the Bethany Congregation has spread all over the world and comprises 1,400 nuns, 175 convents all over India, and 15 convents abroad. The nuns have rendered a lot of service in women’s welfare, healthcare, geriatric care, and so on.
Msgr Raymond is also known for translating the Bible into Konkani in 1950. He has translated a number of works in English, Kannada, and Konkani, helping the local Christians to understand and participate in the liturgy better, for which he earned the title “Apostle of the Media.”
Today, Msgr Raymond’s Cottage, known as the Founder’s Cottage situated beside the Bethany Mother House, is preserved as a memorial museum. His personal belongings, books, pictures, vestments, documents, and so on have been well-preserved. The place is indeed worth visiting.
Members of the Christian community in North Kerala and Karavali are eagerly waiting for Msgr Raymond to be declared a saint. However, the process has just begun and will be a long-drawn one; and the Christian community has to be prepared for a long wait.