Mnagaluru, Oct 21, 2015: One of the oldest Catholic order of nuns indigenously born in Mangaluru soil are the UFS - ’Ursuline Franciscan Sisters’. At their just concluded province chapter/ conclave, a new team of the Mangaluru Provoncial council has been elected on October 19, 2015.
The new team consists of:
Sr. Rita Vas - Provincial Superior. The other members of this council are: Sr.Trecilla D’Mello - Vicar Provincial, Sr. Clara Menezes, Sr.Leena Rodrigues, Sr.Lydia Serrao.
The Mangaluru Provincial Council will lead, guide and administer the affairs of all UFS institutions in the Mangaluru Province, the root province forthwith. The province now consists of 32 Communities, 182 Perpetually Professed sisters, 35 Temporarily Professed sisters making for a total of 217 sisters. Also it has 11 novices, 24 Candidates in formation, 144 Ursuline Franciscan Lay associates.
Thumbnail sketch of the New Team:
Sr Rita Vas – Provincial Superior: Sr Rita Vas from Amembal was one of the Provincial Councilor and the Assistant Provincial Superior for 6 years in the previous Provincial Council for two terms holding also the responsibility of the formation having the portfolio as Coordinator for Formation. She has Ph.D (Spirituality of Universal love in the writings of St Angela Merici and Mahatma Gandhi) from Darshan College and Research Institute, Bangalore. She has served the Congregation as a Formator for many years and also was a resource person in the Ursuline Franciscan Congregation and other Ursuline and Franciscan families conducting programmes on the life and spirituality of St Francis of Assisi and St Angela Merici. She is known for her qualities; Eg. Gentle, mild in approach, affectionate, simple, motherly.
Sr Trecilla D’Mello – Asst Provincial Superior : Sr Trecilla hails from Bejai. She was the Procurator General of the Congregation for twelve years. Formator for a short period ( Asst to Pre Novice Directress). She was the Provincial Councillor for the past three years and was responsible in the administration of temporal goods of the Province. She is also the Revisor ( Internal Auditor) of the Congregation). Qualities: Committed, smart, sober, simple, shy of publicity.
Sr Clara Menezes – Provincial Councillor : Sr Clara is of Agrar Parish. She was the Novice Director for four years for the Novices of Mangaluru Province. She was then appointed principal of St Michael’s Composite College Hubli. Presently she is the Principal of St John’s International School, Phalgar, Mumbai, managed by Aldel Education Trust. Qualities: Committed, reliable, social and approachable.
Sr Leena Rodrigues – Provincial Councillor : Sr Leena is a native of Bejai. She has been in Education for almost 30 years. A Maths Graduate, she has served as headmistresses in Kelarai, Belthangady and Bejai High Schools. She is very good administrator and very approachable person. She has special concern for the poor and marginalized. Hardworking and committed to her responsibility.
Sr Lydia Serrao- Provincial Councillor: Sr Lydia belongs to Bolkunje Parish. She has done B.Th and Canon law studies at St Peters Seminary, Bangalore. At present she is in the Diocesan Ecclesiastical Tribunal of Mangalore Diocese as Defender of the Bond. Qualities: Outspoken, social, daring, committed
Brief History of the UFS order:
In January 1887, the Vicariate of Mangalore was raised to the status of a Diocese by the order of Pope Leo XIII. Fr Urban Stein SJ, an able German Priest was the first resident Vicar (1879-1888) of the mother church or Cathedral of our Lady of the Rosary at Bolar, then in the heart of Mangalore (This church was named a Cathedral in 1850 and became known as Rosario). In those times of economic crunch, he envisioned the immediate need for the pastoral care and education of children and women and the care of suffering in the old Bundar (Old Port) area - the prime part of the town. Soon after assuming charge, Fr Urban Stein motivated a few young refined ladies of the vicinity to come forward and help in the vital task. In the fore-front was Nympha Fernandez, daughter of the Deputy Collector, who became a natural leader of this informal band and later the formal first Superior of the order. Initially this inspired band was referred to as "The Company of St. Ursula", after St Ursula, an early Church Martyr of Cologne, Germany. The role model that Fr Stein chose for this band of religious caring women which continues to be relevant today is St.Angela Merici an Italian lady who served the poorest of the poor in the tradition of St. Ursula and St.Francis of Assisi, widening their charism for the good of all people. This small dedicated band of Manalore Catholic maidens did exemplary work among the down trodden / underprivileged for their uplift - were often called the ’Angels of Bundar’. The work of these compassionate women spread and grew, and on Easter, April 10, 1887 they under the inspiration of Fr. Stein organized themselves into a Association christened as the ‘Company of St Ursula.’ These were the forerunners of the Ursuline Congregation in Mangalore. he Ursuline Franciscan Congregation (UFS) of Mangalore is now over 125 years old.
THE UFS - PROGRESS: A few decades after the Ursuline congregation was given first life by Fr Urban Stein, Fr A. Macree, who was the great Jesuit Canonist supported in writing the first Constitutions and brought the cause of the Ursulines of Mangalore before the Holy See in Rome. It obtained the seal of an integral religious congregation with its ’Canonical Erection’ on May 13, 1934. It was named as the Catechist Sisters of St Ursula. There is sufficient reason to claim that the Ursuline Congregation-UFS has purely Mangalorean religious origins. It may not have been projected as such; but can be focused that the mother house has always been in Mangalore and the pioneer nuns and successors and majority of the members through 125 years have mostly been from local surroundings. During 1955-1958 Fr Pacificus Menezes ofm Cap brought about a major confluence in Ursuline and Franciscan spirituality. The constitution was re-written, approved and affiliated to Franciscan order. It so came to be called - "Ursuline Franciscan". There are several people down the line who have played a role in the development of this order from times past. The Centenary of the ’Foundation House’ at the original mother house at Bolar, (constructed in 1901) was marked in a special way in December 2001. Several celebrations were organized; the India Posts released first day covers to mark the occasion picturing the ’Foundation House’ as well as a rare picture of Fr. Stein. This monument can still be seen today.
PRESENT UFS LEADER: Rev.Sr. Doreen D’Souza, Superior General of Ursuline Franciscan Sisters (UFS) since 2004 was re-elected on 14.May 2010 for a second term of 6 years, till 2016; assisted by the Spirit-filled and Spirit-led Councillors. In the spirit of service she expressed her aspiration,’ Authority is Service, Service is Love, Love is self giving’. Sr. Doreen it is well known, is a religious of great qualities, and merits; courage, simplicity and deep thinking. Spiritual strength, Initiative, creativity, tact, courage and a sense of humour have made her a Champion of Progress, developing harmonized transformation. The Ursuline Franciscan Congregation and all associated with this order are positive that a new era is set to emerge heralding commitment, renewal and hope!