Mangalore, April, 2012: In the wake of the Catholic Diocese of Mangalore’s epic 125th Jubilee celebrations recently; it is now fitting that a congregation of women religious here is set to mark the solemn end of 125 years of their Foundation on April 12, 2012 at Rosario Cathedral commencing at 4 PM, in the presence of a galaxy of dignitaries. The Mangalore centric Ursuline Franciscan Sisters (UFS) was born in the shade of the Rosario Cathedral, Bolar on EASTER April 10, 1887. It can well be said that without doubt these were early forerunners and pioneers of the women empowerment concepts in our land. The motto of this order ’FOR THE LOVE OF GOD’ gives focus and direction to it’s on ward momentum; they take up multi-ministries, run educational and vocational centers, orphanages, hostels, homes for the elderly, medical support and so on. Their services in remote and rural areas are appreciated. The Theme of the Post Centenary Silver Jubilee "MAKE US A RAINBOW, A SIGN OF HOPE FOR A NEW WORLD" has inspired and ignited a renewal in the life of this Ursuline Congregation that now spans three centuries 19th, 20th and 21st.
Fr. Urban Stein (1845-1888) a Jesuit was appointed the first resident Parish Priest of Rosario Parish in February 1879 (then covering an area wider than the present MCC limits). From the very start his mission embraced uplifting the down trodden marginalized women and children and organize efficiently the schools of the area. His vision to educate and better care for the families and children, specially girls of the area, was the seed for the Foundation of what is today the Ursuline Franciscan Congregation. Early in his tenure at Rosario, Fr Urban Stein had the insight to harness the power house of cultured young ladies of the area who had no serious occupation in those times.
Religious congregations for women rooted in Mangalore of old are: The Apostolic Carmel -ACs, started out as the Carmelite Tertiaries officially in 1870, also next to Rosario - St Agnes College established by the AC nuns in 1921 was the first Catholic college exclusively for women, Ursuline Franciscan Sisters -UFS (April 10,1887), Bethany Sisters of Bendur -B.S. (1921) and so on.
Not long after Fr Stein took charge as Parish Priest, a dozen of the better educated ladies were organized together and motivated to work among the children and women in the area and so was born in 1887 the "Company of St.Ursula" ( St.Ursula was an early Roman church Martyr) that are the forerunners of these Ursuline Sisters and thus Fr.Stein is the rightful Founder. The model that Fr.Stein SJ gave to this pioneer company was St.Angela Merici, an Italian Saint (sixteenth century) whose concern was the poorest of the poor and who emulated St.Ursula and St.Francis of Assisi. The undeclared leader of these ’Angels of Bundar’ was Nympha Pauline Fernandez, the daughter of a senior revenue official John Fernandez and Anna Lobo, (residents in the vicinity of Rosario). Nympha became the leader of this blessed band of toilers. To name a few others (Ref 1905 publication of the ’History of the Diocese’ By Fr J Moore SJ) Seraphine Noronha, Martha Saldanha, Juliana Rego, Josephine Coelho and so on all of known families from the area. Some of this band later joined the Apostolic Carmel, Sisters of Charity and others.
The UFS - Progress:
On 21 October 1888, Fr.Urban Stein died tragically due to a sunstroke while returning to Mangalore in a open sail boat from Goa, he was buried in Rosario near the Bishops. The responsibility to carry on the good work automatically fell upon ’Mother Nympha’ as she was referred to. She courageously took up the challenges supported by her colleagues and influential family members; acquired a piece of land just behind the Rosario Cathedral and constructed a tile structure that is intact today and now honoured as the ’Ursuline Franciscan Congregation - Foundation house’ which serves as a meditation and prayer house apart from promoting the memory of the Founder and pioneers of the Congregation.
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.
Thus Mother Nympha was a co-founder and the first ’Superior general’ so to say, of the UFS congregation. Sadly Mother Nympha died at the unexpected age of 58 yrs, on Ash Wednesday 24 February 1909, she is said to have been interred in the Rosario Church just before it’s renovation was taken up. The Congregation passed difficult times during the world wars, recession and political turmoil, through their prayer and hard work they crossed into better times and grew rapidly thereafter. The descendants of the ’Fernandez’ family still live in the vicinity of Rosario and are keen followers of the 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. 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. A capuchin, Fr Pacificus Menezes, brought about a major confluence in Ursuline and Franciscan spirituality around 1956, he was a dedicated councillor, guide and friend of the Ursulines till his death in 1974. His initiative was the centrifugal force that facilitated re-writing, approval and affiliation to Franciscan rule and order. It so came to be called - "Ursuline Franciscan". The next mile stone was when the Congregation was raised to the ’Pontifical Right’ on January 27,1995 by a decree of Pope Blessed John Paul II, taking it’s rightful place in the noble mission of the Universal Church. There are several people down the years who have played a role in the development of this order from times past. The 125 years of achievements are a a true blessing from the Most High Almighty which is now manifesting as a colourful rainbow embracing the whole globe as the Logo of this Jubilee represents. The Post Centenary Silver Jubilee Celebrations are visualized to reinforce the Ursuline zeal in a multi-channeled manner by visions of a rainbow of pro-action to build human hope at a divine level.
Like the rainbow’s many brilliant shades, may the Ursuline Congregation shine on for many decades ahead. May the Rainbow remain open ended to encompass the Universe with an unending arc of service that never closes like the immeasurable paternal concern of the ALMIGHTY.
SUPERIOR GENERAL - Rev. Sr.DOREEN D’SOUZA. UFS.
Rev.Sr. Doreen D’Souza, the 11th Superior General of Ursuline Franciscan Sisters (UFS), was re-elected in May, 2010 for a second term, ending 2016. Mother.... Leader....of the 1100 and more UFS sisters whose headquarters is at ’Somarpann’ Mangalore.The Ursuline sisters work under four Provinces across India, a Central cell plus active houses in Europe and Africa - through 33 diocese, totally they run over 128 institutions for education, empowerment of Women, care of Children and youth, Homes for the aged, orphanages, farms and other related services. Her four General Council members are, Rev.Srs. Susheela Sequeira, Lilly Fernandes,Geraldine D’Souza and Alice Noronha.
Sr.Doreen, the overall head, is simplicity personified. Born into a staunch Konkani Catholic family of Valencia Mangalore, the traditional Christian qualities she imbibed from her devout parents, have served her and her five siblings well. Her first profession into the Ursuline Congregation was in 1968. She later earned a ’Masters in Theology’ (M.Th) and was a regular ’visiting Professor’ at her Alma Mater, ’Visvadeep’, Bangalore. Her assets of vision,wisdom, purpose, responsibility and so on wrapped in faith are visible in the all round progress in recent years of this religious order of Nuns within the universal catholic church.
In a spirit of service her aspiration: ‘Authority is Service, Service is Love, Love is self giving’. Sr. Doreen who has received several recognitions, it is well known, is a religious of many qualities and merits - courage, deep thinking, spiritual strength, initiative, tact, and a sense of humour have made her an approachable Champion of Progress serving to transform the least and lost. A new era dawns Post centenary Silver Jubilee, a multi coloured Rainbow heralding hope and renewal!
SUPERIOR GENERALs’ WHO HEADED THE CONGREGATION
I. Mother Nympha Fernandez .. 1887-1909, II. Mother Clotilda Fernandes .. 1909-1918, III. Mother Martha Saldanha .. 1918-1930, IV. Mother Rose Saldanha .. 1930-1945, V. Mother Mary Agnes Mathias .. 1945-1955, VI. Mother Genevieve Castelino .. 1956-1968, VII. Mother Ernestine D’Almeida .. 1968-1980 (Sadly mother passed away on March 28,’12 at the age of 90 at the Bolar Convent- and is mourned), VIII. Mother Reparata D’Souza .. 1980-1986, IX. Mother Severine Barrows .. 1986-1992, X. Rev.Sr.Edilburga Monteiro .. 1992-2004, XI.Rev.Sr.Doreen D’Souza .. 2004-
Special Projects & Programme for the Jubilee Year: 2011-12
1. Caring for the mother earth, 2. Health Care – Continuing the healing mission of Jesus, 3. National Integration – Inter faith and Social Integration, 4. Empowering domestic workers, 5. Building a culture of peace, 6. Girl child, Media education, Child labour,
7. Prayer life and values in the family, 8. Youth – values and employment, 9. Consecrated men and women, 10. Empowering women, 11. Jubilee Celebration.
Where Ursuline Franciscan Sisters Serve:
Head Quarters: Generalate, ’Somarpann’, Derlakatte. Mangalore- 575 018
Mangalore Province: Provincialate, ’Shanthidham’, Nithyananda Nagar P.O Mangalore.575 018
Apostolate: Education, pastoral Ministry, Social Apostolate, Health care, Children’s home, Home for the Senior Citizens, Special School for the mentally and physically enabled children, Prison Ministry.
Area Covered: Wide area of Mangalore Diocese-the cradle of the congregation. Places in -Karwar Diocese, Belgaum Diocese, Gulburga Diocese, Bombay Arch diocese.
Mysore Province: Maria Kripa, Provincialate,Near Puthali Park, Mandi Mohalla Post, Mysore. 570021,Karnataka.
Apostolate: Education, pastoral Ministry, Social Apostolate, Health care, Children’s home, Street children, etc.
Area Covered: Mysore Diocese, Bangalore diocese, Chinglepet Diocese, Bellary Diocese, Gulburga Diocese, Vijaywada Diocese, Nellore Diocese, Mangalore Diocese, Shimoga Diocese, Chicmagalur Diocese.
North East Province: TABOR UFC Provincialate, Mount View Colony, P.B.No.281, Dimapur – 797 112, NAGALAND.
Apostolate: Education, pastoral Ministry, Social Apostolate, Health care, Children’s home, Street children,
Area Covered: Kohima Diocese, Bongaigaon Diocese, Itanagar Diocese, Imphal Diocese, Mizoram Delegation – Aizawl Diocese, Mangalore Diocese,
North Province: ‘JEEVAN DHARA CONVENT, Gaurabagh, Sports College P.O.Kursi Road, Lucknow – 226 026, U P
Apostolate: Education, Pastoral Ministry, Social Apostolate, Health care, Children’s home, Street children,
Area Covered: Lucknow Diocese, Varanasi Diocese, Bareilly Diocese, Allahabad Diocese, Kolkata Archdiocese, Mangalore Diocese.
European Region: MUNCH – STIFT-APZ, Marien Convent, Munchweg 3, 50374 Erftstadt – Frauenthal, GERMANY.
Apostolate: Health Ministry. Area covered : Koln Diocese, Essen Diocese – Hattigen and Ennepetal, Arezzo Diocese , Italy: Serravale and Gargonza
Tanzania Mission: Ursuline Franciscan Formation House, c/o Bishop’s House, Post Box 8, SAME, TANZANIA.
Apostolate: Education, Health Care, Social Work, Pastoral.
Area covered : SAME DIOCESE - Same, Tanzania. DAR ES SALAAM DIOCESE.
Central Delegation: Holy Rosary Convent, Kankanady P.O., Jeppu, Mangalore -2.
Apostolate: Pastoral, boarding and Social Aposolate.
Area covered: Archdiocese of Mumbai, Andheri East, Archdiocese of Bangalore, Wilson Garden,
Programmes on April 12, 2012:
A. THANKSGIVING HOLY MASS at 4 PM.
B. FELICITATION & CULTURAL PROGRAMME at 5.30 PM:
VENUE: The Rosario Cathedral Grounds.
NB: Several Bishops, Priests, Religious nuns and Dignitaries will Participate.