|INDIA MISSION CELEBRATES ITS JUBILEE OF IRON (65 YEARS)this year. Isn’t it amazing to see how fast the time is flying!
As we walk alongthe memory lane of our Provincesin India we are extremely grateful to God Almighty for the innumerable graces that He has showered upon us. We are grateful that India was chosen as the mission land for the Sisters in Cleveland Province out of the two mission lands for discernment–China and India.In her Christmas letter of 1948 Mother Mary Agnes wrote ‘This is the official announcement to the Province of Cleveland that the mission of Jamalpur , Patna, India’ is the “Christmas gift ” to the Province.
Finally the letter asked the sisters to pray for divine guidance on all that pertained to the mission “especially for the selection of the first mission band, that they may have the physical, mental,and religious qualifications for the work among the people of the mission. “After prayer and serious discernment those who felt called could volunteer to go to India.
Jamalpur in India was privileged to have the six pioneers: Sister. M. St. Thomas (superior), Sister Mary Magdela, Sister Mary Joel,Sister M. Maris, Sister M. Kieran, and Sr. MaryLauretta. Mother Mary Agnes added ” a word to the Sisters who have expressed their eagerness or willingness to go to Patna: God has not selected you to go, at least at this time. He may do so in another year.
It is to these six valiant women who came to India we owe gratitude for their transforming power which enabled them to overcome all difficulties IN THEIR MISSION.Difficulties they had in plenty as they had to plunge themselves into the unknown most of the time. They were truly a band that worked harmoniously for the development of the place. Their joyful appearance, simplicity of life, ability toface the unknown, ability to laugh at the funny side of a situation,total commitment, and their loyalty to the group were some of the qualities that attracted themto the people of Jamalpur. Sister Mary St. Thomas showed great respect towards each of these missionary sisters and provided scope for their creative contribution for the establishment and development of the mission and our pioneers made full use of all the opportunities.
In the first year itself Sr. S. Thomas was able to buy a piece of property adjacent to the convent. The project was to construct a school building to house the growing Notre Dame Academy.
Along with the Academy, other ministries also developed. In the one-room dispensary, Sister Kieran was serving as many as a hundred patients each day, mostly poor women from the villages around Jamalpur. Sr. Joelle was serving as the headmistress of the Hindi medium Parish Primary school. On school holidays the Sisters accompanied Father Snyder on his visit to the near byvillages.
One of the most important, most prudent decisionstaken by Sr. St. Thomas and her companions was the decision to promotelocal vocations eventhough some of the missionary Congregationsthat had come to India much earlier,did not admit Indians. But Sr. St. Thomas wiselyrecruited the first six candidates in the year 1954. As the time passed the number of the novices increased. Dec. 19, 1957 was a day of much joy and celebration for the Sisters in Jamalpur and Cleveland. On this day the first seven Indian Novices made their profession at St. Joseph’s Church, Jamalpur.
The interest of the Sisters of Cleveland Province in India Mission did not diminish with the ‘Pioneers’coming to India. Another twelve generous Sisters followed them to India at different times. They are Sister Mary Faith, Sister Mary Roselle, Sister Elizabeth Mary, Sister Mary Ann, Sister Mary Matilde, Sister Mary Delray, Sister Mary Laurette, Sister Marie Clarice, Sister Mary Peter Claver, Sister Mary Randal, Sister Mary Patricia Gannon.Various were the fields to which each one of them contributed for the betterment of the Province in India.
As the time passed the tiny seed grew into a sturdy tree due to the committed followers of the pioneers from the United States and India.
We are deeply grateful to God Almighty for directing and guiding Notre Dame from its infancy till now. Great is Thy faithfulness, O God our Father. Thou changest not, Thy compassions fail not! Rememberingall the Notre Dame Sisters who have contributed their share of well being for the Notre Dame Provinces in India, today we count our blessings one by one and place them at the feet of Jesus. Lord, continue to guide us and direct us so that our hearts may sing
Hearty congratulations! to our dear Sr. Mary Athira as she pronounced her first vows with faith, confidence and love in serving our good God. It was an auspicious day indeed to have the profession on July 12th as we celebrated the birthday of our Spiritual Mother Saint Julie Billiart. There were a good number of Sisters represented from other close by communities. Athira was filled with joy and happiness of having committed herself to be a member of the Sisters of Notre Dame. We are proud of her and support her with our love and prayer. All the best dear Sr. Athira. May St. Julie be your model and inspiration to follow Jesus Christ like a sunflower that follows every movement of the Sun.