‘Lord of the Years, We Bring Thanks To You’ ! AC Sisters Celebrate 150 Yrs of Presence in India

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‘Lord of the Years, We Bring Thanks To You’ ! AC Sisters Celebrate 150 Yrs of Presence in India

  •  With Theme ‘Lord of the Years, We Bring Thanks To You’ , Apostolic Carmel Congregation Sisters Celebrate 150 Years of Presence in India
  • “Inspired by Jesus Christ we reach out with a compassionate heart to all through education and other apostolic ministries”-Vision of Apostolic Carmel Congregation
  • “Inspired by the life and example of Mother Veronica, the Apostolic Carmel Sisters reach out to the people, particularly the youth through education and faith formation in schools, colleges, welfare centres etc. by employing formal and non-formal techniques.”- Mission
  • “Sweetest Lord, make me appreciative of the dignity of my high vocation, and its many responsibilities. Never permit me to disgrace it by giving way to coldness, unkindness, or impatience. Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love. I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things. We are each part of the body of Christ and gifted in different areas. Act on the gifts that God has given you and start today “–Saint Mother Theresa.
  • “Let nothing disturb you, nothing frighten you, all things are passing, God is unchanging. Patience gains all; nothing is lacking to those who have God: God alone suffices”- St Teresa of Avila

 Mangaluru : Knowing the nuns is truly a blessing because they have a special touch and a healing tactic that makes you feel closer to God. This article written with love and sentiments from the bottom of my heart is about acknowledgments and tributes to the nuns who have given me and many of us their will to make us “Know and Love God,” and to, “Make Us Good.” Many former Catholic school boys and girls who grew up with the nuns still tell stories of the nuns — the days of the Latin Mass, strict school manners, meatless Fridays and the ruler across the knuckles. Some of those stories may be funny, sadistic or clueless — but no matter what nun stories we may come up with, a nun can change a child’s life in an instant. Among the many Nuns, either Franciscan, Ursuline, Good Shepherd Sisters of Charity and others, but among them the most nuns that I have been associated with are the Apostolic Carmel Nuns.

I come from a Catholic family comprising of many nuns and priests who chose to serve the Lord. My aunt — {Late} Sr Florence AC, was my greatest mentor, adviser and preacher. She also taught English and math at various schools across India. My cousin, Sister Teresa of Avila AC, who had taken various posts helping the less fortunate is now residing at St Agnes Convent, Bendore-Mangaluru. Also serving as a missionary and as a Regional Superior of AC Community in Kenya, Africa, is my cousin Sr Winnifred AC, (sister of my sister-in-law, Alice ). Sr Carmel, belonging to the Good Shepherd Sisters at St. Michael’s Convent/home in Bengaluru, is at the helm of taking care of unwed mothers, a children’s home and a vocational school for women — she also is my cousin.

My cousin Sister Matilda, belonging to the Ursuline Sisters of Franciscan Order, was the Headmistress of St. Angela’s School, Bejai, Mangaluru, now transferred to Mumbai — her congregation goal is to give education to the kids and also visit their homes to help their families in their physical and mental needs. I also have distant family relatives namely Sr Marie, a Bethany nun serving at a orphanage in Mumbai; and Sr Carmelita, rendering service as a English professor in Sri Lanka. One of the world’s greatest nuns I ever met was the “Living Saint,” {Now Saint} Mother Theresa, when she visited Mangaluru in 1984 — it was one of the greatest moments of my life. I was a volunteer at a function during her visit, and I had close encounters with the Mother. Mother Theresa’s life bore witness to the joy of loving, the dignity of every human person, the value of little things done faithfully and the surpassing worth of faith in God.

Apart from the above religious nuns that I have mentioned, I have been very closely associated with many Apostolic Carmel Sisters in Mangaluru, to name a few, Sr Theodotta AC, Sr Bona AC, Sr Olivia AC, Sr Dionetta AC, Sr Maria Jyothi AC, Sr Anasthasia AC, Sr Mary Jane AC, Sr Melissa AC, Sr Carisimma AC, Sr Maria Joyce AC, Sr Jeswina AC, Sr Claire AC, Sr Carmel Rita AC, Sr Shruthi AC, Sr Marie Evelyn AC, among many others. All these Sisters have played an important role in my life, for which I am very grateful to them- a few of them have even given me tuition in my Math while in PUC. So while all these Apostolic Carmel Nuns are celebrating the joyous occasion of their Sesquicentennial {150 Yrs}Jubilee of Apostolic Carmel Congregation, I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks for their blessings an love for making me “Know and Love God,” and also “Make Us Good.”. especially my Cousin Sr Teresa of Avila AC, who always has me in her prayers!

Yes, today, 19 November 2020, The Apostolic Carmel Congregation is celebrating 150 years of its presence in India, and a BIG Celebration was planned with a concelebrated mass by Bishop of Mangaluru diocese Rev Dr Peter Paul Saldanha, followed by a formal function at St Anne’s High School Hall, Mangaluru. The Mass was held at Rosario Cathedral at 9,30 am, where the Bishop was joined in the Eucharistic celebration by Vicar General Fr Maxim Noronha, Fr Pius D’souza- Provincial of Carmelite Fathers (OCD); Fr Alfred Pinto -Rector/Parish Priest of Rosario Cathedral; Fr Melwin Pinto SJ-the Rector of St Aloysius Institutions, Mangaluru; among nearly 30 other priests who joined in the celebration.

Prior to the beginning of the Mass, Sr Lydia AC, Superior of St Agnes Convent gave a brief introduction of the 150 years of Apostolic Carmel Congregation journey in India. The First Bible reading was read by Sr Nithya Fernandes AC and the second reading by Sr Corona AC. The choir consisting of nuns from various convents in the City gave the best rendition of hymns, under the leadership of Sr Juliana AC-Provincial Counsellor, and Sr Janet Sequeira AC. In his homily Bishop Rev Fr Peter Paul Saldanha said, “”The passion and commitment of Venerable Mother Veronica had been a great blessing to the AC Congregation, to come together in large numbers to celebrate the 150 years of AC Congregation with this great lady as their common foundress. The impact of this foundation has not only given empowerment and leadership to the women of Mangaluru and the West Coast but the Apostolic Carmel has spread in a big way across India and to eight countries and has made a difference to the empowerment of girls in each of these countries”.

“Mother Veronica had a preferential love for the poor, the needy and the homeless. Venerable Mother Veronica of the Passion, neé Sophie Leeves, was an Anglican by birth, a Catholic by conviction and a religious by choice. She was gifted with a singular talent of mind and heart which were nurtured by sound education and wide experience. At the age of seventeen she experienced a direct communion with Christ who blessed her with His Peace. Thus her search for the True Faith led her to Catholicism and her resolve to live a life close to Christ made her break off her engagement to a naval officer whom she loved and then responded generously to the call to Religious life. She entered the congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition in 1851, taking the name, Sister Mary Veronica of the Passion” added Bishop.

“Mother Veronica had a grateful heart, and Her life is grateful Gift from God. She had all the qualities of Virtues and Gratefulness. She served the Will of God, and through her gratefulness She got connected with God. Her heroic “yes” to God, who was becoming her “All”, to an ever deepening degree with the passing years, continued with increasing ardour. Her gift of mystical prayer along with her thirst for asceticism made her increasingly humble and compassionate of heart. She prayed and made penance unceasingly for her sisters in India whom she loved dearly, and with whom she kept in touch through correspondence. Her life of loving surrender to God under challenging circumstances culminated in her holy death on 16 November 1906. Many women have followed in Mother Veronica’s footsteps in joining Her congregation, and making a difference in the community through their services” added Bishop.

Following the Eucharistic Mass, a formal function was held at St Anne’s High School Hall at 11.30 am, where the programme began with an opening chorus by St Agnes High School girls, followed by welcome dance by St Agnes College students. The welcome address was delivered by Sr Maria Shamitha AC-the Provincial Superior of AC Congregation-Karnataka. On the occasion Fr James Pius D’souza OCD Provincial , Fr Melwin Pinto SJ-Rector St Aloysius institutions; Fr Alfred Pinto-Rector, Rosario Cathedral; Sr Maria Nirmalini- Superior General- AC Congregation-Karnataka; Sr Agatha Mary- Former Superior General; and Sr Mary Jacintha OCD were felicitated. The AC sisters also felicitated Bishop Rev Dr Peter Paul Saldanha. The citations of the felicitations were read by Sr Jennifer Moras AC, and Sr Linet Maria AC; and the who;e programme was meticulously and professionally compered by Sr Dorothy D’souza AC of St Ann’s Convent. . The audience was entertained by a cultural programme from students of Mount Carmel School, and others. Following the jubilee anthem, the programme ended with a sumptuous fellowship meal.

In conclusion, in my perspective, While all these AC Sisters of Apostolic Carmel Congregation have been serving all over the World, including India, Karnataka and Mangaluru, we all should know that these nuns are called to help the community and to spread the word of God. Most of them spend their time in silent prayer and reflection. They head out into the community to do whatever they can, education, nursing and midwifery, being spiritual directors, doing youth guidance and counseling or offering up any other talents they have in the name of God. Some are teachers while others work in charitable causes. Nuns serve a very important life in the church and normally are dedicated to the Church and Christ more than most others.

Therefore we all should express our thanks and gratitude to all these AC nuns who helped shape our ideals and beliefs. They taught us to respect our elders, practice self-control, diagram sentences, memorize poems, genuflect in Church, say our prayers, pray the rosary, reflect about our lives, “what we did, what we should have done and what we failed to do” and how to clap erasers and carry our books and bags to the convent. Finally, to every Apostolic Carmel Sister on this joyous occasion of Sesquicentennial {150 Yrs}Jubilee of Apostolic Carmel Congregation presence in India, who taught us back in the “good old days,” and also for their other services, they deserve our “thank you” and “God bless you.” To all the AC nuns whom I was associated with and also others , I end this tribute with a thought-provoking message:

“As you serve the Lord with all your heart and his life shines through you to light the way for others, may you rejoice in knowing what a difference you are making in His kingdom. For the work, love and goodwill that you spread throughout the community, May God bless you.”

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1 Comment

  1. Well written Alfie. Yes, A.C nuns truly deserve our love and appreciation for all that they have done for us, the people of Mangalore. Congratulations dear sisters. God bless you.

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