Sr. Maria Jyothi, A.C. – Mangalorean Star
Cardinal Newman said, “Lead Kindly Light”. This line is arguably creditable to Rev. Sr. Maria Jyothi, who by her actions explains the name, which is so rightly given to her. “jyothi” means light , and “maria” is taken from the name “mary” the mother of Christ.
Mangalorean.com brings to you Sr. Maria Jyothi (A.C.) of Bendur Parish in Mangalore. She is a person with a spirit of patience, understanding, perseverance and above all a personality that spreads love in entire community. With her beaming smile she has won the hearts of many people. In fact the thing that appeals me most about Sr. Maria Jyothi is her soft voice and to complement that, her warm and compassionate smile on her face.
Sr. Maria Jyothi is known to all as a simple lady with a gentle poise, pleasant, yet persuasive, with humility as her strongest weapon. She possesses an overwhelming sense of concern for the people around her. It is said that the greatest gift you can give someone is your time. With Christ as her constant guide, Sr. Maria Jyothi looks after the special needs brethren with immense care, combined with the motherly love she bestows upon them at all times, thus leading them to the heights of mirth. She is a part of an intricate plan, a precious and perfect unique design, called Gods special woman. “She is loved by one, loved by all, loved by small, big, thin and tall; a savior to the poor, the sick, and the needy. The rich look up to her for her modesty. She is indeed, a woman of substance, with love for her neighbor so immense.
Sr. Maria Jyothi’s passion for life and her compassion for the human beings are without bounds. We need to salute her for her achievements. The entire community needs to feel proud to know and also to have a personality like Sr. Maria Jyothi in our midst.
Right from my childhood I have been fortunate to observe her life – very closely – the life of a benevolent teacher, a selfless social worker, an active member in whatever forum that holds good for others and above all a nun who sets an example not only for her community but the entire society as a whole.
Sr Maria Jyothi’s goal in life was to nurture the potential of special needs children and prepare them for integration into society so they have the skills to lead their lives independently. She was the one who came up with an idea of starting the St. Agnes special school in Bendur Mangalore. This school is for the special children and it focuses on transitional skills, such as home skills like safety in home, independence, shopping or using public transportation. It also focuses on social skills and personal awareness.
Sr Maria Jyothi A.C. (Edith R. D’Souza) was born to Mr. J.B. D’Souza and Mrs. Mary D’Souza (Menezes), in Bendur, Mangalore. Her dad was from the famous D’Souza family who were leaders in textile business in Mangalore. Even though she was born to rich parents who could feed her with a golden spoon, she opted to take care of the special children. This is a real calling to do the will of God. She had a vision to achieve her goals in life.
Having graduated with B.A. Degree from St. Agnes College, Mangalore, and the B.Ed. Degree from St. Ann’s College of Education, Mangalore, she then did her M.A. in Special Education from Cardinal Stritch College, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.A., to acquire special skills and to take care of the children with special needs. In addition to all these she was honored by the Karnataka State Government which recognised her good work. She is the Recipient of the Rajyotsava Award of Karnataka State.
Sr Maria Jyothi keeps herself actively involved in humanitarian activities and has held various positions in different organisations. She is the Founder Principal of St. Agnes Special School and served the Institution in this capacity from 1970-2002. After her retirement she continues to be the Principal of St. Agnes Teacher Training Institute for Special Education and Coordinator for B.Ed. Special Education, Distance Mode. St. Agnes Special School is a Study Centre of Madhya Pradesh Bhoj Open University. She is a member of the Provincial Council of the of the Apostolic Carmel Karnataka Province.
I tried to get some answers to certain questions that were in my mind and this is what she has to say:
What is that made you take up this noble profession of teaching and that too training the special children?
St. Agnes Special School is the Centenary Memorial of the Apostolic Carmel. God chose me through our Superior General to pioneer this humanitarian apostolate for the Physically and Mentally Challenged children and adults and I enjoy it.
If you could meet only one person in history who would it be and why?
The Foundress of the Apostolic Carmel – Mother Veronica (nee Sophie Leeves). She was a blend of spirituality and intelligence and at the same time a down-to-earth person. Her love for the poor, the sick and the Differently Abled persons.
Can you recall any special incident in your life that has given real joy and happiness and made you feel content?
I experienced real joy when the Kuwait Canara Welfare Association (KCWA-Kuwait) came forward on their own to build a Computer Training Centre for the Differently Abled Person. It was a wonderful feeling to know that there are wonderful people who care for the growth of our less fortunate brothers and sisters.
Give us a brief description about your youth life and tell us if there are any other activities you are involved with other than the St. Agnes Special School?
It was due to the example and encouragement of my parents that as a youth I was actively involved in Church activities and Social work. Other than St. Agnes Special School I am involved in giving consultancy for starting Special Education Centres and Community Based Rehabilitation. To a certain extent I also help in counselling youth and adults in their personal problems.
How do you utilise and spend your leisure time? Any special activities?
Reading and helping others in need.
What is your message to our Mangalorean.com readers?
Each one of us is gifted by God with just one life. It is worth that we make the best use of it, especially working for the good of others whatever be the price I may have to pay. For I will not pass this way again.
Mangalorean.com salutes and wishes Sr. Maria Jyothi all the best in her future endeavors.
(Special thanks to Ms. Priya D’Souza and Mr. Clive D’Souza (Niece and Nephew of Sr. Maria Jyothi) for their contribution.
Submitted by: Claude Fernandes
Hi, Thanks so very much for posting this article of my beloved Principal, Sr. Maria Jyothi. A. C. I was very happy to read this review. It is true that she is the star of Mangalore who has served number of individuals those who are in need of extra support and help. I am so proud to say that because of her I am now serving the students with multiple disabilities in United States. I am also very happy to say that I was her student to complete my Special Education Courses. WIthout these courses and her timely support and encouragement, it would not have been possible to reach my goal. Thank you so much for posting this article.