Tribute to AC Nuns on Sesquicentennial (150 Yrs) Jubilee of Apostolic Carmel Congregation

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Tribute to AC Nuns on Sesquicentennial (150 Yrs) Jubilee of Apostolic Carmel Congregation

“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

“Experiencing God’s love as ALL-SUFFICING in contemplative prayer lived in a simple, joyful and life-giving community and shared with all especially the poor through education and other apostolic ministries”- Charism

“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.

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 acknowledgements 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, is the Headmistress of St. Angela’s School, Bejai, Mangalore — 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 an orphanage in Mumbai; and Sr Carmelita, rendering service as an 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. Sister Joan Pardell and Sister Tarcissia Buchele, who are Dominican nuns have been my friends in Chicago Suburbs, USA for nearly 22 years ever since I moved from India to US in 1990, and our relationships had grown stronger day by day.

Apart from these religious nuns, I have been very closely associated with many Apostolic Carmel Sisters in Mangaluru, to name a few, Sr Theodotta, Sr Bona, Sr Olivia, Sr Dionetta, Sr Maria Jyothi, Sr Anasthasia, Sr Mary Jane, Sr Melissa, Sr Carisimma, Sr Maria Joyce, Sr Jeswina, Sr Claire, Sr Carmel Rita, Sr Shruthi, Sr Marie Evelyn, 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!

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 counselling 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, 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.”

Yes, today, 5 May 2018, The Apostolic Carmel Congregation is celebrating 150 years of its existence, and a BIG Celebration is planned at the Apostolic Carmel Generalate in Jayanagar-Bengaluru, graced by Most Rev Dr Aloysius Paul D’souza- Bishop of Mangaluru Diocese. 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 born in 1823 in a pious, educated, English Anglican family. 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.

The Apostolic Congregation Convents in Karnataka Province are:

St. Ann’s Convent, Mangaluru (1870); St. Agnes Convent, Mangaluru (1914); St. Cecily’s Convent, Udupi (1918); Stella Maris Convent Kotekar; Annunciation Convent, Ladyhill, Mangaluru (1922); St. Joseph’s Convent, Kundapura (1930); St. Mary’s Convent, Falnir, Mangaluru (1932); St. Maria Goretti Convent, Kemmanu (1933); Lourdes Convent, Kallianpur (1956); St. Joseph’s Convent, Mysuru (1963); Carmel Convent, Modankap, Bantwal (1963); Carmel Convent, Moodbidri ; (1964); Vijaymari Convent, Mangaluru (1965); Carmel Convent, Ganguli (1966); Mary Immaculate Convent, Bengaluru (1966); Carmel Convent, Ashaniketan, Mangaluru (1968); Carmel Nivas, Bellary(1980); Seva Ashram, Pavur (1968); Shanthi Nilaya, Nanjangud (1968); Carmel Convent, Haliyal (1970); Carmel Convent, Pezar (1974); Bal Yesu Nilaya, Mangaluru (1974); Provincial House; Yadoga Mission (1969); Maria Nilaya, Bidar (1983); Yesu Prem Niketan, Mangaluru (1991); Yesu Kripa, Shivamogga (1992); Carmel Convent, Bailhongal, Belagavi (1999); Shanthi Sadan, Bijapur; Carmel Nivas, Lingsugur (2005); Jyothi Nivas,Kunjathbail, Mangaluru (2006); Anugraha Convent, Ballari (2011); and Carmel Niketan, Bidar (2017)

Following is the History of Apostolic Carmel Congregation as narrated by Sr. Lydia Fernandes, A.C. General Councillor, Apostolic Carmel Generalate, Bengaluru:

Sr. Lydia Fernandes, A.C. General Councillor, Apostolic Carmel Generalate, Bengaluru

The Apostolic Carmel Congregation was founded in Bayonne, France a hundred and fifty years ago (1868-2018) on 16.07.1868. This is the year of celebration for the AC Sisters first in Bangalore on 5th May 2018 at the AC Generalate and then in France on the day of its foundation, on 16th July in Pau France where our Foundress lived her last 33 years and died on 16th November 1906.

The founding of the Apostolic Carmel is a saga of the strange destiny the Lord had in store for its foundress, Mother Veronica, nee Sophie Leeves, an English lady converted from Anglicanism. Born a daughter of the Anglican Minister at the British Embassy in Constantinople, Istanbul of the present, this multitalented and highly qualified lady from the Anglican high Church, was drawn to Catholicism through the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and the Blessed Sacrament and gave up all to be a Catholic at the age of 27 and then became a Sister of St. Joseph of the Apparition. And again she sacrificed her life even in the Congregation she loved and was trusted; even to be its Superior General, to found the new Congregation, the Carmel for the Missions as the will of God in her life. Her transfer to Calicut, India to start a school for girls as sister of St. Joseph was a turn of the road when she heard the persistent inner voices ‘I want you in Carmel’ and along with it when the need to have a teaching order of the Carmelites was envisaged by the Carmelite Fathers who were administering the church along the west coast.

Apostolic Carmel Generalate Team-Bengaluru RL: Sr. Maria Pavitha, Bursar General; Sr, Joselin Joseph – General Councillor for Formation; Sr. Susheela, Superior General; Sr. Lydia – General Councillor for Education; Sr. Vimala Paul – General Councillor for Social Apostolate; Sr Jennifer D’silva – Secretary-General, Sr. Mabilia – Asst. Superior General

Mother Veronica was then transferred to Rangoon and then to France when she left all again and joined the Cloistered Carmel in Pau, France to imbibe the Carmelite spirit and left the cloister to start her foundation, in December 1867 and after a painful search, travelling like a runaway nun from one city to another, she finally found the place to fulfill her dream, The Little Carmel’ in Bayonne, France. We are celebrating this birth of the Congregation, the first active order of Carmel, namely, one that integrates the spirit of prayer and service, hence the Apostolic Carmel.

Apostolic Carmel Generalate Bengaluru

The Apostolic Carmel was transplanted in Mangalore, India in 1870 when three Sisters from France were sent for this mission. St. Ann’s School for girls was started, thus pioneering girls’ education along the west coast and it spread with about eight schools along the Malabar Coast and one in Quilon. The infant congregation that was still under the authority of the Bishop of the Diocese came under the Jesuits when they took over the Mangalore Diocese and the Church under Malabar Coast in 1880. Mother Marie des Anges, the French Sister was then the Superior General of the Apostolic Carmel and the other sister of the pioneering band, Mother Elias, the Irish Sister had started the second school in Trivandrum with the invitation of the Bishop of Quilon in Trivandrum in 1880 these two convents the came under the Carmelite Bishop of Quilon. Thus it gave rise to a new congregation in 1880, a branch of the Apostolic Carmel, the Congregation of Carmelite Religious (CCR) with their Generalate in Trivandrum on the campus of All Saints College, Trivandrum. The convent in Bayonne, France had to be closed down.

The Apostolic Carmel has spread to Sri Lanka and Pakistan that forms a Province with forty convents, to Kenya and Tanzania that forms the East Africa Region, to Kuwait, Bahrain, Italy and lastly to France in Pau where our foundress lived her last years. As pioneers there are many firsts, including St. Agnes College as the first Women’s College in South India and is poised for to celebrate its centenary, St. Ann’s College of Education to as the first Girls’ College of Education in South India and is celebrating its Platinum Jubilee this year.

The celebration of 150 years for us is a celebration for the AC and CCR Sisters. About 800 Sisters, namely, 600 from the Apostolic Carmel and a hundred CCR Sisters have been celebrating it in togetherness on 3rd, 4th and 5th, with a public function on 5th May. Archbishop Bernard Moras celebrated the Eucharist on 4th May and Most Rev. Dr Aloysius Paul D’Souza will celebrate the Eucharist on 5th May in presence of the two congregations and religious, priests and sisters and diocesan clergy, followed by a public function, to showcase the journey of our Foundress Mother Veronica from her entry into the Catholic Church to the founding of the Apostolic Carmel. The cause of Mother Veronica is in progress with the Vatican already declaring her Venerable. We pray that our foundress Venerable Mother Veronica may soon be raised to the honours of the altar.

Message from Sr. M Susheela AC, Superior General Apostolic Carmel Generalate, Bengaluru

“The passion and commitment of Venerable Mother Veronica had been a great blessing to the two Congregations, the AC and the CCR to come together in large numbers to celebrate the 150 years of our Congregation with this great lady as our 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.

The coming together as branches of the same tree have given us a greater impetus to serve society towards not only quality education but God orientedness as Carmel stands for prayer and being in the presence of God to draw His power which is the greatest need of today’s youth. We hope to move towards greater collaboration towards this mission in the years to come. The Logo of the Sesquicentennial Celebration is a motivation towards this vision.”

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  1. If we start counting ‘TEN BEST GIFTS” that were bestowed upon Mangalore, the destiny of Nuns and Priests coming to Mangalore as Missionaries are on the top of the list. Our grateful thanks we owe to the AC Nuns in particular for their love and dedication towards Mangalore where they made their beloved home 150 years ago.

    The Education and the discipline of faith that the AC Nuns brought with them to Mangalore needed lots of sacrifices and dedication. They came to India with a love of God and also the love of people. They established schools and charirtable Institutions. They reached out tens of thousands of people regardless of faith and they proved their abilities in the life of intellectualism added with determination and love for people.

    God has been extremely kind to Mangalore in so many ways, and the kindness in providing abundance of Nuns and Priests with a willingness to serve is something that we can write in volumes, and praise God for being so kind and merciful towards Mangalore.

    St. Agnes College of Mangalore is a “Signature Project” of the AC Nuns in Mangalore that became the foundation of all the nuns planned and strengthened. The brought the best of teachers whose quality of Education spread all over Mangalore where tens of thousands of students flourished with Education and dedication for others.

    Thank you, AC Nuns, for all your blessings and magnanimous work for the people. May you remain successful always in your good work that spreads all across the region and brings awareness to people what is the strength of Christianity is all about.

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