Mangalore UFS Congregation marks splendid 125 years (1887-2012)
An inspiration to go forth, be fruitful and serve.
Ursuline Franciscan Sisters (UFS) of Mangalore celebrated 125 years of their Foundation with joy and solemnity at Rosario Cathedral on April 12.
The thanksgiving Eucharistic celebration was led by Archbishop Bernard Moras of Bangalore along with seven Bishops, many Priests, nuns and laity. The Cathedral was overflowing with around 500 UFS Nuns and Novices actively participating and hundreds of admirers and devotees.
The cultural celebration on the Cathedral grounds was unique and beautiful. Sound and light, music and choreography impressed the mammoth crowd present. The theme “MAKE US A RAINBOW, A SIGN OF HOPE FOR A NEW WORLD” was consistently and fittingly presented.
Dr Bernard Moras in his presidential address said, “The Ursulines are spread in all the dioceses of Karnataka. As Archbishop of Bangalore and president of the Karnataka Bishop’s Conference, I would like to congratulate and offer my best wishes to the Superior General and all sisters of the congregation.” He added, “Today UFS is celebrating 125 years of their existence and service to the society in India and the world. The Congregation is serving the deserving. The Ursulines are going in search and living among the poor and the needy.”
In his address Bishop Dr Aloysius Paul D’Souza the Chief Guest said, “On behalf of the diocese of Mangalore I congratulate the congregation of Ursuline Franciscan Sisters on completing 125 years of its existence. From the beginning the pious association has grown to be a religious congregation. It has grown into a huge tree with so many taking shelter in its branches,” He added, “This is a celebration of great joy, in the presence of so many bishops, priests, nuns and lay faithful. The congregation serves in various places in different ways.” He also gave a brief outline of the history of Ursuline Franciscan Sisters.
Superior General of Roman Union of Ursuline Rev Sr Cecilia Wang appreciated the charitable works taken up by the congregation. “You have continued the work of St Angela Merici, St Francis of Assisi, St Ignatius of Loyola and St Ursula,” she said.
During the ceremony, five books edited by Fr Devadutta Kamath, connected to UFS were released. Those who played a key role in the progress and growth of UFS were honoured on the occasion.
One of the projects during the UFS jubilee year was to build a house for the needy. The keys of the house under this project were handed over the beneficiary Walter Ferrao. ‘Tobia Payana’ project undertaken by the UFS to assist 64 children till they are ready to choose their careers, was also inaugurated by symbolically handing over lighted candles to three children.
Sr. Doreen D’Souza, Superior General of the Ursulne Fransican Sisters, welcomed the gathering which comprised of Bishops from various places including from the Bishop of Tanzania, priests, nuns and the laity were present.
The celebration culminated with a beautiful cultural sound and light programme that included a ballet (Kannada Nrithya Roopaka) on the life of Sr Angela Merici, the foundress of the Company of St Ursula in Italy; a song, dance and drama ‘Dhonu’ (rainbow) by Eric Ozario and Arun Raj of Mandd Sobhan, highlighting the Frontline Ministries of the UFS and their future jubilee projects; and a short documentary ‘Pilgrimage of Love’ depicting the history, life and mission of the UFS. The note worthy point is these cultural items were enacted by the junior sisters, the future of this order.
The conclusion of the memorable programme, the anthem of the UFS Congregation with the entire audience holding lighted candles, was indeed an inspiration to go forth, be fruitful and serve.
The Ursuline Sisters have for their mission educational institutions, social and vocational centers, orphanages, hostels, homes for the elderly, medical support and so on, all over India, parts of Europe and Africa, their motto being “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD”. Today there are more than 128 Convents with 1,100 members covering 33 diocese worldwide.
April 1887: Fr Urban Stein SJ first resident Parish Priest of Rosario Cathedral motivated a dozen of the educated ladies to work among the children and women in the area. Thus was born the “Company of St. Ursula”.
Fr. Stein gave to this pioneer company the rule of St. Angela Merici whose concern was the poorest of the poor and who emulated St. Ursula and St. Francis of Assisi as her model. The leader of these was Nympha Pauline Fernandez, who in 1901 built the first Ursuline house behind the Cathedral at Bolar, now the foundation house.
May 1934: Fr. A. Macree, a 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 ‘Canonical Erection’ on May 13, 1934. It has purely Mangalorean religious origins.
** January 1956: Fr. Pacificus Menezes ofmcap, brought about a major confluence in Ursuline and Franciscan spirituality. He was a dedicated spiritual guide and friend of the Ursulines till his death in 1974. He facilitated the re-writing, approval and affiliation to Franciscan rule and order. It so came to be called – “Ursuline Franciscan”.
** January 1995: The next mile stone was when the Congregation was raised to the ‘Pontifical Right’ by a decree of Pope Blessed John Paul II.
These are several people through the years who have played key roles in the development of this order.
Like the rainbows many brilliant shades, may the Ursuline Congregation shine on for many decades ahead. May the colourful Rainbow remain open ended to encompass the Universe with an endless arc of service, like the immeasurable paternal concern of the ALMIGHTY.