The first missionary religious congregation for women in the history of the Church and the world is the Institute of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary founded in 1877 by BL. Mary of the Passion, now in the 139th year of its course.

Franciscan in its essence.
Missionary in its services
Mary - like in its approach.

» Dedicated to universal mission

» Seek strength from the Eucharist

» And offer ourselves in challenging services

In Memory

Sr. Maria Gnana Pushpam Fernando


A Loving Tribute to Sr. Maria Gnana Pushpam Fernando

“Pluck this little flower and take it, delay not! ...honour it with a touch of pain from thy hand and pluck it. ...use this flower in thy service while there is time.”

Yes, dear Sr. Pushpa Fernando must have sung in her heart, this famous song of our National Poet Rabindranath Tagore. Thiru Fernando Santiagu Rayappan’s family rejoiced at the birth of  their beloved child Maria Gnana Pushpam on June 4th 1950. Sr.Pushpa was the 5th child among six children. 3 brothers and 2 sisters. Her elder brother is a priest in U.S.A. Pushpa’s parents were settled in Sri Lanka about 30 to 40 years and then returned to Idinthakarai in Tuticorin. As a child she attended regular catechism classes and was also part of pious associations. Pushpa had written in her autobiography the following lines about her childhood.

  • Going to church every morning with my mother and sisters.
  • Going for Rosary and vespers in the evening at the grotto of the parish church.
  • Joining the sodalities – Church cleaning, singing and social activities.

“I was taught in my family, to respect elders, to work hard, to pray regularly. There are many vocations to religious life from her village. Bishop Thomas Fernando, who was the bishop of Trichy, and Bishop Peter Fernando who became the Arch bishop of Madurai were also from Idindakarai. Pushpa says “My Parents were instrumental for my vocation and my eldest brother Fr. Thomas Fernando helped me to choose the FMM way of life. At the age of 16 immediately after my schooling, I attended a vocation camp, organized by FMMs in Idinthakarai. Srs. Assuntha, Ignacia Marina, and Pia Marcella from Tuticorin community, helped me to enter the aspirancy which was in St. Thomas Convent, Mylapore”.

Sr.Pushpa’s formation period began at Ketti in June 1968 as a Pre- Novice and pronounced her first vows in 1970. After the Novitiate she was sent to St. Thomas convent Chennai where she helped in the boarding. In 1972 she was sent for higher studies (B. Sc Zoology) in Stella Maris College. She made perpetual vows on 3rd October 1977 at Sacred Heart Cathedral, Tuticorin. After Perpetual vows she was sent for further studies. After completing her higher studies she was sent to work as a teacher and later as headmistress in our schools.  She started teaching 12th standard students in Helens Girls Higher Secondary School, St. Thomas Mount. Later she was appointed headmistress in St. Raphael’s High School, Mylapore and after which she was appointed as Headmistress in Sacred Heart Girl’s Higher Secondary School, Thanjavur. She retired as headmistress of Holy Angels’ Anglo Indian Higher Secondary School, Chennai in 2008.

Sr. Pushpa has written “The significant aspect of my mission as educationist was that I had many opportunities to proclaim Jesus and His values to the whole school through morning assemblies and through various activities and functions. The scripture quotations which I quoted to others in the school are “with God everything is possible”. “The Lord is my Shepherd there is nothing I shall I want’.

After her retirement Sr.Pushpa was teaching English in Vietnam for our Vietnamese sisters for one year. She also taught at the Bridge Course in Stella Maris College for students who had passed High School, but needed to improve their English to take up study in the college. Sr.Pushpa volunteered to go to South Africa Mission for one year. In 2013, she was missioned as hostel warden in Child Jesus Hospital for a year. In 2014 she was in St. Thomas convent, Chennai taking Acupressure treatment for Parkinson’s disease but there was no improvement. In the month of 2016, May Sr. Pushpa was shifted to Child Jesus convent for intensive care.  In spite of all the medical care and attention given to her condition deteriorated, on 6th may she was called to the Lord. 

Sr. Pushpam was a teacher by profession and was an able administrator as teacher and Headmistress in the different schools in the province. She was very hard working and was a very responsible person who wanted to do her best in her given mission. She had deep faith in God.

Two of her sisters, sister in - law and some of her relatives attended her funeral. We thanked them for gifting Sr. Pushpa to the Institute and we expressed our deep condolences to them. We are grateful to our sisters, staff , collaborators and friends who came from Chennai, Tanjore and other areas to pay their last respect to Sr. Pushpa.

May the Lord grant her eternal peace!

Sr. Siriya Pushpam and Prema Perez fmm

As I remember dear Sr. Pushpa Fernando fmm

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” ( 2Tim: 4/ 7)

When I joined the school as a sister teacher, Sr. Pushpa was my first headmistress. I saw her as a person of prayer; she was a kind sister and she showed concern towards me. She played a greater role in my life. She taught me many things which helped me to grow. She was regular in her

                                                                                                                                          Sr. Pushpa with Sr. Rani

duties, she was  good at planning and organizing her work very diligently and she was very systematic. She had a  sense of aesthetics in her work and surroundings. As a person of prayer, she had deep faith in God. Sr. Pushpa taught me to be a good person while she practiced  a life of commitment to her duties. She was loving and caring to her students. She worked as a teacher and headmistress in St. Raphael’s School, Sacred Heart School Thanjavur, and Holy Angels’ School.  She trained many students and brought them to higher positions in life. I had the joy of working with Sr. Pushpa for 2 years. I found that she was very open and straightforward and she remained the same till the end.

Sister Pushpa was a guide and a good sister to me. She continued to be in touch with me for 19 years and wherever we met we shared our life’s journey. When Sr. Pushpa went to Vietnam in 2009, to teach English to the Sisters, she kept up the communication with me. She was sent on mission to South Africa and she shared with me that she faced scary situations among the people of different races; it was difficult for her to cope  with that situation and finally she returned to Chennai. After returning from the Mission, she fell ill and she struggled hard to come back to normal health, but God’s will was different for her. She participated in Christ’s suffering and surrendered herself to the Lord on 6th May 2017. May she rest in peace!

Sr. Rani Clement fmm,