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

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In Memory

Obituary of Sr. Kamala Philomena


She was compassionate and kind–hearted.  
She was the friend of the poor and abandoned.

This is how Sr. Kamala Philomena is remembered.  Sr. Kamala was born on 23rd November 1943 in Kunda, Nilgiris.  She was the third child in the family.  Her father- Mr. Gnanapragasam was an agriculturist and her mother- Mrs. Rose Mary was a teacher. Her father expired at the age of 42 and mother at the age of 85.  Her two brothers, Mr. Aruldass who worked in the Ordinance factory and Mr. George who was a teacher died at the ages of 42 and 41 respectively.  Sr.Kamala’s sister Mrs. Violet Savarimuthu, a teacher, died at the age of 70.   The family hailed from Ketti, Nilgiris.

Sr.Kamala’s mother was interested and determined in educating not only the boys but also the girls.  She had her Primary school education in St. Michel’s, Ketti, run by the FMMs, and High school in St. Mary’s at Kotagiri, also run by the FMMs. She did her Pre-University in Auxilium College, Katpadi, run by the Salesian sisters.  While she was a candidate in St. Thomas Convent, Mylapore, she had her Teacher’s Training for 2 years in St. Joseph’s Training School.

At home her mother was her teacher and formator.  There were regular prayers, Bible reading and Rosary and devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  She attended the catechism classes in the parish and was a member of the Children of Mary.  This gave her some experience of service and sacrifice.  All through her years of education in the FMM Institutions before the entry into novitiate, she had imbibed values from FMMs.

She joined Maria Assunta Novitiate in Pune in June 1963 and made her First Profession in December 1965.  In September 1972 she made her Final Profession in St. Michael’s Convent, Ketti, Nilgris.
 
Sr. Kamala’s religious vocation was inspired by the life of Franciscan Missionaries of Mary and their prayer life and they encouraged her in her religious vocation.  Reading the life of Blessed Maria Assunta at the age of 10 and acting as Blessed Maria Assunta on the day of her Beatification in 1954, attracted Sr. Kamala to the way of life that Bl. Assunta had chosen.  This attraction remained with her in her youthful days and the choice of life was very easy and clear.  She writes in her autobiography that the values she had imbibed are simplicity, service to the poor, sharing, truth and compassion.  She learnt to appreciate prayer, silence and grew in love for the Eucharistic Adoration.
 
Recalling her memories of the novitiate days she says that she entered seriously into the pattern of life and training.  Life in common and separation from the family were challenging.  In spite of difficulties she was determined and firm in her decision to serve God through the FMM way of life.  All her formators were inspiring and were a support for her.  She realized gradually that she could do anything to fulfill God’s plan for her life.

Her mission for the most part of her life was in the field of education.  She spent 30 years of her life in schools with children and youth. For 8 years she taught in  St. Raphael’s Higher Secondary School and St. Helen’s High School.  For 22 years she was Head Mistress in Various schools: St. Helen’s and Holy Angels in Chennai, and Sacred Heart in Thanjavur.  It was a time of learning in many areas.  She writes that she enjoyed her mission and experienced co-operation from the staff, students and parents.  There were moments of achievements as well as challenges.  The Institute, superiors and sisters stood by her, supported her and encouraged her to go forward.  She is grateful to God for all those who walked along with her and challenged her.

She was always concerned and kind towards the workers and the poor.  While in Thanjavur the poor people in Muniandavar Colony were very dear to her heart.  She helped them a lot in many ways. By nature she was very compassionate and generous.  She did what she could to improve the living condition of the poor and downtrodden.
 
She was superior of three communities and Provincial Councillor for two terms.  For two years she was President of the Chennai Local CRI and this was a chance for her to work with members of other congregations.

After her retirement form the education ministry, Sr. Kamala was sent to Lena Illam, Kurumpanai for Pastoral ministry.  She was also in charge of candidates in Amali Seva Illam for one year, a member of the Nava Chetna team in Pune for two years.  After this she was warden in one of the hostels of Stella Maris College for two years.  Owing to the need for medical care she was in Amali Seva Illam from June 2017.  After a fall from the bed in 2018, her health began to deteriorate and she was shifted to Child Jesus Infirmary.

Sr. Kamala had a deep sense of God as her Father and Shepherd.  Her favourite Psalm is Ps 23: The Lord is my Shepherd.  Her favourite Scripture passage is Tobit:  13:4 – “I will be your Father forever”. She felt that the Book of Exodus is her own spiritual journey and when she read the Book of Esther, she realized that God had a purpose in placing her in different missions.  Sr. Kamala loved Bl. Mary of the Passion and her vision and courage has helped her to face life.  Sr. Kamala said that the session on Bl. Mary of the Passion: “La Sorgente” helped her a great deal to live the FMM charism.  The Franciscan spirit of fraternal love, sense of belonging, minority, contentment and joy upheld her spirit in her day to day life.

 For the past few days she was in and out of the ICU and on 15th August 2019, her condition became very serious and on 16th Sr. Kamala went to meet her Lord. May her soul rest in Peace!.

Sr. Mary Rose fmm
Amali Seva Illam, Trichy