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

Life Shared

Fmm insertion in Tripura (North east)

NEST

"The missionary never says "I have done enough". This saying of Bl. Mary of the Passion is being actualized in the lives of six of us as we begin the journey into the North East mission at Tripura. We are happy to share about our humble yet exciting beginnings of Tripura mission.

As planned by Sr. Taurina Vaz- the provincial of Delhi, the first missionaries to Tripura arrived at Tollygunge, Kolkota on the 30th of May 2013. Sr. Taurina spent qualitative and quantitative time with us preparing us to face the new mission and also to familiarize with the Delhi province statutes and Pastoral Plan. The time spent at Tollygunge with Sr. Taurina and the community helped us to get to know each other especially the six of us.
 
Bengali is the state language of Tripura, we were introduced to Bengali by Ms. Indrani one of our teachers. Like the early Christians we understood Bengali in each one's mother tongue and had the Pentecost experience. Sr. Gertrude and the community of Providence invited us for a day and we were happy to meet not only the community sisters but also the newly appointed young superiors of the province who had come for an orientation by Sr. Taurina. We spent the night at Providence and the next day early morning we went to the community at Kowgachi and enjoyed their and returned to Tollygunge by evening.
 
Sr. Taurina had painstakingly prepared to animate us for the unknown mission we were about to undertake. She led us into reflection on the "River of life" and for the sharing we were taken to Ramakrishna Matt, Belur on the banks of River Hoogly early in the morning. Gazing at the River it was a real heavenly experience and we could see a great similarity to our own lives' flow. Through our sharing we came to know each other better in a personal way. Sr Taurina had also arranged for a sharing of Tripura mission by Sr. Fay A.C, who had been a pioneer in most of their foundations in the North East. From her sharing we realized that as missionaries we need to Be with people and have the attitude of receptivity and learn from the people their culture, language and their way of being rather than imposing ourselves. We need to respect and be very kind towards the people.
We were also enlightened by the sharing of Mr. Michael Mendonca a lay person on "Tips for Team Work". Being the manager of a business firm he shared his ways of touching the lives of people in the simplest way possible. It only takes a little effort to be mothers, to be sensitive, to be human so as to build the Kingdom of God. He also reiterated that for business persons their bottom line is "Profit" while for us missionaries our bottom line should be "the Kingdom of God."
 
On the evening of 12th June, the Tollygunge community prepared a very meaningful prayer for our mission sending. It made us go back to the spirit of our first missionaries. But what a difference then and now!! Leap in to the unknown, faraway lands, long voyages.........and now in the 21st century ----- days of preparation, orientation and then a few minutes by flight!! The prayer brought the 6 of us together by holding one lighted candle given by Sr. Taurina. Emotions of joy, oneness, fear of the unknown and the loss of familiar friends and places welled up in our hearts. We also felt the strength and closeness of each of you dear sisters of the five provinces as well the whole Institute.
 
Finally on 13th of June feast of St. Antony of Padua, the Eucharist was offered for our intentions. After breakfast we were ready for the great departure. We left the house at 9 am accompanied by Srs. Philo Raj, Linda, and Gertrude. Sr. Taurina travelled with us to Tripura. For some of us it was first experience by flight. We went through all the formalities and were seated at the lounge as the flight was delayed by an hour.
 
We left Dum Dum airport at 12.50 p.m and arrived at Agartala the capital of Tripura at 1.45p.m where our parish priests Fr. Sunny and K.K Joseph SDBs were waiting for a long time. After 42 km. drive from the capital we reached Bishramganj at 3.10 p.m. had our lunch and were brought to our new abode......a real Franciscan home. Slowly we settled down and made ourselves at home. The degree of our homesickness was low as we had Sr. Taurina with us all along and for the next one week.
The very next morning after the Eucharist and breakfast we were welcomed warmly by the little ones of the school. Each of us was given a bouquet and they sang their welcome song. Fr. Sunny introduced us to the teachers and the children.

Tripura one of the eight North Eastern states is surrounded 85% by Bangladesh and 15% on the west Mizoram. It is ruled by CPM who are friendly and open to missionaries. The natural setting is something like that of Kerala, thick with all sorts of trees, hills and valleys, rivers and ponds. Besides paddy, pineapple and other cultivations, rubber and pepper are seen on a large scale. In summer it is very hot but in winter it dips to 4 to 5 degrees. The natural beauty is captivating so much so, Sr. Taurina has found picnic spots everywhere and suggested to have mobile chapel and mobile refectory. Her being with us for a week helped us to reflect on different aspects of missionary life, community life and the Year of faith. So much is before us, and we feel at loss especially as we have no knowledge of the local language. We are making all efforts to learn "Kokborok" the tribal language.
 
Our parish at Bishramganj is under the Salesian Fathers. It consists of 36 outstations which are scattered far and wide and very difficult to reach. Many outstations can be reached only by foot, climbing over hills and crossing rivers. They have started English medium schools at various centres of the - parish. Right now the schools are on half yearly holidays till the 17th July. When schools re-open we will be going two by two to three centres to take care of the schools, boardings as well as the pastoral work. So, soon we will be missing one another and will meet only at weekends as far as possible.
 
As we made use of opportunities to visit few of our outstations, we begin to understand the challenges before us....... loneliness, deprivations, letting go, learning a new language knowing the culture and also the thrill of beginning from nothing, adjusting to one another, climate, food and so on. We realize our need to let go everything and place all our trust and confidence in our God who has called us to this great mission land.
Our entry into Tripura was marked by news of death one after the other. While on the way from the airport itself we got the sad news of Sr. Juliet's brother who passed away. One can imagine how we all felt and how painful it was for Juliet too. After that continuously we got news of our sisters who passed away in Chennai province. Our parish priest Fr. Sunny lost his mother as well. Every beginning is marked by a loss. We were really challenged to let go of everything in order to begin again.

We would like to thank Fr. George SDB the provincial who had welcomed us to collaborate in the mission of Tripura and for all the efforts the fathers of the parish -Fr Sunny, Fr. K.K Joseph and Fr. William are doing to make us comfortable. Our heartfelt thanks to Sr. Suzanne Philips and the General Council for allowing us to launch into North East. Words are not enough to thank our 5 provincials of India especially Sr. Taurina for giving herself to us for more than 19 days of her precious time animating us spiritually, psychologically and seeing to most of our material needs. We thank all our sisters of the 5 provinces for your prayerful support that makes us feel strong. We are grateful to Sr. Philo Raj and the community at Tollygunge and Sr. Gertrude and the community. Last but not least we express our sincere thanks to Mr. Michael our generous benefactor. May God bless each one in the most needed way, is our prayer and we call upon your prayerful support as we respond to this beautiful call God is giving us at this time of our missionary vocation. "God is not asking me to succeed but to offer myself". (NS-8) We find great inspiration in these words of our Mother Bl. Mary of the Passion.
Sr. Mary Joe fmm -- 08729815794.

North East Id:- bfmmnortheast@yahoo.in

Postal Address: FMM Sisters, C/o Don Bosco Centre, Bishramganj, Tripura -799103 North East.