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






St.Thomas Convent Chennai was bubbling with life, laughter and noise as the All India Formation Team members arrived from different corners of the country the familiar hellos and warm hugs expressed the fraternal love and joy of the Franciscan women. Sr.Leena D’Souza provincial of Chennai, the superiors of Shanthi and Nirmala Community along with the sisters of the province welcomed us with poornakumbam, Kumkum and Chandan. Each one of us was given a small plant representing the stages of growth and our role as formators at various levels.


The  inaugural mass was at 6.00 pm. It was celebrated by Rt.Rev.George Antonysamy, the Archbishop of Chennai. The theme for the Eucharist “Formation to Consecrated life” was introduced at the beginning of the Eucharist. Soil, seeds, seedlings, sheaf of wheat and flour and loaf of bread were carried symbolizing formation at candidacy, Pre-Novitiate, Novitiate, TPR and on-going formation respectively. The Archbishop in his homily highlighted the importance of formation to grow in intimacy with the Lord, whose will we need to seek in order to serve. Our service should be the desire and the need of God not of ourselves. He exhorted us to be prophetic and be attractive by our life witness and different way of responding to the needs of the world. The day came to an end with a grand banquet.


The feast of the presentation of Jesus began with the candle light procession which marked the presentation of Jesus in the temple and of our call to offer ourselves to Him. Fr.Paul S.J. in his homily spoke about the call of formators, to know the smell of the sheep by close accompaniment and bless them with compassion, integrity, kindness, generosity, etc.


The first session for the day began at 9.00 am with a short prayer. Sr.Leena D’Souza, the co-ordinator of the programme welcomed the participants and introduced the theme of our AIFT meeting “God consciousness in Franciscan Life”. Like Francis let us contemplate Jesus in His incarnation says the theme of Our General Chapter no other mystic had so intense an experience of God and yet was profoundly silent about the expression of the divine presence. The daily activities of his life were a flow of expressions of the Holy Spirit- loving obedience, prayer, devotion, peace, service. The integration of contemplation with the reality of life today is our response to the cry of the poor and to the cry of the planet. To strengthen the FMM spirituality at various stages of formation by integrating God consciousness in a conscious way requires relentless efforts. After introducing the service personnel, the minutes of the AIFT meeting 2013 was read out and passed. We entered into stage wise group discussion and reflection on the implementations of the decisions taken in 2013. The difficulties faced at different stages and the suggestions were shared in the general assembly. 

In the afternoon session at 3.00 pm the five provincials shared about the National CRI meeting held at Don Bosco campus Guwahati, from 7-9 November 2013, to which 494 major superiors from across the country participated. It was also the celebration of the Golden Jubilee of NCRI which marked the missionary prophetic presence of our men and women religious across the country. Here we have some of the inspiring thoughts.

Br.Philip Pinto CFC, said let God surprise us with a face we have never seen before. He asked what my image of God is? Does my image of God give me the Impetus to involve with people in pain? He said to continue to live religious life as we are living today is to allow it to die.  It is only when we give enough time for our inner work and commit ourselves to live as healthy people in healthy relationships with the healthy understanding of God that we allow ourselves to be ceased by the Abba. The need of today is not administrators but mystics who recognize the new face of God.

Archbishop Emeritus Thomas Menamparampil emphasized that it is from one’s passion for Christ that one develops passion for Humanity. Love silence, keep close to the poor, keep close to the ordinary people, ordinary work, ordinary froms of prayer, remains warm hearted. Is our life and prayer people- centered? Is our houses open to people?

Sr.Mary Sujita SND spoke on gospel leadership. The leadership style of Jesus is first and foremost the fruit of his sustained intimate relationship with his Abba, in this intimacy he become the leader and his very presence was transformational. We are not asked to repeat what our founders did rather to rediscover the fire of the charism deep within us. We need to ask ourselves does our way of leading create new ways of evangelizing, fresh movements towards the frontiers and new involvements that are prophetic. Leadership in religious life is not about power and control; it is about leading with spiritual energy and faith vision that is transformational.

Fr.Stanislaus Swamikannu SDB said a person who accepts God theoretically but lives his life as if God does not exist is a practical atheist. The vital link between life and prayer is missing in many a religious. We forget we are public persons as we have made a public profession. The vows have become ambiguous leading to a subtle and silent denial of them in daily life. To redeem the mess we find ourselves in we need to become counter signs.

Fr.Hactor D’ Souza SJ said, though charisms vary the core of them all He is the master at its helm and his people whom we have to care for. We need to drink of the ,master, relish Him and smell of Him and walk with his people like sheep always in motion. The master chose to be with the poor the marginalized and women, they should be our friends too.

Raynah Passanha Braganza, director women’s commission, Pune diocese said Christian leadership is modeled on Christ. We need to imitate Jesus in His training of His original twelve whom He transformed from the inside out, through the word, prayer, and fellowship and infused passion into them.  Women, lay and religious need to examine the kind of leadership that the church and society demand, and move from passivity to assertiveness, conformity to taking initiatives, recognizing their own abilities, talents and potentials.

Fr.Joe Mannath SDB looked at twenty five pressing issues religious in India face today, with practical suggestions on every point. He reminded that there is only one leader and all of us are His disciples.

Fr.Paul Parathazham presented his survey on the topic “Religious life in India today, Empirical investigations” in which he presented his findings collected between 2004 and 2011 on the aspects of community life, quality of life, ministries, leadership and personal experience in religious life. His findings are quite revealing and disturbing.

We came together at 4.30Pm to listen to the sharing of our two young religious Finola and Vinosa who had gone to the Philippines for their discernment and renewal session. They shared with us their experience on international living, the various programmes they had and what helped them the most. We concluded the day with an hour of prayer.


After a short meditation and prayer Fr.Shaji OFM led us into reflection on the theme “God Consciousness in Franciscan life”. He presented to us three models of the stages of spiritual development.

Model - I 

This consists of four stages

  • Chaotic, Antisocial: it is a stage of lawlessness. Adults in this stage seem incapable of loving others. Since people are not principled this stage is called chaotic.
  • Formal, Institutional: is a stage of the letter of the law in which religious fundamentalists and most religious people are to be found. Their attachment to the forms of the religion upset them if changes are made. They understand God as an external transcendent being and have very little understanding of the indwelling God.
  • Skeptic, Individual: people in this stage are scientific in minded, moral, rational and humane. They are often committed to social causes and are highly submitted to principle. Advanced in this stage, people are active truth seekers.
  • Mystical, Communal: This is most mature stage of religious development. This is the stage of the spirit of the law. They feel deeply connected to an unseen order of things. They are comfortable with the mystery of the sacred. If one really follows Jesus one would necessarily come to this stage.

Model – II

  • Evangelistic: one first falls in love with Jesus/ Good news.
  • Relational: one tries to deepen one’s understanding of relationships, personality types etc and tries different forms of prayer to deepen their spiritual experience.
  • Social Gospel: Here faith is connected with issues of justice, social concern and peacemaking.
  • Contemplative: It is a stage of integration of action and contemplation.

Model – III [A Biblical Model]

  • Order: People start their spiritual journey with tradition, custom, law and order. The books such as Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, provide these elements.
  • Criticism: the prophetic books show the clear emergence of critical consciousness and interior struggle in Israel until we move to self reflexive, self critical thinking we do not move to any deep level of consciousness.
  • Integration: The wisdom books: Psalms, Song of Songs, the book of Job show the clear emergence of non dualistic thinking. The people are willing to enter in deep level of faith which demands trust and surrender.

We had the Eucharistic celebration at 11.45am.

The afternoon session began at 3pm. Fr.Shaji continued to reflect with us on St.Francis,the mystic. Contemplation is the one way to enter in to a deeper understanding of reality. St.Francis saw more than what the bodily eye can see. He saw the glory of God in the incarnation and also in the worm, He saw the glory of God in the Lamb, bread and wine and in the cross. He saw the glory of God revealed through nature. Everything was seen in a relationship. He saw Jesus in the leper, in the poor and shining through everything and everyone. Once this “seeing” took place he converted and moved to another reality that is TRINITY. Francis started with the Christological journey then ended in the mystery of the Trinity. He saw the work of the Trinity in all things. He preached the Trinity in all his teachings even to the Sultan. Trinity is basically about relationship. Francis uses the family terminology. The world is our cloister he said which expresses the sense of the sacred.At 4.30pm we had stage wise discussion on the input session and arrived at an action plan which was reported at the general assembly.



We began the day with a short prayer. Rev.Fr.Rayappa A.Kasi an environmentalist was the resource person. He spoke on “The Call of the Church and FMM response”. He focused on the vision of Pope Francis on the cry of the poor and the cry of the planet. Spoke on various writings of Pope Francis.


  • The light illuminates every aspect of human existence.
  • Transformed by the light of faith, we gain fresh vision, new eyes to see.
  • Faith becomes a light for our way guiding our journey through time.
  • Faith is a common good. Its light helps us to build our societies in which they can journey towards a future of hope.
  • Universal brotherhood based on equality, under a common Father we need to return to the true basis of brotherhood.
  • God’s love embraces all of humanity and all creation, culminating in death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

EVANGELII GAUDIUM (The joy of the gospel)

  • Pope Francis called for a renewal of the Roman Catholic Church and attacked unfettered capitalism as “a new tyranny”, urging global leaders to fight poverty and growing inequality.
  • How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion.
  • Incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain and feeling a need to help them, as though all these were someone else’s responsibility and not our own.
  • “I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.”


  • Let us become agents of God’s mercy, channels through which God can water the Earth protect all creation and make justice and peace flourishes.
  • Peace to the whole world torn apart by violence linked to drug trafficking and by the exploitation of natural resources!


  • “We are losing the attitude of wonder, contemplation, listening to creation. The implications of living in a horizontal manner are that we have moved away from God, we no longer read His signs.”During the Eucharistic celebration at 11.45 am Father spoke of Eucharist as a vegetarian meal.

Fr.Rayappa said “Domestic spirituality“ is the need of the hour if we need to safe guard the environment for the future generations.

  1. Eat Locally
  2. Shop Locally
  3. Pray Locally
  4. Marry Locally
  5. Travel Locally
  6. Enjoy Locally
  7. Grow up Locally.
  8. Commute Locally ( walk, Cycle)
  9. Produce Locally(Cultivate food)
  10. Produce fresh water Locally (Rain harvest)
  11. Go vegetarian

He concluded the session highlighting the following challenges.

  • Emmanuel-Acculturate and Incarnate
  • Go to outskirts
  • Say” No” to capitalism
  • No to an economy of exclusion
  • No to the new idolatry of money
  • No to power of authority; be a servant
  • No to inequality which spawns violence
  • No to a financial system which rules rather than serves.

After a short break once again we came to our groups and reflected on the questions and arrived at an action plan for the various stages of formation which was shared in the general assembly.


Sr. Maria Goretti moderated the session on the 5th and Sr.Mary Rose on the 6th of February.The day began with Eucharistic celebration and our session at 9am. Based on the theme of our AIFT we spent these two days reflecting on the various levels of formation and how to make  God consciousness a reality in our formation. We arrived at the following action plan for each level of formation.


  • Maintain good relationship with the priests who could collaborate with us for vocation promotion.


  • Help the candidates to recite prayers meaningfully.
  • Initiate them to simple and short meditation using Nama Japa etc.
  • Introduce yoga exercises.
  • Emphasize the meaning and need for silence at specific times such as before Mass and at night.
  • Review the day with them.
  • Foster in them the value of respect for persons and creation.
  • Inculcate in them the awareness of the presence of God and encourage them to practice mindfulness.
  • Help them to become aware and appreciate the interconnectedness in creation.
  • In order to give the candidates an experience of our mission, send them to communities inserted among the poor.


  1. From the beginning of the pre-Novitiate and the Novitiate emphasize the value of mindfulness.
  2. Enable them to experience connectedness with the cosmos and appreciate the mystery of Sacredness.
  3. When we explain the vows of poverty, Obedience and Chastity, include the aspects of environmental conservation.
  4. Add in the Manual about Ecological Awareness at Pre-Novitiate stage.


  • Enable the TPR to discover the stage of her spiritual journey and help her to grow.
  • The formators and the superiors to be equipped with necessary skills, especially for spiritual direction to accompany the TPRs.
  • When the TPR is given orientation to the province, emphasize our commitment to the poor and the protection of creation.
  • Ensure the continuity of our solidarity with the poor in the formation programme of the TPR.


To grow in God consciousness in the Franciscan way and to ensure an atmosphere of peace and well-being for all, we strongly recommend the following:

  • Make daily meditation together as a community.
  • Reinforce contemplative prayer through guided meditations once or twice a week.
  • Practice mindfulness with love and respect
  • Books suggested for this purpose are:-
  • Miracle of mindfulness
  • Peace is every step -  by Thich Nath Hanh
  • Process the day’s experiences in the light of the Word of God before or after evening prayer.
  • Simplify all our celebrations considering them as moments to proclaim God’s marvellous deeds; include the poor in our celebrations.  
  • Study the writings of Pope Francis in the community and plan for the implementation of his suggestions in various ministries.
  • Participate in the integral development of the people in our locality, especially for eco related issues.

the end of the day on the 5th of February we were enthralled by the entertainment given by the three schools in our campus at Rosary school auditorium. It was simply entertaining, thought provoking and very colourful. We had a sumptuous meal in the campus with lots of fun and laughter.



had a sumptuous meal in the campus with lots of fun and laughter.

On the 6th evening after the day’s work we paid a flying visit to St.Dominics and then went to St.Thomas Mount where we spent some time praying in St.Thomas shrine and visited Holy Apostles convent. We were energized and refreshed by the look, touch, songs and dance of our beautiful little children. We enjoyed the hospitality and the grand meal given with Love and joy.


The session began with a prayer after which we continued our discussion on the action plans for the different stages of formation. After reflection in our groups we choose two priorities for the institute for formation. After a tea break we came for the business session which was moderated by Sr.Rose Grace.


The TPR, who have completed four years will be sent for Navchetna this year and remain in the communities for one year. The coordinator of Navchetana is Sr. Salomy Phillips, and the team members are Sr.Maria Kuriakose, and Sr.Premila Dias.Date of arrival 1st July in Pune- Departure 18th November






No of Sisters


















ICC - Coimbatore


At the end of the session Sr.Leena D’Souza thanked the Provincials,the formation team of her province and all the AIFT members. She announced  that Sr.Valsa Joseph, provincial of Ooty province will be the Co-ordinator for the year 2015. After the session we had the group photo.

The thanksgiving Eucharist was celebrated by Fr.S.J.Antony Swamy V.G of the Archdiocese of Mylapore. We thanked God for the seven days of reflection, discussion, sharing and renewal. We expressed our gratitude to Sr.Leena D’Souza, the provincial of Chennai and all the sisters of Chennai province for their systematic, meticulous planning and Franciscan hospitality. During his homily father spoke about the need and the importance of God-consciousness and how the various Biblical figures lived in God consciousness. After the mass we visited Holy Angels Convent on the way to Stella Maris Convent where we enjoyed a grand meal with the community as a sign of family spirit, togetherness and joy.

        Sr.Maria Selvi Susai FMM

Sr.Salomy Phillips FMM