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

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Life Shared

Centenary of St. Dominic Convent

                        

 

The centenary celebration of Dominic Convent

 “It is God who, in His goodness, has raised up our Inst for ends which, though already vast, are still not completely known to us.” Words of our beloved and Bl. Mother  Foundress.  One such unveiling is the blossoming of the event, we’ve gathered to celebrate today.

 You have responded lovingly to our invitation and gathered here along with us as a believing community, to thank God, the eternal and generous giver of gifts, gifts that are uncountable, of blessings,  graces and  promises , that too in abundance, in season and out of season.

Our God is great, awesome, beautiful, wonderful and no doubt everlasting.  We, in time, here and now, honour and profusely thank the good and eternal God, the Supreme good, the source of all good, ....for calling us fmms to serve, in this locality and for remaining true to his word, I am with you. I go before you,: guiding  and leading onward, through the past 10 decades; a limited span indeed of 100 yrs, in front of an eternity...

It is but fitting that we approach his awesome presence, recalling to mind the select missionary pioneers who responded to the call of the mission in this locality.  The second fmm house was the Holy apostle Convent, atop, started  In 1901, in the then diocese of Madras –Myaporel. Pastors of the past and of fond memory, Arch bp Mathias SDB, Mnsgr.Carvalho, Bp. Arulappa, and others of yester years who singularly favoured, our charism and sought our presence, encouraged  and affirmed, the gradual growth of the services to the chosen and lucky people of faranghi malai – now called Thomas mount.

The early missionaries displayed real heroism and the accounts of their experiences are astounding and inspiring. The pioneers because of whom, we are here today to celebrate, are no more yet it is the fruit of their toil and sweat, their missionary endeavour of just 2 sisters to start with, coming from the top, daily climbing 134 steps to cater to the needs of the  parish, teach children in the Holy Apostles, Convent European School and return to their abode.  It is their persevering   efforts which has called forth the fruition of peoples, families and children who now express their gratitude coming from our schools, work room, workers, beneficiaries, associates and numerous sisters of the distant and recent past, along with the actual present sisters of St. Dominics,17 in all, headed by sr. Alphonse Marie, the superior.      

History states that with the gradual evolution of the works and the advancements needing their attention and focus, the residence for the sisters   was the last in priority, to come into existence. It was always the other, the pupils and the people, who were their priority.

 

 

 The evolution of St. Dominic Convent:

  a “charism always performs a functional service for the community

In aug 4.1913 , the foundation stone for a convent was laid by Rev. Theotonio Manuel Ribeiro V. da Castro, then Bishop of Mylapore. Cardinal Dominic Ferrate, as a mark of appreciation had made a generous contribution (of Rs.6,200) towards the construction, and  the convent was named after him. Dominic!!......... Thereafter everything of significance happens on the feast of Dominic. In June, the following year, the house was completed and blessed on the feast of the Sacred Heart, sisters started to reside in the campus and the basic facilities of beds, table chairs etc were brought from top for the use of sisters.

And of course, it was on the feast of ST. Dominic, 1914, the first mass was celebrated by Rev. fr. Cabrol da Costa, parish priest and the Bl. Sacrament was exposed for adoration. There was the addition of a new sister and they were now three. From September, 1914, the privilege of daily adoration was accorded to the sisters.

‘Charism ‘ is something dynamic, a grace imbued with lasting effects; a source of spiritual  animation destined to be perpetuated in future generations and renewed from century to century...It is the birth of the spirit, the original richness and supernatural dynamism, the church endeavors to preserve and maintain... as stated earlier, a “charism always performs a functional service for the community and for this reason it must ever remain  open to the demands of life and time, in other words  the signs of the time                                                                                                        

 The spirit and the charism are in no way   diminished nor depleted by historical events  but  they  contain an innate strength which can and need be expressed in terms of the present’ are the words to be treasured of our former  General  Alma Dufault.                                              

Answering the needs of the people was the stir of the soul of the pioneers. People needed quality education and schools were started both in English and the vernacular. As for the evolution, it was direct and simple. The sisters were for the people and the people were for the sisters. It was the good hearted Officials and the people of the cantonment who spotted and offered the plot for purchase, with the barracks, the jail and other buildings in the complex: which were put to use; later permitted to demolish and put up structures to answer to the needs of the  evolving schools.

Foremost was the need for a school in the English medium felt by the British and army  Officials and  the Eurasians, presently called the Anglo Indians. A school with 6 students was started and gradually evolved... take  note, the school was also under the patronage of St. Dominic.  St.Dominic’s Hr. Sec. School celebrated its centenary in 2001 and has a strength of 2500 students and 55 staff members on date. The Lords doing! Great indeed!

Next came the school in the vernacular to answer the needs of the larger public.  Sisters were alert enough by now, no more to perpetuate St. Dominic as patron; but  started the school in the name of our beloved and Bl. Mother Foundress Helen. Helen’s primary was started in 1906 for both boys and girls... it soon advance into middle, high and higher Secondary School. These Schools in turn celebrated the centenary and H. Sec its golden jubilee in 2006 and in 2011 respectively.  Great indeed are your works O Lord!

Besides the schools, though in a small scale, numerous were the efforts of the small group of pioneers 2 minimun and 3 maximun. Just to name a few: there was a dispensary, crèche, orphanage, an industrial school to train women and young girls to be self reliant. With so many activities, the perennial water shortage was evident, a century back as well and the Officers were only too willing to oblige as they saw, their wards were being tenderly cared for by the sisters.

The meager source of income of the pioneers was enhanced through other means such as artificial flower making, embroidery, art classes and music lessons. The Industrial school / also known as the work room dedicated to St. Antony was started officially in 1939 for the training of women bearing in mind their welfare  and dignity  as women. It had a 3 yrs and 1 yr diploma course in Embroidery and cutting and tailoring. They were so well trained that their works were appreciated and in great demand. Their works were sold in Spencers, other hotels and in the locality as well. The officials of the Barracks placed orders for khaki hankies, socks and their counterparts for saris to be designed and embroidered in petit point. Their works were highly commended and in turn were awarded a silver medal.

As the years rolled on, the need for a Montessori school, was felt in 1948, later called Nursery  and was named Marian School. For want of space it was shifted later to the parish campus and in 1981 handed over as well.

1950 St.Dominics Convent had the privilege of receiving and honouring the statue of O. L. of Fatima. The Marian devotion was so intense and grand, befitting the Mother whose fiat is the model of Fmms. It is recorded that almost the entire parish was in the campus for those 3 days.

In 1914, 4 aug, 3 ladies were received into the 3rd order of Francis and In 1930, history notes that a big group of young people joined the  same. We are proud to have the Associates of the fmms, in short, the AFMMS in majority of the institutions as supporters and collaborators in our mission.

Our benefactor Mrs. Chambers generously offered her bungalow for sale  and  Ankur Sadan, the third house for the formation of girls with an aptitude for our life was started. Next was the Ishalaya, in response to the recommendation of the II Vatican Council , precisely to reach out to the people of other faiths through dialogue, music and Indian forms of prayer and family visits – presently at  Palmaner in Chittoor Dt.

As a mark of our jubilation, we solemnly approach the altar of God bearing gifts in our hands and praise in our hearts acclaiming the great deeds of the Lord.  Our respected Bishop Neethinathan along with the con- celebrants is solemnly led to the altar for the Eucharist. What better thanks could we offer other than the sublime Eucharist, the most fitting expression of Gratitude with, through and in Christ.

We approach the altar, united in purpose, precisely to bless the goodness of God, praise and acclaim the great deeds of the Lord for His faithfulness and

 -To pray on this day and for the days to come / that we move on paths according to His Holy will through educational services primarily and other varied liberating services and ventures, according to the need of the moment:  assuring relevance in service and readiness to respond for the future...

 Like Mary, our model and mother, we re-dedicate ourselves, humbly bearing ever so strongly in mind, His great and merciful deeds accomplished by the fmms, through the years and up to this very moment.

The task ahead of us is never as great as the power behind us is the saving conviction of each one of us.

 

To be a part of this legacy on date is God’s gratuitous gift and for this, we, fmms/ sisters of  the present, can never, ever thank enough, our Lord and our God. Joyfully singing we move on, as Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the depths of our being. We acclaim in one voice

” Thank you, ourLord and God, for all that has been

and assured of his guidance , humbly say “YES” to all that will be.