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

Voice of a retired staff

Walking with the Franciscans

How does one condense into limited words the better part of one’s lifetime spent in an institution – an institution that one called ‘second home’. Yes, that is what Mater Dei School has become for me. I remember so clearly a reluctant new bride being interviewed by Sr. Anasthas who had more questions about my husband than me! She probably did not want a fly away bride – they had not bargained for a bride who dug in her heels, tucked in her sari and went hammer and tongs at the job!

What a roller coaster of a ride of 34 years it has been! The first year (1980-81) was trial by fire – Mater Dei celebrates 25 years and yours truly stuck her neck out to assist in producing “Zurika – The Gypsy Girl”. Each day became a challenge: selection of the cast, a runaway director, midway search for a new director, costumes, tailors, knitting ballet boots, dancing, singing, the worry, the competition from CJM, the glares and stares in the staff room….through all the madness there was one gentle soul – Sr. Sybil – who always had a shoulder to offer, for weepy me. Finally from one show, Zurika ran double shows for a week!

January 1, 1982 is a date that I distinctly remember, the confidence and generosity that Sr. Isabel Roche exhibited when I asked to be relieved of my duties as I had no help to look after my two month old baby. “Bring her along to school,” she told me. “Sukbiri’s daughter will look after her.” With her gentle confidence, she had just helped me cross a mountain!

Sr. Susan with her drive and vision, drove us all to great heights of discovering the strength each one of us had within us and indeed Mater Dei shone bright and rode high – some called it the school’s Golden Age, but I believe Mater Dei is gold and cannot be tarnished…it might take on a duller sheen but it is strong, solid gold because of its core values.

“To Love through Truth” Mater Dei’s motto were not just words for Sr. Celine Xavier. She stood firm on this motto and it became an ideal that the staff and students were encouraged to follow in thought, word and action. She was firm, resolute but had a heart of gold. I have seen her generosity in very quiet but feeling ways.

With Sr. Taurina we tread a path of great joy, achievement and success because she carried the staff and students along with her by the sheer joy of the love she had for what she did; she enjoyed achieving along with the staff and students, dynamically giving direction with dollops of humour and smiles! Important decisions were taken even as we munched ‘sheng chana’ in a wintry staff room!

Much grief poured out as we saw Sr. Taurina leave after a long stint of over a decade and a half, but then we welcomed Sr. Irene who had briefly been with us as teaching faculty. At Mater Dei we are taught the Fransiscan motto: “Adjust wherever you are asked to go or be”. The last few years at Mater Dei have been years of disciplined activity, with emphasis on detailed planning, which is Sr. Irene’s forte. There is the joy of achievement when one toils hard and long! Yes, Mater Dei is hitting gold! It is polishing its core and burning brighter.

All these Principals and the several Headmistresses, and Sisters in the Community, Sr. Mariam, Sr. Daisy, Sr. Rosily, Sr. Rosy, Sr. Stella, Sr. Salimma, and dear Sr. Assunta! How could I forget the joy of working with you attempting to make the students of Mater Dei into more disciplined and refined young ladies!? – I doff my hat to all of you for giving me ‘the time of my life’ here at MDS. I have had a roller coaster ride for 34 years and you have given me a bagful of memories, joy, happiness, sharing, caring, friendship, generosity, discipline, tears, hurt (just a little!), protection, support, a home and an education for my children and peace of mind for my husband Aly who has been the wind beneath my wings!

You have taught me the Franciscan Charism so well that I pain and hurt at the thought of leaving the security blanket of the Mater Dei family; I am a better person for the real values you all taught me through your example, so I end with a prayerful wish on my lips for all the good times, for the wonderful friends and the joy of belonging to a Franciscan Institution. It seems appropriate to quote our Patron Saint - St Francis of Assisi, here:

“I hope for you, charity and wisdom

Neither fear nor ignorance

Patience and humility

Neither anger nor vexation

Contentment and joy

Neither greed nor avarice

Lots of peace and meditation”

                                                                               Thank you dear Sisters!!!

Mrs. Ferengez Latif

(Retired Mater Dei School Teacher)