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.

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Missionary in its services
Mary - like in its approach.

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Life Shared

Dr. KiranBedi at Stella Maris College

 

The ABCD of Freedom: Dr. KiranBedi at Stella Maris College

Students arriving early to the campus in the morning of September 6 would have been bewildered, even a little nervous.  A black Labrador sniffer dog on a leash was being led around the campus by several safari suited officials; and policemen with rifles were patrolling the grounds.  The mystery was soon cleared up.  This was the safety protocol heralding the imminent arrival of the Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry, Dr.Kiran Bedi IAS (retd.) who was to inaugurate the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of the Department of History and Tourism. 

The focus of her address was on three crucial areas of contemporary life in the global world: the concept of freedom and the role of women in an interconnected world in the context of change.  Freedom was a concept that had been widely debated she said, with many pieces of the puzzle not seeming to fit. She hoped that with her own definition, she could give the students some clarity. A stood for ability, “the ability to shine, to do what you want to do,” she awakened the gathering, “You must realize what your ability as I did and fine tune it on a daily basis.” B stood for boundaries. She made the students understand that freedom came with boundaries, and just because they weren’t always liked didn’t mean they could be disrespected, saying that there was no freedom without a sense of responsibility. C stood for conscience, a spiritual guide or mentor who taught you your values, a voice that ensured that you stayed within your boundaries and made good use of your abilities. And finally, D stood for duty, which everyone had to perform as it came with the claim to their rights.

 

Three W’s, she said, were changing the world: Women, Weather and the Web. A male-dominated society was now a thing of the past, and more able and capable women had to come to the foreground to bring about change. Weather changed the world every day, with the climate causing havoc in parts of the world. The third W, the Web, was creating an increasing impact on change. “How quickly we’re becoming connected,” she said, “The more a woman masters the Internet, the stronger she will be.”

Change also had to be implemented at the personal sphere, using the three M’s. The first M was money, which empowered a woman. “You have to ensure that your ability makes you professionally sound and capable,” she said, “You have to learn to earn for yourself.” The second M, marriage—that was a choice that had to be made carefully, but could be reversed. And the biggest change to a woman’s life would come with motherhood, a choice that was not reversible, and was a life-changing event.

Her address, punctuated with personal anecdotes and examples struck a chord with her listeners, who responded to her directions to practice her personal mantra for energy through the day, with immediate acquiescence.  She held them in thrall for several minutes as they went into deep meditation under her guidance.  She reminded students that waking up early was the key to success, and the exercise in meditation she had imparted to them would help them find the energy they needed to sustain them through the day. “As women you need double energy as you will have a double role to play,” she said.  At the end of her address, she came down from the stage, and drawn by frantic calls by the students, sat on the ground of the OAT, surrounded by students, who were electrified and exhilarated by the experience. 

Dr.Bedi had the audience spellbound for nearly an hour. The students responded to her with enthusiasm and warmth, finding immense depth of meaning in her words. Her use of acronyms and anecdotes resounded well with her audience, who believed her advice was of tremendous value, and presented with sincerity, genuine goodwill and the wisdom of experience. Her speech was hugely motivating, leaving everyone who had heard it energised and inspired by one of the most exceptional and influential women India has produced in recent times.

Hafsa Mariam Fathima

II year PG English, Stella Maris College.