We have an End: The glory of the Heart of Jesus.A Mission: To Discover and make known the Love of His Heart.A spirituality: to be United and conformed to the Heart of Jesus. A Service in the Church and in the world of today: Transformative Education with a Preferential Love for the poor.

Closing of Platinum Jubilee celebration by Janina Gomes

Cardinal Ozzie:

Cardinal Ozzie to the RSCJ: 75 Years of Rich History- Now look to the Future

It was a mass concelebrated with 8 priests, with Cardinal Ozzie, Archbishop of Bombay, as main celebrant. It was the closing celebration of the Platinum Jubilee Year of the RSCJ. Cardinal Ozzie exhorted them to build the future, bringing to their work the same depth of quality which they had maintained in the past, along with gentle expansion- not frenzied growth.

It was a warm summer evening on Sunday, May 11th, when the liturgical celebration commenced at 6 p.m. A gentle breeze wafted through the grounds of the Santa Cruz Sacred Heart Church, a Parish in which the RSCJ have their provincial house. The skies were still blue with white fleecy clouds. Birds circled in the air. Just behind the stage, outside the compound of the Church, were trees already shedding their leaves. On the stage was a screen depicting the Sacred Heart in Green, with lights circling and shooting off stars in all directions. The altar with the RSCJ insignia- an open heart enclosing the world and a cross at the left hand corner was a reminder that the RSCJ are an international order, whose services go well beyond the boundaries of this country.

Quotations from St.  Madeleine Sophie, the foundress, were imprinted on satin banners urging the congregation to take delight in prayer and in the desert and silence of their hearts, to listen to the voice of God.

The choir that was its superb best singing carefully chosen Gospel songs under the direction of Trevor Martin, a director of choirs from Pune, opened the ceremony with the hymn: “ Come dance the dawning story. Tell what God the Lord has done”.

Cardinal Ozzie, assisted by Auxiliary Bishop of Bombay, Dominic Savio Fernandes  and Fr. Malcolm Sequeira, Vicar General of Pune, was like a shepherd leading his sheep to safer pastures, the theme of the Gospel reading for the day, “Good Shepherd Sunday”. He reminded the vast congregation on the grounds of an anecdote that happened at a Hollywood service. The Pastor was late for the service, and so Richard Burton filled in his place, reading Psalm 23 with great talent and fervor that drew real applause from the gathering. Later however, the Pastor came and so re-read the Psalm. In the silence that followed you could not hear a pin drop. Richard Burton, who was deeply touched, exclaimed to one and all present: “I know the Psalm, but the pastor who has just read it knows the shepherd”.

Cardinal Ozzie was also happy with the choice of the Epistle reading that evening from Colossians, which talks again and again about the need for humility, lowliness, forbearance and patience.

He congratulated the nuns on the quality and depth of their service despite wide expansion, moving from college education to primary education, urban to rural ministries, pastoral work to education for the challenged, from technical education to health care. He emphasized how the Padma Shri awarded to Sister Karuna Mary Braganza, was a recognition by civil society and the Government of the work done not by one individual but the work done by the institution. He also lauded the Society for its pioneering work in women’s education in India and reaching out to all sections of society – from the affluent to the poor. International missionaries, especially from the English Vicariate had contributed to this effort.

There was a short audiovisual after the mass, with inputs from Sister Ambuja, together prepared with Alex Fernandes,  who was also at the keyboard and the guitar accompanying the choir. It pictured for the congregation, how the great fire in the neighbourhood, made Madeleine Sophie’s mother deliver her 2 months prematurely and the reason why she was called a child of fire. The vineyards of Joigny in Burgundy, France influenced the young Madeleine to find great meaning in the Gospel saying “ I am the Vine and You are the Branches. Without me you can do nothing”.

Madeleine’s Sophie’s induction into classical learning by her priest brother and other hard demands made on her were to shape her and the way she responded to the challenges of the day in the early 19th century.

The audio visual was punctuated by dance, choreographed by Diago Fernandes, that was modern and yet told the story compellingly. Revolving lights on the stage pierced the early evening darkness like search lights.

Two publications were released on the occasion: One called ‘Urdhva Mula’- the Sophia College Logo, covering the history of the Society from 1939-2014, written by the Society’s historian, Dr. Anila Verghese, former Principal of the College and present Director of the Polytechnic on the Sophia Campus, and a Platinum Jubilee Souvenir prepared by Sisters Ambuja and  Manisha, capturing the memories and reminiscences of the RSCJ over the decades.

Sister Rita Pinto, Provincial, also a wonderful solo singer, lent her voice to the choir and also did all the formalities for the occasion. The members of the Organizing Committee saw to every little detail of organization with precision. Sister Ananda Amritmahal, Principal of Sophia College, gave the Vote of Thanks with great finesse and aplomb summing it all up in the words

” For all that has been, Thanks, and for all that will be, Yes”.

Mr. Hugo  D’Souza, a polished compere did his job very well, leading the celebrations and the cultural show, which again was of the highest quality. The support given by the Parish Priest, Fr. Vernon Aguiar  and the School Principal, Fr. Kinny went a long way in making the evening’s function a success.

The finale was a procession of some of the young nuns and young people of the Parish to the altar, where they placed their lighted lamps and then knelt down with their arms folded in prayer.

Boxes of snacks were distributed and family and friends enjoyed a sumptuous dinner. And now begins the next chapter in the Society’s history. As Cardinal Ozzie said, the importance given to formation in the Society was again underscored by the quality of all the events planned for the evening. It was this same attention paid to formation that made Archbishop Roberts, who invited the RSCJ to first start work in India, entrust the work of formation of the Little Sisters of the Poor to them initially. As Sister Ananda concluded, the whole year had been not only a time for celebration but also one of renewal for the RSCJ.

Janina Gomes

 

Who we are..?

We are a small, diverse and inclusive group, welcoming in our midst a variety of socio-cultural backgrounds, ages and temperaments. Primarily an educational congregation, our earliest ventures were in the field of education

Sophia College for Women in Mumbai was our first foundation in 1941, and remains the institution with which we are most often associated. The College has continued to grow in the years since then, and while some sisters continue to work there, a number have moved on into other areas of service. Today, the range includes Schools, Colleges& Nursery Schools.