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.

Welcome speech by Sr. Rita Pinto

Platinum Jubilee Valedictory Function
11 May 2014

Your Eminence, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Reverend Fathers, Sisters, Family members of RSCJ and Friends … Once more, a very warm welcome to all present, especially to those of you who have just joined us here.

Whilst we were at the Eucharist, the sun has run its course and set in the west: “Sunrise, sunset, swiftly flow the years”………!!  This Platinum Jubilee Year, which we inaugurated on 9 June 2013, has sped away swiftly and at sunset today we are assembled for its close. But, swift though the days and the months gone by have been, they have also been a continuing revelation of the remarkable graces and blessings that have been ours in the spiritual and educational mission of the Society of the Sacred Heart in India.

All seasons have been part of our story of 75 years – bright warm summers … some chilly winters … but always the promise of spring with its grace and life’s beauty renewed! And you, our families, friends, benefactors and collaborators have been with us at various stages of our journey, and some of you have been with us all along the way. We are therefore happy to have you here with us today, and even as we welcome you with all our hearts, we wish to express to you our wholehearted thanks for your continued engagement and encouragement.

As we look back, ours is not merely a celebration of chronological time. This past year has been, and today is, a celebration of ‘time becoming’; time that embraced a vision of the “highest wisdom” to be realized through mission and ministry.

Our deepest gratitude today goes to the Lord who sent our founding Sisters from the English province of our Society of the Sacred Heart, Reverend Mother Catherine Andersson, Mothers Woellworth, Ward, Davis and others who followed them to India.  They gave us a ‘strong educational tradition’, both classical and popular, a mission of ‘enlightened faith that has borne fruit for generations of Indian women of every rank of society. The clarity of their founding ‘faith-vision’ has facilitated the relevance of our Province’s response in mission and ministry for education and development, and in its quest for ‘justice, peace and the integrity of creation.’

It is popularly said that there are two Indias: the India of the privileged and affluent, and the India of the small towns and villages!  Today, after a journey of 75 years, we rejoice that our Society has its footprints in both Indias, even as our hearts embrace both entities.  In higher education in Mumbai, our oldest and probably best known impact; our footprints for education and human development are also to be found in the rural areas of Haregaon, Bhokar and Malwan in Maharashatra, as well as in Torpa, in tribal Jharkhand and small city, Patna, Bihar.

The courageous work of religious inculturation initiated by Vandana Mataji in Uttarkhand continues in newer initiatives in Rishikesh.  Sr Sara Grant’s seminal work in “Sankaracharya’s ‘Concept of Relation’ – Theologizing and the Challenge of Advaita”, which forged an early scholarly effort at inter-religious dialogue and comparative theology, continues to generate new understanding and research in Universities in India and abroad.  The dialogue with Islam, humbly and quietly initiated by Sr Arati Snow, has blossomed beyond our Indian sub-continent in Indonesia.

And as we stand at the door of the next quarter century, in response to the national call for the “Right to Education for all” we have started “Prerna”, a centre for education and skills development in Wagholi, Pune.

Our mission and ministry in India, especially here in Mumbai has, from its origins, always had the patronage and support of Archbishop’s House.  As I recounted to  those of you who were present at this Jubilee inaugural last June,  India’s first Cardinal and Archbishop, Valerian Cardinal Gracias,  always had a special place in his heart for Sophia College, our Society’s first Indian foundation. Today, as we sign off, after endorsing the past 75 years, and stand at the threshold of the next quarter century, to welcome it and re-dedicate ourselves to mission, we are privileged to have with us once more, from Archbishop’s House, another Cardinal Gracias – Cardinal Oswald Gracias – who has continued to extend to our Society the same interest, care and dedicated pastoral support in these challenging times in the Church and country.

Cardinal Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, elevated to the Cardinalate in November 2007, combines in his person, a rare, simple humility with great learning.  Equipped with a Doctorate in Canon Law and a Diploma in Jurisprudence from the Pontifical Urbaniana university in Rome, Cardinal Gracias has served as Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Bombay, Judicial Vicar, Visiting President of the Canon Law Society of India and  Professor of Canon Law to seminaries in Bombay, Pune and Bangalore.  Elected 1st Vice-President of the CBCI in 2008, he became its President in 2010.  In 2012, Cardinal Gracias was elected Secretary-General of the FABC – Federation of the Asian Bishops’ Conference. The FABC, an apex body, represents 19 BIshops’ Conferences of 28 Asian member countries, coordinating their work and representing Asia before the Vatican.

Cardinal Ozy, we are proud of His Holiness Pope Francis’ choice of you to the membership of “the group of Eight Cardinals” established by him exactly a month after his accession to the papacy, to study and advise him on the plan for revising the Apostolic Constitution of the Curia, Pastor Bonus…..

Above all we cherish your affection and friendship, your ‘foot-washing’ leadership, building bridges of communion to reconcile all things in Christ under the guidance and protection of Mary, Mother of Jesus – as a reality of your ‘coat-of-arms”, spanning all your priestly & Episcopal years from Agra to Mumbai.

So even as we warmly welcome you on this our special day which is also Good Shepherd Sunday,  we would like to felicitate you, our ‘Pastor Bonus’ in  the Indian traditional manner with a shawl,  flowers and a coconut.  These three simple gifts will express all those sentiments of our hearts today which we are not able to put into words, but which are nevertheless very real.

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.