Mission Sisters of Ajmer turn 100

From humble beginnings the congregation now reaches out across 11 Indian states
Mission Sisters of Ajmer turn 100
Mission Sisters of Ajmer with the present General at front left and the former at front right (photo: Mariola Sequeira)
The Mission Sisters of Ajmer celebrated their centenary this week with a concelebrated Mass led by Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Mumbai. Concelebrants included Archbishop of Agra Albert D’Souza, as well as scores of bishops and priests. “You are about 365 sisters, one for each day of the year. What began with one Henri Caumont has one sister for each day of the year so to speak,” the cardinal said. After the Mass, the cardinal blessed the foundation stone for the Residence and Adoration Chapel of Karunalaya, the prayer center, about 10 kilometers away from the congregation’s headquarters. He also released a DVD of biblical songs prepared by the sisters and students of Sophia College. The Mission Sisters, headquartered in Ajmer, have 49 houses and two residencies across 11 Indian states. They also run hospitals, dispensaries, schools and colleges both in urban and rural areas. Known for their value-based education, their Sophia schools in northern India have carved a niche for themselves and become a brand name. It was the founder’s desire to liberate women through education. In 1913, he opened an orphanage for girls and six years later the Sophia school for girls, says Sister Joselyn Jacob, a former Superior General. “He wanted to do away with the ‘convent’ tag, so he named the schools Sophia which means wisdom in Spanish,” she added. In the medical field, the sisters are engaged in preventive and community health and alternate systems of medicine with an emphasis on holistic health, says Superior General Sister Savina Pinto. All this was begun by the founder of the congregation, French missionary Bishop Fortunatus Henri Caumont. He had Sister Mary Swaries trained as a doctor in 1921 to cater to the medical needs of tribal people, especially women. She was the first nun doctor in the world, Sister Pinto said. Asked about challenges facing the congregation, Sister Pinto said, at the end of 100 years, we need more vocations. “Consumerism is also impacting our lifestyle. The challenge therefore, is to enable our sisters to be the message and the messenger.” Related links: Nuns to the aid of British youths
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