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Church marks Italian nuns’ 150-year-old mission

Updated: February 25, 2010 10:54 AM GMT
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Maria Bambina sisters with their superior general in Krishnagar
Maria Bambina sisters with their superior general in Krishnagar
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KRISHNAGAR, India (UCAN) -- An Italy-based women’s congregation has marked 150 years of work in India, paying tribute to 168 nuns, mostly Italians, who worked and died in an eastern Indian diocese. The special prayer in Krishnagar yesterday [Feb. 23] was attended by Sister Pier Carla Mouri, who heads the Sisters of Charity of Saints Bartolomea Capitanio and Vincenza Gerosa (SCCG), popularly known as Maria Bambina Sisters. Sister Mouri, who heads the Milan-based congregation, invited the nuns to become "channels of charity" in the missions of India. The gathering included 160 SCCG sisters, priests and nuns of other congregations working with the congregation. The first four Bambina nuns to India came in 1860 to Krishnagar, 120 kilometers north of Kolkata. The congregation was among the pioneering congregations in evangelization work, said Sister Thresita John Madamana, who heads the nuns’ Calcutta province. The observation of 150 years of "Bengal mission" also included a thanksgiving Mass at Krishnagar cathedral. Diocesan vicar general Father Luciano Colussi presided at the Mass with some 50 priests from Calcutta and Krishnagar dioceses. Salesian Father Colussi, 89, said celebrations are necessary to remember "our historical roots and God’s plan for this land" through Italian and Indian missioners. Sister Madamana said that since 1860, 178 Italian missioners worked in the Bengal area, which once included present-day Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal and southern India. The last batch of Italian missioners arrived in the province in 1960. Sister Mouri planted a sapling in memory of the pioneers. She and other leading nuns at the gathering released 150 balloons to mark the occasion. The head of the congregation also inaugurated a museum showcasing the story of the mission in Bengal through photographs, paintings and sculptures. Some 1,800 Indian Maria Bambina nuns work in eight provinces managing schools, dispensaries and giving pastoral assistance. The Calcutta province has 268 nuns. The congregation, founded in 1832 in Milan, is now present in 21 countries. In Asia, its nuns work in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Japan, Israel and Nepal, besides India. IE08494/1590 February 25, 2010 38 EM-lines (330 words) Living witness needed, says Bambina nun Center helps socially ostracized women gain independence

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