Behold the Handmaid of the Lord

The Congregation of the Handmaids of Mary was founded by Fr. Edmund Harrison S.J. in 1944 at Kesramal, in the formerly princely state of Gangpur in Orissa, then under the jurisdiction of the diocese of Ranchi. Realising the need for women religious to collaborate with the missionaries to work for the uplift of the poor, the women and children, he founded our congregation with the approval of his Bishop Oscar Severin S.J. and tended it till his transfer in 1946.

The Divine Word Missionaries came to Gangpur mission in 1948. Bishop Severin appointed Fr. Stanislaus Wald SVD the spiritual director of the few Handmaids who then resided at Gaibira. In 1951 Sambalpur Diocese was carved out of the diocese of Ranchi and Mgr. Herman Westermann SVD became its first Bishop. His arrival augured well for the growth of the Congregation. He realised the need for more qualified and able sisters to meet the challenges posed by rapid industrialisation in the district. He shifted the novitiate from Gaibira to Kalunga where he himself resided to guide the novices and he recruited candidates from Kerala and from his former Indore mission. He was truly a father to us all through. In the early days he had also to assume the roles of the teacher and the spiritual director. He provided for our material needs, sent us for higher studies to qualify as teachers, nurses, social workers, catechists and for liturgical music. When his responsibilities towards the diocese increased greatly, he appointed Fr. Charles Schmidt SVD our spiritual director. Even after the Bishop retired, his concern for our welfare continued till his death and thereafter from heaven.

We are indebted to the F.C. sisters, especially to Mother Juleta who was our first novice mistress at Gaibira. Sr. Anastasia F.C. who became a Handmaid in 1954, helped her there and moved to Kalunga as our novice mistress, when the novitiate was shifted to Kalunga in 1952. She co-operated with Bishop Westermann in shaping and moulding the Handmaids for about 20 years as novice mistress and Superioress General.

Bishop Westermann had attributed a large share of credit for the success of the mission in Sambalpur to women religious and to the Handmaids in particular. We Handmaids are engaged in various apostolic activities. Evanglisation and catechetical work receives priority. Our sisters in the apostolate visit villages and teach catechism to the catechumenates. Giving importance to personal contacts they go to villages either on foot or by cycle and rare by public transport. They stay on in the villages for weeks teaching them, praying with them eating their simple meals. At other times they move on from one village to another.

They help the priests by supervising the sacristy work, maintaining family records, animating sodalities and crusades for various age groups preaching retreats, preparing people for the reception of the sacraments and for meaningful participation in the liturgy. Our sisters also work in the regional and diocesan pastoral centres, good news centre and youth centres and thus help spread the Christian and human values among people.

In the educational field our sisters render valuable service. They educate specially poor tribal children and run boardings for children coming from distant villages. They try to give value education by awakening in the students a love for Christian values and a sense of discipline, responsibility, social and cultural unity, national integration etc.

Our sisters in medical apostolate participate in the preventive and curative aspects of health care. Those in far away rural communities treat the sick and give them relief. They also give people advice on health and hygiene, natural family planning and mother and child health. Some train village health workers some other work for leprosy eradication.

We have also other developmental schemes : home science, tailoring, craft, embroidery and typing schools especially to train women. Through these centres we try to awaken people about their rights, to fight against injustice, make proper use of their resources and give up drinking. Most of our activities are done in cooperation with the dioceses. Today we are 475, working in 23 dioceses including 2 in Germany with 70 convents.

Deriving inspiration from the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Handmaid of the Lord we Handmaids try to make a complete of our lives to God and render joyful service to all especially to the poor, the women and children.


Looking at the six and a half decade history of our congregation one can undoubtedly say that it has made a significant contribution to the Church in India, especially to the Church in Orissa in Sambalpur – Rourkela area, in the fields of evangelisation, education, health and socio-economic development. Despite its humble beginning from a so-called backward area and people of Orissa it has emerged as one of the flourish missionary Congregation. Hence an overall picture of the origin and development of this indegenious congregation would be of interest.

The Origin and need : A peep into the early days of the Congregation would give the impression that it is a product of circumstances. For in 1943, Fr. Edmund Harisson S.J. the then Assistant Parish Priest of Kesramal, in the erstwhile princely state of Gangpur under the jurisdiction of the diocese of Ranchi, followed up the vocation of the of the young people of his parish and helped them to embrace religious or priestly life. He had been directing a group of young girls who wanted to join the Daughters of the Cross, the only religious Congregation of women then working in this part of Orissa. Little did he think, when he watched three of his spiritual daughters receiving the habit of the candidates of the Daughters of the Cross  on the feast day of the Finding of the Holy Cross (May 3rd) in 1943, that these young girls would form the nucleus of a congregation he was to found with the co-operation and encouragement of his Bishop Oscar Severin S.J. shortly. The turn of events at the end of that year and the year following, compelled him to take the decisive step of founding the new congregation, THE HANDMAIDS OF MARY.

During his pastoral ministry in Gangpur, he felt the need for women religious knowing the language, customs and culture of the locality to collaborate with the missionaries specially for the uplift of women and children in the villages. With this aim and keeping in line with the policy of the Church, he encouraged local vocations. Besides, as the world war was still on and the Daughters of the Cross had difficulties to come to India from Belgium, an alternative had to be found. And make local vocations, would be a proof of the vilality of the Church in Gangpur.

Although he promoted vocations for the Daughters of the Cross, they needed the permission of their Superior General in Belgium to accept the Gangpur girls to their congregation. But the required permission never came. The girls were unhappy to continue in such an uncertainity. Fr. Harrison was

In dilema whether to let the girls join some other congregation (in which case their being available for Gangpur mission was uncertain) or to start a new Congregation. After much prayer and correspondence with the Bishop, he decided on the later. Nevertheless, this decision did not end the problems. He had counted on the help of the Daughters of the Cross for the formation of his candidates, but in vain. So in 1944 on the advice of the Bishop, five candidates were taken to Ranchi to have their Novitiate under the Daughters of St. Ann. On the eve of their first Profession, Fr. Harrison proposed names for their Congregation : 1. The Handmaids of Mary. 2. The Daughters of St. Francis. They opted for the former and the Bishop approved it. Thus the five Handmaids of Mary pronounced their vows on 8th December 1946.

CHARISM : The name “Handmaids of Mary” give the key to our charism. Fr. Harrison presented the Blessed Virgin Mary to the Handmaids of Mary their model to Total Availability to God’s will and of Joyful Service to mankind. By her humble submission, ‘Behold the Handmaids of the Lord’ Mary brought forth the word Incarnate to this world waiting for a Saviour. The Handmaids of Mary drawing inspiration from their model radiate Jesus their life by their total availability to the will of God. Like Mary who brought Jesus to Elizabeth and her child they too give their joyful service for the welfare of family specially mother and children. It was his decision that the Handmaids give great importance to evangelisation and the preaching of the faith through their various apostolic activities and thus built up the Church.

GROWTH : Bishop Severin’s Role : Although the congregation came into existence by a Providential accident we see the Hand of God guiding and directing its destiny all through, especially in the difficult and uncertain days in its early life. Bishop Oscar Severin had extended his advice, support and co-operation to Fr. Harrison in making the Congregation a reality. Fr. Harrison made plans and proposal, some of which seemed unrealistic. He cut and tailored to size and affixed his stamp. He encouraged Fr. Harrison taking keen interest in the early recruits helping to pay for their training and even giving proposals for their ‘habit’. In 1946, when Fr. Harrison was transferred, he entrusted the infant Congregation to Fr. Verwaest S.J.’s care.

In 1948, he opened a novitiate for them at Gaibira after negotiation with the Daughters of the Cross. They, in keeping with the spirit of the encyclicals, appointed Sr. Julieta FC as their Novice –mistress cum Superior, Sr. Anastasia FC assisted her. The five Handmaids of the novices stayed together at Gaibira, till the end of 1951, when the novitiate was shifted to Kalunga. With the advent of the Divine Word Missionaries to Gangpur. In 1948, Bishop Severin appointed Fr. Wald the spiritual director to the Handmaids. Again it was he who got the approval from the Holy see for the Handmaids of Mary as a diocesan congregation on May 14th, 1951.

Bishop Westermann and the Handmaids of Mary : In 1951 when Sambalpur diocese, comprising of Gangpur and other parts of Orissa, was erected, Bishop Herman Westermann became its first Bishop. With his arrival the Handmaids received a new lease of life. In 1952 the novitiate was shifted to Kalunga where he resided. Sr. Anastasia FC took over as novice mistress. Then the Handmaids counted only nine and they were non matriculates. With the problems with the two new borns in his hand, and the rapid industrialisation taking palce, the Bishop was compelled to recruit vocations from other parts of India. This was a deviation from what was being followed after them. Although Fr. Harrison had once proposed to get candidates from Bombay, Bishop Severin had discouraged the idea, as the time was not ripe then. Thus, on his request, Sr. Anastasia FC and Sr. Ignatia HM recruited four girls from Kerala. The Bishop himself got two vocations from his former Indore mission. This resulted a fusion of cultures.

Bishop Westermann was truly a ‘Father’ to us althrough. In the early days he was the teacher, the spiritual director and guide, the Provider – in short, everything. Almost every evening he gave us reflection for the following morning’s meditation. He always stressed on point : “You are here to become Saints”. His cheerfulness and words of encouragement sustained us when he had to do odd jobs like carrying bricks and stones for the building, digging in the garden, collecting cowdung and firewoods for cooking. He wanted us to cope up with the social changes taking place in the diocese. So he sent us for higher studies and training in various fields. He wanted us to be well versed in English and insisted on its usage as our community language. Eventually he appointed us teachers in the diocesan schools with full salary. The sisters also worked in the Mission Hospital and in Parishes. All these contributed to the growth, both for the diocese and the congregation. On his retirement in 1947, he looked with contentment on the 201 Handmaids in their 16 convents. The welfare of the Handmaids remained his concern even after his return to Germany and until his death in 1985 (October 23rd). Truly he was our beloved BAP.

Our Spiritual Directors : In 1954, Bishop Westermann appointed Fr. Charles Schmidt SVD the spiritual director to the Handmaids at Kalunga. He taught the novices and gave the community reflections for their daily meditations. Once a week he took singing classes. He continued to be our director till 1972. Later, after the novitiate was shifted to Jharsuguda Fr. Thomas Kuzhipathalil SVD was appointed as the director. He helped in the formation of the novices till May 1986. The others associated with our novitiate programme are Fr. L. Horsfall, C.Beck, E. Blain, J. Maliekal, M. Poovanpuzha, Scaria and Bp. Lucas Kerketta.

Mother Anastasia : In 1952, Sr. Anastasia FC came along with the novices to Kalunga as their mistress. Knowing all the predicaments, she opted to be a Handmaid in 1954. From then on she served as novice mistress, local Superior and Superior General by common contest till 1958. That year we had our first General Chapter and she was elected the Superior General and re-elected into second General Chapter in 1964. During her tenure she left no stone unturned and whole heartedly co-operated with Bishop Westermann, for the growth of the congregation. She made regular visits to the communities depending solely on public transport and her little feet. When occasion demanded, she became a mother, a teacher, a director, a cook, a gardener, a carpenter and what not. She faced varied challenges – lack of personnel for shouldering responsibilities for funds to meet the daily needs etc.. But trusting in the Divine Providence this great soul carried on courageously. She is still an inspiration to us.

Our Major Developments : As Superior General of the growing Congregation, Sr. Anastasia found it difficult to cope with the training of the novices. She then appointed Sr. Ignatia novice mistress in 1962. Soon after she sent to AC Novitiate in Mangalore to gain more experience. She continued till the end of 1966, when she died after a short illness. Srs. Dehis, Auxilia, Celine, and Leelamma Simon became her successors. Sr. Auxilia had a long term as novice mistress and was associated with formation from 1968 to 1986, with a short break in between. Kalunga had become to small to house the Generalate, the Novitiate and the hospital community. The number of sisters working in the hospital has increased. The Generalate needed sufficient room for offices and the novitiate a more clam secluded atmosphere. In 1967 the Generalate was shifted to Sundargarh. The same year some property was purchased at Jharsuguda to house the postulants. It became the novitiate in 1972. Fr. Bona the then SVD regional donated some of the property in Bagdehi to us.

In 1969 two major events took place. On December 8th the Handmaids celebrated the Silver Jubilee of the Congregation and of the only surviving pioneer Sr. Theresa. The then Chief Minister of Orissa graced the occasion and released the Jubilee Souvenir. The jubilee year was an apt time to look back and evaluate our life. Besides, in keeping the directives of Vat. II a renewal chapter was a must. Preparation the same had begun already year ahead. Committees had been formed to study, evaluate to deal for the future and to revise the constitution accordingly. This chapter also stressed the need for personal renewal adhering to the missionary spirit of the founder and need for adaptability. After the chapter the revised constitution and Directory were promulgated, on an experimental basis, till the next chapter. The Handmaids had been following the constitution of the Daughters of St. Anne with some modifications. In 1958 the “Constitution of the Congregation of the Handmaids of Mary, Diocese of Sambalpur” was promulgated. In the general chapter of 1976, 1982 and 1988 further revisions have been made in the revised constitution.

Bishop Cheenath’s Contribution : Educating the sisters and getting them to work in the mission which was on the threshold of the industrialisation was a priority with Bishop Westermann besides their spiritual and material welfare. The Handmaids were more or less dependent on him. In 1974, when Bishop Raphael Cheenath SVD took over, he wanted to stop this trend gradually. With his help we learnt to be more self-reliant. He also challenged the non-local sisters to join the Catechetical and village apostolate. The Catechist-sisters began to receive allowance from his time. He also handed over the management of the health centres to the Handmaids. He advised us to maintain records of events in life of the Congregation. He suggested to train our sisters to be responsible leaders. With his approval we began branching out to different diocese and now the HMs are in 9 dioceses in 10 convents. He presided over the Fourth General Chapter and moderated the Fifth. During the chapter at other times he stressed that we cultivate a deep personal faith in Jesus, which would enable us to surrender ourselves to Him and accept his mission , live a genuine community life, be faithful to our charism and sensitive to the signs of the times.

The Generalate Chapters : in the 45 years life span, the congregation held signing General Chapters and one Renewal Chapter. The first two were held at Kalunga in 1958 and 1964. In 1969 we had a Renewal Chapter and in 1970 the Third General Chapter. Bishop Westermann presided over these four chapters and Fr. Charles Schmidt moderated some of the sessions at Kalunga. In 1976 Bishop Cheenath presided over and moderated the chapter. Fr. De Letter SJ was the resource person in 1969 and 1976. In 1982 and 1988 Bishop Alphonse Bilung of Rourkela presided over. Fr. B. Pereira CSSR moderated in 1988. In the Chapters of 1970, 1976 and 1988 the SVD provincials also helped us. In 1982 Fr. Anthony Roberts SJ was the key person.

The General Chapters of 1970, 1976 and 1982 elected Srs. Xavier, Sales and Jerome as Superior Generals. Sr. Auxilia assumed office in October 1988. Contributing their best, each General took the Congregation towards progress. Keeping abreast with the time our apostolic activities were intensified and diversified. For quick access to communities and for co-ordinating these activities we were able to procure conveyance.

The 1976 Chapter proposed for a news bulletin of the Congregation. Accordingly Sr. Auxilia edited the first news issues from Asha Niketan. From 1983 its publication continued from the Generalate. Though its existence has been precarious over the years, it does appear sometimes, at odd times and then without appearing for months.

Evangelisation and Catechetical Work : In the Golden Jubilee souvenir of Sambalpur Diocesein 1958, Bishop Westermann writes, “If the Sambalpur Diocese prides itself upon such a numerous and zealous Christian community and a flourishing school systems, a large share of the credit for it is due to the sisters”. Then he writes about the Handmaids in particular : “At the moment it counts more than one hundred members, half of whom are already working in various parts of the diocese. At Kesramal they staff the whole Girls Middle School and the Boys Primary School. In several other schools of the mission they are teaching. They supply all the nurses required for our hospital at Kalunga and run the dispensary at Kesramal. Besides this they do excellent work visiting the villages and teaching catechism to the catechuminates. A good number of sisters are still studying in colleges and high schools as some are training as nurses in other hospitals. We can hope in the not-to-distant future there will be a large number of well-qualified and enthusiast helpers to do the work which only a sister knows so well to do”.

The above account gives a clear picture of the work done by the Handmaids of Mary. For most part we stick to the traditional methods for evangelisation. Village apostolate has a pride of place among us. It is something in our charism bequeathed to us by our founder, who had laid stress on personal contacts with women and children in the villages. The sisters go to the villages either on foot or on cycle usually, and when possible by public transport. If the villages are nearby, after spending the whole day out with the families they return to the convent. When the villages are far away they stay on there caring them, praying with them, eating their meals and being one of them. Then they move out to another village. On longer tours they stay out for two or three weeks or even a month giving the peoples a through course in preparation for the Sacraments especially Baptism, first communion and marriage. The sisters conduct these classes also in the parish. The classes are for different age groups. School children are taught during the holidays. When the people are ready, the priest examines them before administering the sacraments.

The sisters preach retreats to various groups and also animate the solidity groups called ‘sangathas’, meant for fathers, mothers and youth. Every month three Sundays are fixed for the sangathas and one for the crusaders. Each groups has its meeting and discussions on the eve of the Sunday. The sisters and the parish priest attend these meetings. This get-together help them to deepen their faith in Jesus. The annual Liturgical Music Course conducted by our sisters have enabled the faithful to participate in the liturgical celebrations more meaningfully. Sometimes in village churches, our sisters conduct the Sunday liturgy. In the parishes they also assist to supervise the sacristy work and distribute communion.

The congregation desires to assign sisters for catechetical works in the parish. But this has not yet been materialised due to various reasons. Lack of personnel due to fall in vocations and diversification of apostolic activities are the two major causes for this failure. However there has been a concerned effort to train sisters for this apostolate. A sister is appointed as a directress of catechist sisters. She arrange refreshers course and seminar for them. In their annual get together they share experiences, evaluate their work and plan for the future.

Two sisters are assigned to work in the Regional Pastoral Centre, Jharsuguda and one at Nava Jagruti, Kalunga. The former conducts training programmes for catechists of Orissa and course for various religious and lay groups. The Nava Jagruti, besides organising liturgical and catechetical seminars and retreats for lay people, treats the alchoholic addicts.

The ‘Good News Centre’ at Kalunga is almost a single handed effort of our Sr. Rita to make Christ known. She, with her team visits homes and conducts prayer meetings, speaks to them about Jesus’s message of love, arranges for slide and film shows, book exhibitions and keep correspondence with enquiries. Presently she has completed translating the book “Truth Will Make You Free” into Oriya and its printing is underway.

Youth apostolates is also one of our priorities. In all the high schools where the sisters teach they work as animators of the Y.C.S. movement grooming the young for responsible leadership. Sisters in charge of college hostels teach those studying in the colleges and take a lot of interest in the AICUF movement. The congregation has made available the services of a sister for youth apostolate. She works in collaboration with the Director of the Regional Youth Centre, Jharsuguda. This centre visits parishes in the diocese to animate the youth.

Education : In the field of education the Handmaids play the vital role. Over a hundred sisters are engaged in education and most of them in the vernacular (Oriya) medium schools from primary to high schools level. These are diocese schools located mostly in the villages. The majority of the students are poor tribal Christians. We have hostels for students who come from interior villages from primary to college level. We conduct Religion and Catechism classes to the Catholic students. The students are encouraged in sports and games, guides and NCC are awaken in them as a sense of social and cultural unity, national integration, discipline, team spirit etc. Through Sanchayika scheme a habit of thrift is cultivated in them.

We run a few English medium schools where the majority of students are non-Christians. We aim at character formation primarily and along with the efforts of their total development, greater concentration is made to highlight the social and spiritual values. Value education and catechism classes are also part of the curriculum.

Development Work : The congregation has taken various steps to better the social and economic lot of the villagers. We have a few tailoring and home science schools. Young women who are illiterate or less educated are trained to earn a little extra income for their families through stitching, embroidery and handicraft. The home science school gives classes in home management, nutrition, health and hygiene, thrift, kitchen gardening, poultry, piggery etc.

Our trained sisters in social work have employed some new methods to bring about socio-economic changes in rural areas. They go house to house and make a survey of their condition. Then they conscientize them to fight for their rights, to rise against injustice, to make proper use of their resources, to desist from drinking, to search new ways and means to improve their economic lot. They instruct them about health and hygiene, natural family planning and Mother and Child Health programmes. Ocassionally awareness camps are conducted in villages. These programmes are taken up in co-operation with the social teams of the dioceses where we work.

In Sambalpur diocese this programme has gained considerable success. With the pioneering work of Sr. Sara, a Medical Mission Sister and through the whole hearted co-operation of the Diocese. Sr. Mary Pulinkala initially worked with Sr. Sara. Now she is fully in charge and well acquinted with the work. The main thrust of the programme is on nutrition, conscientization, of the members of the family about their rights, preventive medical aid and handing of remedies for common disease like malaria, diarrhoea, vomiting and the like. The work is carried out by women health workers (Swasthiya Sevika) drawn from every parish. They can handle about twenty medicine accessing to the disease. Their training programme was spread over three years in three different phases. During the first year the women came to the training centre four times for instruction. They went back to the villages and practiced what they learnt. The sisters evaluated the programme at the village. In the second phase of the training the instructions and evaluations were at the parish level. In the third year Sr. Mary conducted the one month training programme. Now the women are capable of doing this work with confidence. Sr. Mary visits them in their respective parishes or health centres for two days as a follow up. Thus, convinced of their own worth, they contribute their share for the all round  development of their community. They visit the houses often. For their work these swasthiya sevikas receive a remuneration. The families also make some contribution  to the programme. The scheme works well and is a step forward in the line of rural awakening.

Leprosy eradication is also part of our apostolate. We have a few sisters trained to take up this work. The main leprosy centre is at Jharsuguda. There are two full time sisters catering to the needs of over a thousands patients, there. Besides, two rehabilitation centres are there. In both these centres number of families have been settled. We have purchased some land, also succseded in getting government land on lease for this purpose. The area is now enclosed and some houses are built. Now there are well to provide water for drinking and cultivation. The sisters have installed electric pump sets. In either colony there is a dispensary to treat the patients. With a view to discouraging bringing the patients are encouraged to have some trade like weaving and shoe making. Those interested keep poultry, rear goats or cows and thus extra income. All this has been possible because of the generosity of various donors. Another important achievement is getting pension and other benefits for them from government. A mercy kitchen is run for the invalids. There is a TV in one of the colonies. Effort is of to get a set for the other too.

There are also mission stations like Madhupur, Bargarh, Rajgangpur and Manivila where leprosy patients are treated though not in an organised scale. Along with leprosy eradication our sisters have been trying to conscientize people against the stigma prevailing in society about leprosy. Village surveying is also part of the programme. Children of the patients are being educated or trained for various trades.

In Rajgangpur there is a colony of sweepers. They are ostracised from society. They indulge in drunken brawls and unhygienic living. Our sisters have been working for some years now to better their lot. Sisters visit the colony, instruct them to desist  from drinking and quarrelling. They have own their confidence and co-operation. Sisters get admission for their children in various schools and coach them when needed, of late the dirty quarrelling in colony has changed into a decent human habitation.

Caring for the Sick : This apostolate receives equal importance. As has already been said, the majority of staff in the Catholic mission Hospital, Nuagaon, consists of the Handmaids – in the wards, in the OPD, in the X-Ray and the Lab, in the Office.

There are also health centres attached to our communities. These health centres cater to the needs of the patients coming mostly from the villages. They come to these dispensaries especially because of their limited resources and for the personal attention they receive from the sisters. Sometimes the sisters visit them in their homes. Our sisters have been making efforts to provide them with low cost medicines. Very poor patients get free treatment. When the dispensary is unable to help a needy patient the sisters to get help from the Generalate, the Bishops, the Parish priest or the SVD Provincial. If the sister is unable to handle a case and the patient is poor she makes arrangement to transfer him to a hospital. Some of the health centres have taken up mobile clinic. Then they attend to patients and distribute medicines and instruct them on health and hygiene. On such days health centres remain closed.

Promises for the Future : The Handmaids have hopes and scope. There are areas where we can achieve much with proper utilisation of available resources. It calls for planning and execution with commitment. Industrialisation has challenged religious and Christian values and gradually eroded them. Hence there is a pressing need for intensifying these values and mould our people into a living community of faith and worship, love and service, through family catechists.

We have sisters talented in music, dance, drama etc. Scriptural themes could be expounded in Indian style and presented through these media to attract the people and deepen their faith. Much can be achieved in the field of direct evangelisation if this resource is fully tapped.

The mobile clinic could be expanded to all the parishes with a team consisting of  a catechist cum social worker and a nurse. Thus it would enable us to co-ordinate healing and health both in the spiritual and social levels of the community. In the diocese of Rourkela there is a lot of sections for introducing village health programmes and expansion of M.C.H. and N.F.H. but the backing of diocese is a must.

As our sisters constitute the majority of the staff in the Mission Hospital at Nuagaon, steps could be taken to train young girls as nurses or auxiliary nurses.

We need to plan for the training and specialisation of our sisters in the areas like Scripture and Spirituality, Catechesis, Formation, Psychology and Counselling, Administration, Medicine, Mass media, Village reorganisation, Law and legal aid. But there is a lack of personnel for specialisation. This can be overcome only if we intensify our efforts to promote vacations and diversify our vocation base.

We should also endeavour to achieve pontifical status for our Congregation in the not too distant future.

Sr. Cyrilla HM.

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