Issues Vol. 168‎ > ‎

Vol. 168 No. 45 - November 11 - November 17, 2017

01 Cover

posted Nov 9, 2017, 2:41 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Nov 9, 2017, 2:41 AM ]

03 Index

posted Nov 9, 2017, 2:40 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Nov 9, 2017, 2:40 AM ]

04 Engagements

posted Nov 9, 2017, 2:39 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Nov 9, 2017, 2:39 AM ]

05 Editorial - 200 years of the Charism of Claudine Thevenet

posted Nov 9, 2017, 2:35 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Nov 9, 2017, 2:35 AM ]

In 1842, a brave band of six Sisters was sent on a long, adventurous and perilous journey to distant India, barely five years after the death of Mother Claudine Thevenet, the foundress of their Congregation of Jesus and Mary on February 3, 1837. It symbolised the response given by the Religious of Jesus and Mary to an appeal from India that set the Congregation on the path of MISSION AD GENTES.

St Claudine, Foundress of 'Jesus and Mary' and true daughter of the Church, described as the 'Gospel personified', remains a shining example of the spiritual renaissance of Lyons in the 19th century, and a model of holiness and apostolic zeal for our world today. It is this admirable missionary Spirit - the hallmark of her life - that continues to beckon us with an urgency to harken to the cries of people from distant shores and to hasten there.

It is 200 years since that first call, and our hearts still beat with zeal and ardour today in living out the charism of our dear Claudine: to serve the young, and all social classes, with a preference for the poor. This occasion provides us with an opportunity not only to celebrate these past 200 years of our contribution as a pioneering Congregation in India, but also to renew our future ministry in the world at large, so that with fresh and concerted initiatives, we can continue to play our role in the global transformation of Education.

In our later Missionary Epic story of 'JESUS AND MARY', we see how drastically the demands on Education have changed. It has been an undaunted challenge for us to keep abreast with the flow of educational events and to handle the trauma of change sweeping through our schools. It is due to the pioneering presence of our Sisters, who with gifted heads and hearts, and whose spiritual and inspirational leadership kept our Congregation moving closely and steadily within the large looming shadow of St Claudine and the Church.

We deeply revere them for their fine example as large-hearted WOMEN with a deep spiritual and maternal outlook, sound practical judgment, firm commitment, their scholarship, expertise, humaneness, and much more. It is a time to look back with gratitude, thankfulness and joy, together with our Sisters, our Lay Collaborators, Parents and Pupils, the world over, and pour out our praise to God in the words of our traditional anthem: 'Praised be forever Jesus and Mary.'

In the last words of Claudine: "How Good God is" which we oft repeat, "lie our determination and perseverance in keeping the boat from sinking, in spite of complex changes and the sad loss of many skilled hands of our collaborators. Spurred on by her spirit, we have encouraged the growth and formation of the Young Religious and their teammates who zealously exemplify Claudine's charism of 'making God known and loved.'

As we plant another milestone in the pages of our chequered history, we earnestly desire to renew our 'MAGIS' to Christ and His Church as One Apostolic Body of the Congregation, and therefore pledge not merely about 'doing more', but 'giving more'. We subscribe afresh to the MAGIS, with a deeper understanding of what we are assigning to. If the MAGIS is simply 'the greater, the excellent, the best', and associated with restless striving to always do better, then "Do we/I desire to be challenged by it at this MAGIS MOMENT?"

If our MAGIS is to be experienced as a turning away from mediocrity, and choosing the path of love which is limitless, then our motto should be 'every heart which holds Jesus is a Missionary, and every heart which does not is our Mission field.' For our MAGIS to be fruitful and fulfilling, we must be constantly striving to grow stronger spiritually and intellectually for Mission. Looking at the world with the eyes of Claudine, we see Compassion as truly and completely making others' plight and difficulties our own. Our MAGIS could be this form of Compassion, urging us to take on the 'more' of people's struggles.

With Claudine's heavenly support, we want that our MAGIS be always TOTAL, always JOYFUL…always MAGIS, because it is for the KING who calls. (Sp. Exs.)

Sr Gerard Paul, rjm

06 Flowering of the Claudine Charism - Sr Monica Joseph, RJM

posted Nov 9, 2017, 2:31 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Nov 9, 2017, 2:31 AM ]

Fr Coindre played an important role in the life of St Claudine. He guided her, but he trusted her and gave her the freedom to let the Congregation evolve in the way the Spirit led her, which was very wise and benevolent of him. Sr Gabriela Maria wrote, 'The Congregation owes its preservation to the Indian Mission and to the intervention of the Foundress who continued her work as Superior in heaven.'

First: The Religious of Jesus and Mary from the beginning are a missionary congregation. Wednesday, July 14, 1841, is a red letter day in our history. M. Rossat, Vicar General of Gap (southeastern France), came to propose to our Reverend Mother Saint Andrew, that we should accept a mission in the East Indies. On behalf of Msgr Borghi, Bishop of Agra, he put forward a very tempting and pressing proposal to her: Christian education, values and a professional training, exactly as was the Vision-Mission statement of the sisters. Many nuns volunteered to go to those distant and unknown lands. Six were chosen – the number specified by Msgr Borghi – and they set sail from Marseille on January 27, 1842. For the Congregation, this marked the beginning of a momentous era, whose valiant heroines were imbued with Claudine's spirit.

Hence we have in our Constitution: 'the missionary spirit has characterised it from the very beginning.' (C6)

Second: Our Constitution obtained its approbation without the customary Laudatory Brief. The decree of approbation, signed by Cardinal Orioli, dated December 21, 1847, announcing the good news to the Superior General, Msgr Isoard, Auditor of the Rota, wrote:

"Reverend Mother, it gives me great pleasure to inform you that, contrary to the usual custom of the Holy See, your request has been granted in extensor; as a general rule, the Holy See grants only a Laudatory Brief in response to a first petition for approbation. In departing from its usual procedure, the Sacred Congregation wished to express its recognition of the remarkable growth of your Institution, the good works it has already done, and those it is called upon to do in the Master's vineyard.

Be of good heart, then; your zeal is already being rewarded in this life, but a far greater reward awaits you in Heaven."


08 Journey of RJMs in India - Sr Arina Gonsalves, rjm

posted Nov 9, 2017, 2:29 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Nov 9, 2017, 2:29 AM ]

The Congregation of Jesus and Mary was founded by St Claudine Thevenet on October 6, 1818 in France during the French Revolution. She was known as Mother St Ignatius. After her death on February 3, 1837, Mother St Andrew became Superior General of the Congregation.

In 1842, the Jesus and Mary Sisters were invited to India by an Italian Franciscan Capuchin priest Msgr Antonio Borghi, bishop of Agra. He had in mind the education of the Europeans. In February 1841, he wrote a letter to the Vicar General of Gap, M. Jean Rossat, asking him to find him six European religious from a Congregation devoted to the education of youth, one or two of whom were English or Irish, and who knew English well and spoke it properly. These letters were finally handed over by Msgr Borghi to Mother St Andrew in July 1841. She and her council members found the aim similar to that of their congregation: "To give Christian education to young girls in conformity with the social position of each one."

After making a novena for the light of the Spirit, and much prayer, they unanimously accepted the Mission to Agra. Cardinal de Bonald of Lyons, France had sanctioned the decision of the Council on August 15, 1841 - feast of the Assumption of Blessed Virgin Mary. Agra was a place considered favourable for Christians as Emperor Akbar, a Muslim, was a man who respected all religions. He had built churches for the Christians. Agra had a multi-religious population — 2000 Catholics, 2000 Protestants, 20,000 Muslims and 1,50,000 Hindus. In 1840, there were only six priests and 16 old churches in Agra.

Pontifical Approbation of the Congregation

It was because of the 'Yes' of our first Mothers to this missionary invitation to India, and the rapid expansion of the Congregation in so short a time, that our Constitution obtained its Pontifical Approbation without the customary Laudatory Brief. Msgr De Bonald, the Archbishop of Lyons, wanted to amalgamate our Congregation with the nuns of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary. But after our six sisters—Mother St Terese Motte, Mother St Ambrose, Mother St Paul, Mother St Joaquim, and Mother St Augustine and Mme Vincent de Paul, an English Novice, accepted to go to India, Msgr De Bonald abandoned the idea of amalgamation. From then on, until his death, he witnessed the Congregation's remarkable development with appreciative admiration, and gave it his whole-hearted support. Thus, the Congregation owes its presence to the Indian Missions. The decree of Approbation was signed by Cardinal Orioli, dated December 21, 1847. On announcing the good news to the Superior General, Msgr Isoard, Auditor of the Rota wrote:

"Reverend Mother, it gives me great pleasure to inform you, contrary to the usual custom of the Holy See, your request has been granted in extensor; as a general rule, the Holy See grants only a Laudatory Brief in response to a first petition for approbation. In departing from its usual procedure, the Sacred Congregation wished to express its recognition of the remarkable growth of your institution, the good works it has already done, and those it is called upon to do in the Master's vineyard."


10 How Good God is! - Juanita Gonsalves

posted Nov 9, 2017, 2:27 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Nov 9, 2017, 2:28 AM ]

An overview of the bicentennial celebration of the Congregation of the Religious of Jesus and Mary at St Anne High School, Pune

Two Hundred years! Indeed, a milestone to be honoured, cherished and celebrated. We are grateful to Our Heavenly Father, who blessed us with St Claudine—a woman whose charism set the foundation for perseverance, good will and hard work all over the world. We thank Claudine, for her YES to serve the Lord.

Could she have ever imagined that her humble and simple 'Yes', her journey begun in poverty and simplicity with one companion, one orphan and one loom, on October 6, 1818, would cross the 200 year milestone, spanning 28 countries?

Claudine was deeply moved by the miseries of her time (the French Revolution); in particular, the unjust execution of her two brothers. But their last words to her, "Forgive, Glady, as we forgive" were to remain deep within her heart and mind, and would fuel the inner fire to dedicate herself to relieve the great suffering caused by the French Revolution.

She realised that the most poignant source of people's distress was their ignorance of God, and so she made it her mission to make Him and His love known to all, and she would begin with the education of children and young people. Her ardent desire to reach out to the poorest of the poor, educate them and love them without condition has made itself manifest in all the institutions and good work (especially with regards to women empowerment) put in by the Sisters of her Congregation in 28 countries spread across 4 continents.

So today, how do we commemorate her 'Yes' to the Lord? Do we merely celebrate and make it a spectacle? Or do we take this time to introspect and ask ourselves what can we, as individuals, do to carry this legacy forward?

At St Anne's, we have had and will continue to have sessions through the year that are centered on the theme of FAITH, FORGIVENESS AND COMMUNION. Each session, which focuses on an aspect from the life of St Claudine includes a short story/ incident, and questions for reflection is conducted for the Sisters, Teaching Staff, Students and also PTA (Parent-Teacher Association) members.

These sessions are not only aimed at a deeper understanding of the virtues, charism and ideals of Claudine; rather, they are a means to make these virtues relevant and necessary in today's world as well. With such a rapidly developing world, do we have time to stop and pick up the weak along the way? Do we make time for others? Do we reach out with genuine love and concern, or with vested interests? These sessions address a very vital question: are values based in humanity still essential in a world that is fast becoming digital, mechanical and technologised? How do we still maintain our shreds of humanity in a world where no one has the time and energy to spend on people who are unable to stay in the race? These sessions are aimed at helping each one of us realise that we are NOT bigger than Him, and we can do nothing without His help and guidance.


11 Understanding the Missionary Dimension of the RJMs - Sr Junkal Guevara, rjm

posted Nov 9, 2017, 2:25 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Nov 9, 2017, 2:26 AM ]

Excerpts from the address of Sr Junkal Guevara on the 'Teleological Aspects of Missionary Spirit', at the Agra Conference (October 6, 2017)

On April 5, 1847, M. Saint Teresa (Claudine Motte) sent a letter from Agra to M. Saint Andrew, informing her about the situation of the Mission and the missionaries in India. In that letter, full of enthusiasm, she said: "Oh, what great good can be done in the missions! Oh, how I wish that our dear Congregation could have a great number of missionaries! How grateful I am to God for choosing me for this!"

The words of M. Saint Teresa pronounced in this place today, as they were 170 years ago, can help us to reflect on the theological lines and the accents in the way of understanding our missionary service as a Congregation in the origin or beginning, at the present time, and, I also hope, to discern and find out the possible missionary paths of Jesus and Mary, to begin walking on these paths in its third centenary.

M. Saint Teresa writes this letter full of missionary enthusiasm, after she had been in India since November 1842. It can be said that she had seen almost everything: the good, the growth of the presence of Jesus and Mary in Agra and Mussoorie; the arrival of Novices and Postulants, the conversion of young people and adults. Also, what was not so good, the bad (or what was difficult), the death of the newly professed St Vincent de Paul and of the Novice Mary St Ignatius; the difficulty of the extreme climate and of the new customs, the distance from Fourvière… Nevertheless, over and above everything, she gave a joyful witness of the service that was being given in the Mission; and of her vocation as apostle ad gentes, to the point that she desired a Congregation in which that ad gentes mission would be relevant charismatically.

M. Saint Teresa, faithful to the spirit of her time, understood the Mission as being sent to a concrete "mission" country; that for her had a particular significance, and in a certain sense, different from what she had felt in the first years of her life as a Religious of Jesus and Mary (and she had been a teacher in the classroom, directress of the Boarders, Mistress of Novices…), and being sent, besides, she considered it as a special grace for the Congregation that she loved so much.

As we all know, the call of Msgr Borghi to go out to serve apostolically in India was made in 1841.

The Congregation had existed only a bit more than 30 years, and even if Claudine had already died, the first generation of religious who had lived with her from the beginning were still living, governing the Congregation and were working very actively in the apostolate.

Lyons had been the place in which the whole Project strongly identified with the charismatic intuition of Claudine had been forged, which she herself had embodied in the first draft of the Constitutions: "(3) The aim of the Congregation is to give a Christian education to young girls, conformably to the social position of each one [28]" (Const. 27.3). And even if the Constitutions did not limit the field of action to Lyons, the truth is that the expansion of the Congregation was limited to the cities of Belleville, Monistrol and Le Puy, and in the foundational texts, in no way, is indicated that Claudine conceived as part of her Project, as other founders of her time did (Mazenod, Champagnat…), an apostolic expansion beyond the frontiers of France, and much less, in places where even the plantatio ecclesiae was not thought of.

"42 The Congregation does not limit itself to the diocese of Lyons only, but to spread the cult of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, it will accept proposals made to it to form establishments in other dioceses; but for this, it is necessary to have the majority of votes of the General Chapter of the Congregation, as well as the consent of the ecclesiastical Superior and of the bishop [39] of the diocese."

But the Religious of Jesus and Mary of the 19th century did not live outside of the concerns of their time and the challenges/calls that called/knocked at their doors. That time which has been called "the great century of the Missions" and which manifested itself in a brilliant way in the Church of France also entered Jesus and Mary by the hand of Msgr Borghi, Apostolic Vicar of Agra.


14 A Woman of Substance - Christina Mathias

posted Nov 9, 2017, 2:22 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Nov 9, 2017, 2:22 AM ]

A woman of substance is someone young girls and women today aspire to become! But do we really know what it means? Very often, it is mistaken to be a woman of perfection. Something so unattainable that we give up on being one. We just remain 'women' living in a society. An individual who always has to 'fit in' and adjust, tolerate and follow the norms set for them. At this point, I am reminded of one woman who believed in educating young girls to become 'women who will transform their society, and not just fit into it.' She is none other than our very own foundress, St Claudine Thevenet.

Like Claudine, we must become women who have a positive influence on others; someone with a sense of purpose and integrity, who chooses her own path and takes responsibility for her actions; someone strong in her convictions, and who is never afraid of challenges; a person whose presence will change the lives of others for the better. Such a woman will exuberate confidence, power and have a 'class' of her own, 'substance' of her own. All this can only be achieved by being a value-based individual.

In today's society with different ideologies, our value system is degenerating. The mindset of the people is changing, and moral values are declining at a fast pace. We must make a prudent choice where our values are concerned. 200 years ago, Claudine made her choice. We can all follow the values she stood by, be it courage, forgiveness, freedom, simplicity, justice or gratitude, which still hold good today.

All of us can be 'a woman of substance'. For this, we have to first accept ourselves, embrace our individuality, and be happy with the way we are. The pressure put on women in today's society is immense, but we have to be strong and stand tall, just like Claudine did.

We have to use our voice at the right time. God has given us the power of speech. We must use it constructively and fight for our rights, against injustice done to us. Very often, we as women use our voices to gossip, criticise others and pull people down, but when it comes to speaking up for a cause, we back out. Where does this 'voice' of ours disappear?


16 Notes & Comments

posted Nov 9, 2017, 2:20 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Nov 9, 2017, 2:21 AM ]

Log Kya Kahenge? (What will people say?)

Fr Warner D'Souza

Over the past several years, I have come across newly married couples carrying a heavy burden; often well within several years after their children are born. It's a burden that they either took upon themselves, but most often, one that was emotionally foisted upon them by parents, and often distant relatives, with the classic line: "log kya kahenge?" (what will people say?)

Weddings in India are a multi-crore enterprise. Currently, the Indian wedding industry is worth over Rs 100,000 crore and is growing at 25 to 30 per cent annually. The estimated cost of a wedding with no expenses spared could be between Rs 5 lakh to Rs 5 crore. The pressure to conform and match up with the Jones is tremendous, leading young couples to enter into a whirlpool of debt in the first few years of married life; years that could well be the most testing for any newly married.

Yet, this grave crisis is rarely spoken about from the pulpit. If handled with tact, it can become a great turning point among Christians who wish to scale down their weddings to match their bank balances with a realistic celebration, rather than swipe their credit cards in favour of wishful expectations.

For the priest, addressing this contentious issue is daunting. Congregations could always glibly misconstrue such a well-meaning suggestion as interference in their personal lives. Lest we catch the bull by its tail, the case being made is for celebrations that are debt-free, celebrations where expenditure matches bank balances and where local customs (not Church requirements) do not contribute to making marital life a financial nightmare.


Our fellowship with the dead is no illusion: Pope Francis

Hope in the Lord's promise of everlasting life does not disappoint, Pope Francis has said.

"God is faithful and our hope in Him is not in vain," the Pope said in a memorial Mass homily.

Pope Francis celebrated the Mass in St Peter's Basilica in memory of the 14 cardinals – including US Cardinal William Keeler and Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor – and 137 archbishops and bishops from around the world who died in the past year. Fifteen of the bishops were from the United States, and two from Canada.

These pastors generously served the Gospel and the Church, the Pope said, and "we seem to hear them repeat with the Apostle: 'Hope does not disappoint.'"

"This hope, rekindled in us by the Word of God, helps us to be trusting in the face of death," he said. "Jesus has shown us that death is not the last word; rather, the merciful love of the Father transfigures us and makes us live in eternal communion with Him."


Protestants embrace Evangelii Gaudium


Indonesian Protestants, celebrating the start of the Reformation 500 years ago, have embraced Pope Francis' Apostolic Exhortation on the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today's World, calling it a document that can significantly help mend ties among Christians, in a country blighted by growing religious intolerance.

The Protestant Reformation began on Oct. 31, 1517, when Martin Luther, a German pastor, sent his 95 Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences to the Archbishop of Mainz in which he criticised the Catholic Church and the papacy.

During celebrations in Jakarta on Oct. 31 to mark the event, Indonesian Protestant leaders said the Pope's message in his 2013 Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), in which he called for churches to avoid blaming each other, held special meaning in Indonesia, as fears grow over rising intolerance in the country.

"The invitation by Pope Francis in the document is very relevant, asking churches to distance ourselves from blaming and slandering attitudes," Rev. Herniette T. Lebang, chairwoman of Communion of Churches in Indonesia, said at the Oct. 31 gathering.

Nearly 100 Protestants, Catholics and Muslims attended the event.


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