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."