Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Rememberings Walking down the corridors of time....

Rememberings Walking down the corridors of time....
1906 -2006

By Sr. Philippa Finnimore

It began in 1650...

With the initiative and zeal of our Founder, Jean Pierre Medaille. a humble Jesuit Priest, the Congregation of the Sisters of St Joseph was born in France, in the violence of the French Revolution. It was the desire of our Founder to form a Congregation which would be both
contemplative and apostolic. Till then this combination in monastic life was not prevalent. The inspiration resulted in our charism; a total double union of ourselves with God and with others.

Some simple and generous women, who had only their faith as their wealth, joined together to experience life in God and to serve the poor and needy. And for us, Srs. of St. Joseph of Chambery, this history is being continued in Saugor, as we stand on the threshold of a new century

From this humble beginning, a few French and Irish Sisters of St. Joseph of Chambery, came to Kamptee, Central India, leaving their country and families, braving the struggles and difficulties of a long and tedious voyage, and also travel by land, to be missionaries in India.

Of this little, valiant group of women, 6 Irish Sisters, in 1906. came at the invitation of the Bishop of Allahabad, to take over from the Loretto Nuns, a very small school building in Saugor.

I Later.the Community was canonically established on 23 January 1906. with Sr. St. Joseph elected as the first Superior.

On 7th June of that same year, a Novitiate was canonicalty erected. In spite of innumerable difficulties, trials and oppositions, the Sisters persevered bravely in their mission, and the Community began to grow. The student strength having increased, the School received
recognition to be upgraded to a Cambridge School, with a Boarding House attached.

In 1934. at the request of Bishop Dubbleman of Jubbulpore Diocese, the Sisters of Saugor took over the Orphanage at Shampura village.

Till 1934. the number of Sisters remained very low. This year for the first time, a group of 15 girls from Kerala came to join the sisterhood in Saugor. Among those were two who those who have lived in Saugor will know very well: Sr. Lucy and Sr. Gabriel. Two more girls came, from Ceylon, the same year, one is very familiar to you, and remembered fondly by all: Sr. Agnes, who had been appointed several times as Superior, and Principal of Saugor, and even held the
high office of Provincial Superior.

In 1937. the number of students increased, and it became imperative to extend the school building. A large multipurpose hall on the ground floor, and a dormitory on the 1s1- floor above, was completed by the end of that year.

In 1939, Mothers Stanislaus and Bridgid, went to Wales, leaving Mother Patricia in charge of the affairs of Saugor Community. Unfortunately they were unable to return as per schedule, due to
the outbreak of World War II, so they founded a Convalescent Home in Wales, in a house donated to them. They returned to Saugor in 1947, bringing the first batch of six Irish Sisters with them.

1946. was a historic year in the archive? of Srs. of St. Joseph of Saugor. Guided by the Holy Spirit, the amalgamation of Wales and Saugor, with the Congregation of the Srs. of St. Joseph, in Chambery was completed, signed and sealed. Deo Gratias!

In 1951. Mother Francoise, Superior General of our Congregation, came to Saugor with a Brazilian sister: Sr. Marie. Many may still remember Sr. Marie who taught singingand music in our school here, she also helped in the formation of Novices.

24 January. 1956. was a red letter day for our Convent at Saugor. Bells joyfully rang out the 50th Golden Jubilee year. The joy of this happy day was marred by the demise of our dear Mother Stanislaus, who came all the way from Pakistan for this special occasion, but who succumbed on 19 January, perhaps overcome by the long and tiring journey, and the excitement of returning to Saugor, the Home which she loved.

Another historic event took place in 1955. with the amalgamation between the Congregation of Srs. Of St. Joseph uf Chambery, to which Saugor already belonged, and the Congregation of Sisters of St. Jean de Maurienne, to which the Kamptee- founded Convents belonged.

In 1968,: the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate order of Priests, from Trissur, came to form the Exarchate of Sagar, with Monsignor Clemens, as the first Exarch. The exarchate was later raised to a Diocese, with Rt. Rev. Joseph Pastor Neelankavil as Bishop.

In 1991. another historic event saw our Indian Province divided into two: Nagpur Province and
Pachmarhi Province. Sagar came into the Pachmarhi Province.

Several Superior and Principals have been at the helm over the intervening years- each one with their vision and dedication, leaving footprints on the sands of time. The school which began with just 37 pupils , lodged in a few classrooms, is now a simple, yet imposing edifice, with a dedicated staff, moulding and educating 3000+ pupils, with the cherished hope that they will be agents
of social and moral betterment in the world of tomorrow.

The Centenary year which was inaugurated on 23 January 2005, came to a grand finale on 5 and 6 January 2006. 5"' January was a day of prayer, and solemnity. The Eucharistic Liturgy was celebrated by Rt. Rev. Bishop Joseph Neelankavil, Bishop of Saugor, along with many other Priests. Bishop Theophane and Fr. Perumpuzha, represented the Diocese of Jabalpur. Several Sisters, who over the years, worked in Saugor, came back to their Saugor home to celebrate this great day. It was a time of thanksgiving, a time of remembering, a lime of renewing old friendships.

The Liturgy was followed by table-fellowship, where groups gathered together again, - just to remember, laugh and perhaps shed a tear of joy, over the "good old days"

On the 6"' evening the School presented a Cull Fiesta, a pageant of colour, light and sound, song
dance. It was well appreciated by everyone. And the curtain came down on one century, only to rise again in welcome of another, with fresh hope and zeal, new doors to open. new vision to inspire, new dreams to dream-
"The past we confide to God's mercy,
The present to His love,
The future to His Providence."