St. Francis Province

The Indian Mission of theCFMSSwas inaugurated on 3 February in 1901, when Venerable Mother Seraphina sent out the first batch of CFMSS Missionaries toIndia.The Mission is built on the sacrifices of the pioneer missionariesand their successors as they slogged determinately against all odds,battling sickness, death,scorching heat, deprivation, loneliness, rejectionetc.,for half a centuryrelying solely on Divine Providence. As the houses at Sardhana (1901 – 1907), Meerut (1903 – 1912) and KheraKhurd(1924 - 1947) had to be closed down due to extraneous reasons,our presence remained confined to St. Francis Convent (1912) Agra and St. Anthony's Convent, Delhi(1934).

The two World Wars added to the woes of the valiant missionaries but things began to look up in the late 1950s,under the direction of the inimitable Mother Benigna - the Superior of the Indian Mission.She visitedthe Catholic strongholds of South India at the suggestion of Mother Carlina, the then Superior General of the Institute. The entry of zealous girls from Kerala and Karnataka turned the tide in favour of the Indian CFMSS.Besides herfaith in the Divine Providence and in her favourite patron St. Anthony,Mother Benigna'spersonal qualities, farsightedness, resourcefulness and organizational abilities, the assistance of her compatriots and young Indian daughters contributed to the rapid growth of the mission which was almost wilting in the 1940s.

Convents and schools came up in Dehradun (U.P), Gurgaon (Haryana), Patiala (Pyunjab), Bulandshahr (U.P.),Pathankot (Punjab), Mussoorie (U.P.), Chandigarh, and HauzKhas (New Delhi).Finally, St. Francis Province came into existence in 1971 when the Institute was restructuredand organized into Provinces as a direct consequence of the Second Vatican Council and the initiatives of the then Superior General late Mother PasqualinaMunno. St. Mary's Convent, Clemet Town, Dehra Dun became the seat of administration for the newly constituted Province.

New ventures were undertaken as the Lord blessed the growth of the Province with energetic and enthusiastic members. The late 1970s saw St. Francis Province gradually spreading its wings from its Northern perch to North-East India with the opening of its first mission in the remote inaccessible village of Jongksha in the Khasi Hills region of Meghalaya in 1977.

The period 1980-1990 also witnessed a more pronounced option for the poor as the Province took up remote mission stations in interior U.P.,Assam and Bihar, some of them in collaboration with the dioceses. The Provincialatewas shifted to New Delhi in 1983. Since December 1988, Clara Niwas at Kalu Sarai became the administrative centre of St. Francis'Province.

As the number of personnel and institutions increased and the spheresof work expanded and the activities of the Province multiplied, animation of the Sisters and their apostolates became very demanding. With houses spread from Pathankot in the North to Parassala in the Southern tip of Kerala and from Mumbai inthe West Coast to Mawkynrew (Meghalaya) in the East, the need for the bifurcation of the Province became very imperative.After due reflections, discussions and mandatory consultations, the province was dividedin 1994 - thus giving birth to St. Clare's Province with its headquarters based in Clement Town, Dehra Dun.

In 1992, aMission Superior was appointed to look into the immediate needs of the members in the North-East region. Anotherlandmark decision in the life of St. Francis province was the raising of the North-East Mission to Mother Seraphina Vice Province in 1998 and to a full pledged Province in 2006.These developments provided greater thrust to the growth of the Institute in India as it infused new vitality and fervor among the members of all the three entities,each zealously exploring new avenues of growth and apostolic undertakings.

Most of the members are engaged in various forms of education. Every attempt is made to provide integral education to all our students and equip them to face life and be responsible citizens. In all our communities sisters are actively involved in pastoral activities and our hostels for poor girls - both in the urban and rural areas, empower and equip a sizeable number of girl children hailing from underprivileged families. The dispensaries in the rural areas and the sister nurses and sister social workers are in the forefront of conscientizing rural people and enabling them to access the benefits of social schemes initiated by the Government at different places.

The Province constantly seeks ways and means to reinterpret and live its Eucharistic Missionary Charism according to the signs of the times in order to respond adequately to the challenges of the fast changing milieu. We strive to be true to the missionary mandate of our beloved Foundressand reach out to the needy, particularly the youth, children and women in the far flung regions of our country.

Today the members of St. Francis Province serve 5 archdioceses (Delhi, Agra, Patna, Ranchi and Thalassery) and 7 dioceses (Bareilly, Bhagalpur, Buxar, Jabalpur, Trichi, Mananthavadyand Palakkad) spread across 9 States. At present the Province has 23 houses of which 7 are exclusively at the service of the dioceses. It runs 1 Senior Secondary School, 8 Secondary Schools (5 in English medium and 3 in Hindi medium), 1 Middle School, 1 Primary School and 2 Pre-primary schools, besides 3 Healthcare Centres, 6 Children's Home for underprivileged Girls, Social Uplift programmers in 5 Centres and a Hostel for Working Women. Evening Classes for slum children are held at 3 urban centres: at one centre, there are 200-odd pupils studying from Class I – V, while at the other two 80-odd children are undergoing non-formal education.

Besides, our sisters serve in 4 senior secondary schools, 3 junior schools, 2 boarding for tribal/destitute children and a Home for the Agedrun by dioceses / congregations.

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