Archbishop Aloysius Maria Benziger OCD (1905-1931)

benziger Be
Spouses of

In his own handwriting
from Carmel Hill, Trivandrum
on 18 November 1931

Benziger letter's

Bishop Jerome M. Fernandez (1939-1978)

Canonically Established
Your Branch

In his Letter addressed to
all the Superiors and Sisters
on 21st March 1947
From the Bishop's House,Quilon

Bishop Jerome

As per decision and direction of the Holy See, His Excellency the Apostolic Delegate, by letter No. 24708/47 of March 7, 1947, has effected the division of your Congregation into two independent branches – one of Pondicherry, another of Quilon, with the same Constitution as hereafter; and we have, by No. 4381/47 of this date, canonically established your branch – the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Quilon.

Given at Quilon, this seventeenth day of March 1947

Bishop Of Quilon

Bishop of Quilon. Rt. Rev. Stanley Roman

The Teaching
Apostolate of
FIH Sisters
Bishop Stanley Roman

As I Remember

On an occasion like this when the Congregation of the Franciscan sisters of the Immaculate Heart Mary, Quilon celebrates its golden jubilee of its independent foundation at Quilon, my childhood memories bring back an unforgettable incident that kept me dear to this religious congregation. It was the first hour after the noon recess, I was a student of the third class of St. John’s Lower Primary School of the parish, where the teaching staff was consisting of the sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Pattathanam Quilon. My most revered class teacher whom I do love and respect even today, to my great dismay, did cane me rather ruthlessly that afternoon in the sight of the entire school for there were no partitions or screens separating the classes those days in a primary school. What I did was, I had worked out a sum for my friend in his slate in my own hand which helped her identify easily the culprit. I was put to shame before my kith and kin and a host of friends. Ordinarily when the sisters do such noble acts, the parents invariably find fault with them, but in my case none came to question her because she happened to be my mother’s classmate and colleague at Kanjiracode School.

This incident is as green in my memory not as a hurt but a point of reference to recall the beautiful moments I spent in the company of those holy women who showered Jesus, love on me and my family. We lived very close to the parish church and the convent and so all of us were the frequent visitors to the convent. I do remember some of the most dedicated and committed religious of this congregation who had been instrumental in helping me respond to my call to the priesthood and who had prayed day and night for me and who do still continue to do so. May the good Lord who called them to the religious life, reward them abundantly and keep them close to His Sacred Heart always.

What I further recollect about the sisters is that they were of immense help to the parish priest; for it is they who made the hosts; washed the church linen; kept the temple of the Lord neat and orderly. Besides their teaching job, they were chiefly concerned with imparting religious instruction particularly in preparing the children for their first communion. Those classes too are fresh in my mind and one thing that struck to my mind from those days is the recital of ejaculations taught by the sisters. And some of the beautiful pieces of advice given by them have not lost their lasting sway on me until this day .


“Go therefore and teach all nations… (Mt.28.19) was the Lord’s command to His disciples. The teaching mission of the Church thus originated from His own words and in response to them many men and women in the course of the centuries took upon themselves the self same mission proclaimed by the Lord. Taking seriously the command of the Lord the Church, from its inception till today, spared no pains to impart religious instruction and later the secular instruction as well.

In the years after 1100schools were founded in many of the larger cities of Western Europe. Many of the schools came into existence in order to train priests. Others were founded in connection with the monasteries because by this time an important work of monks was the copying of scripture and of the religious and secular texts of antiquity. These monastic and cathedral schools developed through the centuries were to prepare competent staffs for the Church and state and in a burgeoning bureaucracy the schools which had originally been founded to train monks and priests founded to train monks and priests found now themselves faced with more complex tasks. (cf. John C. Dwyer, Church History pg.178). With scientific progress and urbanization these institutions became afterwards great centers of learning known as universities.

It is to be remembered that when education became complex and expensive, the poor could not afford it and were naturally neglected. To uplift them with adequate learning and to mind many brave men and women founded congregations with the charism of teaching

The church, being faithful to the command of the Lord, had to publish over the centuries various documents to give clear expressions of her mind on education,. Its vision has been once again made crystal clear and well codified in the document Gravissimum Educationis of the Vatican II. “The Sacred Council has given careful consideration to the paramount importance of education in the life of men and its ever – growing influence on the social progress of the age”. The Council went on “for her part Holy Mother Church, in order to fulfill the mandate she received from her divine founder to announce the mystery of salvation to all men and to renew all things in Christ, is under an obligation to promote the welfare of the whole life of men, including his life in this world in so far it is related to his heavenly vocation; she has therefore a part to play in the development and extension of education” (GE)

“Education is, in a very special way the concern of the Church, not only because the Church must be recognized as a human society capable of imparting education, but especially it has the duty of proclaiming the way of salvation to all men, of revealing the life of Christ to those who believe, and of assisting them with unremitting care so that they may be able to attain to the fullness of that life”. (GE.3)

Why the Church is specially interested in schools is clearly enunciated thus; Among the various organs of education the school is of outstanding importance. In nurturing the intellectual faculties which is its special mission, it develops a capacity for sound judgment and introduces the pupils to the cultural heritage bequeathed to them by former generations. It fosters a sense of values and prepares them for professional life By providing for friendly contacts between pupils of different characters and backgrounds it encourages mutual understanding. Furthermore it constitutes a center in whose activity and growth not only the families and teachers but also the various associations for the promotion of cultural, civil, and religious life, civic society, and the entire community should take part”. (GE.5)

“Furthermore the Church attaches particular importance to those schools, especially in the territories of newly founded Churches, which include non-Catholics among their pupils”(GE.8).


Although we can take legitimate pride in our system of education that existed prior to the indebted to them for paving the way for the modern system of education which has opened our minds to an infinitely richer and wider world of knowledge.

India , the land of pearls and spices was a fascination for the Europeans from time immemorial. History unravels the many instances of rivalry of theirs in conquering it. Different European communities; pages of history tell us that , with the arrival of Vasco de Gama in the Malabar coast, colonization started; there came others after him mostly for colonization and commerce but besides these, they had country their share in the field of education.

St. Paul’s College established in 1543 at Goa, by the Portuguese Missionary the second Apostle of India, St. Francis Xavier was a milestone in the history of education in India . There were also similar contributions by the Dutch and the French.

The British who came primarily for trade were interested only in the success of their commerce; any missionary activity, they thought, would adversely affect their trade. Hence no such activities were permitted by the British Government. But later on when they had fully established themselves, together with their missionary activities they began to pay attention to the field of education in the country. A Baptist missionary in 1793 with the express approval of the Danish King started a college at Sorampur which was under him; it is one of the first institutions stated by the missionaries and it remains as the only christian University even today.

The Catholic Church though it pioneered education in India, for historical reasons, could not flourish during the former period of the British Raj; but on the latter period, it resumed its activities and established colleges and schools in different pars of the country and offered excellent service for the people of this country; the same selfless services are continued even today.

Like in Europe there came up schools in the very same premises of the churches and in certain cases and places, schools were established prior to the churches for the church was committed to the integral growth and development of every one created in the image and likeness of God.

Education in the country was not within the reach of everyone for fees had to be paid and so naturally the poor could not afford it. Moreover women in our country did not also enjoy that freedom of their counterparts in a civilized world and hence their education too was neglected.

Literacy in the country therefore was very low. Such a sad situation underwent a sea-change by the tireless efforts of many a missionary; that masses could be given good education was simply the result of their hard work and sacrifice. In a caste-ridden society their efforts have undoubtedly been a great boon.

The State of Kerala which enjoys 100% literacy today has been led to this glorious status by the hard work of so many committed people in the schools and colleges of Kerala. This pioneering service of the committed people in the field of education was often acknowledged till recently but such feelings of gratitude are now on the wane.

From what has been said one can well imagine the sad situation of our state at the beginning of this century with regard to education, particularly of women. With a view to improve there situation His Grace Archbishop Benziger, the then Bishop of the diocese of Quilon that extended from the river Pamba on the north to Cape Comrin in the south, brought a group of sisters from Pondicherry to attend to the education of women. Archbishop’s choice fell on this congregation because it has been first and foremost established with this end in view by a zealous missionary Rev. Father Louis Savinien Dupuis of the foreign missions of Paris .

The Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary had their first community established at Kanjiracode in 1907 during the time of Archbishop Benziger. Soon four other communities, Quilon, Kumbalam, Punalur and Maduravely (in the present diocese of Vijayapuram) had been started with the same goal. And the service of the sisters in the field of education was highly appreciated. Time was now ripe for being independent of the Pondicherry community and so late Bishop Jerome M. Fernandez of Quilon who initiated the bifurcation process, had it completed and declared the Quilon community as an independent diocesan congregation under the name Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Quilon, on March 17th, 1947. Ever since the congregation has made great strides of progress in their various apostolate and in the field of education in particular that their service are now well demanded not only in India but also in other parts of the world.


Wherever the sisters could begin a house, they were entrusted with the primary education of the locality. Thus in almost all parishes they served in the primary section. Drawing richly from the charism and spirit of the Founder, the sisters accepted willingly this noble profession of moulding the minds of children wherever they had been invited to serve. And in carrying out their responsibilities they never failed to sow the seeds of Gospel values among their pupils.

Bishop Jerome, who firmly believed that education is the only means to eradicate all sorts of backwardness, insisted that the sisters extend their services to high schools and in the field of higher education. But the congregation then did not have the qualified personnel to accept this new challenge. With the timely assistance and encouragement lavished on them by Rt. Rev. Msgr. Bernard D’Cruz, the director of the Congregation, a team of qualified sisters was trained to serve both in the diocesan high schools and colleges.

For over two decades, a good number of sisters served not only in the primary schools but also in the secondary schools and colleges. But now there is a dearth of such a category that it has paved way for the lay teachers to occupy those positions held by the sisters. Although it is true that our qualified laity should remain well represented in our institutions, presence of sisters in the field of education must be encouraged since a group of dedicated and committed teachers rooted in a society which has thrown even human values to the four winds.


The founder’s desire to work for women simply did not mean IMPARTING a very secular education. Rather, it was expected that by their life witness, dedication and commitment they gave definite expression to the Gospel values and sowed the seeds of truth in the minds of their pupils so that they might grow into responsible citizens of this great nation with a well formed conscience in order to serve their fellow-brethren. In his post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation the Holy Father said “ They (consecrated persons) are called to bring to bear on the world of education their radical witness to the values of the kingdom, proposed to everyone in expectation of the definitive meeting with the Lord of history” (Vita Consecrata no. 96).

One is now tempted to think that the sisters have, after 50 golden years of wonderful service in the field of education, a penchant to leave it or to confine their services to their own schools recently founded by them. It may be due to the paucity of well qualified sisters a crisis that has to be surmounted with full determination. Sisters may be more and more encouraged to qualify themselves to serve first in the diocesan schools and colleges with their witness of committed life and their service in the schools under their management should be relegated to the second place for all such institutions are unaided, which means, even though it is still a mission, the beneficiaries who enjoy their service belong to a limited group. The Synod on the Religious, urged “consecrated persons to take up again, wherever possible the mission of education in schools of every kind and level, and in universities and institutions of higher learning. Making my own the proposal of the synod, I warmly invite members of institutes devoted to education to be faithful to their founding charism and to their traditions, knowing that the preferential love for the poor finds a special application in the choice of means capable which is the lack of cultural and religious training”(vita consecrate no.97).

In the light of the above the new institution established by the sisters for the handicapped at Quilon is a giant step towards the fulfillment of their mission and a field of new evangelization. The team of the general administration of the Congregation ought to be congratulated for this bold step and all assistance offered for the full realization of this new ministry.

To conclude, it is to be reminded that it is by being faithful to the charism of the founder with a new thrust in the present context that a religious life is fully justified. So it is my wish that there be more and more qualified sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in our schools to uphold the Gospel values by their profession and example and to look for new fields of evangelization. May the Blessed Mother, Mary Immaculate, shower up on them Her never-failing graces and keep them ever close to Her loving Heart.

Fr. Ponnumuthan selvester

It was in 1972, 30th May, that some of the sisters of the congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Quilon (F.I.H), Came to St. Theresa’s church Uchakkada in the present mission diocese of Neyyattinkara. The parish was founded by a great missionary Fr. John Damascene in 1902. Opening a convent in a rural paris , twenty five years bac, was quite uncommon, atleas, in the diocese of Trivandrummor in the areas of the present diocese of Neyyattinkara. So one may rightly think that the opening of a convent at Uchakkada in 1972 by the FIH Sisters was their Silver Jubilee gift as the congregation was declared an undepedent diocesan congregation in 1947. To the local church of Uchakkada. “ ……….the consecrated life has not only proved a help and support for the Church in the past, but is also a precious and necessary gift for the present and future of the people of God, since it is an intimate part of her life, her holiness and her misssion”(vita Consacrata,3).

As a congregation founded to uplift the poor, to improve the social condition of women in the society through education, the sisters of F.I.H did brave all sorts of inconviences to begin their mision at uchakkada. In the beginign they stayed in a small rented house. It took nearly one year to have their own modest house as designed by the then ascetic missionary parish priest Wencealaus Koilparambil. The parish Priest wished that the new house should be as simple as those of the parishioners. It seems that Fr.Wenceslaus Koilparambil showed special interest in inviting the sisters of F.I.H Congregation Uchakkada as he had come to know from Masgr. S. Thomas about their wonderful mission work at St. Xaviers Parish, Peyad.

I remember the first team of the sisters who came to the parish as missionaries. As a boy of sixteen, about to join the St. Vincent’s Minor Seminary,Trivandrum ,I did not know anything about the congregation or its charism. While attending the blessing ceremony of the rented house By His Excellency Rt. Rev. Dr. Bernard Pereira, the then Bishop of Trivandrum,I was very much impressed by the simplicity of the sisters .Although the small house was filled with VIPs the sisters showed keen attention to every one present. In fact, the sisters were at ease with them. They found time to be with the children too. While they conversed with the boys they came to know that one among them, had already been selected to the St. Vincent’s minor seminary, Trivandrum . what, a sister said spontaneously I do still remember. “ Oh this is a good sign. We will pray for you. Try to become a good priest!”. I would now say that the prayers the sisters assured me did assist me in my journey towards priesthood. I know that they prayed for me and whenever I came for holidays the sisters used to count down the years of my ordination. Were it not an incentive to pray for more vocations from the parish?. It is believed that vocation promotion from the local Churches is the sine qua, non factor to discern in the mission work of my religious order. The papal teachings about the modern missions insists on this aspect of vocation promotion too.(See Benedict XV,Maxmum illud, Pius XI,Rerum Ecclesiae). It is worth mentioning that within a short span of time a good number of boys ans girls responded to the divine call from my parish. I think that unless the religious incarnate in the life of the people cannot promote vocations. And the F.I.H Sisters do make an effort to incarnate in the life of the local churches and thus they promote vocations .

During my priestly studies, though I did not know more about the religious life or “charism” I had often seen the sisters praying together”with an undivided heart (1cor.7:34), taking catechism classes for the children, preparing the young girls for marriage, animating the shehasena,later converted into a littleway Associastion, in which I was a member. They did spent time with the widows and the suffering. They also took special care of the different mission centres of the parish. They went to take catechism classes in the neibouring parishes, Kollemcode and Paruthiyoor. They conducted a nursery school and admitted children irrespective of caste, colour and creed. Two sisters worked in the primary scholl not as head of the institutions or as Headmistress but working along with the lay people-sharing their carism with the laity(vita consacrata 54).

The important Apostolate they considered precious and the parishioners lauded the mot is visiting the families. There the sisters show their real misionary zeal and “faminine genius” (Letter to women, 10). Did they visit only the families of Catholics? Definitely not. For them there were no barriers between catholics and non-catholics. That is why within no time the sisters had become “mothers and sisters” of every one in the parish including those who “possess an impressive patrimony of deeply religious texts” (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 53). In effect they ave been evangelising the locality through the ‘ Gospel values’(Redemptoris Missio, 20) and working with a sense of mission ad gentes (Redemptoris Missio,33). Once my mother complained to the sisters for not visiting her house. The sisters responded to her like this:”we have to visit the poor families first: after all, you come to the church”. It is true that my mother expected frequent visits of the consecrated people in her house . neverthless, she was proud of the sisters as they were consc ious of their mission in the parish. The reminiscences of Sr.Aquina and Mother celine reveal how much importance the sisters had given for visiting the families. I would add that the sisters of F.I.H were imbibed with the spirit of the “man of God”, Arch Bishop Maria Benziger who insisted on the house visiting as a part of mission work. He exhorted the missionaries:”the missionary should visit the place (family) often personally by always with modesty and humility as it becomes a representative of Christ. He should begong with one family.”Philip OCD, Man of God, 1956. 104-105).

The house visits helped the sisters to incafrnate themselves in the life situations of the people (RedemptorisMissio, 52&53). Reccalling the early life at Uchakkada, Sr.Sushama, one of the first five, on 24th May, 1994 shared her past experience with me like this: “In 1972 after visiting the families we did not feel to take meals from the convent, for such was the situation of the poor people. Thank God, now the situation has been changed”. And it is fact that the sisters could build up a relation with the people. The words of Pope Benedict probably echoed in their commitment:” Forget thy people and thy father’s house…….The mission rntrusted to you is more important’ (Maximum illud). Since the sisters forget everything for the sake of the poor and thus for the Kingdom of God. The parishioners, although poor, were always with them. Sr. Aquina who spent six years at Uchakkada writes :The people are simple and hard working. They inquired about the needs of the sisters”.

Inshort, the sisters could build up a relation withm the people from the very beginning of their apostolate. This relation was conspicuous when the parishioners took initiative to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of the foundation(beginning) of the St. Joseph’s Covent inclding the publication of a suvinir to honour the service of the sisters. When they completed twenty-five years of service at Ucha kada, Rt. Rev. Dr. Soosa Pakiam, the Bishop of trivandrum praised their missionary zeal and said: “ It was a matter ofgreat joy for me to collaborate with the activities of the sisters of this convent who are zealous, humble,dedicated and quite unassuming.” (Rajatha Jubilee Smaranika, 7). The Bishop, a prpotagonist of Basic Basic christian communities in India, knew well the wonderful services the sisters have been doing. Here I think that what the Pope wihers about the consecreted people becomes a reality in the case of the F.I.H sisters”………..consecrated persons wil not fail to co-operate generously with the particular churches as much as they and with respect for their own charism, working in full communion with the Bishop in the areas of evangelization, catechesis and parish life”(vita consacrata , 49) . In complete agreement with Bishop Soosa Pakiam, I would say that the F.I.H sisters are zealous, humble, dedicated and quite unassuming in their apostolate whether in India or Italy, or Germany or Belgium.

As the F.I.H sisters ae entering into a new phase of their journey in the very year of two Golden Jubilees-of their foundation in Quilon and India ’s Independence , I wish that the life and apostolate of the sisters may “find fresh enthusiasm and power in the new areas of their ministry. May the Good God bless them to show the people “the fatherly and the motherly face of the Church”(Vita Consacrata , 105)both in India and also in the countries where Christianity is estranged (Tertio Millennio Adveniente, 57). I also pray that the F.I.H sisters may continue their commitment to do “everything that affects the dignity of women and respect gfor human life”. (Vita onsacrata. 58).

The Healing Touch of the F.I.H. Sisters
Dr.Thomas William

Here is the story of a congregation of sisters which did not have its origin in some European Countries.,but in an obscure little village called Kanjiracode ,in Kollam District, way back in 1947.while reflecting on the growth of this congregation during the past five decades ,One is simply bewildered .From just five Convents in 1947 it has flourished into a Congregation of 52 Convents and over 475 Professed Sisters spread over 8 states of India and in three parishes each in Germany and Italy.Their achievements in the education and allied fields are chronicled else were in this Golden Jubilee Souvenir

The Remarkable success story of the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters Of the Immaculate Heart of Mary,Quilon(F.I.H) cannot be completed with out recording their achievements in the health care area.Though the founder of the Congregation, Rev. Fr. Louise Savinien Dupuis, inculcated love for the poor, simplicity of life and zeal for the education of women as special objective of the Congregation on the first members, he would have been joyfully surprised to see what the successors to his wards have accomplished in the healing ministry.For a purely indigenous Congregation with out any sort of guidance of foriegn missionaries, to have achieved so much in such a short span of fifty years, it is truly remarkable .An attempt is made here to run through these achievements briefly.

The Bishop Benziger Hospital , Kollam

It was established in 1948 by the then Bishop of Quilon, Rt.rev.Dr.Jerome.M .Fernandez in memory of his predecessor. It was here the FIH made its humble beginning in the healing minisry. Bishop Jerome,The visionary that he was ,had no hesitation in entrusting the task of administering the Hospital to the Congregation which was in existence only since one year. the FIH sisters have proved that his faith in them was justified.

One cannot think of Bishop Benziger Hospital and Nursing School with out the FIH Sisters. They have been the Back Born Of these Institutions since the inception.The present Administrator Sr. Perpetua Mary and the Principal of the School of Nursing.

Sr. Libia Mary along with the other sister are ably assisting the Director, Msgr. Ferdinand Kayavil in maintaining the standard of the institution at par with similar institution in Western Countries.

Assisi Hospital ,Channapetta

A clinic was started in the visitor’s room of Assisi Convent on 11 th May 1961.This marked the entry of FIH into the healing ministry. Sr. Salome Mary used to dispense medicines .The clinic was formally inaugurated on the 4 th October 1963.Twice a week a doctor from Bishop Benziger Hospital , Kollam used to examine patients and prescribe medicines. Subsequently Dr. William Samuel took charge of the clinic.

A Dispensary was blessed and inaugurated on 5 th July 1967 by His lordship.Rt.Rev.Dr.Jerome.M.Fernandez ,then Bishop of Quilon.

Later a 25 bedded Hospital was constructed Sr. Isabella Mary took charge as Administrator on November 9 th,1955.Mobile Clinics, Health talks ,Nutritional talks etc were introduced. Detecting family and health problems and finding solutions to them was dome by House visits.

It was very difficult to get Doctors to serve in this remote village which did not even have proper roads. The situation has not changed even today. A permanent doctor still remains a dream .

Giving thrust to M.C.H Programme and immunization the nursing Sisters fanned out into the community. Poultry farming sewing classes etc were started for the welfare of the local people.Nurses Aid Course for girls who had passed in S.S.L.C. was also started.

Sanction was granted for a multipurpose Health Worker’s School on 7 th july 1985.Fifteen candidates were granted admissions. Bishop Jerome blessed and inaugurated the school. The Course which is of 18 months duration is a boon to the unemployed girls

Jyothi Health Center , Charoda , M.P.

The F.I.H made its foray into Northern India by opening a Dispensary at Charoda (M.P.) in 1969.As in other places it was difficult to get an M.B.B.S doctor. Hence it was the nursing Sisters who used to distribute medicines to the patients. Initially there was room for only 6 beds. By the hard labour of the F.I.H. Sisters, now it is grown to a well established hospital.

Lokarakshaka Hospital , Arinalloor.

A small hospital was started on 30 th August 1970 at Arinalloor, Kollam District. Initially the hospital functioned from a portion of the Convent itself .Inpatient facilities and labour room were provided here. Sr.Agatha Mary was the first Doctor. Health education used to be imparted during house visits. Through mobile clinics Immunization was provided. Children were encouraged to learn Catechism and parents were trained to hold family prayers.

When the new building was completed in 1972,it was Bishop Jerome who inaugurated and blessed it. The service of physician, peadiatrician and gynecologist were made available. A private Nursing Course for the Pre-degree failed girls was started on 11 th February 1991 and is going on in full swing.

Sneha Health Clinic,M.P

A dispensary which was started in 1970 at Korba (M.P) was later expanded into a 10 bedded hospital in 1972.Even today in the absence of a Doctor,it is the Nursing Sisters who are looking after the patients with the help of mobile Clinic, MCH Programmes, Immunization programmes and Health education are provided in many Villages apart from the treatment.

Amala Health Center , Purnea, Bihar.

Amala Health Center which was inaugurated by Rt.Rev.Dr.Leo Tigga,the bishop of Dumka on 25 th January 1975 had a very humble beginning .Now it is developed into a full –fledged health center with a maternity clinic and other fecilities. Through mobile clinic medical care is made available to the poor people in the villages especially to the lepers and T.B patients.

St.Goretti Dispensary, Edakochi.

Though this dispensary was started on 7 th July 1980,it has not achieved the desired development. In-patient facilities are still non existent. However through mobile clinics medicines are disbursed. During house visits people are made aware of the need of environmental sanitation. Health education is also imparted through these visits. MCP Programmes and Immunization Programmes are also organized.

St.Antony’s Hospital, Santhavasal, TN.

This functions mainly as a dispensary. Maternity causes are admitted. The service of a full-fledged doctor is not available. Nursing sisters dispense medicines.

The F.I.H Sister may not have had the sophistication of their counterparts from the western countries, but they sure made it up with their love for the poor ,zeal and dedication.

The Jubilee year provides the opportunity for introspection. Looking back, the F.I.H sisters can justifiable feel proud of their achievements of the past fifty years. I am sure they must already be planning for the next fifty years instead of resting on their laurels. May the God Lord provide the right leadership to guide them through the dawn of the new century and millennium.

I am proud to say that I am a product of the F.I.H. I had my primary education at St.Antony’s L.P School, Tillery , where I was taught by them. I offer this article as my humble tribute to the indomitable spirit of these daughters of St Francis of Assisi and pray that the generations to come may still benefit from their services.

The Ministering Angels
Father Stephen Gomez

The first batch of F.I.H Sisters was held by Rev, Sr Benjamine Mary fondly called Benjaminamma .She was followed by an unbroken series of selfless nuns. Among them Rev. Sr. Clement Mary deserves special mention and she is remembered by all who knew her care .

It was the late Bishop Jerome who asked and got the services of these sisters .To publicily show his appreciation for their services, he chose St .Joseph’s Priest’s home to spend his retirements days.Even after he left the Bishop’s house until his dying day,he spent his years here.He often publicly expressed his esteem and gratitude for all that they were to him and to his priests.

The present incumbent in the office is Sr. Borromea Mary. She is like a kind mother to the boys serving here and the girls in the kitchen. There is never a complaint heard about her. On the other hand every one is all praise for her. The personal services she is rendering individually to all the inmates especially those disabled and hospitalised or those helpless and bed-ridden at home, need special mention. She is faithfully following the glorious tradition build up by sisters who have gone by. There are now seven inmates in the priest’s home.

We are all thankful to very Rev. Mother Delphine Mary, The Superior general and her illustrious predecessors who have had anything to do with his institution of Love.

The Group of Sisters An Inspirasion to the Students

I remember the day when I was a student ar St.Margaret ‘s Girls High School,Kanjiramcode,Kundara,Kollam District.This school is run by the Sisters of Immaculate Heart of mary and their Mother House is at Pattathanam ,Kollam.The group of Sisters who managed the School at that time.(i.e. 1947 to 1958) were dedicated ,quite ,competent,highly qualified and service minded in the full sense.They were hardworking ,pious and devoted to God and to the students to the local people of Kanjiracode and also to the public with whom they dealt.

My father and mother taught me the basic moral principles and values of human life . These teachings were fostered by the above dedicated Sisters through their classes especially on ’Catechism and Good manners’. It is because of their guidance ,I believe that I earned , I believe that I earned the reputation of a strict disciplinarian in both my private and official life.

The Sisters used us to advise us to hope for the best even in difficult situations. Their version was that these difficulties will be removed just like the melting of snow by the rising sun. Their advice helped me and my friends to have a strong will and capacity to face difficulties and hardships with courage even in unfavorable conditions. In this context I remember the names of some Rev. Sisters who dedicated themselves to the welfare ,happiness and prosperity of the entire community of students, irrespective of Hindu Muslim or Christian Religion. Rev. Mother Dorothy Mary, Sr. Gertrude Mary, Sr. Beatrice Mary, Sr. Celine Mary and Sr. Rose Mary are some among them .They had scrupulously followed the able guidance and directions of very Rev. Mother Elgieve Mary at that time .The names of Rev. Sr. Immaculate Mary, Sr. Stanislaus Mary and Sr. Pacific Mary deserve mention ,for they got recognition from the Central and State Governments for their outstanding contribution in the field of education. Moreover, His Excellency Rt. Rev. Dr Jerome M Fernandez and Rt. Rev. Dr. Joseph G Fernandez, Bishops of Quilon Diocese were sources of continuing inspiration for this Sister-Community.

The Sisters used us to advise us to hope for the best even in difficult situations. Their version was that these difficulties will be removed just like the melting of snow by the rising sun. Their advice helped me and my friends to have a strong will and capacity to face difficulties and hardships with courage even in unfavorable conditions. In this context I remember the names of some Rev. Sisters who dedicated themselves to the welfare ,happiness and prosperity of the entire community of students, irrespective of Hindu Muslim or Christian Religion. Rev. Mother Dorothy Mary, Sr. Gertrude Mary, Sr. Beatrice Mary, Sr. Celine Mary and Sr. Rose Mary are some among them .They had scrupulously followed the able guidance and directions of very Rev. Mother Elgieve Mary at that time .The names of Rev. Sr. Immaculate Mary, Sr. Stanislaus Mary and Sr. Pacific Mary deserve mention ,for they got recognition from the Central and State Governments for their outstanding contribution in the field of education. Moreover, His Excellency Rt. Rev. Dr Jerome M Fernandez and Rt. Rev. Dr. Joseph G Fernandez, Bishops of Quilon Diocese were sources of continuing inspiration for this Sister-Community.

They advised us to follow the seven lamps of success: honesty, Courage, Self-confidence, Wit, Industriousness, Eloquence and Judgment. According to the sisters the seven lamps are the gift of God; courage and judgment especially are gifts of the Holy Ghost and they used to tell us to pray to the Holy Ghost to give these gifts abundantly and also to retain these qualities in us till our death. These gifts of the Holy Ghost give us the capacity to distinguish between right and wrong, between just and unjust, irrespective of the decision being beneficial to our interest or otherwise.

To this day I follow the above advice scrupulously. My parents also helped me to follow the above measure verbatim.

I have no doubt that it helped me to secure first class and first rank in my B. L. Degree Examination of the University of Kerala in 1964 and first rank for my M. L. Degree Examination in 1967 .Self Confidence and courage they have shown in my life helped me to become the first lady lecturer, Professor and principal of different Government Law colleges in the state and also the first lady Pro-Vice chancellor of University of Kerala.

At the juncture of the Golden Jubilee of their Congregation, I take this opportunity to congratulate the Sisters for the meritorious services rendered by them and I also expressed my heart-felt thanks to them. I pray7 that Almighty God may help to continue their dedicated mission in the same spirit and vigour and I wish them all success in their future endeavours.