INDIA The Bethany sisters celebrate their centenary, from Mangalore to the Sahara Desert
The Indian congregation founded in 1921 by Fr. Raymond Mascarenhas with four young teachers marks its first century. It is now present in nine countries on three continents. In India, it remains an important benchmark for women’s empowerment, especially in slums and villages.
Mangalore (AsiaNews) – India recently celebrated the centenary of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Little Flower of Bethany, known locally as the Sisters of Bethany.
Father Raymond Francis Camillus Mascarenhas founded the order in 1921 in Bendur, a district of Mangalore (Karnataka).
The clergyman gathered around him four young teachers with the charisma of responding to the most immediate needs of ordinary people. From this part of the city, the Sisters traveled to many corners of the world.
“Ours is the story of a continuous transformation,” said Sister Jyoti Pinto, former superior general of the congregation, addressing AsiaNews.
“Over the past 100 years, the congregation has grown like a sturdy tree, spreading its branches in nine countries on three continents, from the Sahara Desert to the peaks of the Himalayas.
“In addition to India and Nepal, the Sisters of Bethany are present in Europe (Vatican, Italy, Germany and France) and in Africa (Mauritania, Senegal and Tanzania). The staff numbers 1,378 sisters.
“In India, their service is offered in 26 states and 63 dioceses, caring for the marginalized, without distinction. “
In keeping with the mandate of their founder and early pioneers, the Bethany Sisters pay special attention to the empowerment of girls, women and rural communities, through a ministry focused on the provision of pastoral, social, educational and health care, both in the slums and in the villages.
The social action of the congregation involves 142 sisters, 350 collaborators in 56 different centers, taking care of the overall development of 150,000 women, 113,000 children and 156,000 young people.
The sisters stand alongside migrants and work for the prevention of human trafficking in collaboration with dioceses, other religious institutions and government agencies.
“When it comes to education,” Sister Jyoti explained, “the Bethany Educational Society is a beacon of light for millions of children and youth, especially girls.
“Thanks to a vast network of 185 schools, various programs and informal activities are offered in urban and rural slums, bringing hope for a life of dignity.
To mark the centenary, Bishop Peter Paul Saldanha of Mangalore presided over a Mass of Thanksgiving in the presence of the current Superior General, Sister Rose Céline.
Archbishop Card Oscar Gracias of Mumbai sent a video message praising the Sisters of Bethany because through their institutions “show the compassionate face of Jesus”.
Meanwhile, the Church of Mangalore promotes the cause of beatification of the founder, Fr. Mascarenhas. The diocesan phase ended in 2019 and the results are currently being examined by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.