THE DAUGHTERS OF ST. ANNE, RANCHI VIEWS OF OTHERS
“ We can see the results. Already in 1897 the missionaries recognized four young women who under the inspiration of the missionary sisters, wanted to give themselves totally to the Lord. Thus the Daughters of St. Anne, Ranchi, a religious family of the indigenous daughters of the soil was born. We have the memoirs of Mata Mary Bernadette, the founder of the Congregation. Once she came to know Jesus and his love, this is what she writes, “Our joy was beyond description. How to praise the Almighty and the infinite merciful God for his surprising and bountiful love. Through his immense grace, He made us his own. We could truly say’, Lord Jesus you are my all and I am yours’, on our part we could only be committed and determined to be at his service in every thing even unto death”[Memoirs pg. 52]. Ranchi February 2, 2008
Lenten Pastoral Letter- 2008 His Eminence Telesphore P. Card. Toppo, DD Archbishop of Ranchi
EXPECTATIONS FROM DAUGHTERS OF ST. ANNE, RANCHI
His Excellency Vincent Barwa, DD, Auxiliary Bishop of Ranchi I encourage you to spare no effort to promote the specific vocation and mission of the Congregation. By your eloquent witness of consecration conformed to Christ in Chastity, Poverty and (Service) Obedience continue to be prophetic signs for the world and for the Church. Do not neglect those essential places where human values and the Gospel are transmitted, and where the call to follow Christ and take part in the life of the Church can also be heard in the solidarity with the poor, marginalized, illiterate children, youth in the villages, persons with AIDS, with immigrants and displaced persons. Try to help women play their role in the society with every greater responsibility. “Due in Altum”= Put into the deep, face the future with courage. Be courageous and respectful. Identify the crisis or problem as soon as possible if any community is going through. Make the Life of your Congregation Eucharist Centred. Eucharist is the source and summit of our life. Eucharist and mission are two inseparable realities, as the Apostle Paul Stresses: “Every time, then you eat this bread and this cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes”(1Cor. 11:26). Eucharist must be the centre of your personal and community life so that communion with Christ will help you make courageous decisions. The Daughters of St. Anne, Ranchi should give direction and example to all the other women Congregations coming in the land of Jharkhand in the fields of Evangelization, Catechesis, Education and service. This will be indeed Pontifical (Universal) role in the particular place with the particular people namely tribals. It will be a Congregation with difference truly born and nurtured in this Soil of pain and love. I am pleased to suggest that the Congregation must propose your charism to lay people of all ages association them with their mission. In this way you enable the laymen and women to build their Christian life, to be more committed to the service of the families and the Society. Such an initiative cannot fail to have positive effect on the life of the respective Congregation. Thank you for all you are and for all that you do for Christ and for the Church. I assure you of my remembrance to the Lord during the celebration of Holy Mass. I bless you with affection. May Jesus always be the centre of your life. April 12, 2005 ************************************************************************
DAUGHTERS OF ST. ANNE, RNACHI FOUNTAIN OF LOVE FOR THE TRIBALS OF CHHATTISGARH
By Rev. Fr. Habil Kujur, Gholeng, Chhattisgarh Mr. John a life long Head catechist in Gholeng speaks – I am from Mutujakba a pathless, hilly, forest surrounded village. When in 1933-34 I was in Gholeng in the K.G. Two Belgian Priests Fr. Borsus and Fr. Claskens were respectably, Parish Priest and Headmaster of the Primary School. Just that time 5 Sisters of the Daughters of St. Anne, Ranchi alighted in Gholeng. They appeared in their original outfit, wearing impressive Indian sarees, in deep blue colour, with two white strips, and covered their heads with the end of the sarees. They hung a heave rosary with large beads on the side. In Gholeng there was a small mud house for drying linen. This became their first Convent. Three sisters visited the villages and two of them looked after the hostel children. There were 50 boys and 22 girls in the hostel. For the maintenance the children brought rice from homes. For dal some gave only dried and powdered vegetable(leaves) like chench, sarla, collected form home gardens or from forests. Hostel Sisters looked after the food and the sanitation of the house. They also taught kids in the K.G. and English to the Primary children. They taught them also religion prepared them for liturgy and looked after the chapel – interestingly the catechist observed that Fr. Borsus and Claskens, dialogued with Sisters in English, would mean Sisters knew English. Sisters visiting the villages recited the Rosary as they walked long distances to the villages. At present, Gholeng Parish has become very small with the division of Ghaghra, Jaria, Shantibhawan, Bara Koronja, Portenga and Ketar, new parishes and outstantions out of Gholeng Parish. A hundred years ago, we can imagine, the area was so vast with mountains, rivers, rivulets and thick forests, teeming with wild animals like tigers, lepers, lions, wolves, jackals etc. must have been a hard and fearful area to go round. There was no road to follow, one had to find narrow paths through the uphill forests, rivers to walk through with much caution. Sisters could not go to the villages by themselves. Some elderly villagers always accompanied the Sisters with their luggage of daily requirements. Mr. John tells that he started his career as a teacher for Rs. 15/- in his village Mutujakba. In 1947, however on a graceful request of the great missionary and historian Belgian Priest Fr. Vermeire, he accepted to become a catechist in the so called devil-haunted village Kainkanchar. Some what unwillingly he says, I went there with fear and trembling. But I was determined and Fr. Vermeire also assured me of every support in any event. The catechist tells, Sister lived the life of the people, mingling and speaking to all groups of people like children, the youth and the elders and built up intimacy and closeness with everyone. This helped them to know the tails and hardships, joys and sorrows of always busy with them. They participated and helped in all their works. They worked with Mahilas (ladies), sweeping, husking, cooking, washing etc.
As tribal women do, Sister wnt with them to the fields, to collect herbs and vegetables from marshy fields, and from forests, sarla, Derango and chench from vegetable plants. They are processed to make powder after boiling and drying and preserve them in small leaf baskets for hay-days. Life with the villagers was in every way very homely. Sisters respected every group of people in the village. They would never decide anything without consulting the elders. They always counted on their experience and influence. The good relationship with them, meant success. One could say this was their Bible. With their cooperation, they built up unity and solidarity in the village. At the dusk during the family prayer they dialogued freely on the economic, social growth family life etc. On education of the children they gave greater stress. They spoke with them the local dialect Oraon, ‘nimhaen maiarin chike’ (give your daughters), ‘Babusin taike’ ( send you son). Educational tour even those days was not unknown. Casually Sisters organized a weeklong outing, for the elders, village panches ( elected members) patels ( land lords) and mahtos (semi government village leaders), to parishes like Ginabahar, Tongo, Gumla, Samtoli, almost 100 K.M. from Gholeng. In these trips they carried their daily requirement (food, clothes etc.) and literally walked the distance going and coming, as there were neither buses not any other facility those days. Pre-information of such trips was sent by the father through a forerunner by a letter pressed into a split common sakjua twig (used for brushing teeth). The trip and the contact inflamed the hearts and minds of these village leaders, these leaders then openly invited the Sisters to the villages for religious orientation and preparation for the sacraments. The elder’ invitation was seen by the Sister as “The signs of the time” as God’s invitation. Sister indeed rushed to the villages, not counting their comfort. God’s word was welcomed and sown in the vineyard by the same elders and the fire of the kingdom was put ablaze. The elders became the unpaid catechists. Still it may not be taken for granted that Sisters had no challenges or opposition. They had some bad experience also…. In some villages they were rejected and were sent nack hungry and thirsty. In Jhurgum, Lodam a mixed village of tribal Oraons and Muhammedans, there was strong feeling of untouchability. th us the Oraons refused to open the door, and did not even give water to drink. Sisters spoke in tribal dialect, then reluctantly some gave them water but left the cups outside in the courtyard. With such a sight, Sisters could no more dialogue. The catechist however gathering courage spike to them again – I am a local man from Gholeng, Mutujakba. I am also an Oran like you. Today you are keeping yourselves away. Tomorrow we shall sit and sip together. The catechist’s challenge was effective. Some leaders of the village like Junas, Benamin, and Nicolas then come forward and with the villagers, welcomed the message of Christ. This spirit filled labour of the Daughters of St. Anne in the front line is in every way a pioneering missionary work among the tribals. The age old call of Abraham, Paul, St. Francis
Xavier etc. a of their faith leaving everything surrendering everything is fulfilled in the life of these Sisters, now all gone for their eternal reward. They gave their everything to reach the divine love to the tribals, to educate them, to guide them for social growth, for self identity and dignity as tribals. Now with the new way of life the sense of untouchability has grown thin. God’s wouk of salvation was inaugurated with complete dedication. As planned by God a little later Sisters of St. Anne of Secunderabad came to Gholeng and later moved to Duldula. Holy Cross Sisters of Switzerland followed them in 1955. The Daughters of St. Anne, Ranchi moved away to more distant and interior places like Ambakona, Ginabahar, Raigarh, Ambikapur etc.
The milestones planted by the SISTERS OF ST. ANNE, RANCHI
The age old call by God to Abraham, Paul and Francis Xavier in Faith, became a true vision, when in the Congregation is of a local origin and all are tribals, daughters of the land of July 1897. The Congregation is of a local origin and all are tribals, daughters of the land of Chhotanagpur, Jharkhand, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Bengal. From the outset the Sisters have built up their life in Faith and love for God and for the tribals. Growth is the sign of life – the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Anne has grown much and is ever growing. “To villages, Jesus went, to people, we go” inspired Sisters to live with the people to share their poor conditions. Concern and compassion became their life style. They shared knowledge of Jesus with children, boys and girls, the old and the sick and the poor. They taught them haow to pray. They enriched them in Faith, Hope and Charity. Christ-centred, Christ-motivated, Sisters life was filled with challenges. Originally they lived in mud houses. Though living in Poverty, they were steeped in prayer and dedicated to service. Their open Schools were the shelters of the trees where they taught everyone the infinite love of God. For years on end, Sisters have fondled and guided children, boys and girls in K.G. and Primary Schools. Now with social progress and the need of the times Sistr are running many Middle and High Schools, Hostels and Health centres, Grihini centres in Jashpur, Raigarh, Ambikapur, Raipur and Sagar Dioceses. The words of the Scripture are so suitable and consoling when applied to the life of the Sisters… “Well done good and worthy friends, come and enter into the joy of your master for whatever you have done to one of the least of these. You did it to me.” Mt. 25:25,40
BOOK REVIEW The Genesis of the Congregation of the Daughters of St. Anne in Ranchi Archdiocese. The Memoirs of Sr. Anna Mary Bernadette, DSA Founder of the Congregation. Translated by Fr. Alex Ekka, SJ, Ranchi: Daughters of St. Anne, Pp.xxi-84,Rs.80 This fascinating booklet is a personal account of the founder Sr. Anna Mary Bernadette, DSA about the genesis of the Congregation of the Daughters of St. Anne in Ranchi Archdiocese, now a congregation of Pontifical Right, serving the Church in and through the works of propagation and consolidation of the catholic faith for over a period of 110 years. A translation of the original manuscripts of her memoirs the booklet introduces the reader to the different facets of the call and commitment to religious life and the demands of and the challenges paused by it. Having read the story one cannot but savour the aroma of the vigour of love for Christ in the heart of the simple tribal girl of Chotanagpur, just inducted into the catholic Christian faith then. One is awestruck by the remarkable courage of Sr. Anna Mary Bernadette in her resolution “not to get married”, a decision, first of its kind in the tribal society of Chotanagpur, but offer her life to the service of the Lord alone withstanding all persistent efforts of persuasions through persecutions and temptation by the family members relatives, villagers, religious, priests and even the Archbishop himself to give in and get married, as was the custom of the tribal society. It is touching to note that Catholic faith made such deep roots in the lives of the people in a matter of few years from 1885 – 1997, that they were ready to be witnesses of the faith even unto death, an eye opener for those who otherwise think that growth of Christianity in Chotnagpur owes only to material benefits received. The booklet makes an excellent reading in terms of picturesque description of the various events that took place in a span of seven yeas from 1890-1897, in the life of Sr. Anna Mary Brtnadette. The language is simple. The style is personal. The description is vivid. The flow of events is uninterrupted. Hence, it leads one to an exotic journey onto the road where one can enjoy the scenic beauty of tribal life, culture, civilization, tradition, psyche and values and of course their faith in God, all along the drive. A brief account of the socio-economic and politico-cultural scenario of the time and also a profile of the family of Pusa Kispotta and Pruran Prasad Kispotta helps the reader to locate the characters and the events in a proper perspective. It is indeed a moving story of “pain and struggle”, “peace and victory” as Anna Mary Vernadette herself experienced. One can feel these emotions intensely while reading the booklet. Needless to say that Fr. Alex Ekka, SJ. Known for his scholarly research works, and who himself hails from the region Sr. Anna Mary Bernadette came, has beautifully captured the sentiments, feelings, and emotions of the place, people and the events related with her in the translated work, without diluting the freshness of the original manuscripts, a compliment to his scholarly approach and mastery over the language and the style. I recommend this booklet not only for those who are or aspiring to be priests and religious but particularly for the lay people too, who wish to deepen their faith in and xommitment to God in their family life. Fr. Suman Baxla, S.J. Kanke, Ranchi, Jharkhand