By Matters India Reporter
Gumla: The Ursuline nuns working in India marked the 200 years of their congregation at Gumla, Jharkhand, with religious fervor.
Bishops, priests, nuns and lay people from the eastern Indian state joined the May 12-13 celebrations.
Father John Lambertz founded the Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk in Belgium in 1818. Tildonk is a small village in Brussels.
The new congregation was asked to become members of the “Order of St. Ursula” established in Italy in 1535 by St. Angela Merici.
The congregation expanded to other parts of Europe and Indonesia. Today they minister in Belgium, Canada, India, the United States, the Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly Zaire and most recently Guyana.
Four Belgian nuns arrived in India in 1903. In 2007, the last nun among the four died. About 700 nuns now work in India through four provinces –Ambikapur (Chhattisgarh), Gumla (Jharkhand), Tezpur (Assam), and Ranchi (Jharkhand).
“We work in the states of Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Assam and Manipur,” Sister Pratima Minj of Gumla province told Matters India.
The congregation’s four-pronged-ministry has been pastoral care, education, healthcare and social service, she added.
Sisters in Gumla are involved in pastoral activities such as visiting families, the sick and the aged and pray with them.
The nuns also work among prisoners.
Sister Minj said her congregation is committed to women and youth group animation. They also prepare youth for Sacraments and build trust with suffering people.
In Tezpur Province, Ursulines serve in 13 institutions from nursery to primary, middle and high school with 4,000 students.
They manage most schools in rural areas for children of poor families in a bid to check school drop rate in villages.
When needed, the nuns provide protection and financial support to students. Counseling and accompaniment are integral to their ministry, Sister Minj claimed.
Sisters work in a palliative care center, organize health camps for the people of rural areas and conduct health awareness programs for the caretakers of the patients in the hospitals. They also take care of mental health patients through counseling, prayers and sacraments.
“As we mark the 200 years of the founding of the congregation, it is a time for thanksgiving and renewing of our commitment to serve the church and society,” Sister Minj said.