Hills people honor nuns for educating girls

Matters India reporter

Sonada – In a rare show of appreciation, hills people of Sonada town showered their appreciation to a group of nuns who provide health care and education to under privileged girls belonging to some 25 tea gardens of neighbouring villages around Sonada town.

The Holy Cross Sisters who came to Kurseong in the Darjeeling Hills in 1890 and started a residential school for well-to-do girls, opened a convent to serve the less privileged women of the tea gardens in 1968 by opening a dispensary and primary school.

Presiding over the golden jubilee Eucharistic celebration along with nine priests, 8th July 2018, Bishop Stephen Lepcha of Darjeeling complimented the Sisters for their “selfless service for the education of girls and health care of women.”

Bishop Lepcha reminded some 40 Holy Cross Sisters who worked in Sonada and present at the celebrations “to claim and re-claim God’s gifts while pin pointing their success and failures during past 50 years.”

Salesian Fr. Sunil Lakra, the parish priest of St. Theresa’s Parish Sonada where the celebrations were held thanked Sisters for making quality education affordable to girls from the tea gardens.

The Holy Cross High School Sonada Principal Sister Sherin says, “Like previous years, Holy Cross School, Sonada has excelled in both Madhyamik Pariksha and H.S examination with 100% pass result.”

Principal adds, “2016 GTA (Goorkhaland Territorial Administration) topper Miss Choden Sherpa is topper from Science stream this year as well with 82.2% and in Arts stream Miss Rinji Lamu Tamang has scored 86.4% and topped H.S examination.”

In her vote of thanks the Principal thanked all people of good will who stood by the Sisters in their decision to hold coaching classes during the 104-days shut down in the hills last year, for students due to appear for class 10 and 12 exams.

At a brief felicitation moment after the Eucharist, groups of women, teachers, and local dignitaries honoured the Sisters of the Soanda Community as well as those who worked in Sonada over the years with traditional shawls, scarfs and gifts.

Sonada is one of the small towns which most tourists zoom past on their way to Darjeeling through NH 55 (National Highway). The town located midway between Darjeeling (18 kms) and Kurseong (17 kms) has a rail station of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway established in 1891.

The arrival of Catholic missionaries to Darjeeling dates back to 1846, when the Irish Loreto Sisters first came to Darjeeling.

As per 2014 statistics, Darjeeling diocese serves 37,109 Catholics (2.6% of 1,433,000 total population) on 9,521 km² in two different nations (Bhutan and India). The diocese had 54 parishes and 3 missions with 132 priests (82 diocesan, 50 religious), 455 lay religious (121 brothers, 334 sisters) and 40 seminarians.

The diocese also has 4 colleges, 17 Higher secondary schools, 17 High Schools, 49 Primary Schools, 7 vocational training institutes and a string of Social Welfare Centres, Orphanages & Creches, Homes for the destitute, Hostels (men), Hostels (women), Health Ministry Centres and Houses of Formation.

Some of the Tea Estates located in Sonada Valley include Oaks, Rungmook, Ceder’s, Milling, Moondakotee, Ringtong, Balasun, Margaret’s Hope, Kalej Valley and Balasun.

Just two kilometers of Sonada town is Salesian College (1938) a residential college for Salesian scholastics till 2000, and Sonada Degree College (1985), which are affiliated to the University of North Bengal. END

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5 thoughts on “Hills people honor nuns for educating girls

  1. Though lived in village background Mary who always searched will of God became blessed amongst women, amidsts Hindu radicals mother Theresa searched will of God and Hindu nation gave her a national honor burial, alphonsa lived with wicked nuns but she always searched will of God and she became first the Indian woman Saint…
    I mean who ever serve the Lord sincerely will be honoured by the secular world. Today also by secular world (I don’t think people of sonata are all baptised Christians)
    we see in unreachable Darjeeling hill nuns are honoured when they searched the will of God.
    I wonder about huge number of nuns and priests about whom people have no appreciation other than business world ( book sellers, tie sellers, uniform sellers, building contractors, electricians, painters, medicine companies and social work funding agencies etc….) a nun is a response to great call, without fruit it cannot remain… If it doesn’t produce the will of the God surely it builds Devils will around and the church and society… Let us pray for the useless nuns and priests and bishops….for their conversion…. Sorry to tell Indian church is filled with many of this kind…

  2. Congrats and for the great work the Sisters have been doing at Sonada. A great service for the people of Darj.

  3. It’s good that they have moved from elite boarding schools to serving impoverished tea garden labour brought from Jharkhand by the British.

    1. Makaibari Tea Estate in Darjeeling Hills is the world’s first ‘organic’ tea factory and was established in 1859. It is also the first tea factory owned by Indians in those days when most plantations were under the Brits. The Brits tried the Jharkhand people in the plantations but they could not tolerate the climate and the hill terrain. So, the Brits brought in labour from neighboring Nepal. Hence, most of the tea workers in the hills are Nepali or Gorkhali people, while tea workers from Jharkhand operate in the Terai and Dooars.

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