Indian Mission

The Indian Mission of the CFMSS was inaugurated on 3 February in 1901, when Venerable Mother Seraphina sent out the first batch of CFMSS Missionaries to India. The Mission is built on the sacrifices of the pioneer missionaries and their successors as they slogged determinately against all odds, battling sickness, death, scorching heat, deprivation, loneliness, rejection etc.,for half a century relying solely on Divine Providence. As the houses at Sardhana (1901 – 1907), Meerut (1903 – 1912) and Khera Khurd(1924 - 1947) had to be closed down due to extraneous reasons, our presence remained confined to St. Francis Convent (1912) Agra and St. Anthony's Convent, Delhi(1934).

The two World Wars added to the woes of the valiant missionaries but things began to look up in the late 1950s,under the direction of the inimitable Mother Benigna - the Superior of the Indian Mission.She visited the Catholic strongholds of South India at the suggestion of Mother Carlina, the then Superior General of the Institute. The entry of zealous girls from Kerala and Karnataka turned the tide in favour of the Indian CFMSS.Besides her faith in the Divine Providence and in her favourite patron St. Anthony,Mother Benigna'spersonal qualities, farsightedness, resourcefulness and organizational abilities, the assistance of her compatriots and young Indian daughters contributed to the rapid growth of the mission which was almost wilting in the 1940s.

Convents and schools came up in Dehradun (U.P), Gurgaon (Haryana), Patiala (Punjab), Bulandshahr (U.P.),Pathankot (Punjab), Mussoorie (U.P.), Chandigarh, and Hauz Khas (New Delhi).Finally, St. Francis Province came into existence in 1971 when the Institute was restructured and organized into Provinces as a direct consequence of the Second Vatican Council and the initiatives of the then Superior General late Mother PasqualinaMunno. St. Mary's Convent, Clement Town, Dehra Dun became the seat of administration for the newly constituted Province.

New ventures were undertaken as the Lord blessed the growth of the Province with energetic and enthusiastic members. The late 1970s saw St. Francis Province gradually spreading its wings from its Northern perch to North-East India with the opening of its first mission in the remote inaccessible village of Jongksha in the Khasi Hills region of Meghalaya in 1977.

The period 1980-1990 also witnessed a more pronounced option for the poor as the Province took up remote mission stations in interior U.P.,Assam and Bihar, some of them in collaboration with the dioceses. The Provincialate was shifted to New Delhi in 1983. Since December 1988, Clara Niwas at Kalu Sarai became the administrative centre of St. Francis' Province.

As the number of personnel and institutions increased and the spheres of work expanded and the activities of the Province multiplied, animation of the Sisters and their apostolates became very demanding. With houses spread from Pathankot in the North to Parassala in the Southern tip of Kerala and from Mumbai in the West Coast to Mawkynrew (Meghalaya) in the East, the need for the bifurcation of the Province became very imperative. After due reflections, discussions and mandatory consultations, the province was divided in 1994 - thus giving birth to St. Clare's Province with its headquarters based in Clement Town, Dehra Dun.

In 1992, a Mission Superior was appointed to look into the immediate needs of the members in the North-East region. Another landmark decision in the life of St. Francis province was the raising of the North-East Mission to Mother Seraphina Vice-Province in 1998 and to a full pledged Province in 2006. Thus we have 3 Provinces – St. Francis (Delhi), St. Clare’s (Dehradun), Mother Seraphina (Guwahati) – in India. ). These developments provided greater thrust to the growth of the Institute in India as it infused new vitality and fervor among the members of all the three entities, each zealously exploring new avenues of growth and apostolic undertakings.

Most of the members are engaged in various forms of education. Every attempt is made to provide integral education to all our students and equip them to face life and be responsible citizens. In all our communities sisters are actively involved in pastoral activities and our hostels for poor girls - both in the urban and rural areas empower and equip a sizeable number of girl children hailing from underprivileged families. The dispensaries in the rural areas and the sister nurses and sister social workers are in the forefront of conscientizing rural people and enabling them to access the benefits of social schemes initiated by the Government at different places.

The Province constantly seeks ways and means to reinterpret and live its Eucharistic Missionary Charism according to the signs of the times in order to respond adequately to the challenges of the fast changing milieu. We strive to be true to the missionary mandate of our beloved Foundress and reach out to the needy, particularly the youth, children and women in the far flung regions of our country.

In India, today, CFMSS are spread over 17 states ( Delhi, U.P., Uttarakhand, Haryana, Punjab, Chandigarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Meghalaya, Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamilnadu, A.P., Karnataka, M.P., Living in 83 communities situated in 33 dioceses.

The CFMSS in India carry on the mandate of their Foundress not only in the heart of the cities or in the outskirts of the towns, but also among the disadvantaged people in some of the northern and north-eastern tribal regions still untouched by the amenities of life like electricity, running water, postal system, or even a newspaper. According to the wish of the Foundress, most of our houses were/ or are being opened where no other religious/ Christian institutions were/are present.

Besides formal and non-formal education, pastoral ministry, youth animation, medical care to the needy in far-flung areas, and empowering the underprivileged through self-help projects, out-reach programmes in rural/interior villages etc., currently form the main tasks of the CFMSS. In addition to administering welfare Centres for destitute/ tribal children, and hostel for working girl’s, we are engaged in rural development, especially women empowerment programme, prison ministry, legal ministry, direct evangelization, care of the old/ street children/ mentally challenged people, et al.