Mangalore, Jan 12: St Agnes Convent celebrated its centenary with a grand event at St Agnes campus here on Sunday January 12.

Dr Aloysius Paul D’Souza, Bishop of Mangalore, presided over the programme. Sr Agatha Mary, superior general, Apostolic Carmel, was the chief guest on the occasion. Sr M Linette, provincial superior, Karnataka, J R Lobo, MLA Mangalore South, Flavia Agnes, alumnus of St Agnes, and Fr Anthony Serrao, parish priest, Bendore Church, were the guests of honour. Sr M Lydia, superior, St Agnes Convent, was also present on the dais.

In his presidential address, the Bishop said, “This centenary celebration is a milestone in the history of this institution. We recall with pride the beginning of this institution; likewise, we look forward to better service towards mankind. St Agnes Convent has been a guiding lamp to a lot of Apostolic Sisters who have passed through this institute and are rendering their service to the people. No one present here has witnessed the founding occasion of this institution, but one can imagine the way it would have taken place and it is indeed significant steps laid by the then founder and the team that has helped it through 100 successful years of service.”

“The sisters of this institute must find the presence of God in people and thus serve them with utmost compassion as you are serving God. There are many who are physically near to us, but spiritually too far. Find those sort of people and help them get closer to spirituality, and that’s what the Pope has urged us to do. St Agnes must be an antenna; you must receive a good community of sisters and thus transmit spirituality and service to people,” he said.

In her address, Sr Agatha Mary said, “This institution has enriched me throughout with the service I’ve received and given to the people. Mother Aloysia was the one who dared to lay the foundation stone for the higher studies of young women. Hundreds of sisters and staff have helped in empowerment of the girls and the youth who have passed through this institution. Charismatic movement here was first started by a sister of this institution and the chapel here was thus used for prayer services whenever needed. There are a lot of miracles that have taken place here and it is mainly due to the power of the prayers here.”

“The poor and the needy have always been cared for here and I wish that it will continue in the coming days. St Agnes was considered the patron saint of this institute by founder Mother Aloysia and she stands as a guiding lamp and support to all the young girls over here. The students who walk out of this campus always walk out with the motto of the institution at all times. Let the Gospel values be spread by all the students of this institute and thus, serve the society and the needy,” she said.

Addressing the gathering, Lobo said, “This is the first women’s college to be started in Mangalore. A large number of nuns and sisters have spent their lifetime in this institution serving the people of Mangalore and this is the right time to remember them and render our gratitude to them. Challenges change from time to time and the institute must continue its services in all times. Let us give the needy the best service irrespective of caste, creed, and religion, as ours is a religion of service. Thus, we can witness Christ.”

Sharing her experiences of life and her tough times, Flavia thanked the institution for giving her formal education and values which helped her to stand on her own feet. “Consciousness with regard to atrocities on women and sexual violence has increased after the Delhi gang-rape case and many other such incidents in our surroundings. Thus, the institutions must carry out special education and awareness regarding these aspects. Policy is also lacking on such issues. Spirituality must be linked to materialism and we must do something to face these challenges at all times,” she said.

Blessing the occasion and reading out the blessings sent by the Pope, Fr Anthony Serrao remembered that the land for the church to be situated at Bendore has been donated by Mother Aloysia as the people of the locality were badly in need of a church in the area.

Of the 30 sisters who have served as the superior general, nine were felicitated on the occasion. They are Sr Vargilia, Sr Stanilis, Sr Karisma, Sr Maria Jyothi, Sr Shalini, Sr Maria Kripa, Sr Lydia, Sr Agatha Mary, and Sr Linette.

A eucharistic mass was also held before the formal stage programme. Dr Aloysius Paul D’Souza was the chief celebrant followed by other celebrants including Msgr Dennis Moras Prabhu, Fr Anthony Serrao, Fr Archie Gonsalves, Fr Pius James D’Souza, and Fr Julian Fernandes.

A dance drama on Mother Aloysia was also performed on the occasion.

Sr M Lydia welcomed the gathering. Sr Mary Prem D’Souza proposed the vote of thanks while Sr Jasweina compered the event.