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The Congregation of the Sisters of the Little Flower of Bethany was founded in the year 1921 on 16th July by Rev. Fr RFC Mascarenhas, the then parish priest of St Sebastian Church, Bendur, Mangalore. This indigenous Congregation founded by an Indian priest under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to cater to the needs of the Church and the society according to the signs of the time,  began to spread its branches to the remotest village parishes of the Diocese of Mangalore.


The first members were four lady teachers of St Sebastian School, namely, Flora Mathias (Sr M. Clare B.S.), Marcelline  Menezes (Sr M. Martha B.S.), Alice Mathias (Sr M. Lourdes B.S.) and Regina Gertrude Gonsalves  (Sr M. Gertrude B.S.). The Congregation was canonically erected on 28th July 1932, eleven years after its inception. The first Novitiate was opened on 15 May 1933.  The first General Chapter of the Congregation was held in 1940 during which Sr M. Martha B.S, who was at the helm of the Infant Congregation from 1925,  was elected canonically as the Superior General.

As the number of members increased the Founder ventured to carry the branches of the Congregation outside Mangalore and thus to Meppadi in the Diocese of Cailcut in 1937 and West Hill in 1938.  Later, the house at Meppadi was closed. The apostolate at West Hill, Calicut,  flourished in course of time and eventually other houses too were opened in the Diocese.  In the year 1939, two houses were opened in the Diocese of Pune (present Belgaum Diocese) at Dharwad and Guledgudd.

Mother M. Martha B.S.

Let us have a look at the past to know how the Congregation was governed until it came to be Regions and Provinces. From 1921 to 1924 each member was appointed superior for one year.  In 1925 on March 25th, the feast of the Annunciation, the first election of the Institute for the office of superior was held and Mother Martha B.S. was elected Superior for a term of three years. From then on, she was re-elected at every subsequent election over and over again for three years till 1940, when the first General Chapter was held during which she was elected Superior General for a term of six years. When her term ended in the year 1946, she had been at the helm of the Institute for 23 years. Mother Martha B.S. being a loving and a lovable person, prayerful, kind, compassionate, understanding, friendly and approachable, generous and humorous, spontaneous and richly talented, selfless and tender hearted, she endeared herself to one and all.

 

 

Mother M. Petra B.S.

The second General Chapter was held in 1946 – 47 during which Sr M. Petra B.S. was elected as the 2nd Superior General of the Congregation. 

The virtue of humility shone in her. She was gifted with the power of endurance and patience under trials and difficulties and was a model all through her life in the observance of the rules, obedience and respect to the superiors, etc. As a Superior General, she loved the sisters and was loved by them and her life was exemplary and edifying.

The 1950s  saw the opening of  more foundations in the villages of Belgaum district, North Kanara and Shimoga districts. There was an expansion also in the villages of Mysore State. After 1958 there were 22 communities in the Congregation serving the people through different apostolates. Until then the Congregation was governed by elected Superiors General who functioned under the guidance of the Founder. The Founder was no longer able to direct them from that year and the Superiors General who came to be elected later had to carry on the administration without his help.
 

 

Mother M. Priscilla B.S.

In the General Chapter of 1953, Mother Priscilla B.S. was elected the Superior General. She too was a mature and exemplary religious. Her deep faith even in the midst of many trials she had to undergo, especially as a Superior General, was outstanding. She directed the Congregation at a very crucial stage in its history. Yet she marched forward with dauntless courage and an indomitable will, trusting in the Divine Providence.


 

 

 

Mother M. Macrina B.S.

In the year 1959, Mother Macrina B.S. was elected Superior General. She had to face the sad event of the departure of our beloved Founder to his eternal reward. She was a person gifted with many qualities of heart and mind. The virtues of humility and simplicity were remarkable in her. Gifted with a maternal and compassionate heart she was loved and sought after not only by the sisters of the Congregation but also by priests and people outside. Her term of 18 years was known as ‘the Golden era’ of the Congregation. It was then the Congregation was raised to the status of Pontifical Rite.

In 1960 the Congregation set foot in Punjab of North India and opened two communities in Bathinda and Karnal. There was an increased number of admissions too to the Congregation.  In 1963 Bethany ventured to Northeast, to take up a challenging mission those years and opened its first community in Kolasib, Mizoram. Bethany became international when a house was opened in Rome in 1970 and later also in Germany. 
 

 

Mother  M. Gemma B.S.

By 1970 the number of houses rose to 53 with a great scope for future expansion. So far the Congregation was one unit governed directly by the Superior General with the help of her General Council. But as the number of houses multiplied, functioning as one unit became impossible and Mother Macrina B.S. with her council divided it into Regions in the year 1970. This decision was confirmed by the General Chapter held in the year 1971.   In the election held during the General Chapter in 1977 Mother Gemma  was elected Superior General of the Congregation. Simple by nature Mother Gemma was blessed with a great enduring quality. She was a loving and lovable person approachable, generous and understanding. However, she had to lay down her office in 1980  due to ill health. 

 

 

 

 

Sr M. Sylvine B.S.

In the General Chapter held in 1980 Sr Sylvine B.S. was elected Superior General of the Congregation. Young and lively, enthusiastic and humane she endeared herself to one and all and led the Congregation for two terms. During her term in the General Chapter held in 1986, the Congregation was divided into provinces with a Provincial Superior to head each province. Certain houses of common concern were placed directly under the Superior General. During this Chapter the revision of the Constitutions took place as found in the present form. The Generalate was separated from the Mother House community for the first time in 1991 when a new building was constructed for the purpose across the road.
 

 

 

 

Sr M. Agnella B.S.

In the XII General Chapter in 1992 Sr Agnella B.S. was elected Superior General of the Congregation. She was highly intelligent and capable, simple and generous at heart.  According to the decision of this Chapter, Central Delegation and Europe Delegation were created under Delegation Superiors.  In 1997 Bethany ventured to enter the dark continent to take up the mission at Mauritania, a part of the Sahara Desert in West Africa. A second novitiate was started at Barasat in Kolkata.
 

 

 

 

 

Sr M. Jyoti B.S.

In the General Chapter that took place in 1998 Sr Jyoti B.S. was elected Superior General. She was a great visionary and was daring to venture into new avenues in the field of apostolate   Gifted with a creative mind and  an aptitude for innovation and exploration, she had the capacity to discover possibilities of finding the needs of the Church and the society according to the signs of the time. She worked for the empowerment of women by forming SHGs. She paved the way to a new mission in Senegal, a neighbouring country of Mauritania. The Congregation opened a third novitiate at Bogadi. Bangalore Province was bifurcated  to create Western Province.
 

 

 

 

 

Sr M. Wilberta B.S.

In the General Chapter held in 2010 Sr Wilberta B.S was elected Superior General. Though simple and unassuming she was capable of daring enterprises. During her term the community at Senegal got established and later the Congregation ventured into a new African Country in Tanzania, East Africa.
 

 

 

 

 

Sr M. Rose Celine B.S

In the General Chapter held in 2016 Sr Rose Celine is elected Superior General of the Congregation. She has begun her  term with great enthusiasm and determination for a spiritual renewal in preparation for the Centenary of the Congregation which will be held in 2021 during her term of office. Preparations are on to celebrate this event.

The Congregation that was started in 1921 with just four members in a humble way in the small town of Mangalore has today 1383 living members serving in 176 communities in three continents of Asia, Europe and Africa. The Sisters of the Little Flower of Bethany are grateful to God for the marvels He has worked in and through this Congregation.
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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