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Sr M Gracy Maria BS
Superior

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Bible Kalolsavam

 

School Assembly

Wayanad clad in green forest and teeming with vegetation is a captivating terrain in the Western Ghats. Pallikunnu Lourde Matha Church known as the Lourdes of the East is a renowned pilgrim centre visited by many. Today Waynad is a place most sought after. Most of the inhabitants of this area were adivasis belonging to kurumar, paniyar and kurichan tribes. Studies say that mission work started way back from 1898 onwards. As a result of the missionary works carried out by a French Missionary Fr Armade Shang Marie Jefrino, more than 400 people were converted to Christianity as per records. Fr Jefrino, the primary missionary of Pallikunnu built a small church in the name of Our Lady of Lourdes.

As the years passed by the number of Christians too began to increase. To provide education for the children a school was started in 1922 with four students and one teacher. Rev. Fr Jefrino, the vicar of the parish, decided to invite the Bethany Sisters to his place to provide education to the children and carry on the mission work which he had begun. For this, he approached Bishop Aldo Maria Patroni of the Calicut diocese; and with his blessings  Msgr Raymond Mascarenhas, the Founder of the Bethany Congregation, started the third Convent of the Congregation in Pallikunnu on 21 May 1949 and also took up the responsibility of the Roman Catholic Lower Primary School. The first Superior of the house was Mother Joseph. The other members were Sr Sedes, Sr Fatima, Sr Adeline, Sr Beata, Sr Machtilde and Sr Appolonia. Sr Adeline took the responsibility of the school. The sisters from Mangalore did not know Malayalam; but all lived an exemplary life coping with adversities like the unsteady climate and epidemics. To ensure the financial stability of the convent 8.84 acres of land was donated by the Calicut diocese for which the sisters are ever grateful. The main aim of the Bethany presence here was to cater the needs of the marginalized ones and to ensure their holistic development. The sisters would go into the forest to bring to school the children to remain indoors. In 1950 the sisters built a small house and a chapel. With the help of the management a new building was constructed for the school. In 1954 the school was upgraded to the upper primary section.
 
On 15th August 1960 Fatima Hospital under the auspices of the diocese began to function at Pallikunnu.  Later, the Bethany sisters took up the administration of the hospital.  As the years passed by, the hospital had to close down on July 5th 1993, as it had not met its desired objectives and now it is converted into an old age home run by the DSS sisters.

Sr Decora took the initiative not to keep the land barren and started rubber cultivation here. The Nirmala Mahila Association started by Sr. Alphonsa then headed by Sr Jose Therese. Nirmala institute of Hotel Management and Technology was inaugurated. Now Sr Annie Varghese, the Director, undertakes to offer services like computer classes, building homes for the poor, educational activities, employment schemes, rural health programmes, drinking water projects, nursery school, tribal welfare programmes, self employment projects, loans, save a family scheme at the behest of the Nirmala  Mahila Association. To ensure continuity of the social work initiated here, a building was constructed with the help from the Generalate during the occasion of its Platinum Jubilee.

The sisters make sincere efforts to offer all possible help to the Children's Home started by the parish and toil hard to improve their standard of learning, attend to their character formation and all their development. St Joseph Orphanage, started by Father Founder in the course of time was converted into Goretti Home for the care and rehabilitation of unwed mothers and their children.

The Sisters were very keen in the spiritual growth and nourishment of the people of Pallikunnu and Panamaram parish. The faithful experienced the continuous presence of the Sisters in the pastoral services, faith formation Thirubalasakhyam, prayer meeting of the BCC units, family visits and visiting the sick. The Sisters also actively engaged to prepare the children for the reception of the Sacraments. The Sisters render their services in deepening the faith of children through catechism is remarkable. They also try to rehabilitate alcoholics and provide value oriented classes for the youth and provide them counselling and direction. The Bethany Lay Association formed for the purpose of spiritual renewal of people is well participated by the parishners. The Bethany Champions formed to inculcate the leadership abilities in the children of the parish.
 
We are grateful to God for the manifold blessings that received throughout past years through different Superiors and Headmistresses of the school. The Bethany community here has received unreserved support and co-operation from all the parish priests, their ceaseless support for the spiritual and material growth of the school and the convent can in no way be disregarded. The sisters continue their selfless service in Pallikunnu.  May Lourdes convent remain as a blessing to the natives of the Lourdes of the East.  May the 12 sisters and the superior- Sr. Gracy Maria who are in Pallikunnu at present be replica of the Bethany family in the Bible.

Year of establishment -21.05.1949

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