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Sr Riji Kuriakose BS
Superior

Members of the Community

 Convent building

Pastroral Ministry

Hostel Children -Antony Nagar

It was the special objective of the II Provincial Chapter of Southern Province and the General Chapter of 1992 to open a convent of Bethany in Andhra Pradesh, a mission area.  Besides it was a dream project of Sr. Theresild, the Provincial Superior of Southern Province. Naturally Sr. Theresild spared no time when she was able to get the green signal from the Superior General Sister Agnella. The ardent desire burning within her prompted her to set the wheels in motion. Wasting no time she wrote a letter to Most Rev. Dr. Arulappa, the Archbishop of Hyderabad, seeking permission to open a Bethany Convent anywhere within the Archdiocese.  In reply to her request the Archbishop directed her to Most Rev. Dr. John Mulagada, the Bishop of Eluru. Bishop Mulagada was very happy to have a convent of Bethany in his diocese. He invited us to open a house at Chintalapudi and requested us to work in collaboration with Fr. Antony, the director of Anthony Nagar Complex at Chintalapudi.
 
Anthony Nagar in 1992 was an uninhabited terrain stretching out to more than 100 acres. The intention of the bishop was to convert this area into a shelter for the poor and the marginalized with a school, orphanage, old Age home and a parish.  For the last 24 years, this area has been witnessing a continuous effort to make the dream of the bishop come true.  The focus of the Bethany community there was to spread its charism through pastoral, social and educational apostolate.  The Christian community here was extremely poor and most of them daily wage earners.

May 13, 1993 marked a golden entry in the annals of Southern Province as Sr. Theresild, the Provincial Superior, together with her councillors embarked on the mission station in Andhra.  Fr. Antony, the director of Anthony Nagar Complex, and team, were waiting at the Vijayawada railway station to receive the Bethany team.  As planned earlier, the community of Bethany in Andhra, was erected on May 15, 1993 with a Holy Mass in the residence of a priest in Anthony Nagar, presided over by Bishop John and concelebrated by eight priests. The auspicious occasion was marked by the presence of General Councillors, Sr. Jyoti and Sr. Clarina, from Mangalore Generalate.  Since Anthony Nagar had no place to put up the sisters, their residence was shifted to a place called Vijayrai about 20km from Anthony Nagar until the sisters had a place of their own.  The presbytery of Anthony Nagar was offered to the sisters to run the school.  In the meantime, the pioneering members Sr. Lancy and Sr. Annie George arrived there. Sr. Cleta was appointed as the Superior and Sr. Lancy took up the reins of the school as the Headmistress.  Thus St. Anthony School was started on May 20, 1993 with a strength of 55 students   in LKG, UKG and STD I.  Towards the end of  June 1993 Fr. Antony, the director of Anthony Nagar, set off to USA for six months for his customary visit entrusting the responsibility, of the works of the school building, to Sr. Cleta.  This necessitated a shift of the sisters’ residence from Vijayrai to the priests’ residence in Anthony Nagar. When Fr. Anthony returned after six months the sisters had to again shift their residence to Thelesomavaram, a place within the Anthony Nagar complex itself. The sisters stayed there for one -and a half years.
Meanwhile Sr. Georgita assumed the office of the provincial superior. Sr. Georgita together with Superior General Sister Agnella visited this place and studied the works undertaken by the sisters.  Fr. Antony had made all arrangements to make the land cultivable and yielding.  The construction work of the school building also was progressing simultaneously.  The sisters were extending their service in the area in short and long term vacancies.

Discussions were held by the superiors to build a convent for the sisters in Anthony Nagar. Though two bore wells were drilled for the purpose they had to be discarded as they failed to yield water. This also created a dilemma among the sisters as to how to carry on there in future without water. At this time we came in contact with the Heralds of Good News congregation and arrived at a consensus to collaborate with them in their school in Vijayawada.  Fr. Antony as his usual custom went to USA for six months.  In his absence all the developmental and construction works were undertaken by the sisters.  As it was found that residing there without water was impossible, Sr. Georgita, the provincial superior, together with Sr. Lancy and Sr. Cleta sought the prospect of a better place elsewhere in the vicinity.  Their search was not futile as they could find a suitable place not very far from Anthony Nagar. Soon 1 acre and 89 cents of land was procured at Rs.2, 38,900.  Bishop John Mulagada also rendered financial support to procure the land for the convent. The sisters then shifted their residence to a shed available in the new plot.  The laying of the foundation stone for the new convent at this spot was done 7th October 1995.  The construction work of the convent went on in full swing and was completed within a year. The newly built convent was blessed on July 26, 1996 in the presence of the Superior General Sr. Agnella, General Councillor Sr.  Lillis, Provincial Superior Sr. Georgita, and Provincial Councillors Sr. Clarissa and Sr. Jose Therese. Once the building was ready, it was sure that the Andhra mission would continue. The new building was christened as St. Antony’s Convent.

On 1 June 1996 Sr. Anupama became the superior of the community. The pioneering member, Sr. Cleta was transferred to Vijayawada and two others Sr. Florine and Sr. Annie George were shifted to Kerala. Sr. Jency Sebastian who arrived there later continued the good works the pioneers had started.  She started self-help groups for the upliftment of the people in about 20 villages in Anthony Nagar.  She also organized many programmes to provide them a roof over their head. She sought the help of those who were ready to help and also various agencies that could provide assistance to them. While Sr. Lancy supervised the school affairs, the convent matters were carried out by Sr. Anupama.  A kitchen wing was added to the convent to make it more convenient.  In 1999 Sr. Anupama handed over the office of the superior to Sr. Lancy.  The exemplary and zealous hard toil of the sisters and their benevolent dealings produced the first vocation from the locality. A girl named Sneha expressed her willingness to follow the Lord in the Bethany way and she is now in the Congregation as Sr. Nirmala.

Sr. Judy Varghese after completing her BSW studies reached Chintalapudi with a lot of expectation on June 1, 2000.  Her ardent zeal and industry culminated in creative and effective undertakings for the people of the locality.  Meanwhile Sr. Jency was transferred to Kerala.

After completing her 9 years of selfless service Sr. Lancy was transferred to Vijayawada on June 1, 2002. The munificent contributions of Sr. Lancy and Sr. Cleta for the Andhra Mission cannot be forgotten at any cost.  Both of them together had laid a strong foundation for the mission in Chintalapudi, withstanding all odds, pains and misunderstandings. After the completion of the term of Sr. Lancy as superior, Sr. Vijay became the superior and the principal of the school.  Sr. Vijay who was an epitome of sincerity, simplicity and humility was able to win over the hearts of people with her unassuming nature and pleasant dealings.  Her presence mended many broken relationships particularly the misunderstandings with Fr. Antony.  In the year 2002 the first batch of nine students appeared for the board examinations.

The years that followed saw Sr. Judy very active in social work.  The main activities were education of the poor children and empowering of the rural women, children and youth. With financial support from Bethany Generalate, the community provided education to 30 students free of cost, in the English Medium School, under the Literacy Project.  The community also started one kindergarten and three tuition canters.  About 70 children were able to avail of this free service.  Awareness classes on AIDS, health and hygiene, and alcoholism were also undertaken.  Besides these, the rural women’s groups were organized and small savings scheme was introduced. Through group dynamics the children and youth were provided training in leadership and personality development. The community took up the mission of vocation promotion seriously and girls began to join.  Thus the social work apostolate began to enter into the core of the rural people.  The project of mobile clinic and medicine was approved by the agency.

The community for the purpose of social work bought a four-wheeler on Sept. 10, 2004. It was Sr. Tresa Cherian who started the mobile clinic. Telugu medium classes were started by this time.  The contribution of Sr. Judy for the welfare of the village was multifarious. The villagers were able to stand on their own feet and do things for themselves with the effective intervention of Sr. Judy.

After Sr. Vijay, Sr. Annie George took up the charge as superior of the community on June 1, 2005.  The community was growing up in all aspects. Sr. Ruth Ann took up the charge of the school. In every aspect there was tremendous change. She tried her best to raise the standard of the school.  Through the effective intervention and undying enthusiasm of the sisters, the Bethany community in Chintalapudi was able to witness much development there particularly among the lower middle class and poor people.  The convent and the school by now had become a blessing for the area.  Fr. Antony built more than 100 houses for the people of the locality in collaboration with the Bethany sisters.  Financial assistance was also received from our community at Waldneil in Germany which continued for some years, for the building of houses for the poor and the development of our mission in Chintalapudi. The Superior General of the Congregation also contributed much for the development of the mission here.

In 2008 Sr. Tresa Cherian assumed the office of the superior and Sr. Jency Sebastian became the principal.  They continue the goods works started by their predecessor in no way allowing its tint of glory to fade.  We earnestly pray that the concerted efforts of Sr. Jency and Sr. Tresa Cherian may take the community and school to the higher vistas of development and ministry.  A free hostel was also started for the children in October 2010 and 20 children are benefiting from this service.  Andhra Mission has now completed 17 years and we extend our best wishes to Sr. Tresa, Sr. Jency Sebastian, Sr. Lima Mathew, Sr Sandhya and Sr Sophie.

Sr Riji Kuriakose BS is the present Superior of the convent.
 
Year of establishment: 15.05.1993

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