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Sr M Irene BS
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Location: Santibastwad is a small village situated in the rural and backward area with a population of around 10,000 to 12,000 has mixed languages, castes and cultures.

God sent his chosen instrument Fr Animananda Alnavar SJ to this village of Santibastwad. He visited the people once a month and offered Holy Eucharist. He opened an Orphanage for the children of the village. Since he was working in 10 villages in the Belagavi Taluka he needed help and support of some dedicated persons. So he asked the assistance from the Bethany Sisters to carry on the mission. Fr Founder R.F.C Mascarenhas responded positively to the invitation and opened a Convent in this village, on 15 May 1945. The Founder along with Sr. Magdalene, Mother Priscilla and a batch of Sisters Philomene, Marianne, Felix, Salome and the maid Maggie reached Belgaum. Fr Founder named this house as Gratia Plena Convent. Fr N Alvares SJ procured a mud house for the sisters to reside. The sisters arranged small place as a chapel. In 1946 they started their mission at Balekundri. They also visited the villages walking 4 to 10 miles each day. They used to stay in the villages at times going to bed with empty stomach and on the bare floor. They used to meet the people only during night, and render their services. The sisters were earnest in their mission, taught in the school, visited the nearby villages viz Macche, Damne, Honaga, Balekundri, Yellur on foot. In spite of all the difficulties of communication and travelling, they never neglected their spiritual duties. On February 2, 1949 the new convent building was blessed by Fr N Alvares, and the Blessed Sacrament was reserved in the new chapel. Sr Philomene was the first Superior of Santibastwad community. Two sisters used to visit villages regularly, giving instructions, medicines and sweets. On July 16, 1962 the new Convent was inaugurated. The students had no opportunity to continue their higher studies as there were no high schools in the nearby villages. On July 17th   1973 in the same campus where the primary school and Orphanage existed, the high school was opened by the Diocese of Belgaum, which was handed over to the Bethany Educational Society in 1978 with Sr Prima as the first Headmistress.

Blossoms of Santibastwad Mission:  A new convent building was blessed and inaugurated on July16, 1962 at Santibastwad. Sr Mida who was trained in USA in Nursing, took charge of the dispensary on 12 June 1969. Sr Prudence rendered her service for 46 years as Superior, Headmistress and In-charge of the orphanage. Education, emancipation of women, evangelization, education for girls, medical care in the villages, participation in the struggles of the people through manual labor, literacy in rural areas were the aspirations of our Founder RFC Mascarenhas which are fulfilled to a great extent through this mission.

Year of establishment : (15.15.1945)

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