Raymond Francis Camillus Mascarenhas –
The First Servant of God of Mangalore Diocese
(Founder of the Sisters of the Little Flower of Bethany)


Raymond was born on Saturday, 23 January 1875 on the feast of St Raymond of Penyafort in Shimoga, Karnataka to a devout, pious and God-fearingcouple Mr Lazarus and Mrs Joanna Mascarenhas. They named him after the saint of the day - Raymond - with an additional name Camillus,on 27 January 1875. Later while in the Seminary, he prayed through the intercession of St Francis Xavier for the gift of voice to chant/sing the prayers during Mass, which he obtained. As a mark of gratitude, Raymond added ‘Francis’ as his middle name. Thereafter, he was officially calledas Raymond Francis Camillus Mascarenhas (RFC). Interestingly, he had the privilege of bearingthe names of three saints - Raymond, Francis Xavier and Camillus - and some of their characteristics like the compassionate nature, love for prayer and love for the Blessed Mother of St Raymond of Penyafort, the caring and compassionate nature of St Camillus and the zeal for souls of St Francis Xavier were prominent in RFC.

Raymond grew up in a natural family set-up among 12 siblingsand experienced their warm affection. The pious practices of his family like daily recitation of the Rosary, participation in the celebration of the Eucharist on Sundays and on obligation days and the practice of regular Confessions laid strong foundations for Raymond. As a little boy, he played the role of a priest quite often, making his siblings assist him at ‘Mass’.Watching such repeated plays, his mother intuitively felt that one day he would be a priest of God. In his upbringing, his parents played a significant role and some of theirtraits like, strong will, courage to venture into the unknown, discipline, determination, adventurous spirit, ability to endure suffering, tender love for the poor became part of his personality. He was blessed with rare intelligence and retentive memory too.

RFC Mascarenhas a Priest in the Making

In pursuance of his inner voice, Raymond joined St Joseph’s Inter-diocesan Seminary, Mangalore on 23 February 1891, although it was against the plans of his family, relatives and friends. There he learnt from the Jesuits discipline and gave priority to the mastery of the subjects of philosophy and theology, and spent most of his time reading either in his room or in the library. As a young seminarian, Raymond was found to be fervent, detached and faithful to all prescriptions of the rules and regulations of the seminary life. He was quite earnest in doing whatever was expected of him and conscientious too. Cultivation of virtues like obedience, charity, humility, poverty, detachment, purity of conscience, mortification, penance meant much for him.

At the completion of his theological studies, Rt Rev Cavadini SJ, the then Bishop of Mangalore ordained Raymond to the priesthood on Saturday, 4 March 1900 at the Cathedral, dedicated to the Most Holy Rosary. He offered his first Mass on 11 March 1900 in his home parish, our Lady of Milagres in Mangalore, a church dedicated to our Lady.

RFC Mascarenhas a Compassionate Pastor in Action

Having served for three years as an assistant priest in three parishes, the Bishop appointed Raymond as the parish priest at Udyavar in 1903, a church dedicated to St Francis Xavier, a saint dear to his heart. Without giving into fatigue, he made himself available to minister to their needs - spiritual, pastoral and economical. He visited them, especially when natural calamities hit them and walked miles through the slushy paddy fields despite the uncomfortable monsoon rains. Thereafter in 1910, Raymond was transferred to Agrar another rural parish with a large Catholic population. There, they required a competent leader and capable administrator. Both qualities were twinned in Raymond, as he was endowed with administrative and managerial skills. Here too, he committed himself to the care of souls through family visits and resolving conflicts.While he was still busy with the affairs of his flock, the Bishop unexpectedly transferred him in 1914 to a newly proposed parish - St Sebastian Church, Bendur. Setting aside his personal plans and bowing down to God’s will Raymond girded himself for a new mission with a ready obedience. Raymond arrived at Bendur in 1914. The place though situated within the city limits, was devoid of life. That, in fact, the name ‘Bendur’ signifies in Tulu, the local language, (Benda = barren + ooru = village). The parish had its own challenges owing to the fact that it was new and raw. Trusting in the Divine Providence and Blessed Mother, Raymond launched into the mission with undaunted courage on 23 August 1914. What to begin first - he had no other compass except God through prayer.

RFC Mascarenhas a Founder of the Bethany Congregation

Raymond while at Bendur learnt of the desire of some women to dedicate their lives to God through religious life, which they could not owing to their low economic status and insufficient educational qualifications. He grappled with their desire and earnestly prayed for a way forward. In prayer, he felt inspired to found a Religious Congregation for women in Mangalore to meet the educational needs of the poor, especially girls and for the faith-formation of Catholics. Was it a suitable and befitting response? He had to discern before God and with his Bishop, Rt Rev Paul Perini SJ. While sharing, in all humility Raymond said to the Bishop, “I speak as if in foolishness…” The Bishop recognized God’s hand in this project and with a smile of encouragement said, “Act if you have an inspiration to do so, making use of the opportunities you have.” The words of the kind-hearted Bishop gave him hope and confidence. He felt that God was leading him through his Bishop. God in his Providence provided four young women (teachers) from his parish - Clare, Alice, Marceline and Gertrude. Trusting in God and placing himself under the protection of the Blessed Mother, Raymond founded the religious Congregation, ‘Bethany’ on 16 July 1921.

RFC Mascarenhas with a Prophetic Mission: Education of the Poor, especially Girls

The heart of Raymond the Founder was set on the poor especially, girls. In the place of its foundation at Bendur, the Founder placed the sisters in charge of the junior section of St Sebastian’s school with 440 boys and 347 girls of St Margaret Mary’s Higher Elementary School and 47 girls of St. Martha’s Industrial School.The Founder also placed 153 boys and 68 girls at St Joseph’s School, Kankanady under the care of the Bethany Sisters. 30 girls in the Bethany Boarding House too benefited from their services. At Puttur the sisters taught 100 boys of St Francis Xavier’s Elementary School and 56 girls of Little Flower School. They also took care of 20 Adi-Dravidas children at St Joseph’s School, Puttur. At Kokkada, the sisters were entrusted with the care of another 50 children at St John’s School and 20 pupils at Little Flower School. At Balkunje, in another remote place the sisters taught 180 students at St Paul’s School. In all, within nine years of the existence of the Bethany Congregation, the sisters devoted themselves to the care of more than 1,500 children in eleven different institutions. He opened more schools in the interior villages as the years passed by and was happy to see the poor, especially girls being empowered.

In addition, the Founder opened industrial and technical schools for the dropouts. He sent two sisters to Madras to be trained in Basic Education. While offering non-formal education, his focus was on those who could not pursue their academic studies owing to poverty or less intelligence, knowing that they would excel in some other skill and earn their daily bread. All the above examples manifest the vision of education of the Founder, Raymond which included the education of the head, heart and hands (knowledge, attitude and skill).

RFC Mascarenhas towards the Honours of the Altar

On 23 December 1960, Raymondappeared peaceful and ready to meet his Creator. The sisters of the Congregation prayed in his room and Mgr Marian Castelino his close friend fortified him through the Sacrament of the Anointing of the sick. At 04.15 am Raymond gave a deep sigh and surrendered his soul in the hands of his Maker. A saintly man, a priest of God, a lover of the poor, a compassionate pastor and a zealous apostle of Christ flew to heaven to receive his reward.Hearing the death news of Raymond, Rev Dr Raymond D’Mello the Bishop of the Diocese exclaimed, “Let anyone say anything, human beings have shortcomings, but Monsignor Mascarenhas was a great priest, who toiled for the greater glory of God through his achievements. May the Lord grant him eternal happiness.”

Being aware of the holy and virtuous life led by Raymond, the delegates of the XIV General Chapter resolved to take-up the Cause of Raymond for beatification and canonization. In 2004 Sr M Jyoti BS the then Superior General communicated in writing to the Bishop, Rt Rev Dr Aloysius Paul D’Souza about the mandate of the General Chapter regarding the Cause to be taken up for beatification and canonization of RFC. The Bishop, having obtained no objection from the Regional Bishops Conference of Karnataka, directed the Superior General to proceed with the process as per the norms issued by Apostolic Constitution,DivinusPerfectionis Magister. Following this, the Bishop of Mangalore approved the appointment of Sr. Kattakaym Lillis BS as the Postulator for the Diocesan Phase and Sr Miriam as the Vice Postulator on 27 May 2007.

Thereafter, Sr Lillis the Postulator petitioned the Cause in 2007 on behalf of the petitioner, SrJyoti BS. The Bishop in his letter dated 16 January 2008 wrote to the Congregation for the Cause of the Saints to ascertain any objection from the Holy See regarding the Cause. In reply, the Sacred Congregation for the Cause of Beatification and Canonisation wrote on 03 May 2008 that it had no objection (NihilObstat) which was indeed great news to rejoice – RFC being elevated to the rank of the Servant of God!

On 03 June 2008, the Bishop of Mangalore presided over the Eucharistic celebration at St Sebastian Church Bendur and initiated the Cause of beatification and canonization of the Servant of God, RFC Mascarenhas. The opening session of the Diocesan Inquiry into the virtues of the Servant of God was held on 17 August 2008 at St Sebastian Platinum Jubilee Hall. From 2008 to 2019, the members of the Board of Inquiry, Rev Fr Henry Sequeira, the Episcopal Delegate, Rev Fr John Mendonca, the Promoter of Justice, Rev Fr Naveen Pinto, the Notary interviewed eye witnesses and hearsay witnesses. The Historical Commission Members Rev Fr J B Saldanha (Convener), Sr Mariette BS (Secretary) and Rev Fr Peter Mascarenhas MMS (member) collected documents related to the life of the Servant of God from 90 archives and libraries from all over India and Rome.

On 16 December 2013,Rt Rev Aloysius Paul D’Souza, the Bishop of Mangalore appointed a special tribunal for the process of exhumation, identification and transfer of the mortal remains of Raymond from the nave of St. Sebastian Church in front of the altar to a newly built grave in the extended part of the church. The transfer was in view of facilitating the visits of the pilgrims to the tomb.The closing ceremony of the Diocesan Inquiry of the Cause was held on 17 July 2019 presided over by Most Rev Dr Peter Paul Saldanha the Bishop of Mangalore at St Sebastian Church, Bendur Mangalore, making a milestone in the history of the Diocese of Mangalore. The documents were sent to Rome thereafter for the next phase. After this, Sr M Dona Sanctis BS was appointed as the Postulator at the Roman Phase of the on 17 January 2020 by Sr M Rose Celine BS the Superior General, which was approved by the Sacred Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Vatican. On 04 December 2020the Sacred Congregation for the Cause of Saints, Vatican issued the Decree of Juridical Validity of the Cause of the beatification and canonization of RFC. Currently the Cause is in progress.

Raymond was a fervent priest of God, rooted in the Word of God and the Eucharist. Missionary zeal was at the core of his pastoral ministry. He brought good news to the poor and carried out his mission as a zealous priest and compassionate pastor. He founded ‘Bethany’ to carry forward his vision which was beyond horizons. It inevitably brought opposition and criticism as well. Yet, he continued doing good and fought the battle heroically until the end. The way he lived, the road he walked, the options he made and the courage he exhibited as a priest and a Founder is truly exemplary, taking him on the path to sainthood. May he soon be raised to the honours of the altar!








-Sr Mariette BS
General Councillor
Bethany Generalate,
P Box 593
Kankanady PO,
Mangalore, 575002

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