Rosa Venerini was born of noble parents Marzia Zampichetti and Dr.GoffredoVenerini on 9th February 1656 in Viterbo, Italy. Rosa lived an exemplary life in the Venerini family with other three siblings. There was always an evident complicity between Rosa and her father. Dr.Venerini’s commitment to the poor and the needy was a school of great formative value for his children. They both were convinced that life must be dedicated to the good of the neighbor and they were completely coherent in their convictions. Mother looked after the education of the children and they grow up in an environment impregnated with strong Christian values to mould their lives. Rosa’s biographer, Fr.Gerolamo Andreucci S.J speaks of a vow made by Rosa when she was seven years old. The little one without saying anything to anybody promised to consecrate her whole life to God. This vow, special and secret, would accompany the journey of her entire life and followed her throughout.
Rosa’s spirituality is surprisingly linear. It was in the month of May in 1684 as per the advice of her spiritual director Fr.Balestra, Rosa wanted to celebrate the month of Mother Mary. She sent a little girl through the street with a bell to call the girls and gather women of the city to recite rosary in her house. Day after day the number grew. Life called her to a greater love. Woman in the society of her time were ignorant of moral, civil and religious values. In her enthusiastic age of twenty, Rosa looked at them, loved them and had a great intuition “Educate to set free from evil and ignorance rendering visible the plan inscribed by God in every creature”. Then on 30th August 1685 with her two companions Rosa opened her first school in Viterbo, Italy. It was a project for women, promoted and carried out exclusively by women.
The echo of the extraordinary ‘women’s project’ passed beyond the confines of the city in a short time. She was invited by Bishops and cardinals to open her schools in other dioceses too. Rosa’s life was a long pilgrimage. She travelled across cities and villages bringing the gift of schools for girls and women.
Rome is always great in its defeats as well as in its victories, in the good and in the bad, and this time Rome reserved for Rosa an indescribable victory. On the morning of the 24th October 1716 a most elegant carriage stopped in front of Rosa’s school and there descended Pope Clement XI accompanied by Cardinals to visit the school without any prior information. Having interacted with the students and teachers Holy Father turned to Rosa and praised her saying; ‘Signora Rosa you are helping us to carry on our duties, you are doing which we cannot do. We thank you very much because with these schools, you will sanctify Rome”. It was the vicar of Christ who was sealing with his gratitude the hard work, the joys and hopes of a little woman who had united wisdom with courage. The most outstanding and genuine contribution of Rosa was ‘Saving encounter’ through her schools.
On 7th May 1728, the whole city of Rome took part in the grief of Rosa Venerini’s departure. Rosa had founded forty schools spread out in different cities and villages of Italy.
Her body had the honour to be buried in the church of Gesu which remained for a long time as a destination of pilgrimage.
She was beatified on 4th May 1952 by His Holiness Pious XII, and canonized on 15th October 2006 by His Holiness Benedict XVI in Vatican.
Today she is our powerful intercessior before God as we move on to the world of challenges and to the path of uncertainties.
Rev.Mother Piera Silvestrini - Our great leader and inspiration
Great people are godly radiating the grandeur of the Divine with a touch of magic. They change adversities around them into opportunities, for they are citadels of courage and people of vision. Mother Piera Silvestrini was certainly a woman of extraordinary courage and vision. Born in Italy, the eternal city, of noble parents, brought up in a sound Christian faith, she dedicated her life for the service of humanity with a profound love for God. She heard the call within a call and responded positively. Leaving her country, kith and kin, travelled to a distant land, to a new people, new language and culture in 1975 to be a mother, a sister and a friend to many of us.
With undaunted strength and unfailing confidence in the Divine providence she faced all the initial difficulties. Being at the helm of the province she rowed province to a safer shore and left for Italy in 2002 to take up her office in the general administration. We are sure that she would be the happiest person always to know the how about of Indian province. The province owe a lot to her. We wish and pray that her graceful old age be full of sweetened memories of her beloved Indians.
Provincial House Cheruvannur
Venerini Provincial house is situated in Cheruvannur, Feroke,Calicut district in Kerala. It is the mother house of Indian mission. The house is under the jurisdiction of Sacred Heart Church Cheruvannur of the diocese of Calicut.
The province is with 155 professed members and 22 houses spread out in 5 states and branches out to ten dioceses. In our educational ministry, we include schools, catechesis in parishes and villages, residential school for the visually handicapped, village developing programme, women empowerment, adult literacy programme, village healthcare dispensaries, rehabilitation centers for the leprosy patients, vocational training centers in remote villages, youth animation, pastoral ministry, prison ministry and animation of pious organizations etc. In all these activities the mission of education is carried out with much apostolic thrust because the initiative of Rosa was indeed a decisive step in the field of education.
Venerini Educational System
Education has always been a process of developing an ability to free the mind from the narrow walls of ignorance, dependence, indecision and hopelessness. Ignorance is one of the greatest enemies of mankind. Mere acquisition of knowledge contributes nothing to life. Knowledge with wisdom and values of life would develop human beings socially harmonious and spiritually rich.
The soul of education is missing in the present era. The floodgates of technology flaws to educational institutions. We seldom find a highly learned, spiritually developed or morally upright man. Today the role of school is to impart knowledge that encompasses not only the prescribed syllabi of the institutions but also the world beyond the classrooms. The role of the school is to build and strengthen character of its pupils that will not crumble when tested in the crucible of adulthood, and to develop qualities of good leadership that can be employed in the future for the making of a stronger nation. With the motto ‘Educate to set free’ we aim at the intellectual, mental, physical, emotional, cultural and spiritual development of the whole person. It is our constant endeavor to shape well-rounded personalities that will contribute positively to the world around them.
Sr.Lourdes Pereira -A Great Visionary
Born in Mumbay, India, she made her religious profession in Italy. She is one of the pioneers to Indian mission. She is a born educator and the founder headmistress of Venerini schools in India. An inspiring teacher is ever young and vibrant even in her late seventies. She shares the birth pang of indian mission with mother PieraSilvestrini and a few others. She spent her time in visiting families of Cheruvannur locality to know the need of the people around. Reading the signs of the time and feelingthe pulse of the place she paved way for education which is the gate way of human formation. She served the Indian mission from 1974 to 1991, specially in the educational ministry, giving it a strong foundation with much dedication and far vision. Towards the end of 1991 she opted for African mission since her broad mind and vibrant spirit felt the urgency of her missionary presence in Cameroon. The Lord who foresees everything in everyone found her generosity and efficiency to be used for leading the entire congregation and thus she was elected as a general councilor in Rome 1995. Then in 2004 she returned to her homeland and in her late seventies she is an inspiration to all of us. She is a powerful support to each one of us through her prayer and words of appreciation.
Venerini School and Community at Karinkallai
The second community of the province was blessed in 1984 to commemorate the 10 th anniversary of the arrival of Venerini sisters in India under the initiative of Rev. Mother Piera Silvestrini and was blessed by Rt.Rev. Aldo Maria Patroni the then Bishop of Calicut.
Though the school provided education only for girls in its initial stage, the demand of the time made us to think further and thus now it provides co-education to the students where boys and girls of the locality get their basic education. Through the charism ‘Educate to set free’ we aim at quality education and desirable holistic competence in the students. We aim at general formation and development of the total person, being aware of the natural and spontaneous rhythm of intellectual, mental, social and cultural growth in them. The dedicated effort of the staff both teaching and non-teaching and the admirable performance of the students in curricular and extra-curricular activities bring laurels to the school. We provide hostel facility for the girls who come from distant place to be educated in our school.
We extend our service in the pastoral activities of the parish, catechism, family apostolate, youth animation pious associations etc.. .
We opened a new community in St. Antoney’s parish Thayyil, Kannur diocese in 1990. It is a coastal area where fishermen, Migrated Magalorian Catholic community and people of all faith live together harmoniously. This venture is another initiative of Mother Piera at the invitation of Rt. Dr. Maxwell Nerohna the Bishop of Calicut diocese. Sisters offer their dedicated service to people of different faith, caste, and creed. The forms of apostolate they carry on are catechism, family apostolate, Basic Christian Community, Jail ministry, pious Associations, youth animation, formal and non-formal education etc….
Deepalayam - School for the visually impaired
Apostolate in Deepalayam was a new venture for the Venerini mission in India. Rt.Rev.Dr.Maxwell Nerohna the then Bishop of Calicut requested Rev.Mother Piera Silvestrini to look after Deepalayam which belongs to the diocese, where only blind children are being educated. Filled with the spirit of the foundress Rosa Venerini and love for the children, Mother Piera immediately responded to the invitation and with her foresighted vision she sent sisters for training to be equipped with the necessary qualification for this new mission.
Thus in 1990, sisters were sent to Deepalayam, Perinthalmanna to take up the teaching and management of the school. Since it is a residential school, sisters are in charge of their entire formation like physical, spiritual, mental, intellectual, social and cultural. Children feel at home with the sisters. Classes up to VII is held in Deepalayam and the students are sent to other schools with sighted children for further education. Special coaching is given in extra-curricular activities to develop their innate talents. Beside this noble ministry, we are engaged in pastoral ministry, faith formation, family apostolate etc.. . All that we dream for the mission is that may the Lord continue to light up the darkened lines of these visually impaired children and brighten their inner sight to face the challenges of daily life.
As the name indicates, Kattakulam is a place surrounded by water. It is an interior village under the jurisdiction of Kannur diocese situated away from the National Highway Kannur to Mangalore. The then provincial superior Rev.Sr.Brigit Vadakkepurackal with the support of her council responded to the invitation of Rev.Fr.Jacob Jose who was the parish priest of Thavam, for the service of the people of Kattakulam, a sub-station of Thavam and he found a small house for the sisters. This is the house where Rev.Fr.Joseph Taffarel S.J the well known saintly missionary lived for some time during his ministry in Kannur diocese. People of the area belong to all sections, faith, caste and most of them are very poor.
Though the place was not very convenient for a religious community, the sisters readily said ‘yes’ to the call of God who longed for spiritual and communal animation of the people. The convent was blessed by Rt.Rev.Dr.Varghese Chakkalackal the then Bishop of Knnur in 2004. The main apostolate of the sisters is pastoral work, faith formation and family visit and prayer. We work hand in hand with the parish priest in all matters, changing all the inconveniences of the place into blessings for us and for the people.
The community at Naranganam was a wonderful gift to the province because it was born in the year 2006, the year when our mother foundress Rosa Venerini was raised to the glory of saints. It was indeed a unique vision and a new entry to extend the charism to Syro-Malabar Church. At the request of the then parish priest of Kozhencherry Rev. Fr. Denny Nedumpathalil and the invitation of the Bishop of Kanjirapally diocese, the then provincial Rev. Sr. Theresa Chandy sent a group of three sisters to join the existing Savio English School of the diocese. Sisters stayed in a house attached to the school building. They contributed their best in the education ministry.
In 2007, we purchased the whole property, thus the ownership and the management of the school became of the province. The constant support of the Bishop and the priests of the diocese, the co-operation of the parents and well-wishers and the confident effort of the staff and students were really encouraging to carry on the charism ‘Educate to set free’ faithfully. Sisters are involved in pastoral activities such as catechism, youth animation, pious organizations and family apostolate. We have extended our service to two other new fields such as taking care of the hostel of Plus Two girls in St. Antoney’s Higher Secondary School in Anackal and the spiritual animation of the Malanadu Development society which belongs to the diocese. All that we wish is the spirit of Rosa Venerini our foundress may lead us forward to an ever widening thought and action to take part in the salvific mission of the Lord.
Novitiate House at Manjeri
It was a long cherished dream of the province to have an independent novitiate house for the formation of the novices and it had come true in 2011 by the constant effort of the then provincial superior Rev. Sr. Theresa Chandy and her council. It is located in Thrikkalangode, which is a sub-station of Manjeri parish. The beauty and calmness of the site is very attractive and prayerful.
The house can accommodate good number of persons and therefore province level retreats, seminars and assemblies are conducted here in this house. The community is consisted of four sisters and the group of formees. Beside formation program, sisters are involved in pastoral ministry, catechetical field, home mission, and family visit and prayer services.
How good and delighted to live together all united!!
Love and friendship have a power and can bring joy and new hope to all. Mission in Kunnoth, Iritty of Thalasserry diocese began with the sole purpose of family apostolate which is a necessary need of the time. It was in 2012 the province under the leadership of Sr. Theresa Chandy the then provincial superior with the support of her council took up this new venture. Sisters are actively involved in the pastoral ministry, catechetical field, house visiting and family prayer services. Old and sick in the families are attended, listened and comforted by the very presence of these sisters and words of consolation. Two sisters are engaged in the educational ministry in Ben Hill school run by the Benedictine monks. Happy indeed are we, for being used for the noble ministry of the Lord!.
It was in 2011, we opened a new mission station in Chembur in the diocese of Neyyatinkara. God in his great mercy listened to the cry of His people in Chembur and as an answer to their cry send the Venerini sisters to them whom He predestined would do good. It is a thickly populated area with different Christian denominations, yet the catholic s are outstanding in number. Most of them belong to Nadar caste. Sisters are involved in Faith formation, family apostolate, prayer services in families, youth ministry, organizing parish pious associations etc…. We thank God for using us to His mission among His chosen ones. As we go ahead with the ministry of the Lord, we do experience God’s providence, protection and care through the people around us.
Pullur community is under the jurisdiction of Kannur diocese and in the district of Kasergod district. Area is thickly populated by Hindu brethren. Sisters are engaged in the educational ministry of the diocese. We do work hand in hand with the parish priest in faith formation, youth animation, organizing pious associations and family unit prayers etc…sisters visit the families of students in the school and thus finding an entry for family apostolate. The presence of sisters in this area make a lot of difference.
NAGAON COMMUNITY - The cradle of Assam Mission
“Go throughout the world and proclaim the good news” (MK 16:15)
As Jesus had entrusted a mission to his disciples, we the consecrated persons who are intimately united to Jesus are sent out to proclaim the message of salvation to the people of our time.
St. Rosa’s charism “Educate to set free “ had its germination in the soil of Assam in 1986. This mission started in the Parish of sacred heart church in Nagaon in the Diocese of Tezpur ( now Guwahati) under the initiative of Rev. Fr.G.K Prakash ,a diocesan priest, who in course of time became a Salvatorian. The educative mission of the sisters has its beginning in Christ Jyoti school, which was in its infancy. Staying in a small house adjacent to the parish the sisters started to visit the Christian colonies and gather children for schooling. Every great enterprise has a story of great struggle behind it. Venerini Sisters work in collaboration with the Salvatorian Fathers in Nagaon in every aspects of the educational ministry. The steady growth of this educational institution has become a blessing to the people of North east. Students from other districts too are being educated in this institution. Sisters provide hostel facilities to the girls who join the school or college for their education. Our apostolate branched in to education, Parish work and family apostolate and at present we extended our apostolate in the field of medical care. We make it a point to visit the family of the staff and students of our school as a part of our educational ministry. We join the Christian families to recite rosary with them.
This is the first mission station opened by the Indian province. As this mission completes 29 years of its existence in this area, the guidance and the protection of God is very vivid in the field of our activity as well as in our lives. The humble beginning in the parish house and the struggle the pioneers underwent is not fruitless. We bow before the God Almighty for His protection and guidance and believe that He will lead us ahead in the path of justice, truth and love.
‘Take my life O Lord and ever let it stay consecrated to you. Make it beautiful in service and radiant in wisdom’
‘Send forth your messengers o Lord, they will spread your light to the world around, they will sing of your glory’
The vision of the pioneers as well as those who followed them was never blurred. The charism ‘educate to set free’ expresses its concern for total human development in the dispensation of fullness of life for man and society. Knowledge is crucial for human development and it is to be imparted with the tenderness of a mother and the prudence of a father. This vision is materialized as we started a new community in Katiatholi in 1993. It was rather hard to begin the mission since the people belonged to different tribes. Still with the support of theBishop of Guwahati, the young Venerini missionaries started to open the heart of pupils, rather than the mind. With gentle dealings sisters could provide spiritual. intellectual, emotional and moral development to their life styles.
At present we take care of the education of the students in St.Thomas parish school, provide hostel facilities for the girls of the distant villages despite of cast creed or faith, teach catechism in the villages and parish and are engaged in youth animation. Village touring programme and family apostolate in the remotest areas of the villages were life taxing. Sisters had to stay in the stilt at night to save their life from wild animals. The sacrifices of our pioneers are rewarded with splendid joy and satisfaction.
The grace and blessings of the Almighty and the powerful intercession of our mother foundress lead us ahead to accomplish the task we are entrusted with.
Jyothinikethan, A light house for the visually impaired children of north east India.
Apostolate for the welfare and rehabilitation of persons with physical and mental disabilities is one of the several ministries of Catholic Church. Maestre Pie Venerini join hand in hand with the mission of the church to spread the message of love through the educational ministry. God’s ways are mysterious. He sends the rays of His projects to the minds of his missionaries and make them listen to the cry of the abandoned.It was in 1994 Mother PieraSilvestrini a woman of great missionary zeal , devoid of self-interest, resigned and patient, listened to the cry of the blind children of North East India. She, with her councilors responded positively. Sisters were sent for training to take care of the visually impaired children and opened a residential school exclusively for visually impaired children, in Narangi, Guwahati. Children came from northeastern states of India - Assam,Arunachalpradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya,Nagaland and Tripura irrespective of caste creed and religion. Sisters are specialized in training and teaching the Visually Impaired Children and adult. At present there are 48 students between the ages of 3 and 15 years, both boys and girls. The school follows the CBSE syllabus, and the medium of instruction is English. The students are taught Braille, Computer and the other subjects up to Class V. They are sent to Montfort schoolat 10th mile for their further studies. They are also taught music and craft and given special training for orientation and mobility. The main aim of the institution is to make the visually impaired children independent, self-sufficient and prepare them to become useful citizens of the society. Children are given ample opportunities to develop their skills both in curricular and extracurricular activities and they excel in everything.
Jyothinikethan is growing steadily with all its faithfulness and hospitality to the people of that locality. Anyone who steps into jyothinikethan goes out with a heart full of joy and mindful of cherishing memories. Students have brought laurels to jyothinikethan through their outstanding performance; and this sacred institution is well known to the whole of Guwahati diocese as well as the other dioceses of North East India. Acknowledging the committed service of the sisters, Sr.ShyniKapiarumalayil is awarded with the best teacher award for the visually impaired children by the united international mission.
Inorder to support Jyothinikethan financially, we started a nursery school adjacent to it.
Sisters are rendering their service in MSFS School, FAsCE India (Fransalian agency for Social care and Education) and are engaged in pastoral ministry, prison ministry, tour the villages and visit families for faith formation.
As we look down the memory lane of joys and struggles to gather together both pleasant and unpleasant events in order to re-capture the dreams and desires victories and failures, sweat and toil, hardships and hurdles can never be forgotten.Many hands, minds and hearts struggle greatly for the actualization of our dream.
As we raise our hearts in praise to God, we bow our head in gratitude to all our benefactors and well-wishers who contributed generously in kind and person, prayer and views. We thank the students who are the light and joy ofJyothinikethan.
I the Lord of sea and sky, I have heard my people cry, All who dwell in dark and sin, my hand will save…….who will bear my light to them? whom shall I send? Responding to this invitation of the Lord, the provincial administration under the leadership of Rev.Sr. Brigit Vadakkepurackal the then Provincial Superior together with the discernment of Mother Piera Silvestrini, accompanied by four vibrant and young Venerini sisters moved forward, like David the courageous King, to one of the remotest villages – Rongbonghat – of karbi Anglong district. The village was totally cut away from the township. There wasn’t proper roads, transportation, electricity, telephone services, post office, medical services or any other communication facility. The area was surrounded by streams, thick forest with wild animals, high mountains and deadly diseases. Rongbonghat mission was like a leap into the dark with eyes blindfolded.
It was the dream of the catholic community in Rongbonghat to have the presence of sisters in their locality. The dream of the community was fulfilled in 1999 when these enthusiastic sisters walked into their courtyard. Sisters stayed in a bamboo hut made by the villagers for a few years. The infancy stage of the mission was life-risky. Tigers, leopards and elephants moved around the bamboo hut at night. Many at times the bamboo hut was taken away by the stormy wind in the rainy season, but the kind-hearted people were at our rescue to build it up again.
It took no time for us to read the people and their need. Sisters rendered their service in the field of education, medical care and assistance, catechism in the villages, family apostolate etc… Having no infrastructure classes were held under the tree and in bamboo huts. People affected with cerebral malaria and its consequences were to be treated with extreme care and medical facilities, children with malnutrition were to be given utmost care. People were supported with lot of projects for better cultivation, adult literacy program, vocational training for young girls and awareness program of health and hygiene. We experienced a joy in all these activities though we lived with minimum facilities. During the day the Lord provided us the bright light of the sun and at night we managed with the light of a little lantern.
Some plant the seed and others water, but God gives the growth. In this special occasion of the Indian province, it is indeed a matter of joy for us to share with you all that now we reap a good harvest of joy because the hard work of the pioneers produces fruits in abundance. At present we have a convent to stay, the diocese has built a good school for the students to have their education and a parish and priest to take care of our spiritual need. We gratefully remember all our benefactors such as spiritual, financial especially the priests and sisters who visited us often with words of encouragement. The villagers are in good appreciation for the good work done by the sisters in love of them.
Lord of all goodness, Lord of all joy, we bow before Thee! We offer you all that we are and we have, let your light lead us forward.
Mont fort Community
At the invitation of Montfort Brothers in 10th Mile, Guwahati, we opened a community in a house provided by the Brothers adjacent to the school in 2005. The purpose is to take care of the students who are differently abled – the blind, deaf and dumb – and to take care of the hostel for girls’ run by the Brothers. Students who come from the whole of North-east to do their schooling in Montfort School is given accommodation in the hostel. We share the educational ministry of Brothers, especially of the visually impaired children.
Silonijan is the second site of Venerini mission in Diphu diocese in Karbi Angolong district. It was in 2006, with the prudent discernment of Rev. Sr. Brigit Vadakkepurackal the then provincial superior and her council, three young venerini sisters accommodated themselves in a classroom of the school building which belonged to silonijan parish. The area is surrounded by streams, forest and often visited by wild elephants and foxes.
Maestre Pie Venerini who are brought up in the charism “Educate to set free” gave utmost importance to education of the growing generation with an aim to provide character formation as well as human formation which will contribute them to the making of citizens who will be assets to the nation. Students are to be encouraged to make sound moral judgment based on a well formed conscience to put them into practice. To inculcate these values in their learning process we had to begin from the grass-root level, yet because of the simplicity of their heart it was easy for us to begin.
Since it was a malaria prone area, people were often attacked by malaria and so in order to attend to their need we opened a village dispensary for them. It did a lot of good to them and many were saved from the deadly sickness. Sisters visited the villages near and far conducting seminar and classes on health and hygiene, preventive measures of malaria and so on. In 2008, the diocese of Diphu constructed a convent for the sisters to stay and we could do our mission more conveniently. The committed effort of the pioneering missionaries are rewarded with splendid joy and contentment. We join our hands and hearts together in gratitude to God Almighty for His miraculous intervention in our life and the life of the people around.
There is an anonymous saying ; “Fifty years from now it will not matter, What kind of car you drove, What kind of house you lived in, How much you had in your bank account Or what your clothes looked like, But world may be a little better because you were important in the life of a child”
Langmili is a small Karbi village which belongs to Diphu diocese with good catholic population and only a few kilometers away from Silonijan community. Earlier the mission was looked after by another religious congregation but because of the constant malaria attack they left the mission. At the request of the Bishop, the then provincial Rev.Sr.Theresa Chandy with the support of her council agreed to look after the mission. Two sisters from Silonijan community were sent to take care of the education of the students and to have a study of the place. Though they were attacked by malaria, sisters continued their service, and in 2009 they started to stay there in a temporary house built by the diocese. The pioneers were to fight against malaria, and a lot of inconveniences. There wasn’t proper conveyance, electricity or any other communication facilities in the beginning stage. They were even deprived of the daily Eucharistic celebration. Of all these limitations the missionaries experienced the powerful protection of the Lord whose providence accompanied them all through.
Now the mission is developed and the students have a full-fledged school with good infrastructure and the sisters have a convent to stay. Foreseeing the urgent need of the place we offered a dispensary in a bamboo shed for the villagers which saved a lot of life from the attack of malaria, typhoid and deadly sickness.
The spirit of Christ is the spirit of mission, and the nearer we get to Him the more fervent missionary we become.