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HISTORY OF OUR INSTITUTE - 2

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Constitutions and Rules
With strong faith and childlike trust in God and the assistance of our Blessed Mother, our Founder began to formulate the constitutions stating the character and purpose of the congregation, namely the practice of the Little Way of Spiritual Childhood of St. Therese of the Child Jesus and evangelization and catechesis. At first he wrote his Introductory Message to the Constitutions and Rules, dated 8 December 1950, in which he expressed clearly his intentions concerning the nature, purpose, spirit and character of the institute. He submitted to the Propaganda Fide, Rome in 1952 the entire book containing the text of the Constitutions, Rules and his Introductory Message. These were sanctioned on 11 December 1954. Along with these he prepared a prayer book and introduced a new religious habit. English was adopted as the official language of the congregation. As per directives of the Second Vatican Council our constitutions were revised and renewed. They were approved by the Holy See on 29 June 1990.

Our First General Chapter
As arranged by the Founder on 16 June 1955, mock elections were held with the formees for office in order to instruct the Sisters as to how to hold a general chapter according to the constitutions and rules. In July 1964 the First General Chapter was held, presided over by our Founder. It elected our first superior general and her council, and also proposed minor changes in our religious habit.

Rapid Growth
Our Founder recalls, “Your little congregation from the very beginning started in utter poverty. The first building [1950] was of a few rooms with corrugated iron roof. We thought it would suffice for 20 years or more...” (Memoirs, p 69). But in 1953-54 the new three-storey building was erected at the side of the first building. Regarding the flow of vocations he exclaimed: “I never dreamt that I would be welcoming so many more candidates.” In 1958 a separate novitiate was established with additional quarters. As we increased in number our Founder provided us with larger facilities. In 1965 he built for us a spacious chapel, dormitory, infirmary with a choir loft as access to the chapel, foreseeing the importance of our spiritual needs, especially during our illness and last days on earth. More branch houses were opened in the diocese of Krishnagar and elsewhere. (See slideshow above for pictures of Mother House /Generalate, 3 storeyed bldg., Novitiate bldg; chapel - interior and exterior)

Papal Right
Over the years, the congregation progressed far beyond our Founder’s expectation, and began to serve also in other dioceses. He took infinite pains for our expansion to the other parts of the world as well. Our Founder has explained to us how our little congregation became of Papal Right. During the last session of the Second Vatican Council, in 1965, he began to realize the difficulties we may have to go through when we open houses in other dioceses, and especially in far-off Germany, because of our status of a Diocesan Congregation. He met the officials at the Propaganda Fide, Rome for advice and direction. He gave them an accurate account of the rapid growth of the little congregation since 1948. Following their directives the documents were prepared by our superior general and her council, assisted by Very Rev. Fr. Louis Gobetti, sdb, the vicar general and secretary of the diocese of Krishnagar. The petition was submitted on 21 February 1966. The decree of Papal Right was granted within a few months, on 7 June 1966. Upon receiving the happy news from our Founder, the entire community of Sisters and formees gathered in our Motherhouse chapel and sang the Te Deum praising God with all our hearts full of joy and gratitude for this marvellous gift. The obtaining of this decree, within a short span of 18 years of our foundation, was considered by our Founder nothing less than “a first-class miracle”.

Further Expansion
In 1990 the congregation went into provinces. On 10 June 1992 we became an official member of the Salesian Family. Today we happily share our charism in India, Germany, Italy, Tanzania and the USA through our five provinces and one Delegation.

Founder’s Vision for the Future of the SMI
Father Bishop loved his little congregation dearly and had great concern for every one of his children and for the vital growth of our institute. He took infinite pains for our expansion in the diocese and to other parts of the world, and to ensure that our training be effective in the Church. With the foresight of a sagacious father, he built several houses and provided for us the best education possible. He thus envisioned for us a future with infinite possibilities for the growth of the Kingdom of God through our sisterly witness, evangelization and catechesis. Today, more than ever we listen to the gentle whispers of our Father to each one of us, “My dear child, you are here to become a saint.” We beg Jesus to give us more zeal to become real living saints in our communities by imitating our own patron saints and following our Father’s teachings for the growth and holiness of the Church.

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Superiors General and their team

On 11 July 1956 our Father Founder appointed the Acting General Council:

Sr. Julia Narayan - Acting Superior General (1956 - 1958)
Sr. Margaret Cheriakakaramcherry - Acting Vicar General
Sr. Frances H. Esper - First Councillor
Sr. Teresina Gonsalves - Second Councillor & Novice Mistress
Sr. Elizabeth Chennakkaden - Third Councillor

In 1958 our Father Founder reconstituted the General Council:

Sr. Teresina Gonsalves: appointed as Superior General on 9 November 1958
1958 -1974
Sr. Frances H. Esper - Vicar General & Secretary
Councillors: Sr. Grace Chiramel/Sr. Mary Chalissery, Sr. Immaculata Puthenveetil/Sr.Teresita Nariculam.

Our FIRST GENERAL CHAPTER was held from 7 - 11 July 1964, presided over by our Father Founder. On 8 July the chapter elected for the first time the superior general and her councillors:

Superior General - Sister Teresina Gonsalves
Vicar General - Sr. Frances H. Esper
Councillors - Sr. Lily Chittilapilly, Sr. Pieta Manavalan, and Sr. Teresita Nariculam.

When Sr. Pieta and her group of sister-nurses left for Germany, this left a vacancy in the membership of the superior council. And so on 4 January 1968, the members of the council elected Sr. Celine Arukulasseril to substitute Sr. Pieta.

1974 - 1987
Sr. Mary Chalissery : Interim Superior General, appointed by the Holy See in February 1974. Councillors: Srs. Rosemary Nampudakathu, Clementine Pinheiro, Jacinta Noozhumurryl and Madeline Miranda.

GC II in 1975 elected Sr. Mary Chalissery as Superior General.
Vicar General : Sr. Pieta Manavalan
Councillors : Srs. Jacinta Noozhumurryl, Teresina Gonsalves and Rosemary Nampudakathu.
Secretary General - Sr. Jacinta Noozhumurryl
Economer General - Sr. Clementine Pinheiro

GC III in 1981 reelected Sr. Mary Chalissery as Superior General.
Vicar General : Sr. Pieta Manavalan
Councillors : Srs. Clementine Pinheiro, Madeline Miranda and Mercy Kannampadathil.
Secretary General - Sr. Rosita Chengazhacheril
Economer General - Sr. Lilian Njallakkatt

1987 - 1993
Sr. Pieta Manavalan: Elected as Superior General in 1987 by GC IV.
Councillors: Srs. Marie Pothanamala, Cicily Madampidy, Lisa Kalathil, Magdalene Gomes.

In 1990, as directed by the new constitutions and rules, Sr. Jaisy Varickamthotty was appointed as the fifth councillor by Sr. Pieta with the consent of the council.
Secretary General - Sr. Gratia Kuttianickal
Economer General - Sr. Regis Savarimuthu

1993 - 2005
Sr. Marie Pothanamala: Elected as Superior General in 1993 by GC V.
Councillors: Srs. Mercy Kannampadathil, Lisette Thuruthimattam, Madeline Miranda, Magdalene Gomes & Lourdes Chellamkott.
Secretary General - Sr. Jaisy Varickamthotty
Economer General - Sr. Lisa Kalathil

GC VI in 1999 reelected Sr. Marie Pothanamala as Superior General.
Councillors: Srs. Florette Thanikal, Lisette Thuruthimattam, Regis Savarimuthu, Madeline Miranda & Roselily Gomes.
Secretary General - Sr. Deepa Manjaly
Economer General - Sr. Molly Eanthumplackal

2005 - till date
Sr. Lisette Thuruthimattam: Elected Superior General in 2005 by GC VII
Councillors: Srs. Florette Thanikal, Celia Punnathanathu, Regis Savarimuthu, Daisy Andrade & Roselily Gomes.
Secretary General - Sr. Deepa Manjaly
Economer General - Sr. Daisy Andrade

GC VIII in 2011 reelected Sr. Lisette Thuruthimattam as Superior General.
Councillors: Srs. Dina Vellamaruthunkal, Daisy Andrade, Jaisy Varickamthotty, Jessy George & Mina D’Costa.
Secretary General - Sr. Jane Nadackal
Economer General - Sr. Daisy Andrade

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General Chapters

• GC I was held from 7 - 11 July 1964 at the Motherhouse, Krishnagar, presided over by our Father Founder. The election of delegates to the chapter was held in June 1964.
The following 15 perpetually professed Sisters attended the Chapter:
Srs. Bartholomea Biswas, Julia Narayan, Teresina Gonsalves, Frances Honorine Esper, Regina Biswas, Antonia Pudulil, Elizabeth Chennakkaden, Immaculata Puthenveetil, Teresita Nariculam, Florence Chittilapilly, Jacinta Noozhumurryl, Mary Chalissery, Lily Chittilapilly, Pieta Manavalan and Rosemary Nampudakathu.

On 8 July the chapter elected our first superior general and council:
Superior General - Sister Teresina Gonsalves
Vicar General - Sr. Frances H. Esper
Councillors - Srs. Pieta Manavalan, Lily Chittilapilly and Teresita Nariculam.

• GC II was held in two sessions: The Elective Chapter and the Chapter of Affairs.

The Elective Chapter took place at the Motherhouse on 11 May 1975, presided over by Rev. Fr. Augustus Cordeiro SJ, Apostolic Visitor. Out of 129 perpetually professed Sisters, 119 Sisters attended the chapter. The following Sisters were elected:
Superior General : Sr. Mary Chalissery
Vicar General : Sr. Pieta Manavalan
Councillors : Srs. Jacinta Noozhumurryl, Teresina Gonsalves and Rosemary Nampudakathu.

The Chapter of Affairs was held from 10 May to 5 June 1976. In this chapter the Constitutions and Rules were updated.

• GC III was held from 7 June to 5 July 1981 at the Motherhouse, with 66 participants, directed by Fr. John Zampetti, sdb, expert in Canon Law and Roman Law, and consultant of the Congregation of Propaganda Fide.
Theme : Renewal and updating of our Constitutions and Rules
Moderator: Sr. Lily Chittilapilly

Elections were held on 12 June 1981.
Superior General : Sr. Mary Chalissery was reelected
Vicar General : Sr. Pieta Manavalan
Councillors : Srs. Clementine Pinheiro, Madeline Miranda, and Mercy Kannampadathil.

• GC IV was held from 1 October to 3 November 1987 at the Motherhouse, Krishnagar, having 51 capitulars, directed by Fr. Anthony Roberts, SJ, Canonist. This was the first GC held after our Father Founder’s Going Home on 31 August, 1987.
Theme : Definitive edition of our Constitutions and Rules as per Vatican Council II.
Moderator: Sr. Madeline Miranda
Elections were held on 12 October 1987:
Superior General : Sr. Pieta Manavalan.
First Councillor : Sr. Marie Pothanamala
Other Councillors : Srs. Cicily Madampidy, Lisa Kalathil, and Magdalene Gomes.
The final text of the constitutions and rules proposed by the chapter received the sanction of the Holy See on 29 January 1990.

• GC V was held from 1 - 14 October 1993 at the Motherhouse, Krishnagar, having 41 members, guided by Fr. Anthony Roberts, SJ, Canonist.
Theme : Evangelization and Catechesis in the life and activities of the SMI.
Moderator: Sr. Gratia Kuttianickal
Elections were held on 3 October 1993:
Superior General : Sr. Marie Pothanamala
First Councillor : Sr. Mercy Kannampadathil
Other Councillors : Srs. Lisette Thuruthimattam, Madeline Miranda, Magdalene Gomes and Lourdes Chellamkott

• GC VI was held from l -16 October 1999 at the Motherhouse, Krishnagar, with 48 capitulars. For the first time, we did not have an outsider to guide the chapter since we had our own Sisters as canonists.
Theme: We SMI are to be communities of joyful, Consecrated SISTER APOSTLES - Vibrant Evangelizers and Catechists - Deeply rooted in Jesus’ own ABBA EXPERIENCE - To face with greater sisterly love and competence the challenges of the THIRD MILLENNIUM!
Moderator: Sr. Lourdes Chellamkott
Elections were held on 4 October 1999:
Superior General : Sr. Marie Pothanamala
First Councillor : Sr. Florette Thanikel
Other Councillors : Srs. Lisette Thuruthimattam, Regis Savarimuthu, Madeline Miranda and Roselily Gomes

GC VII was held from 1 - 17 October 2005 at our Motherhouse, Krishnagar, with 53 members attending it.
Theme : Centered on the Eucharist, we live a Reconciled Life to build a Sisterly Community for our Mission.
Moderator: Sr. Celia Punnathanathu
Elections were held on 3 October 2005:
Superior General : Sr. Lisette Thuruthimattam
First Councillor : Sr. Florette Thanikal
Other Councillors : Srs. Celia Punnathanathu, Regis Savarimuthu, Daisy Andrade and Roselily Gomes.

• GC VIII was held from 1 - 12 October 2011 at our Motherhouse, Krishnagar, with 49 members attending it.
Theme : SMI set on fire with the Word of God in our life and mission, especially in our ministry to women, girls and children of today
Moderator: Sr. Daisy Andrade
Elections were held on 3 October 2011:
Superior General : Sr. Lisette Thuruthimattam
First Councillor : Sr. Dina Vellamaruthunkal
Other Councillors : Srs. Daisy Andrade, Jaisy Varickamthotty, Jessy George and Mina D’Costa.

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