Bhubaneswar (AsiaNews) - The Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit (SSpS) operating in Odisha (Orissa) have decided to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the founding of their congregation (1889-2014) by offering a scholarship to ten poor deserving girls to pursue their studies, get a job and become independent. The event was celebrated on 8 December in Jharsuguda.
Sister Regina George, provincial superior of the religious in eastern India, calls it "a small gesture;" however, the endowment will be a great deal more for the ten lucky girls from Odisha, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal.
The scholarship in fact will allow the missionaries to fund the girls' education from kindergarten through university, until they find a job. The initiative is expected to be funded by the congregation's friends and benefactors.
"Our congregation," Sister Celine Joseph told AsiaNews, "came to India in 1933, when four sisters arrived from Germany. Looking back, we can proudly say that our missionary calling, devotion and international and intercultural community are what keeps this order alive."
The congregation was founded on 8 December 1889 in Steyl, Netherlands, following an intuition of Arnold Janssen, founder of the Society of the Divine Word (1875).
The charism of the Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit is based on faith, simplicity, commitment, and a deep desire to bring the Word of God among the nations of the world.
At present, the congregation has about 3,156 religious in 50 countries, involved in the ministries of education, health, social activities and pastoral care. Out of 410 Indian-born missionaries, 75 are working in other countries.
Whilst the congregation has been in India for 80 years, the Sisters arrived in the State of Odisha 40 years ago. "We have a wonderful past to build on," Sister Shiji Jacob said, "and the future calls us forth towards larger horizons of meaning and possibilities."
The liturgical memory of Mother Teresa of Calcutta fell on 5 September. Sisters brought rice, red lentils, biscuits, and clothes to 130 Christian families, an example of Mother Teresa's real love to the needy in the slums.
More than 2,500 people took part in the memorial service for the missionary’s centennial, who spent five years in the Dachau concentration camp, an experience that helped him prepare for his future mission in India. Fr Marian dedicated his life to the poor and those living with leprosy; in them he saw the face of God.
The congregation set up the Uday Social Development Society in 2009. "[E]ducation is the key to success in life". The NGO offers sewing, embroidery, cooking and home economics courses. Its goal is to make women independent and "agents of social transformation".