OUR FOUNDRESS, MOTHER TERESA OF ST. ROSE OF LIMA
Mother Teresa of St. Rose of Lima, our Foundress was a pioneer in women’s education in Kerala. Though she was invited by the Carmelite Fathers to be a teacher, she was involved in various apostolate relevant to her time. She was a mother to the orphans, the .homeless and the abandoned. Her life was one of challenge i.e., taking care of those who had no place in society, those who were marginalized in one way or another. She sought to integrate such persons into the mainstream of life through her various apostolic works, according to the felt needs of her time. Truly she was a trend setter for us CSSTs to follow the path of Christ in the world of today.
MOTHER VERONICA OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT
Mother Veronica was the first Superior General of the CSST institute and this office she held for 12 years. During her term of office, St. Teresa’s School was granted recognition as a high school and St. Teresa’s College, Ernakulum was opened. When she laid down her office in 1934, the Congregation numbered 60, with four branch convents. From 1906, for nearly half a century Mother Veronica had in one way or other presided over and guided the destinies of the Institute.
MOTHER MARY OF THE INFANT JESUS
(Superior General: 1934-1952)
In 1934, Mother Mary was elected Superior General and this office she held for 18 years. This period could be called the golden age of the Congregation for she succeeded in building up the community of sisters both in quantity and quality. She was a great public relations officer for the Congregation and under her stewardship the convent won fame and name. She opened convents outside Kerala in affluent cities like Villupuram, Mysore and Bangalore. At the same time poor areas like Mundakayam, Eravipuram and Mathilakam were not neglected. Mother Mary had a warm and personal love for each and every sister and treated each one as a person very dear to her. She was a woman with a personal touch. Her qualities of head and heart guided her when she had to steer the Congregation through the difficult days of World War II.
MOTHER ALPHONSUS OF THE MOTHER OF GOD
(Superior General: 1952-1964)
Mother Mary’s death was a crippling blow to the Congregation. Mother Alphonsus who succeeded her seemed inadequate for this task. But God made use of this “inadequate” instrument to expand the Congregation even to the foot of the Himalayas. The missionary activities of the Congregation in the North began during her time. ‘Distant places like Chakkai in Bihar experienced the Carmelite influence during her time. She shifted the Novitiate from St. Teresa’s Ernakulum to Whitefield, Bangalore. Two more Colleges- Mt. Carmel Training College, Kottayam and Teresian College, Mysore – were added to the list of our Educational Institutions.
MOTHER RITA OF THE PRECIOUS BLOOD
Mother Rita succeeded Mother Alphonsus and steered the Congregation for two consecutive terms of six years each. It was the time of Second Vatican Council when winds of change shook most Church Institutions, Rome asked every Congregation to re-evaluate its structures and revise its Constitutions. Naturally, the sisters were divided in to ‘conservatives’ and ‘progressives’. Several changes were introduced. It was Mother Rita’s broad vision, tact, prudence, firmness and a great sense of humor that helped to overcome the difficulties and problems facing the Congregation then, and to implement the revised constitution in 1973. In keeping with the directions of Vatican II, the Congregation went back to re-discover its roots and this inspired Sr. Theodora to bring out the book on the Foundress, “ A Worthy Daughter Of St. Teresa” Mother Rita extended the Congregation to foreign countries like America and the Gulf. She also opened new convents in India.
MOTHER BERNARDINE OF JESUS
(Superior General: 1976-1982)
Mother Bernardine was elected Superior General in 1976. She continued the general policy of expansion and opened sixteen convents, including one in Kenya, Africa. It was she who started the rehabilitation centre on a 23 acre plot at Edathala, the first of its kind in the Institute, mainly designed to absorb girls who leave orphanages and who are still unable to fit into society. The new Chapel block of St. Teresa’s Ernakulam was her brain child. Social service centres and dispensaries were started in many parts of the country and also many convents in mission stations. Deeply interested in such projects, Mother Bernardine sent many sisters for nursing and Social Work training. Many of the projects started by Mother Teresa and discontinued afterwards were revived by Mother Bernardine. Towards the close of her term of office, the Generalate was shifted to Bangalore.
(Superior General: 1982-1988)
Mother Digna was elected as Superior General Chapter in 1982. A born administrator with sharp intellect and great eloquence, Mother Digna had a rich experience as principal of St. Teresa’s College for 33 years and as Councillor to the Superior General for 12 years- before she assumed the office of Superior General. The Chapter made it imperative for Mother Digna to implement at least two decisions: inculturation and simplicity of life - for the Congregation. It was no easy task. But with dogged determination and unflinching courage, she went ahead and at great cost, succeeded in exposing every sister in the Congregation to an experience in Indian Spirituality and inculturation. Mother Digna opened 12 new convents; some of them for simplicity of life style and apostolate for the poor, like ‘Anawim’ in Puduvype, ‘Baliguda’ in Orissa. Mother Digna, mellowed with age, had a soft corner for all especially for the sick. The crowning glory of her term of office was her nomination by the Holy Father to attend the Synod on Laity at Rome from 1st to 31stOctober, 1987. Her dynamism and vitality were outstanding at every council meeting, or by the bed side of a youngster, or while addressing a V.I.P. gathering. She will remain an inspiration to the Institute for many more years to come.
MOTHER YVONNE MARIE
( Superior General:1988-2000)
Mother Yvonne Marie succeeded Mother Digna. Mother Yvonne Marie had the rich experience of leading the sisters of our Northern Region as Regional Superior for tow years and as local superior in our various convents in India and abroad, before she assumed the office of the Superior General. A tactful, effective and efficient Maths teacher, Mother Yvonne Marie is a rare combination of elegance and simplicity. A far- sighted visionary, Mother Yvonne Marie led the Institute with a personal touch and great planning. It was her missionary vision that made the CSST presence possible in Argentina. Her aesthetic sense and talents specially for architect enriched the entire Institute in a remarkable way. The new Generalate Block, where the General Team resides and Villa St. Joseph Jettihundi, Mysore where our senior sisters retire are the fruit of her initaitive . Her gentle, unassuming and refined manners, and thoughtfulness for individual sisters have made her a memorable leader, for all CSSTs as well as her colleagues.
( Superior General:2000-2012)
Sr. Victorine was elected Superior General when the entire universe was soaked in the celebration of Kristu Jayanti 2000. A soft spoken and gentle leader, Sr. Victorine encouraged the sisters to stay in tune with the CSST Charism and be united with each other. An exemplary CSST, she fostered mutual respect and love between the sisters and remained a great source of courage, and encouragement to make the Institute move forward motivating, helping and strengthening the sisters. Her compassionate heart encouraged the sisters to work in Sudan, Africa for a few years. It was during her period, the love for Mother Foundress was rekindled in the hearts of the sisters more than ever. The first convent at Mangapatnam, the place of our Mother Foundress’ death was her brain child. The Death Centenary and the Sesquicentennial birth anniversary of our Foundress were memorable events in the annals of the CSST Institute. The Mission Congress held in the year 2011, turned out to be a unique platform for fellowship and spiritual renewal and the first of its kind in the CSST Institute that gave the sisters an opportunity to strengthen their faith journey. The Mission Congress brought together, the largest number of sisters, in the Institute as one family. As the spiritual source of strength, during her leadership, she has made our journey easier and the passage of time more fulfilling.
PRESENT SUPERIOR GENERAL
The present Superior General, Sr. Chris was elected to the office at the General Chapter 2012. An effective formator for more than two decades, she served the Institute, as Novice Mistress, General Councillor for Formation and Tertian mistress. The warmth radiating from her words is so gently persuasive that it helps the sisters to look at themselves without causing them pain. Saint and sinner, ascetic and worldling, old and young alike feel at home under the virtue of her confidentiality and hospitality. Specialized in Carmelite Spirituality from Teresianum, Rome, she holds her Ph. D. from the University of Mysore. A visionary leader who possesses an unusually large degree of openness to new information as well as traditional values, enables and empowers the sisters to move forward with persistence and conviction, trusting in the Divine hands that leads them.