Wednesday 07 Jun 2023

Goans in Karachi: 1947 (Before): Goan Jesuits and Franciscan Missionaries of Christ King (FMCK)

Menin Rodrigues | SEPTEMBER 16, 2022, 07:52 PM IST

The history of the Jesuit movement in the Sub-continent can measure with great certainty the dedication and merit of fourteen young men from Karachi in the 1930s who contributed to the growth of the then nascent Gujarat Jesuit Region. All fourteen of them were of Goan heritage, born, brought up and educated in the renowned port-city of British India.

These include, Fr Edwin Pinto (First Bishop of Ahmedabad, Principal), Fr Charles Gomes (Bishop of Ahmedabad, Provincial, Missionary, Principal), Fr Anthony Lobo (School Principal/Founder, Jamnagar, Missionary), Fr Aloysius Fonseca (Writer, Social Activist Delhi, Rome), Fr Joseph Lobo (College Professor, School Principal, Missionary South Gujarat), Fr Gerald Lobo (School Principal, Anand), Fr Lionel Mascarenhas (Lifelong Professor, Dogmatic Theology, Pune), Fr Herbert de Souza (College Principal/Founder, Secretary of Education, Rome) Fr Frank Lobo (Parish Priest, Bhavnagar, Sabarmati, Maninagar), Fr Carl Fonseca (Principal, Rosary, Registrar Jnana Deepa, Pune), Fr Augustine Lobo (Secretary, St Xavier’s College), Fr Ignatius Pinto (School Principal, Rosary, Gandhinagar), Fr Freddy de Souza (School Principal, Rosary, Gandhinagar) and Fr Vally de Souza (Pioneer Missionary South Gujarat, School Principal/Founder).

Add that up: 2 Bishops, 1 Provincial, 1 College Principal/Founder, 9 High School Principals, 2 Founders of Schools, 2 Professors, 2 Assistancy Delegates, and 3 Missionaries.

The figures indicate but hardly reflect the full value of their contribution to the development of the Gujarat Province. These men lived their lives and carried out their tasks with distinction. Their memory is fast fading from our collective consciousness. So, for the record, I write this before the embers of a fire they kindled finally die out,” wrote Fr Vally de Souza SJ in an exclusive article published in my book, “Footprints on the Sands of Time” a few months before his passing away. He was born in Karachi in 1927 and died in Mandal, Gujarat, in 2020.

The congregation of the Franciscan Missionaries of Christ the King (FMCK) was founded in 1937 in Karachi, British India by Sr Bridget Sequeira (1905-1987), a native of Saligao, Portuguese India. It was initiated in collaboration with Mons Stanislaus Lemmens OFM who was a native of Holland. The FMCK chose a white sari with a border of three red lines, representing their three vows of ‘chastity, poverty and obedience'.

The platinum jubilee of the congregation was celebrated on July 28, 2012, in Karachi presided by Archbishop Joseph Coutts (now Cardinal), and May 2012 in Old Goa by Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao (now Cardinal), respectively. The congregation has approximately 300 sisters in both countries.

The FMCK Sisters in Pakistan have done a remarkable job over the years. On May 14, 1943, they took administrative charge of the Seth Mulchand Municipal Maternity Home in Karachi, renamed it as ‘St Clare’s Hospital’ and is now known as the Karachi Municipal Corporation Maternity Home. The sisters managed the hospital efficiently for thirty-five years before relinquishing charge on April 18, 1979.

Today, the congregation is well-known for their work in Dar-ul-Sukun (House of Peace) Karachi (, a home for children and adults with physical and mental disabilities. It was founded by Sr Gertrude Lemmens (FMCK) on February 17, 1969. Their vision is as follows: “We envision a society where all people with disability get preferential status in access to health care, education, food, shelter and employment opportunities, and to live an integrated and dignified life.”

The sisters also look after the St Vincent’s Home for the Aged which was established on September 12, 1960, by the Society of St Vincent de Paul, and is now administered by the Archdiocese of Karachi. The Dug-Out (for the old and feeble), Janiville (children from broken homes), Peace Haven and the Lemmens Home (for the aged and underprivileged) are also looked after by the FMCK congregation.

The Mother House of the FMCK is in Old Goa. There are about 200 sisters working in all parts of India and another 100 in Pakistan.

Next: 1947-1961 Goans remain in Karachi, become Naturalised Citizens.

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