The Congregation of the Sisters of the Little Flower of Bethany, popularly known as ‘Bethany Sisters,’ has completed 100 years of service to God and humanity, across the world.
Founded on July 16, 1921, at Bendur, Mangaluru, by Father Raymond Francis Camillus Mascarenhas of Mangalore diocese, the indigenous congregation caters to ordinary society, according to the signs of the times.
At present, the congregation has convents in nine countries of Asia, Europe and Africa continents. They are found from the Sahara desert in Africa, Vatican City, the mid-ranges of the Himalayas and the shores of Kanniyakumari.
The dedicated service of 1,378 Bethany sisters, in 26 states of India and 63 dioceses reaches the marginalised people without any reservation.
They are dedicated especially to the advancement of girl children, women and rural poor. They strive to alleviate poverty and transform lives.
In the social sector, 142 sisters with the help of 350 collaborators in the 56 centres work for the all-round development of 150,000 women, 113,000 children, 156,000 youth as well as the uplift of the rural communities irrespective of religion and caste.
They also serve victims of the coronavirus pandemic and thousands of migrants across India.
Bethany Educational Society
The Bethany Educational Society (R) (BES) strives to become a beacon of light for millions of young people, with a vast network of primary and higher educational institutions.
It has 185 educational institutions including two degree colleges, 35 junior colleges, 45 children’s homes for the poor, with 3,500 staff members in formal education and hundreds of non-formal education centres in the urban and village slums have given hope of a dignified life.
In the health sector, trained in allopathy, homoeopathy, Ayurveda, physiotherapy, to deal with the mentally and physically challenged; Bethany Sisters serve in four hospitals and 45 rural village health centres. They serve also the homes of senior citizens.
Four lady teachers of St Sebastian School, Bendur – Flora Mathias (Sr M Clare BS), Marcelline Menezes (Sr M Martha BS), Alice Mathias (Sr M Lourdes BS) and Regina Gertrude Gonsalves (Sr M Gertrude BS) were the first members of the congregation.
The congregation was canonically erected on July 28, 1932, eleven years after it was set up. However, the first novitiate was opened on May 15, 1933, at Bendur. And the first superior general was Mother Martha, who served from 1925 to 1946.
Currently, the tenth superior general Sister Rose Celine, along with her council members leads the congregation.
The centenary year (2020-2021), was inaugurated on July 11, 2020, at the original historic convent chapel in Bendur amid strict Covid protocol.
Sister Celine placed a high momentum on the six ongoing projects undertaken for the centenary. Decadal preparation made prior to the centenary by way of spiritual rejuvenation of the congregation; Introduction of perpetual adoration in 2018 in response to the last will and testament of the founder; Housing project on-going for 100 poor families across India.