04/06/2016, 14.23
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Diocese of Eluru, the 50th anniversary of the convent of the Missionaries of the Immaculate

by Benigna Menezes*

The celebration took place on April 4, the day of the Feast of the Annunciation. The bishop recalled the importance of the evangelizing mission of the Sisters. The Tanuku parish was founded in 1962. In 1966 the missionaries arrived and now run a technical training school as well as bringing healthcare to the people in the villages.

Eluru (AsiaNews) - The convent of the Immaculate Missionary Vimala (female congregation linked to the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions) celebrated the 50th anniversary of its foundation, which dates back to 1966. The celebration took place on April 4 in Tanuku, in West Godavari (Andhra Pradesh district), on the occasion of the Feast of the Annunciation. Msgr. Jaya Rao Polymeric, bishop of the diocese, presided at a liturgy dedicated to the work of missionaries. Addressing the religious sisters and more than 20 priests, the bishop said: "You here have made a difference by spreading the Gospel and working to serve people".

Msgr. Jaya Rao praised the missionary "for your effort in bringing the light of Christ among the masses, through catechesis, visits to families, spiritual support, education and other means." "For 50 years, your presence - he continued - brings hope and joy to hopeless situations, because you work as ambassadors of God to free those who are in darkness. This is why we must celebrate this Jubilee of Mercy. Let us rejoice and sing praises to the Lord for blessing your 50 years of evangelization. "

Until 1957, Tanuku was a remote location of Bhimavaram parish. In that year, Fr. Jacob Medayil, the pastor of Bhimavaram, was invited by a Tamil family visiting the area. Through his visits and his zeal, he welcomed some families into the Christian community through baptism. On August 15, 1962, along with 75 Catholics he erected the parish of Tanuku.

The church and rectory were built on 8 December 1963. At that point, Msgr. Ambrogio De Battista, Bishop of Vijayawada, the then Bishop of the diocese invited the PIME Missionaries of the Immaculate to serve in the parish. On June 15, 1966 Vimala Convent was founded, along with a nursing school. In 1973 the government also granted a license for a primary school.

Mother Clara Bellotti was the founder of this mission. She had a very clear vision of the sisters' task: to help the poor girls who lived in the rural area to have better job opportunities. So in 1973 she also opened a tailoring center, which was joined by a writing class the following year.

Over the years, the school has become the Vimala Industrial Training Centre (ITC), which forms students and ensures them good job opportunities. Next to the school there is also a campus that offers free accommodation to students.

Through the work of the missionaries, participation in the Christian community has also increased. The sisters visit villages and bring medicines, support, and education to the poor population.

Today, there are thousands of Catholics and recently 50 new chapels were built in the villages scattered in the territory, which house prayer meetings and celebrations of the liturgy on a regular basis. Those present, including many lay collaborators, thanked the missionaries and pioneers of Tanuku community for their "generous service."

*Missionary of the Immaculate

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