May 2020 Print

The Orphanage in India

By the Consoling Sisters


Mother, could you please present yourself?

I am Sr. Mary Immaculata of the Cross, superior of the Consoling Sisters of the Sacred Heart Convent in India.

You belong to the “Consoling Sisters.” Can you briefly tell us the history of this Congregation? The founder and various foundations?

Oh well, our founder, Don Basilio was a Passionist priest. He was a fervent preacher on the passion of our Lord and Our Lady of Sorrows. In 1950 he was elected Provincial Superior of the Congregation of the Passionists. Passionists would remark of him “being the one of the keenest intellects he had come across.” In 1961, encouraged by the Bishop of Soriano nel Cimino (Viterbo) he formed a group of young girls who aspired to religious life. And after much reflection and prayer, founded the first community of “Consoling Sisters of the Sacred Heart.”

It was approved as a pious union by Bishop Massimiliani of Civita Castellana (about one hour north of Rome) in 1961. Within 15 years, the community already had four houses across the country. As with Msgr. Lefebvre, he too saw the damages wrought to the religious life by the spirit of “adaptation to the modern times.” Fr. Basilio spent his last years in Vigne di Narni to keep as much as possible and to foster a deeper devotion to the Sacred Heart. A few months before his death on August 23, 1996, Father Basilio gave his spiritual testament to the sisters and entrusted this little flock of his to Fr. Emmanuel du Chalard and asked the Society of Saint Pius X to provide for the spiritual needs of the community.

What is your apostolate?

To console the Sacred Heart of Jesus not only in our devotions and the promotion of devotion to the Sacred Heart through the practice of “The Guard of Honor” and the recitation of the nine “Offices of the Sacred Heart”, we also console Him in our work for the elderly who reside at the convent, we console Him through our invaluable assistance to the priests of the Society of Saint Pius X, at retreats, at summer camps and above all by caring for the orphans in India.

What is the connection between the Indian and the Italian sisters?

Following an invitation by Fr. Couture, the District Superior of Asia, in 2006, the Consoling Sisters agreed to welcome me as a postulant. I was running my own orphanage and home for the elderly at that time. The orphanage was first started in 2000 in Cuddapah, Andhra Pradesh and once I found tradition it was moved to Tirunelveli which is 750 kms (466 mi) away so as to be near to the SSPX priory in January 2006. After my formation in Italy I came back to India in 2008 as a Consoling Sister and so our first house in India started. We are seven professed sisters now and we have one postulant in Italy. The convent is now located in Burkitmanagar, Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu. Now the mother house is in Italy, and it is also the novitiate. We try to send our aspirants there to receive their formation.


Is working with orphans the main outlet of your apostolate?

Besides our dedicated life of prayer for priests and I would say this is our main apostolate—yes, you can say that the Servi Domini Orphanage is our secondary apostolate. And we also have ten elderly women—totally abandoned by their families.

How do you measure the “success” of your apostolate with these children?

It is a tricky question as the workings of grace are not too evident to our eyes. It does transcend time and space. But what we do want or rather what we sow is the formation a girl would need to be a good Catholic mother. Obviously, it should be done in a family milieu. Because these kids do not have such an atmosphere or rather they come from a very dark childhood—we have to work double-time to provide—not just food and clothing—but also the warmth of heartfelt kindness and a delightful hope that somehow tomorrow will be a bright day for them than their past darkened by misfortune. To answer your question—the measure of our success is precisely this—we try to bring them to the Sacred Heart. If they stay there, even outside of these walls—until they die—then we have accomplished something. This obviously is the grace we beg from the Heart of Jesus.


Sister, when you talk about abandoned kids or orphans—how do they find you?

Most of the children are brought to us by those who know us—priests, teachers, relatives of the children. Some of the kids are given to us by the government. Most of them come very young. We also have children a little older (10-12 years) come when they lose their parents.

What is the help you receive from the SSPX priests? Are you somewhat dependent practically on the SSPX or is it mostly a spiritual support?

As our founder entrusted our congregation to the SSPX, we still continue to look for spiritual benefits from the SSPX. And we have been very blessed, I should say. Daily Mass, benediction, spiritual conferences and even guidance in our apostolate. The SSPX has truly been a godsend. We are very grateful. If the Holy Sacrifice is and should be the center of religious life—and it is not possible without a priest—it just shows how much we are indebted to the priesthood, and specially in a day like ours, where ever-modern priests devalue religious life. We fully believe the SSPX offers a safe haven for those who truly pursue their religious vocation. To answer your other question, it is an independent entity legally and we are not dependent on the SSPX in legal matters.

Do you have any prospect of foundations in India? in other countries?

Right now we have two houses in Italy—in Vigne and in Montalenghe—and one in India. In future, God willing, we would like to open a house in the USA as many vocations are coming from there, thanks to large families.


Any wishes you wish to extend to the American readers?

If I have to summarize our sentiments, it would be “God bless America!” Americans are universally known for their generosity and here it is no different. And so we are truly grateful for all you do for us. As the numbers of American vocations rise in our community, perhaps Americans have an added duty if I may say it on the lighter note. Seriously, we truly depend on your assistance, and as you are already aware, your contribution goes a long way and it truly helps us to do what we are doing.

Any last word?

“Wherever Christianity is hated by the world, what really counts is not the power of persuasion but nobility of heart.” And nobility precisely manifests itself in the unflinching courage to do the duty of our life well. And of course, let us offer to the Heart of Jesus those consolations which He deserves. This may not be a ‘fashionable thing” according to the standards of the world. But what is offered in our heart—unknown by the world and to the world—is what truly counts. Thank you father for your interest in our apostolate and I humbly beg the prayers of yours and of your readers.