HISTORY OF THE INDIAN MISSION OF THE CONGREGATION
[Translation of an article found in the Souvenir published by our sisters on the occasion of the 125 year jubilee of the St. Joseph’s hospital at St. Vith, Belgium.]
The Congregation of the Cellittinnen Augustinians was founded on 19th November 1838 by a group of Augustinian sisters in the Diocese of Cologne, Germany. The Congregation follows the Rule of St. Augustine, who is the heavenly patron of the Congregation. The Congregation honours also St. Elizabeth of Hungary as the Patroness of the Congregation since it is on her feast day, November 19, that the sisters have received a written request for their service in the Government Hospital. Having discerned divine providence and the will of God in this invitation, the pioneers of our Congregation started to render their service to the needy in the hospital. In this move they identified the Charism of the Congregation: “Moved by the compassionate love of God, we respond to the signs of the time.” In those days they were mainly involved in the nursing care of the sick.
The Congregation is affiliated to the world wide community of the Augustinian Order and thus we add ‘Order of St. Augustine’ (OSA) to our names. All professed members of the Congregation add “Mary” to their names, out of gratitude to Holy Mary, Mother of God, for the manifold blessings we have received through her. It was a diocesan congregation. The congregation is declared as a congregation of Pontifical right from 25th January 2011.
The Indian Mission
Although the Congregation had developed and flourished rapidly, it rooted itself only in Germany and Belgium until 1964. Responding to the call of Vatican II, our Congregation also began to dream of opening its doors to the missions.The providential meeting in 1963 between Mother M. Cleta Höschen, the then Superior General of the Congregation, and the then Archbishop of Changanacherry, Mar Mathew Kavukattu, led to the decision that the Congregation would extend its roots to the Indian soil.
The Cellittinnen Augustinians are known in India as Augustinian Sisters.
In November 1967, Mother M. Cleta visited India for the second time, accompanied by Sr. Wiltrud. They brought with them Sr. Rudolfa Pulickal and Sr. Lucida Thadathanayil to help the German sisters to establish the Indian mission. In February 1968 Sr. Gabriela came along with Sr. Francis Mannarkulam to stay at Kumily. However, Sr. Gabriela had to return to Germany after a week. The three German sisters were called back to Germany by the end of 1968. The 3 young Indian sisters were supported by Sr. Priscilla and Sr. Mary of the Cross, members of the Congregation of the Daughters of the Cross from Bombay. These sisters were entrusted with the responsibility of guiding the Indian sisters for a few months.