The Thirteenth General Chapter (2016) elected Sr Susheela Sequiera as the successor of Sr Doreen D’Souza, She is a person of farsighted vision and kind hearted leader. She appointed Sr Lucy Lilly Pinto as the Secretary to the UFES. She continued organizing annually a ten- day residential training programme for groups of 25 to 30 teaching personnel of the UFES in Basic Counseling Skills; and fostered ecological movement in all the schools through programmes such as Earth is our Common Home( 2016) and Nurture Nature(2017) A movement for Catholic students ‘Ursuline Franciscan Blooms’ was started on 8th December 2016 and a convention of Ursuline Franciscan Bloom’ was organized on December 1, 2017 Ursuline Franciscan Education Society Website was launched in November 2017 .
The collaborators of the UFES, in imparting quality education, which is the highway to a better world, in imitation of their teacher Jesus Christ, face continuing challenges. They pertain to confusion regarding the ‘Right to Education Act’, the scheme of midday-meals to government-aided-schools, special privileges to students of minority communities, excess teachers, vacancies in schools, mass promotion, undue intrusion of the government in the management of the private educational institutions and constant attempts to curb the constitutional rights of the minorities. The fall in the number of students in Kannada medium schools is a serious concern as well.
‘The Lord may not call equipped people but, he does equip the people he calls.’ The foundational event of the UFES lies in a group of affluent people who shunned glamour as well as fortunes and embraced the challenge of reaching out with their incalculable service to the marginalized in all areas including education. Their passion for holistic development of people guided them to venture into areas and regions ignored thus far. Their cradle of service at Bunder(Bolar) and their inspired act to pioneer the instruction of the Kannada medium are acts in the 1880s which are truly commendable. The foundation laid by the pioneers, has been an exemplary launching pad for the successive members of the Congregation/UFES to march onward. Hence in rendering services to those who are ‘poor by circumstances’ the members of the UFES are called to be ‘poor by choice’. They are also called upon to grapple with challenges, live with tensions, and trust in the incessant blessings of God…. May they have a glorious path to tread in the years ahead!
Besides, several financial projects have been initiated at various levels of the Congregation: Nympha Nidhi and Tobia Payana at the level of the Congregation, ‘Education Relief Fund’ at UFES level, and ‘Girl Child Fund’ and ‘Spandana Fund’ at the Province level, ‘Child Sponsorship Programme’ and ‘Poor Students Fund’ at the level of the schools. The projects support the education of girl children and children of economically weak parents. The treasurers of the UFES (the General Economer of the Congregation) also have a claim to be acknowledged for their tireless service. Sr M. Carita Sequeira (1964-1980); Sr Lilly Dias (1980-1985); Sr Angeline Sequeira (1985-1998); Sr Trecilla D’Mello (1998-2010); Sr Genevieve Pinto (2010-2015) Sr Pramila D’Cunha ( 2015- ) have been treasurers of the UFES thus far.
Sensing the need for literacy and quality education in the Northen part of Karnataka, the Sisters started Roshni School in Hangal, Haveri District in 2002 and Prerana School at Surpur Yadigiri District in 2007.
In accord with the decision of the twelfth General Chapter (2010), the commissions, excepting the Finance Commission, began to be operative at the level of the Province only. This is because the Provinces managed efficiently their various apostolic ventures. However, the Education Commission was reformed as the ‘Education Cell’. The UFES Secretary is the convener of the Cell; the deputy education secretaries as well as three field experts nominated by the General Council constitute the Cell. The functions of the Cell entail, planning programmes, enhancing education, and evaluating the process on a regular basis.
In 2003, by the initiative of Sr Edilburga Monteiro and her team, Advisory Bodies called Commissions were formed at the Congregation level as well as the Province level to streamline the administration in all fields. The Education Commission sought to fulfill the task of undertaking need-based analysis of the new projects of the schools of the UFES. It also monitored the implementation and evaluation of the projects pertaining to the field of education.
The year 1995 is memorable in the history of the Congregation. On January 27, it obtained the Decree of Pontifical Approval. The rapid growth in number of Sisters and institutions necessitated the erection of Provinces. In 1997, in line with the decentralization move of the Congregation, the power of educational institutions, which vested thus far with the General Secretary of Education, was shared with the Deputy Education Secretaries (DES). The DES is the Provincial Councilor holding the portfolio of education at the province/vice-province level. Currently, the number of DES is five. The Deputy Education Secretaries generally discharge their responsibility for a period of three years. Since 1997 Sr Lucy Lilly Pinto, Sr Theresia Serra, Sr Linet D’Souza, Sr. Lina L.Rodrigues (Mangalore Province), Sr Nonnita Pinto, Sr Emily D’Souza, Sr Gratia D’Souza and Sr Lilly Rodrigues ( Mysore Province), Sr Benny Fernandes, Sr Veera D’Souza, Sr Juliana Pereira and Sr Mary CJ ( North-East Province), Sr Sangeeth D’Souza, Sr Antonette, Sr Cecilia D’Souza, Sr Apoline Pinto, Sr Jessy Cutinha and Sr Philomena Rani (North Province), Sr Margaret D’Souza (Hubli Province), Sr Leena Mathias, Sr Sunitha Rodrigues (Coordinator of Education in Africa Region) in their own jurisdictions have contributed immensely to the functioning of the Society.
In 1987, Sisters were able to open a second school in the North-East. Assisi Primary School in English medium was established at Dimapur in Nagaland. Alongside, Assisi Evening School, a sub-school was started in view of catering to school dropouts and for those who could not afford regular day-school. The Evening School is catering to more than a thousand children belonging to the category stated above.
As in other areas, in the area of education too, the Sisters had been discerning the signs of the times and responding to them enthusiastically. To facilitate their benevolence, the Congregation initiated the process of equipping and upgrading the Sisters both academically and resourcefully. This in turn enabled them to establish schools in English medium and extend their educational services in Dharwad, Bangalore and Karwar Districts.
The founding members of the UFES, rightfully deserve a mention at this stage for building it through their prayers, sacrifices and persevering labour of love. It is an honour to recount the names of Rev Mother Genevieve Castelino, Mother Reparata D’Souza, Mother Carita Sequeira, Mother Margaret D’Souza, Mother Ernestine D’Almeida, Mother Elise Mendonca, Sister Alicia Suarez, Sister Nympha Menezes and Sister Eugene D’Souza. Mother Genevieve, Mother Reparata and Mother Carita were the president, secretary and treasurer of the Society respectively.
The Superior General functioned as the official correspondent between the Institute and the Department of Education until the formal registration of the UFES was done in 1964. The names of Mother Mary Agnes Mathias (Superior General), Mother Rose Saldanha (Superior General) and Mother Margaret D’Souza (Councilor General) must be recorded in this history of the UFES for their tireless efforts to shape professionally the education apostolate of the Congregation. The succeeding Superior General, namely, Rev. Mother Genevieve Castelino along with Mother Reparata D’Souza, the Secretary to the newly registered Society, enhanced further the development of the Society.