Women’s Day Special: Rev. Dr. Mariola BS-A Sister With Social Conscience

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By Dr. Eugene DSouza
Bellevision Media Network

Udupi/M’Belle, 08 March 2024: It has been a common perception that  religious, either men or women who find vocation join the orders or congregations of their choice and live an isolated life of prayer, sacrifice and abnadonment of worldly responsibilities.  This may be true in some of the cloistered religious comunities. However, with the chaninging times, the church has been quite aware of the need to serve the people not only spiritually but also respond to their social, economic, legal and emotional needs. Hence, a number of religious congregations encourage their community memebrs to take up higher education according to their ability and train them in different fields by which they can serve the society in a better way.  In this respect, on the Women’s Day Special, the story of Sr. Mariola BS, originally hailing  from Moodubelle having joined the Bethany Sisters Congregation went on acquiring higher education including two Post Graduate degrees, a Law degree and Doctorate (Ph.D.) and having served in different capacities in the congregation and social service institutions she has proved herself as “A Sister with Social Conscience”.


Sr. Mariola BS was born  at kattingeri-Moodubelle on 07 November 1968 as the fifth  among six children,one son and  five daughters of Salvadore and Christine D’Souza. She was named ‘Benedicta’ at her Baptism. Being an agriculturist, Salvadore brought up his children with hard work, love and care and Christian values. Besides agriclutre, the family also earned a little additional income through jasime cultivation.


After completing her higher primary and high school education in St. Lawrence Educational Institutions in Moodubelle, Sr. Mariola moved to St. Agnes College, Mangalore where she pursued PUC and Graduation. Her hunger for higher education and additional qualification promted her to earn Bachelor of Law Degree (LL.B.)  from  Havanur Law College, Bangalore,  Post graduate Degree (MA) in Economics from the Mysore University and MA in Human Rights from the Anna Malai University, Chennai.


The dream of every bright student is to earn the highest academic degree, that is, Ph.D. Sr. Mariola earned this coveted degree in Economics (2018) from Bharathidasan University, Trichi. The title of her Thesis is: “A study on the implementation of food security schemes among the slum dwellers of Mangalore city: A Human Rights Perspective”.


Sr. Mariola joined the Bethany Congregation on 24 June 1984. Her parents were quite supportive of her vocation to join the religious order. Following her initial training, Sr. Mariola made her first profession on 15 April 1989 and perpetual profession on 01 May 1995.



Sr. Mariola’s service record has been quite impressive and challenging. Recognizing her ability, the Bethany Congregation appointed Sr. Mariola as the Office Secretary to the Provincialate from 1995 to 2000. Later, she served in the Shubadha Shelter Home for Women in Distress from 2000 to 2003, Jeevandhara Social Service Trust from 2003 to 2005 of which she became the Director and Secretary from 2011 to 2016. In between, Sr. Mariola served as the Superior of St. Raymond’s Convent, Vamanjoor along with the responsibility of Correspondent of  St. Raymond’s Institutions between 2005 to 2008. One of the important position held by Sr. Mariola was the National Coordinator of Right to Food under CBCI-JPD Commission from 2008 to 2011. Sr. Mariola was also the Councillor to the Provincial Superior & Province Coordinator for Social Action from 2013 to 2016 and later Councillor to the Provincial Superior & Province Coordinator for Education from 2016 to 2020. Sr. Mariola proved her administrative capabilities as the Principal of Madeleine PU College, Mulki  from 2020 to 2022. Presently, Sr. Mariola is the Superior of Madeleine Convent Mulki and the Deputy Secretary of Bethany Educational Society at Mangalore with effect from 20 August 2022.


Sr. Mariola’s Contributions to the Society has been quite remarkable. The study of Civil Law enabled her to take up a socio-pastoral approach in building families and restoring human dignity of many irrespective of caste, religion and language. She has two Masters Degrees in Economics and in Human Rights.


The service of Sr. Mariola as the National Corodinator of ‘Right to Food Campaign’ under the Justice and Peace Development Commission of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India for a period of three years from  2008-2011 has been quite significant. Being an expert in Food Security Campaign, she is a member of the Strategy Group of Food for Life Campaign of Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA) under the World Council of Churches based in Geneva from 2013 to 2019 and regularly attended meetings twice a year up to 2016. Another important assignment of Sr. Mariola was that she represented Asia at the United Nations Organization (UNO) at New York, USA as a member of  the Preparatory Committee on  Arms, Trade and Treaty and attended the meetings in 2010 and 2011. In 2010, Sr. Mariola got an opportunity to study Human Rights at Manila, Philippines through Franciscan International in December 2010. As late as October 2023, Sr. Mariola attended International Advocacy Forum of the Union of the International Superior Generals at Rome.


Through her doctoral studies on the topic “A study on the implementation of Food security Schemes among the slum dwellers of Mangalore City: A Human Rights Perspective” has made significant  impact on the implementation of food schemes among the rural and urban poor.


Rights based approch has been the methodology of Sr. Mariola and human rights perspective has been her mindset while dealing with different issues of social and legal actions.


Sr. Mariola has been in the Bethany Sisters Congregation for 34 years and continues to be the voice, feet and name of Jesus among the poor. She strongly believes that the other name of God is ‘the poor’. In the congregation she has served as the Provincial Councillor of the Mangalore Province for two terms.


Realizing the knowledge and expertise of Sr. Mariola in different fields, she was appointed as the member of Child Welfare Committee of Dakshina Kannada District  from 2013 to 2017; Grievance Cell of Cognizant Company  from 2018 to 2020; and Grievance Cell – Social Welfare Board.



The contribution of Sr. Mariola in educating and training youngsters included Interactive CD Right to Food Campaign – Trainers’ Kit; Children for a Better Tomorrow – Christ Rights – 44 modules and Co-authoring the book “Movement Building”. Sr. Mariola has been training on line young ambassadors against human trafficking.


Having studied Law and serving in institutions such as Shubadha Shelter Home for Women in Distress and Jeevandhara Social Service Trust, Sr. Mariola has specialization in the following areas: Rights of Children, POSH –Prevention of Sexual Harassment; POCSO Policy – Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act;  Human Rights Education; Legal Counselling and Assistance to the Couples; Responsible Parenting; Rights Based Approach to Development; Total Quality Management of Educational Organizations; Anti-Human Trafficking and Social Advocacy; Social Analysis; and Right to Food Campaign.


The education, training and service of Rev. Dr. Mariola BS has been quite remarkable, impressive and exemplary. She is a role model not only to members of the religious communities but also lay persons who have a strong desire to excel themselves in studies and social service. Sr. Mariola, through her dedicated service in different fields has proved to be “A Sister With Social Conscience”.



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