Sr. Eugene D’Souza-Superior General of the Sisters of the Cross of Chavanod

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By Dr. Eugene D’Souza, Moodubelle
Bellevision Media Network

Moodubelle, 25 July 2010: The spiritual journey of Sr. Eugene D’Souza from a devout family from Moodubelle to the religious Congregation of the Sisters of the Cross of Chavanod and her missionary work in different parts of India and as the Provincial of the Nagpur Province of the Congregation and finally as the Superior General of the same Congregation that has spread in different parts of the world has been an endeavour of spiritual quest, self discovery, missionary and social work, sacrifices and the will of God. Her transformation from an average shy girl in the school into a strongly spiritual nun dedicated to the service of God and humanity has been quite inspiring. 

Sr. Eugene was born in a large and reputed family on 24th January 1951. Her father, late Emmanuel D’Souza (Monnu Master) of Kattingeri was a well-known personality in Moodubelle. Her mother late Magdalene D’Souza was a devout and caring mother. Both Emmanuel and Magdalene were the proud parents of thirteen children, nine sons and four daughters. Sr. Eugene was the ninth in the family. 

The family of Emmanuel D’Souza has been reputed as the one that has the maximum number of vocations in the parish of Moodubelle as his four sons  and two daughters, including Sr. Eugene have dedicated themselves to the service of God. Among the four brothers, one is a Bishop and another Archbishop. Most Rev. Dr. Alphonse S.J. has been the Bishop of Raiganj in West Bengal; Fr. Edwin, originally serving in the  Amravati Diocese went to Toronto in Canada; Fr. Mathew had been the Chaplain in the US Navy and presently is retired and Most Rev. Dr. Albert is the Archbishop of Agra. Among the two sisters, Sr. Lucy and Sr. Eugene had joined the Congregation of the Sisters of the Cross of Chavanod. Unfortunately, Sr. Lucy passed away in 1993. Sr. Eugene is presently the Superior General of the Congregation based in Geneva, Switzerland.

Sr. Eugene had an average childhood. After finishing primary education up to 5th standard at the nearby Edmer Primary School, Eugene continued higher primary and high school studies in the Church Higher primary and St. Lawrence High School respectively in Moodubelle. She completed SSLC course in 1969. While in high school, Eugene did not participate in many activities. However, she was interested in singing and was a member of the Church Choir which was trained by Fr. Valerian D’Souza, who was the assistant parish priest from 1964 to 1966. When her brother, Fr. Edwin was ordained in the Moodubelle Church, the first ever ordination ceremony in the parish, Eugene was in the 8th standard.

When asked as to how she joined the Congregation of the Sisters of the Cross of Chavanod, Sr. Eugene said that while she was in the high school, a number of nuns belonging to different congregations used to visit the high school to motivate the young girls to join their respective religious orders. She had very little knowledge about other congregations except the Bethany Sisters as they were already in Moodubelle teaching in the school and her association with the Bethany sisters grew as her clothes were stitched in the convent. Gradually, Eugene began to like their life of prayer and dedication. While in the 9th standard, Eugene made up her mind to join the convent and talked to her mother, who was quite encouraging. Besides, as four of her brothers were priests, she had greater inspiration to join the religious order. The family being deeply rooted in Christian faith it was not very difficult for Eugene to make up her mind. Even her father approved of her decision saying that ‘it was God’s plan.’ Hence, while Eugene was in the 10th standard, she finally made up her mind to join the religious order.

Having decided to join the convent, Eugene wrote to her brother, Fr. Edwin, who was serving in the Amravati Diocese for his advice. In his reply, Fr. Edwin pointed out to Eugene that she was too young at that time to take any serious decision of her life as she was just sixteen and half years and advised her to come to Nagpur after the SSLC examinations. On the advice of Fr. Edwin, Eugene went to Nagpur and was gradually informed about the work of the Sisters of the Cross of Chavanod in the dioceses of Nagpur and Amravati. As Fr. Edwin was quite impressed by the missionary work of these sisters, he advised Eugene to join the congregation if she wished.

Young Eugene, who had already made up her mind to dedicate herself to the service of God and humanity took the advice of her brother and joined the Congregation of the Sisters of the Cross of Chavanod. She spent a year in Nagpur learning English and joined the novitiate in 1970 at Amravati. After two years of novitiate, Sr. Eugene took her first vows in 1972. 

After the novitiate, Sr. Eugene was deputed to Goa where she worked in school helping in teaching, the profession she liked the most. She was later transferred to Raipur in Madhya Pradesh where she did graduation and acquired the BA degree with English and History as major subjects. Sr. Eugene took final vows in 1978 at Amravati. Thereafter she went to Mumbai for B. Ed. Course which she completed from St. Theresa’s B.Ed. College at Santacruz in 1980. After completing the B.Ed. course, Sr. Eugene was sent back to Raipur where she taught for three years and later to the Holy Cross School at Thane in Maharashtra where she taught for another three years.

While in Thane, Sr. Eugene was moved by the plight of the poor children peeping inside the Holy Cross School which they could not afford to attend. Meanwhile, the Superior General of the Congregation wrote a letter to all the sisters of the congregation expressing the need of volunteers to work in the proposed new province of Kolkata. Realising that she would have a better opportunity to serve the poor and needy, Sr. Eugene volunteered herself for the new Province of Kolkata and preferred social work in the Baraipur Diocese as the Bishop of that diocese had requested the Sisters of the Cross to work in the Social Service Centre of that diocese.

Sr. Eugene said that her choice to work in the Social Service Centre in the Baraipur Diocese was the turning point in her vocation. Leaving the comfort of the community life, she had to live with another sister and also learn the Bengali language in order to be able to communicate with the people among whom she had to work. Though difficult, Sr. Eugene took this as a challenge and gradually began to love her work. She worked as the assistant Director of the Social Service Centre supervising the staff. The programmes of the centre included-mother-child health care, promoting self-help groups by providing immediate assistance and loan facilities. Sr. Eugene had to visit the villages where work was going on, observe the activities and submit the report to the Director of the Centre.

The biggest challenge that Sr. Eugene had to face in her mission work in Baruipur was learning the Bengali language as spoken by the people among whom she worked. However, her task was made easy by Rev. Fr. Salvador Lobo (presently Bishop of Baraipur) who was then the Vicar General of the diocese who provided tutors and books in Bengali to Sr. Eugene. Within six months, Sr. Eugene was able not only to speak in Bengali but also read and write in that language. After working for three years in the Social Service Centre in the Baraipur Diocese, Sr. Eugene went back to Amravati.

Realising the potential of Sr. Eugene in working under difficult conditions, the Provincial of Nagpur suggested to her that her service was required in a primary school at Najafgarh, a suburb of Delhi. Sr. Eugene took charge of the primary school which had classes up to 5th standard. The school was attended by mostly the poor children. Though their parents were uneducated, they had a desire to educate their children. Sr. Eugene took up the challenge of improving the condition and standard of the school. She suggested that the school be upgraded. 

Though there were many difficulties and hurdles in the way of upgrading of the school, Sr. Eugene’s perseverance and determination saw the school being upgraded up to 10th standard and later up to 12th standard. She had to get new buildings constructed and new facilities and amenities provided to the growing number of students and the staff. She could succeed in achieving her goal of upgrading the primary school up to higher secondary educational institution chiefly due to the support of her superiors and the cooperation of the staff. Meanwhile, Sr. Eugene completed her post graduate studies and acquired MA degree in the subject of Sociology. She devoted nine years of her religious life in transforming a mere primary school attended mostly by the poor children into a vibrant educational institution that was sought by students belonging to higher classes as well.  

After her phenomenal success in Delhi, Sr. Eugene was transferred to Bhopal as the principal of a higher secondary school and Superior of the Community. A little later, she was also appointed as the Provincial Councillor.

In 2002, Sr. Eugene was called upon to take up the responsibility as the Provincial of Nagpur. Her work as the Provincial of Nagpur was recognised by the congregation and in 2007, Sr. Eugene was chosen as the Superior General of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Cross of Chavanod. As the Generalate of the congregation is situated in Geneva, Switzerland, Sr. Eugene went to Geneva where she is presently looking after the work of the Sisters of the Cross of Chavanod in 16 countries. In all humility, Sr. Eugene says that she never expected to head the Congregation as its Superior General. She accepted this Mission as God’s will in faith. 

As the Superior General, Sr. Eugene is required to visit different provinces of the congregation in various countries of the continents of Europe, Asia, Africa, and America. Staying for few days with the community she tries to understand the life and mission of the members of the congregation. Fostering unity and understanding among the sisters working in various countries has been one of the important tasks of Sr. Eugene.

During the last week of December 2009, Sr. Eugene was in Moodubelle to attend the Golden Jubilee celebrations of St. Lawrence High School of which she was a student. She had the privilege of being the Chief Guest on the Old Students and Parents-Teachers Association Day on 30th December 2009. She was felicitated on this occasion as the distinguished student of the institution. In her inspiring speech, Sr. Eugene recalled her student days and pointed out that she had decided to join the religious life while studying in St. Lawrence High School.

The Congregation of the Sisters of the Cross of Chavanod of which Sr. Eugene is presently the Superior General was established in 1838 at Chavanod, a village in France by Mother Claudine Echernier with the help of Fr. Peter Mermier for the purpose of educating the poor young girls and protecting them from the evil influences of society. Many joined M.Claudine in this noble endeavour and in 1886 the French Sisters crossed the boundaries of France to venture into India. 

Today, the Sisters of the Cross of Chavanod work in many parts of the world and are appreciated for their prayerful spirit and devoted service. They commit themselves to the cause of education, both formal and non-formal, health, social development such as empowerment of women, taking care of mentally and physically challenged children, youth animation, developmental programmes, family visits, and pastoral work. In India, the sisters are organized into provinces of Amravati, Pune, Thiruchirapally, Madurai, Angamaly, Kolkata, Guwahati, and Andhra Pradesh. The other countries where the sisters continue to live their Apostolic Mission are: France, Switzerland, Romania, U.S.A, Peru, Columbia, Equadore, Congo, Cameroon, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Israel, Sri Lanka and Nepal.


Comments on this Article
Milton. N, Mariathaipuram Tue, January-28-2020, 1:22
congratulations dear sister Eugune for the services you have been rendering to the society.May God bless you
Goldin Rajesh, Nagercoil,Tamilnadu,India Mon, January-11-2016, 7:52
Very happy to read your profile.Sister Eugene I am Posting this comment on behalf of the parents of 130 students of Holy Cross CBSE School Nagercoil,Tamilnadu,India.The Management tells us that they are closing the school for ever and it is you who told them to close the school.But after reading your profile I came to know that you will not tell like this .Sister please save our children s life.Hope you will tell them to reopen the school.Thank you very much for considering this.
amarnath.v, chennai Thu, November-12-2015, 4:44

Greetings of love from amar!! May god bless you sister. As i have heard from some of your sisters from Trichy province, may your readiness and unending thirst to partake in the ministry of Jesus and service of the poor following the foot prints of your mother Claudine keep blooming everyday to reach out the peripheral section of the society.

patricia, nagpur Sat, July-19-2014, 3:58
congrats.hope u continue to be a humble servant like your foundress and gain the love of your sisters
SIRISHA, BHOPAL Tue, December-25-2012, 10:02
i remember her,she was our principal,excellent person so warm,and gracefull.....we all miss her
sr virginia, sri lanka Fri, November-11-2011, 2:51
Congratulation my dear sister I am clade to have you as our Superior General God may bless you more more.
Ezilda/Mathew, Goa/Kerala Mon, April-18-2011, 4:18
We are proud of you dear Wish you good luck
Sr. Mary Rodrigues., Tuticorin Thu, December-16-2010, 11:23
Very glad to see your profile dear SR.Eugine. Your life is very inspiring and awesome. May the Lord be glorified.Praying for you.
Sanjay Gupta, Raipur, India Tue, November-2-2010, 2:47
Most loving respected Sister... I had been searching for you since long.. Hope you remember when we last met at Raipur about 7 years back! Am proud to see you to such heights of dedication and success.. Do write back on my email so that I may be able to have your email id, and be in touch with you...
swimmy, bhopal Tue, October-5-2010, 4:54
hello sister congratulations on your achievements......feels so good to see u there..wish all the good luck for your future endevours...
ABRAHAM JOSEPH, Renukoot (U.P.) Fri, July-30-2010, 12:39
May the Lord Almighty bless you and give long life filled with divine, mercy, grace and love for others.
Albert Sequeira, Manipal / Bahrain Tue, July-27-2010, 7:06
Congratulations to Sr. Eugene for your achivements and your service to the community. Very rare to have so many vocations in one family. May God bless Monnu Master family.
Prakash suvarna, Katapadi Tue, July-27-2010, 4:53
Congratulations Sr.Eugene.Feeling happy to read your profile.
Fr. Charles Menezes, Belle/Chennai Tue, July-27-2010, 5:13
Congratulations Sr. Eugene. We are proud of you and wish you very best in your mission.
Thomas DSa, Moodubelle / Dubai Sun, July-25-2010, 8:39
Thank you Sr. Eugene. You made us very proud. To become Superior General at this age is shows your ability, concern , dedication and commitment. May almighty god protect you, guide you to continue the missionary work thus become true witness of Jesus Christ.
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