Ded­i­cated to the ‘Vow of Obe­di­ence’

Sr. Ber­na­dine Tham­bosamy SCC cel­e­brates 100th Birth­day


On Oc­to­ber 6 (Satur­day) Sr. Peuma Peiris, the Pro­vin­cial Su­pe­rior, and the Sis­ters of the Cross rep­re­sent­ing the ten com­mu­ni­ties of Sri Lanka, assembled in the Chapel at “Clau­dine Ni­wasa” Aman­doluwa to cel­e­brate the 100th birth­day of Sr. Ber­na­dine Tham­boosamy SCC. His Lord­ship Bishop Maxwell Silva, Aux­il­iary Bishop of Colombo, was the Chief Cel­e­brant at the “Thanks giv­ing Eucharis­tic Cel­e­bra­tion” to­gether with Fr. Ig­natius Tham­bosamy, Fr. Louis Adaikalam OCD, Fr. Lancy Naveen OFM cap, and Fr. Alex Arokiam OCD con­cel­e­brat­ing.

Sr. Ber­na­dine was happy to have the two younger mem­bers in the fam­ily Arokia Mary, and Fr. Ig­natius join­ing in the cel­e­bra­tion to­gether with a very big group of nieces, neph­ews, grand nieces, grand neph­ews and mem­bers of their ex­tended fam­i­lies from Sri Lanka, Aus­tralia, Nor­way, and Ja­pan.

The Sis­ters of the Cross be­gan their mis­sion in Cey­lon in the year 1951, the records in our ar­chives show that ten years prior to that, in 1941 the First Sis­ter of the Cross of Sri Lanka made her First Pro­fes­sion in 1941 in our Novi­tiate in Amar­a­vati, Ma­ha­rash­tra. She is our Cen­te­nar­ian, Arul Mary Tham­bosamy who took the name as Sis­ter Ber­na­dine.

Sis­ter Ber­na­dine’s par­ents Savarimuthu Tham­bosamy and Su­sa­iammal were orig­i­nally from In­dia, but they were liv­ing in Talawakelle, Cey­lon. They had eight chil­dren San­danam, Jeya Mary, Asir­vadan, Je­ganathan, Pa­trick, Arokia Mary, and Ig­natius. Savarimuthu Tham­bosamy was a fre­quent vis­i­tor to In­dia to see to his prop­er­ties in Ko­van­daku­ruchy, Tamil Nadu. He had a num­ber of close rel­a­tives liv­ing in this vicin­ity. Sr. Ber­na­dine was a boarder at St Joseph’s Con­vent Ke­galle run by the Sis­ters of Char­ity of Je­sus and Mary. At the age of twelve, dur­ing the school hol­i­days, she had come home from the board­ing and man­aged to per­suade her father to take her to visit Ko­van­daku­ruchy.

She was happy to be with her rel­a­tives at Ko­van­daku­ruchy and they per­suaded her father to al­low her to re­main with them, so that she could be ad­mit­ted to the board­ing of Holy Cross High School Tiruchi­ra­palli, run by the Sis­ters of the Cross of Cha­vanod.

The ar­range­ment was to help her con­tinue with her stud­ies. Her father agreed and she com­pleted her High School stud­ies and then joined Holy Cross Col­lege – A Women’s Univer­sity Col­lege also run by the Sis­ters of the Cross. She stud­ied up to Ma­tric­u­la­tion and then she felt the Lord call­ing her to ‘Re­li­gious Life’. She shared with Mother So­phie Descombes the Prin­ci­pal of Holy Cross Col­lege her de­sire to be­come a Sis­ter of the Cross. Mother So­phie was happy to ac­cept her and she guided and ac­com­pa­nied her.


She was sent to join the Novi­tiate of the Sis­ters of the Cross in Am­ra­vati. Mother Col­lette was her Mis­tress. She joined as a Pos­tu­lant on 16th Au­gust1938 and made her first Pro­fes­sion on 4th Jan­uary1941. Her mis­sion in In­dia be­gan with a short time in the com­mu­nity of Holy Cross Col­lege Tep­puku­lam Tiruchi­ra­palli. Later in the com­mu­ni­ties of Si­olim Goa, Can­ton­ment Tiruchi­ra­palli, and Vadgu­gar­pet, Tamil Nadu min­is­ter­ing as an English Teacher in the pri­mary schools. Her last mis­sion in In­dia was at Golden Rock, Tiruchi­ra­palli where she was at­tached to a Pro­gramme for young girls who had left school. Her spe­cial­ity was to teach them Hand Em­broi­dery. In 1951 Sis­ters of the Cross com­menced their mis­sion in Cey­lon. The in­vi­ta­tion was al­ways to be en­gaged in Pas­toral and So­cial Work. In 1960, we were hav­ing four Com­mu­ni­ties.

Per­adeniya opened at the re­quest of His Lord­ship Bishop Bernard Regno OSB; Peliyagoda-ke­laniya opened at the re­quest of His Grace Arch­bishop Thomas Cooray OMI later Car­di­nal who went per­son­ally to Cha­vanod, France and re­quested for sis­ters; Hin­gu­rak­goda opened at the re­quest of His Lord­ship Bishop Ig­natius Glen­nie SJ, Bishop of Trin­co­ma­lee - Bat­ticaloa who in­vited us to take over St. Joseph’s Chil­dren’s Home and Padi­watte – Natharam­potha at the in­vi­ta­tion of Bishop Leo Nanayakkara OSB to take over the mis­sion be­gun by the Mary­knoll Sis­ters of USA, who were leav­ing the coun­try.

It was at this time that Mother Aure­lia Maprany the Re­gional Su­pe­rior for South In­dia and Cey­lon asked Sr. Ber­na­dine if she was will­ing to be trans­ferred to Sri Lanka. She obeyed and ac­cepted to­come. When asked whether you were sad to leave In­dia af­ter so many years, or were you happy to come back to Cey­lon, her an­swer was, “It was not a ques­tion of be­ing sad or happy. For me the Vow of Obe­di­ence was up­per­most, so I said yes whole­heart­edly to an­swer to a need of that time”.


■hig­u­rak­goda in charge of Boys at St. Joseph’s Chil­dren’s Home ■padi­watte help­ing in the Dis­pen­sary later in charge of a Knit­ting Cen­tre

■lo­cal Su­pe­rior at Per­adeniya and later at Have­lock Road Colombo.

■peliagoda in Charge of the Day Care Cen­tre, for the chil­dren of work­ing mothers in the fac­to­ries. Sis­ter Ber­na­dine has led a very dar­ing out­go­ing life ven­tur­ing into min­istries which oth­ers do not dream of: Join­ing an In­ter­con­gre­ga­tional Com­mu­nity at Alagollewa.

Help­ing in the Arch­dioce­san Li­brary, As­sist­ing at Car­i­tas Sri Lanka - SEDEC su­per­vis­ing the house­hold work,

At present she is with our other re­tired sis­ters at “Clau­dine Ni­wasa” Aman­doluwa, See­duwa.

Sr. Ber­na­dine is a very good con­ver­sa­tion­al­ist, has very witty an­swers for ev­ery ques­tion. She could put her hand to any work ex­cept cook­ing. She can adapt and ad­just to any given sit­u­a­tion. She loves gar­den­ing, both flow­ers and veg­eta­bles are her close com­pan­ions. She en­joys speaking to the plants, touch­ing and car­ing for them. She has been with her pots, hosepipe un­til the year 2014.

She al­ways had a deep love for the Lord. She prayed to the Blessed Vir­gin Mary. We see her al­ways with the Rosary in her hand, press­ing the beads all the time. Sr. Ber­na­dine is a bless­ing to each and ev­ery one whom she comes in contact with. God has show­ered on her health as a wealth to com­plete 100 long years. She lived Seventy Seven Years as a Sis­ter of the Cross liv­ing our unique Mis­sion “Re­veal­ing to all the Mer­ci­ful Love of the Father and the Lib­er­at­ing Power of the Paschal Mys­tery.”

We see her al­ways with the Rosary in her hand, press­ing the beads all the time

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