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.
MISSIONS IN INDIA AND SRI LANKA
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