Sister Vandana Fernandes was elected the Superior General of the Rome-based Ursulines of Mary Immaculate (UMI) congregation on October 4.
A press note says the Chapter has given a wake-up call to the nuns of the 372-year-old congregation to understand and respond to the challenges of modern time. The members are called to commit to the Church’s mission and give hope to “the world crucified by the coronavirus pandemic.”
The new Superior General urged her sisters to follow their founder Blessed Brigida of Jesus, who drew inspiration from Christ to respond to the signs of her time.
Sister Fernandes has served as an educator, formator, provincial of the congregation’s Bangalore -based Central Province. The nun, a native of Goa state, was the assistant Superior General at the time of the election.
“Every UMI is called to discern and to take decisive steps towards social sensitivity, ecological balance and human dignity thus becoming sowers of prophetic hope in a world devastated without hope,” she said.
She also stressed the significance of the congregation’s global mission and urged her sisters to uphold pastoral concern and justice as the world grapples with the adverse effects of Covid-19.
She has replaced Sister Elvira Mattapally from India, who has led the congregation for two terms since 2009.
The election took place at the end of the congregation’s 66th General Chapter held at its headquarters, on the theme “Awakened to be Sowers of Prophetic Hope.”
The congregation focuses on the education of girls.
The Chapter elected Sisters Nirupa Puthenpurackal, Ester Delrio, Lilly Jose Parankulangara and Sherin Lobo as members of the General Council.
The UMI congregation elects its Superior General for a six-year term during the General Chapter.
The Chapter heeded Pope Francis’ call to proclaim the Gospel to the poor, especially those on the peripheries.
The congregation’s 770 members work in Italy, Brazil, India, Kenya and Tanzania. They serve in schools and hospitals, and dispensaries and engage in welfare and pastoral activities.
Four of the congregation’s eight provinces are in India. The first UMI house was started in Kerala in South India, where a five-member pioneer team landed on November 12, 1934, at Calicut (now Kozhikode).