‘Ding-dong, ding-dong, bells, Jubilee bells, Nirmala jubilee bells’ started to chime announcing the Golden Jubilee celebrations of Nirmala Convent and Nirmala High School when the community fixed the date for that great event. The community prepared itself spiritually with special prayers seeking the protection and guidance of our Blessed Mother, the patroness of our Congregation and 50 days’ Eucharistic adoration (one hour per day) as the intimacy with Jesus in the Eucharist is the central aspect of our life. Mother Dones said, “You sow with sacrifices and in due time the seed will grow and others will gather the harvest rejoicing.” As we rejoice to-day, we recall and remember the sacrifices and struggles endured by Mother Clara Belloti, the true missionary and great visionary and other pioneering sisters of Nirmala Convent and School.
27th December, was the day ear-marked for the thanksgiving Eucharistic Celebration. At 10.30 am, 50 sisters moved forward from Nirmala Convent veranda towards the stage carrying lighted lamps followed by 50 priests and His grace Mallavarapu Prakash, Archbishop of Visakhapatnam while the melodious entrance hymn was being sung. The main celebrant was received with arathi. There was a good gathering of sisters from our different communities, sisters from different religious communities, staff members, supportive staff, catholic students, lay associates, NOSA members, parish council representatives and some parishners who joined us to thank God for the blessings we received during the past half a century. An apt introduction was given by Sr. Anjali Parekattil with the history of the community and school in nut shell highlighting the great works of PIME in the initial stage and the community’s contribution in building the local church through village camps, summer camps, family visits and other activities for faith formation. His grace in his homily applauded the sisters for providing value based education and aiding the local church through their different activities of evangelization and exhorted to move forward with renewed fervour and enthusiasm.
After the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, Nirmala students accorded a warm welcome to all by their rhythmic dance. It was followed by felicitation programme. His grace Archbishop M. Prakash, Srs. Marina Vettathu and Vencent Koonananickal (Provincials who were present), the sisters who rendered service in Nirmala High School, Mr, Harinadh – legal advisor, superannuated lay staff and supportive staff were felicitated. Sr. Lorene Thekkel, the Superior of the community whole heartedly thanked the participants and everyone shared the table fellowship and thanked God for His blessings upon us – Nirmalites.
28th December was the red-letter day in the life of the staff and students of Nirmala High School. Totally illuminated and decorated school campus feasted everyone’s eyes and a real festive mood was seen. By 4.30 pm the crowd thronged in the campus. More than 10,000 people gathered to witness the celebration. At 5 pm the guests moved to the newly erected portable stage while hundreds of students showered flowers to welcome them. Word of God was proclaimed by Rev. Fr. Stephen, the Parish Priest and he invoked God’s blessings. The well trained choir of seventy students sang the prayer song with all devotion. There was a spectacular show of one hundred students welcoming everyone through variety of dances capturing everybody’s attention and exhibiting unity in diversity, the special feature of Indian culture. Then Sr. Biji Philip, the headmistress warmly welcomed the guests and the enthralling crowd. It was marvelous to see hundred nursery tiny tots captivating the attention of the spell bound audience by their exuberant performance inviting the whole cosmos – the five elements in nature-water, fire, air, earth and sky to dance and rejoice with them at the golden jubilee of Nirmala.
Each of the delighted guests on the dais – Sri. K. Pratha Saradhi, Minister for secondary education, Guest of honour Sri. Lagadapati Raja Gopal, – member of Parliament, the three M.L.As of Vijayawada – Sri. Yelamanchali Ravi, Sri. Vellampalli Srinivas, Sri. Malladi Vishnu, Sri. M. Raghunandan Rao, IAS – Collector and Magistrate of Krishna District, lavishly showered encomiums on the management and applauded the staff and students for their soul-stirring and awe-striking performance and the value based education this august institution has provided for the past 50 long years. Rev. Fr. Ralph Jasawala, Regional Superior of PIME enumerated the basic values to be followed by one and all and appreciated the inmates of Nirmala High School for upholding the motto of the school – Truth, Love and Service in their endeavour. Sri. K. Sasidhar IAS, collector and Magistrate – Kadapa District, an illustrious alumni based his message reminiscing about the past and how the very name of his Alma Mater boosted his image during his interview. Rev. Sr. Marina Vettathu, Provincial Superior and President of the function acclaimed the strenuous work put up by all with one heart and mind inspite of facing various hurdles. With gratitude she recalled the hard and great strides taken by the pioneers. As the token of gratitude, all the past headmistresses – Srs. Adeline Parappallil, Sr. Alice Varickamakal, Sr. Marina Vettathu, Sr. Treasa Joseph were honoured and felicitated except Sr. Angelica Fernandes and Sr. Nancy D’souza who are in Hong Kong and PNG respectively. Sr. Lorenza Mannala who left for heavenly abode on 26th Nov. 2013 was remembered with love and affection. As special features, to commemorate the jubilee, the souvenir and calendar were released.
The last two items were superb. None could move their eyes from the stage. The history of the school with its development was portrayed through enacting, video clippings and joyous dancing by hundreds of students.
Pope Francis’ words in his apostolic exhortation ‘Evangelii Gaudium, “The family is the fundamental cell of society, where we learn to live with others despite our differences and belong to one another….”(66); “the elderly who are increasingly isolated and abandoned …..”(210); “It involves the conviction that a human being is always sacred and inviolable, in any situation and at every stage of development …….”(213) were vividly brought out through a dance ballot with the title, (Nettitharam) ‘sorry, no time….no time!’ …. Starting from creation, the sacredness of foetus from day one to the ninth month, the family bond, how the youth of to-day find no time to look after their elderly parents-were depicted. In response to The Vatican Council II’s call, ” ….they should uncover with gladness and respect those seeds of the Word which lie hidden among them”, the seeds of the Word found in Hinduism were brought to lime light by bringing the different stalwarts in puranas with their good qualities specially enacting the life of Sravanudu who lovingly and carefully looked after his blind parents till the end. This scene touched everyone’s heart. As the culmination, 150 angles of Nirmala danced with the song ‘Heal the world’ exhibiting how the young can be guided and how parents should live for their children. To-day, we also can join our Pope Francis and say, “…….how much good has been done by catholic schools and universities around the world!”(165) Nirmala has done it! Long live Nirmala!!
Nearly 1500 students took part in all these items. The audience at the far end also could watch the programme on the screens as there was simultaneous transmission.
The third day of the jubilee ie. 29th December, the final day was allotted for the Alumni of our school. (NOSA – Nirmala Old Students Association) They celebrated 40 years of NOSA’s conception with the Golden Jubilee of the school. Their gala commenced at 9.30 am which lasted up to 10 pm. It was a day of full joy and gaiety. After the nonformal school assembly all the retired staff members including sisters and supportive staff were felicitated. The alumni relived their school days by going to different class rooms with their teachers and friends. Photo session of batches 1 to 42 helped them to come together after many years. Delicious lunch and hi-tea kindled everyone’s spirit to join the grand gala entertainment at 5.30 pm.
The whole campus reverberated with the songs, dances and commentaries of the alumni. The grand gala commenced with lighting of the lamp and prayer song. Welcome dance was very meaningful. Hundreds of sky lanterns were sent to the sky adding colour to the programme and remembering all the staff and students of Nirmala who had gone before us to the Father’s home. Sr. Mercy John, the first full time NOSA directress placed the report in front of the participants. Sr. Marina Vettathu, the chief guest of the day appreciated all their good works and implored God’s blessings for further growth. She also released the souvenir and it was distributed to everyone. Dr. K. Sarat, the President of NOSA explained the functioning of NOSA and the financial status. Dr. G.V. Mohan Prasad, the revival president appraised the memorable works done by different directresses – Sr. Susan Mannancherry, Sr. Nirmala Addanki and Sr. Mercy John and invited every one to join hands to re-vitalize it. With gratitude he spoke about Sr. Angelica Fernandes, the foundress of NOSA and read her message. The crowd was delighted to know that Sr. Angelica Fernandes from Hong Kong and many alumni around the globe were watching the programme. Fun and frolic has no age bar. Every NOSA member enjoyed thoroughly with their spontaneous dance without any inhibition. It is praise worthy to note that NOSA members in thousands from far and wide made the day a memorable one. The sumptuous dinner rejuvenated everyone and left the campus with a sense of contentment.
Nirmala is indebted to Rev. Sr. Rosilla Velamparambil, Superior General, Sr. Marina Vettathu, Provincial Superior and our sisters from near and far who accompanied us with their valuable prayers and NOSA members who stood by us and helped us. Thank You …….
“The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” (Psalm126)