THE BRIEF HISTORY OF THE SISTER OF ST.FRANCIS XAVIER
The Foundation of the Congregation
The Congregation of St. Francis Xavier Sisters is a diocesan and apostolic religious Congregation of Myanmar. It is locally founded, working in 12 dioceses out of 16 dioceses in the country. The present Superior General is Mother Margaret Mary with 326 perpetually professed sisters out of 391 members in 104 different convents.
In 1894, Bishop Alexander Cardot, MEP was installed as the bishop of the southern part of Myanmar. Bishop fully understood that to propagate the faith to the local people was very much essential to educate them first. In order to educate the natives, it was also necessary to raise a local religious congregation because of the language problem and the freedom to go among the natives. With this intention, by the help of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition, SJA, Bishop Alexander Cardot founded the Sisters of St. Francis Xavier Congregation on August 26, 1897. It was to fulfill the will St. Francis Xavier and to have his patronage.
On February 16, 1902, the first two sisters Angela and Cecilia made their first profession in the Sisters of St. Francis Xavier Congregation. The Congregation was growing under the administration of Mother Maria, Mother Gonzaga, Mother Mary Joseph, Mother Margarita, Mother Theophaine, Mother Holy Family, from 1897 to 1957.
On May 7, 1958, the first General Chapter was held and Sister Philomena SFX was elected as the indigenous Mother General. She accepted all the responsibilities of the Congregation. During the year from 1955 to1967, the Congregation had 17 convents, 7 in Yangon archdiocese and 10 in Pathein diocese. From 1962 to 1966, the SJA Sisters gradually left Pathein and the St. Francis Xavier Congregation has continued with its own local Mother General until now.
The local Mother General are:
1. Mother Philomena- 1957 to 1970
2. Mother Genevieve- 1970 to 1982
3. Mother Assumpta- 1982 to 1994
4. Mother Mary Joseph- 1994 to 2000
5. Mother Margaret Mary- 2000 to 2012
6. Mother Merci Colette- 2012 to ------
The Charism of the Congregation
The mission of the founder Bishop Alxander Cardot MEP was preaching and teaching. He was aware that is not only helping to propagate the faith but also improves the life of the people. He realized that he needed many trained church workers committed to the mission of the Church. He also realized that foreign church workers were limited in their work because they were neither familiar with the culture nor proficient in the language of the country. Therefore in 1897 he founded the local Congregation of the St. Francis Xavier Sisters. The members of Congregation are dedicated to propagate the faith in the spirit of Beatitudes.
The motto of the congregation is “ Sentire Cum Ecclesia” one with the Church. The goals of the Congregation are for the greater glory of God and the sanctification of its members by practicing the three evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience, and by observing the Constitutions. The Xaverian Sisters are called to be the light of Faith making God loves presence felt among people through their teaching, humble and loving services according to the needs of the Church in its mission. Since the Congregation was born for the greater glory of God, the sanctification of its members and the good of neighbors especially to bring God’s Kingdom among the people through teaching and living in the spirit of Beatitudes is their specific goal.
The spirituality of the Congregation is expressed in the seal of the Congregation which was composed of an anchor with a burning light on its top. The anchor symbolizes the contemplative dimension of the Congregation. The Sisters’ faith is to be deepened in the Lord Jesus in order to share it with others by their loving witness and teaching. The Congregation dedicates itself to the Immaculate Heart of Mary who is chosen to be an example of faith and perseverance in prayer. Contemplative spirit has been the deepest source of strength in journey of the Congregation in its mission.
The light symbolizes both Jesus and Xaverian Sisters. As Jesus is the light of the world that enlightens and guides the Sisters, they in Francis Xavier becomes the most distinctive characteristic of the SFX Congregation.
Generally, the mission of the Congregation is evangelization through preaching and teaching catechism, care of the sick and parish works. The specific mission of the Congregation is the participation in the propagation of the Catholic faith through:
1) The teaching of catechism and preaching the faithful for the worthy reception of the sacraments;
2) Formation of the morality of girls and children at the boarding houses and nursery schools;
3) The opening of dispensaries for the sick who are helpless; ( it is also now reduced to simply taking care of the sick who are helpless by the medical knowledge)
4) The undertaking of other works judged by the bishops to be useful for the mission of the Church, especially parochial works;
3.The Apostolate of the Sisters
Presently, the Xaverian Sisters in Myanmar are working generously on the request of the diocesan Bishop especially in the sectors of education, formation of catechist, health care, Catechesis, Evangelization, pastoral touring, social animation, social development, social communication and parish work.