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Mother Catherine Mania

1953-1960 and 1970-1975


Even as a child Catherine wanted to be a missionary, going to Africa. One morning she told her friend that she would make her as African and smeared her with wild blackberries juice. The ceremony completed both had a hearty laugh; but what a shock the friend’s mother had when she saw her, and what was worse, no amount of scrubbing could take away the stain, till the passage of some days.

Catherine was born on November 18, 1903 at Netro, Vercelli, Italy. Inspite of her mischief, the child grew in faith and piety; she was intelligent and loved reading. She joined the FMA as a Postulant and for her Novitiate she was sent to England. She made her Profession at Cowley on August 5, 1926. Her missionary dream was fulfilled when on January 19, 1929, with Mother Tullia at the head; she joined other six companions, who left Venice to set sail for India.

The North East beckoned Sr. Catherine, now called Mother Mania to start a daring venture, when the Sub-Continent was bifurcated into two Provinces: the Mother Province of Madras and the Daughter Province of Shillong. On the historical date December 10, 1953, Sr. Catherine Mania, the new Provincial, and Sr. Luigina Appiano, the secretary, bade farewell to all that was dear in the South, ready to plunge into a daring enterprize of keeping firm six houses in Assam and the newly founded one of Bandel in W.Bengal, with 45 Sisters. With them came also 2 young women to be the nuclei of the fledging Province. A cardboard box was their archives. Reaching Mawlai on December 26, they had Rs. 123/- which Mother Avio found in Mother Provincial’s room, plus Rs. 17/- saving, as someone paid their tickets; thus with Rs. 140/- and an immeasurable trust in Divine Providence the new Province was launched!

She died on January 24, 1983 at Bellefonte. Her love for the poor was too great that she asked for her body to be buried among the people of Pynthorumkhrah at the Parish’s Cemetery. This tomb is the most visited place for prayer and silence by Novices and Sisters.