Cherish’ is a floribunda rose, emitting sweet scent that lingers in the air and fascinates all passersby, light pink with white based petals and dark leaves of an intricate display, a flower of rare beauty; the name and the meaning indicate its splendor and worth.
The congregation grew steadily in the last quarter of the twentieth century. Heaven blessed it with a few more vocations every year. It was the decision of the General Chapter of 2006 that each Province in India sets up a Formation House of its own by 2009. The Provincial and her councillors made enquiries to purchase a piece of land in Trichi, but were quite alarmed and disheartened at the inability to procure it due to the high price in this place. In the meantime it was told that land was available in Dindigul at a reasonable price. The idea was welcomed for the reason that Diocese of Dindigul is one of the recently created ones and our entry into it could enrich the religious presence.
Dindigul is one of the District headquarters in the South of Tamilnadu, carved out of Madurai Dstrict in the year 1985. The district is famous for its locks and tannery industries. Of the 37 parishes that make the Dindigul diocese 31 parishes are from Tiruchirapally and 6 from Madurai diocese. It is the seventeenth diocese of Tamil Nadu created by the orders received from Holy Father Pope John Paul II, on November 10, 2003. Most Rev. Antony Pappusamy was installed as the first bishop of this diocese, on December 28, 2003. The diocese consists of three vicariate- Dindigul, Kosavapatty and Panjanpatty. The enumerated Catholic Population is 1,03,049.
In order to obtain permission to make an entry to the diocese of Dindigul the Provincial Superior and her councillors paid a visit to Rt.Rev.Antony Pappusamy, the Bishop of Dindigul. He and his Vicar General not only welcomed the sisters warmly to the diocese but also made all the necessary arrangement to find a suitable place for them to set up a formation house. A stretch of six acres of fertile land with fruit bearing trees was procured at Soosaiapuram. A farmhouse consisting of just one room and a kitchen was built for two sisters to reside and find out the practicality of having a formation house there. Sr.V.Arokia and Sr.Jenita Siriapushpam were the pioneers of this community. Though the place was beautiful and the land was fertile with good source of water, the considerable distance from other religious houses and the parish church made the required spiritual help rather scarce for the sisters.
While planning to retain this land as a source of income and a work experience field for the formees, the sisters were helped by a local man to find another stretch of land at Vellode 8 kms, away from Dindigul town. It is close to Madurai railway lines and highway, a quiet settlement bounded by Sirumalai on the East and Pandrimalai in the West. The Sisters found this place more conducive for a Formation House. The parish Church and a few religious houses are close by; spiritual help is assured by different religious and diocesan priests.
Sisters at Madurai community were always at our beck and call while all these negotiations and transactions took place. Thanks to Sr.Amali and sisters for their generosity and magnanimity, providing food and other necessary things until the sisters got settled at Vellode. Every phase of this new adventure was a new experience and thrill.
Vellode is surrounded by quite a number of religious priests whose spiritual help our sisters and formees enjoy. Dhyanavanam ashram run by Rev.Fr.Korko Moses S.J is under the foot of Sirumalai. Religious from far away places come to make their retreats and recollections here. Anugraha and LIFE, the two centres run by Claritian fathers is a few kms away from Vellode. Our own sisters have attended retreats and courses at these centres. Diocesan Evangelization Centre is close to Charles Bhavan where our sisters and formees attend weekly night vigil prayers and avail of the opportunity for confessions. Thanks to Almighty God who provides all things in time and in respect to our need according to His plan.
The foundation stone for the Formation House at Vellode was laid on February 24, 2009 by Rt. Rev.Dr. Anthony Pappusamy, Bishop of Dindigul. Sr.V.Arockia and Sr.Jenita E besides taking care of the farm at Soosaipuram, also supervised the construction work of this house at Vellode. In July 2009, the second year Novices spent one month at Soosaipuram on a mission experience accompanied by Sr.Victoria Arulrani. They made acquaintance with the local people through regular house visits.
The inauguration of the house at Vellode was on January 16, 2010. A week prior to the inauguration, 11 postulants along with Sr.Jaya , the Provincial Superior and her team and Sr.Sabina Jose the Postulant Directress came to Vellode to get the house ready for the blessing. January 16, 2010 was a red letter day in the history of ‘The Eastern Province of the Sisters of St.Charles’. The day began with a very meaningful morning prayer. At 10.00 a.m. Rev.Mother Benedicta, the Superior General unveiled the plaque and Most Rev.Dr.Antony Pappusamy, Bishop of Dindigul blessed the house. This was followed by a solemn Eucharistic celebration and a fellowship meal. Representatives from different religious communities, friends and neighbors at Dindigul made a good number for the inauguration ceremony.
The presence of Sr. Janet D’Souza, the Provincial Superior of Western Province and other representatives of West and Eastern provinces added joy to this celebration.
The new formation house named as ‘Charles Bhavan’ at present is a home for the postulants of the province. The first batch of postulants consisted 11 and the second batch five. Sr.Sabina Jose remains as Postulant directress and Sr. V.Arokia, the Superior of the house assisted by Sr.Elsa Varghese. The Sisters along with postulants get involved in Parish activities, like teaching catechism, parish-choir and family visits.
‘Charles Bhavan’ is a ‘Cherish Rose’ of the province. The house always remains lovely and lively not merely because of its surroundings and the grandeur of the building but because of the type of inmates there, a bunch of energetic active young ladies. Truly they are the treasure of the congregation. In contrast to the world that runs after pleasure and wealth, these young ladies leave all that the world counts great and offer their whole life for the cause of humanity in imitation of Christ who emptied Himself for the love of humankind. They are the future promise of the Congregation. So ‘Cherish Rose’ dropped down from the hands of our blessed patroness-Little Therese- is a cherished gift.