Paradise’ is a very fragrant hybrid tea rose. Most striking thing about paradise is the color, dark pink with purple blend, strong fragrance, and blooms in flushes throughout the year.
Flowers are the ‘wordless prayers of nature’, beautiful expressions of its yearning for the Divine. And each flower has its unique aspiration, its own vibration, its true meaning. Poets through the ages have not ceased to sing of their beauty, their splendor, their magnificence. They have been expressions of human love in every language and country and much more deeply, they express ‘Love for the Divine’.
“God’s own country”, as Kerala is known, has this rich heritage of what ‘flowers’ and ‘Roses’ in particular transmit to the creation around. Paradise symbolizes fullness and freedom and it is fitting that our maiden house in this beautiful land is coined with Paradise Rose where everything seems green, flowery, and fragrant and flushes with joy.
October 28, 1991 was a day of great miracle – the opening of the first house of the family of St.Charles in Kerala. The ‘seed of compassion’ slowly found its place in ‘God’s own country” and began to sprout. Rev. Mother Andrea, the first Indian Superior General, Sr. Lydia Braggs, the Provincial Superior of the Western Province, Rt. Rev. Dr. Mathias Kappil, the first Bishop of the Diocese of Punalur was the steering force of this new mission. The real inspiration was Fr.Thomas Myladoor SDB, the Provincial Superior of the Salesians in Bangalore. Sr.Adrian, the Superior, Sr. Clare Joseph and Sr. Severene formed the first community.
On December 27, 1991, the land where we were planning to build the convent was surveyed and the documents for 4 acres and 48 cents were handed over to the convent by the Bishop. The Sisters occupied the existing small house. It was in the year 1993, the Superior General Mother Andrea and her Councillors decided to hand over the Kadakkal mission to the Eastern Province in exchange of the land in Thuthiyoor. Sr. Ignatius was the Provincial Superior and Sr. Rina Kokkat was appointed as Superior. Sr.Bede and Sr.Lissa of the Western Province continued until Sr.Alphonsa came to take the place of the former and later Sr. Laly came in the place of Sr. Lissa.
Kadakkal is a small town in Kollam District. It is a beautiful place as it has hills and is surrounded by rubber estates. Kadakkal comes in the East part of Kollam district and the roads are connected to the region of Thenkasi in Tamil Nadu State.
The history of Kadakkal does not give any clear evidence of the beginnings of the date of the habitation of people in this area. It is supposed to have a history which goes back to1000 years. It is known as the land of ‘revolution’. The people of Kadakkal participated in the revolution struggle led by the Travancore State Congress. People gathered in large number and began to combat against injustice done by the Bazzar contractors and police. This revolution is compared to the Spanish Civil Revolution led by Franco. Kadakkal is the land of working class, so the main trend of every one is to make the union of people and groups which are influenced by political parties.
In the year 1986 the bifurcation of Kollam diocese took place and Punalur became a separate diocese under Rt. Rev. Dr. Mathias Kappil who was the first Bishop. Since it was a new born diocese, it had its own challenges to work through for a better future. The Bishop had to face many struggles and difficulties to bring up the diocese. In all these he stood firm to shepherd his flock. He was a good pastor who knew the woundedness of his flock. Punalur diocese is known as the missionary diocese as it has the highest number of Dalit Christians. Bishop Mathias was called to his eternal abode on February 24, 2007. The present Bishop is Rt. Rev. Dr. Silvester Ponnumuthu and he continues to support and shepherd us in the all the ways.
The Sisters engaged themselves in taking the census of five villages in 1994. Awareness programmes for Panchayath Raj, nutrition, health and hygiene, savings, kitchen garden were conducted successfully. Mahila Samaj and credit unions were introduced. Faith formation and marriage counseling were given emphasis. In order to help the future generation in education, a boarding house primarily for dalit girls was started in our convent block. Regular camps for youth are conducted during summer holidays. Women’s empowerment groups are formed to mobilize government projects. Self employment schemes are introduced. The girls are given training in the respective fields and in turn, they teach the villagers about mushroom cultivation and goat rearing.
The long awaited dream of having a school was realized on June 3, 1998 as they opened the St. Charles ICSE School with LKG and UKG with the vision of making it a full fledged school. The opening ceremony was simple, but significant because Sr. Joseph the only Indian pioneer alive lit the lamp which is kept burning till today. At the beginning stages, classes were in the convent building. On July 31, 2002, the foundation stone for the school building was laid by Rt. Rev. Dr. Mathias, Bishop of Punalur. It was an uphill task to put up the building but with the timely help of the province and support of the parents, the goal was achieved. Revival of our socio-pastoral ministry took place by placing Sr.Gracy Pothen who was fully involved in this mission.
This was continued by Sr. Sony Francis. Efforts are being made to carry on the good work started by committed persons in the past. Today the Sisters take care of Madhuramkunnu, Ilavupalam and Iyakkodu, the substations of the parish.
On July 17, 1993 five candidates were welcomed and ever since there was a great zeal in promoting vocations. The house was too small to accommodate the Sisters and the candidates. A proper convent building became an urgent need. Ever since the foundation of the Congregation, the sisters have experienced the hand of divine providence. Motivated by such experience Srs. Ignatius and Rina approached Rev. Fr.Guezou S.D.B to lend a helping hand in the form of a loan to build the convent. But to our surprise it was not merely a loan but a gift that he promised. It was a moment of joy and surprise for the sisters. Above all it was yet another occasion to deepen our trust in the Divine providence.The foundation stone of the convent cum boarding home was laid on January 1995 by Sr. Ignatius, the Provincial Superior and blessed by Msgr. Felix Arikaparambil of Punalur Diocese in the presence of the Parish priest and a few parishioners. The house was blessed on April 29, 1996 by Rt. Rev. Mathias, Bishop of Punalur.
Today a wing of the convent building is used as boarding for the poor girls of our sub-station. Even the corridor upstairs is the abode for the few teachers who stay with us. Thanks to the generosity of the late Rev. Fr. Guezou, the sisters have a beautiful house today. The school is being extended as the total strength is 595 today. The NOC has been obtained together with the order for recognition for the school. The school has a mini bus and two vans to help the students come from far away places.
The Sisters are engaged fully in the mission of education whereby they give holistic and Christian values to the students and help them grow as good citizens of our country. The fragrance of “Paradise Rose” continues to attract many from far and near. May the Almighty help the Sisters to keep its beauty and aroma for many more generations to come!