The 80th Anniversary of the Foundation of the Rosarians
FR. S. JUSTIN RAJ CR
The 80th Anniversary of the Foundation of the Rosarians,
the Indigenous Contemplative Congregation (2008)
We Rosarians, the Asian indigenous contemplative religious, with immense joy celebrate the 80th anniversary of the foundation of our congregation on the 2nd February of this year. This day is marked a red letter day in the annals of the Rosarians. We, with grateful hearts thank our loving God for his bountiful blessings and graces upon our congregation for the past 80 years. "Praise the Lord, for great is his steadfast love"(Ps 117:2). Let us have a brief look at the beautiful history of the foundation of our congregation.
The great Encyclical "Rerum Ecclesiae" by the Holy Father Pope Pius XI in 1926 paved the way for such indigenous contemplative congregation. In it, Holy Father requested all the Bishops in the mission lands to promote the indigenous form of contemplative religious life in their respective dioceses to pray for the missions. Instantly, Bishop Guyomore, the Bishop of Jaffna came forward to implement the wish of the Holy Father.
The Bishop Guyomore being inspired by the Holy Spirit chose the holy and simple priest Fr Thomas OMI for such an adventurous task. At the Bishop's disposal, Father Founder with two aspirants arrived at Tholagatty on the 1st of August 1927. Thus, on the 2nd of February 1928 the inauguration of the monastery was solemnized by Bishop Guymore and declared the congregation "Rosarians", "the Servants of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary" and in a deeper sense Rosarians mean those who, together with our mother the Queen of the Holy Rosary carry out the mission of proclaiming Christ to the whole world. Thus, at the obedience of our beloved founder Fr Thomas our Rosarian Congregation sprang into being on earth as heaven and power house of grace to the whole world.
As our founder wished that our congregation should be in every diocese all over the world, it is already in motion in Sri Lanka and India; we have five Monasteries in Sri Lanka and seventeen monasteries in India. Likewise, with the foundation of Rosarian sisters on the 8th of September 1948 we have good number of Rosarian Convents in Sri Lanka as well as in India. As our congregation is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate heart of Mary the patroness of our congregation, we have good number of members in each respective houses including the Sinhalese Brothers of them, three are to be ordained in the coming years.
The 7th of October was declared the feast of the Rosarians in 1928. It was on the 7th of February in 1929 the permission was obtained from Rome to begin the Novitiate and thus on 18th the Novitiate was inaugurated with 7 Novices (the great achievement in the process of our growth). In 1934 on 15th August, the title of our congregation received a definite canonical status. In 1937 on 13th June the recitation of the divine office was permitted for the first time and in 1939, 18th February Rome gave the approval to our constitution. Our Generalate, the principle seat of our congregation was established in the archdiocese of Bangalore and erected as of Diocesan right on August 15th 1934 and as the Arch Bishop of Bangalore had asked the apostolic see to have religious institution of the Rosarians to be recognized as of Pontifical Right and thus, the late Holy Father Pope John Paul II graciously granted the approval to our congregation to be of Pontifical right according to the means of this present decree (Prot.N.B.248-1,2001) in June 8th 2002.
Our charism is "Marian Contemplative life of Love and Reparation rooted in humility". The reason for us to be the Marian contemplative is that the establishment of our congregation is to be regarded in the background of the unprecedented intervention of our Lady of the Holy Rosary by several apparitions in the 19th and 20th centuries, also result of experienced of our Mothers maternal protection in a singular manner. The main object of our congregation is to remedy the spiritual, social, and economic disorders prevailing in our midst under the peculiar Local condition. The special object is to pray and to do penance for the conversion of the sinners and in particular for the conversion of one's native land. Some secondary objectives are; to promote the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament to make provision for them to live a quasi-religious life in our midst and to make spiritual retreat to them under our direction. Thus, we Rosarians the contemplative and penitential institute of both clerics and brothers, seek God alone in silence and solitude. The liturgical worship forms an integral part of our life. Our life of reparation evidently calls for penance, which finds exterior expression in our congregation mainly through night vigil, fast and abstinence. Manual labour too has an important place as a part of our life of reparation. (Immediate response of our founder to the encyclical "Quadragessimo Anno" by Pope Pius XI). Hence, we Rosarians are the Eastern Monks from Sri Lanka who pray for missions and missionaries with Rosary as the weapon and the contemplative life as our shield. Each Rosarian Monastery is school of Christian perfection. In nutshell, the Lordship Emilianus Pillai the Bishop of Jaffna told "I highly esteem Rosarians and regard them as the spiritual dynamo of the diocese’’ (13th July 1958 at Tholagatty). Therefore, the Rosarian Contemplative life and witness is a great strength to the church and particularly in Sri Lanka and India. As Sri Lankans, we all have to be proud of such contemplative religious life of our own soil because, our life of prayer and sacrifices vibrate to the ends of the earth to turn the mind and hearts of the people towards God. Our Charism entertains special love and esteem for the poor and afflicted and treat them with Christ like Charity.
Therefore, the spirituality, which prompted our founder, is a God given source of grace to us and it is a high time to reach the goal of our congregation is to defeat the power of evil around us through prayer and penance.
Fr. S. justin Raj CR