Fr. AUGUSTINE PEREIRA
(11.02.1854 – 21.10.1911)
A child was born on 11th, February, 1854, with a silver spoon in its mouth and as the eldest son of Mr.Ignatius Xavier PereiraandMrs.MariaMichaelammal at Tuticorin, which is called the Pearl City of the East Coast of India. This child was duly baptized with the name of Augustine Pereira according to theCatholic Christian Faith, but least known then even by its own parents themselves as to what the Divine Plan had in store for this child in future. Yes, when the family names of Pereiras, Correras, Mirandas,
Machados and D
iazetc, were all popularly associated with sea ports and commercial trade in India and the nearby Sri Lanka, who would have ever imagined that this little,wealthy child from this sea port city would one day become Fr. Augustine, a Catholic Priest and a great missionary in a small, remote, and an arid village called Panjampatty, near Dindigul.
And above all, who could have ever thought of him and predicted that he would one day play a very decisive role along with two others in the Foundingof thepresent dayInternational Congregation of the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (C.I.C), which has grownlikea banyan tree to have 164 houses both in India and in different parts of the world, since its inception 100 years ago. If one were to unravel the mystery surrounding the successful story of the magnificient growth of this Congregation and the magnitude of its manifold ministries, one can very easily find out that the perpetual intercessory prayer of a humble and saintly person in Fr. Augustine both during his life time here on earth and even after his death must also have also played its due contributory share in the over all plan of our almighty God—the God of wonders and surprises!
There is a proverb in Tamil: As is the mother, so is the child. How very true it is in the life of this wonderful child, Augustine!. Whenever his mother used to visit the missionary sisters called The Dame Repatrice(who were the forerunnersof the present daySisters of the Congregation of F,M.M ), to converse and pray with them in their convent,Augustine also would accompany his mother tightly holding on to her hand.
We may therefore confidently say that this particular childhood experience became a well prepared, fertilefield for sowing the seeds of piety, esteem and reverence for religious life, at an age when the impressions at the level of emotion and memory are much stronger than at the level of reason, in leaving indelible marks on the personal traits and character formation of a person in later years, either to be more positive or more negative. But we may easily conclude. From the life history of Augustine that it is the Hand of God that would be leading this child to ever greater degree of sanctity in personal life and consummate it fully in His service like a fully blossomed rose shrub…
Most likely this cherished childhood memory of Augustine could have continued to play as an additional source of inspiration for our hero, first for his own spiritual growth during the critically adolescent period, later as a young adult person filled with a fiery missionary zeal, then much later to be a holy catholic priest at the age of 46 and finally to found a Religious Congregation for women. Yes, in later years as a Priest, he would become the Guide and Instructor of the Beates Sisters, who were considered to be the forerunners of the presently known sisters of C.I.C.
Moreover during his lifetime he had helped several people to discern God’s plan in their personal life in such a way that 35 men responded to the call of the Lord among whom 12 as Priests and 23 as Brothers, besides any number of girls to become nuns in the Congregation of the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of which he was one of the three Co-Founders.
And Providentially it was he who first wrote The Rule Book for the sisters of this newly founded Congregation(C.I.C), not an easy job either, requiring a greater measure of personal sanctity and prudence, foresight and courage for missionary action, in the spirit of the particular charism of the Congregation and to set within the fundamental preamble enveloped by the three basic theological and cardinal virtues of Faith, Hope and Love and all finally conforming to the Will of God.This initial Rule Book framed by him would become the guiding source for this nascent Congregation for the next 11 years (1911—1922). Something beautiful for God indeed!