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The Founder of Missions in India:
Childhood:

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    Mother Marie Gertrude was born on 27th March 1850 in Paris, the only daughter of Eugene Gros and Mrs Gros. She was baptized after one year, named Felicie. Her father Eugene Gros, the director of the jail ‘Mazas’, died when Felicie was five years old. Felicie’s mother, Mrs. Gros, was the daughter of a military officer.

   

    She was highly intelligent and possessed a vast culture, but was suffering from diabetes; consequently, Felicie inherited this disease and was a fragile child. She studied in a boarding school and grew spiritually.

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SpiritualFormation and Consecration:
    At the age of eighteen, Felicie was in search of a spiritual director as she wanted to grow towards perfection. In 1868, an Formation1.important event took place which would transform her life. Entering the church of St. Marcel to pray, through a lady in the book - stall, got a book, “Introduction to The Devout life”. After having read the first chapters, she went to the confessional of Fr. Henri Chaumont and asked him to hear her general confession to lead a true devout life.

    From then onwards, Felicie was guided by Fr. Chaumont and was directed to have a spiritual friendship with Mrs. Carre with whom Fr. Henri Chaumont founded the society of St. Francis de Sales.

    Fr. Chaumont was following Mother Marie Gertrude very closely. Seeing in her ‘a person for future’ he gave her a formation to be ‘a Spiritual guide’. He trained her in renouncing her self-attachments. She had a strong and prolonged formation by Fr. Chaumont and made her consecration on 29th January, 1875. Together with Miss. Marthe Chaumont and Miss. Tonery she made her “profession” in the private chapel to Mgr.de Segur. Felicie was given the name ‘Sr. Marie Gertrude’.

The various responsibilities:
    Fr. Chaumont decided to found an association of Christian Teachers and planned to entrust it to Mother Marie Gertrude. ResponseHe also asked her to work with Miss. Cardou to form the association of Mary immaculate with the purpose of praying for a non Christian woman and to help financially for mission countries. Mother Marie Gertrude was given more and more responsibilities. She had to write the Annals of the Society (the news of the Society) and to prepare the texts of some probation. (reflections for meditation) She also was among the volunteers who opted to go to mission countries in case of need. In view of sending some of the daughters who were free from their family burden Fr. Chaumont gave a missionary formation. They were called CMMI (Catechist Missionries of Mary Immaculate)  

Arrival to India:
       On 1st April 1889, Fr. Tissot, the spiritual director of Fr. Chaumont, speaking in the name of Bishop Riccaz asked the CMMI for Nagpur. Four of them Mother Marie Gertrude, Mother Marie de Kostka, Sr. Magdaleine and Sr. Joseph were chosen to be the first missionaries.

       At the request of the Bishop of Nagpur they left for India on 12th October 1889. Gifted with exceptional talents and burning faith Mother Marie Gertrude had already an important responsibility of formation in the Society. With the solid formation that she had from the Founders in person, she was the best suited person to lead the band of new Catechist Missionaries in India. They reached Nagpur on 2nd November 1889 and were accommodated temporarily with the Sisters of St. Joseph in the Old Palace at Tulsi bagh put at the disposal of the diocese by the Rajah of Nagpur.

    The diocese of Nagpur was just bifurcated from the diocese of Visakapatanam and was entrusted to the Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales. Fr. Joseph Tissot, the Superior General of the Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales was a great friend of Fr. Chaumont, our Founder. It was through Fr. Tissot that the Bishop of Nagpur had invited the new missionaries.Arrive Our first missionaries, led by Mother Marie Gertrude were very happy to work with the Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales having the same spirituality as theirs. Our sisters were called 'Catechist Missionaries of Mary Immaculate'.

    The first few months were spent in learning the language of the place. When they were able to speak a little Marathi, they started a dispensary at Untkhana, ‘the Poor House’ which was an asylum for the incurable and the handicapped given to their charge by the Bishop of Nagpur.

    Later the CMMI (Catechist Missionaries of Mary Immaculate) were shifted to a bungalow offered by the Bishop. Thus the Convent of Mary Immaculate was started on 25th March 1890. The Founder wanted them to evangelize the non-Christian women and to cater to the needs of the poorest of the poor by friendly contacts and home-visits. At the request of the Bishop they took up the Marathi School which was a very good means to have contact with women and to uplift them. Gradually their activities spread rapidly in various fields like medical, education, social works and pastoral activities.

Foundation in South of India:Found
    In March 1900, Mother Marie Gertrude was called to Kumbakonam in Tamilnadu under providential and unexpected circumstances to establish a house in the newly erected diocese. Another house was found at Tranquebar in 1901.

    Mother Marie Gertrude, consumed with love for God and for souls, worked for the development of the society in India, China & Bangladesh. She breathed her last on 18th March 1905 in Dacca during her visit. Now her mortal remains rest in the chapel of Mary Immaculate convent, Nagpur

 

 

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