Doon's Convent celebrates opening of bicentenary year
Grace, gaiety and grandeur adorned Doon's Convent of Jesus and Mary as it celebrated the opening of the bicentenary year of the Congregation of Jesus and Mary on Monday evening.
With acclaimed environmentalist and author Vandana Shiva, who is also an alumnus of the school, as the chief guest and Rever and Valerian Pinto as the guest of honor, the show was a fantastic spectacle put together by almost five hundred students and attended by more than one thousand
people. The performance was conceptualized and executed by Sister Greta, principal, CJM- Dehradun along with students and staff.
Addressing the guests, Shiva said, "The three things that have been really special for me tonight are the quality of the celebration, the constant reminder about a life of service because we have too much education for cultivating greed these days but service to others will be the perennial quality that will keep societies going; and finally the amazing confluence of cultures in the performance all the way from France and the French Revolution to the Yamuna Banks of Agra for this is the richness of India."
Highlighting the importance of schools in today's digital age she added, "Remote learning can give information but it cannot inspire minds. Miracles of technology that lack compassion have failed.
Compassion is spiritual intelligence, environment is ecological intelligence and we also need social intelligence. Artificial intelligence will do mechanical work but the world does not run on mechanical work, it thrives on the heart- on compassion and on care."
The theatrical presentation on the life of Saint Claudine Thevenet, the founder of the the Religious of Jesus and Mary, woven into the birth and development of the Congregation of Jesus and Mary across the world was appreciated by the gathering.
Thévenet witnessed the horrors of the French Revolution - she saw two of her brothers executed - and went on to cater to the needs of dissolute children while using her congregation to provide local girls with a religious education. She was beatified on October 4, 1981 and was later canonised as a saint on March 21, 1993.
There were fancy costumes, high quality audio-visuals, live music and some fine acting by the girls of CJM that marked the two-hours' performance.
The play began with scenes of gunshots and violence in Lyons, France in 1774- the birthplace of Claudine Thevenet, and the next two hours depicted Thevenet's life and the rise of the congregation over the last two hundred years. A segment of particular relevance in the stage show was the part on how in the eighteenth century nuns of the congregation were called to India to open the first school for girls in the country around the time that the East India Company made its presence in India.
Hailed as 'Brave Nuns', their journey to India all the way from France had taken a long eleven months to complete but the nuns were dedicated to their cause. From those small but sure steps to now, the Congregation of Jesus and Mary has thirty-nine institutions and three colleges in India as a part of its global presence.
The show also gave interesting insights into the history of CJM, among Doon's most prestigious schools. In Dehradun, the Religious of Jesus and Mary began in February 1901 by the efforts of the sisters of Waverly Convent in Mussoorie. CJM, Dehradun was first known as Saint Joseph's Day School and had fifteen European students.
In what may not be known to many in 1923 boarding facility was started in CJM that continued till India's independence. In 1938, a new school specially for Indian children was started called Saint Francis School.
When India got political freedom, Saint Joseph's and Saint Francis were merged to form the present day Convent of Jesus and Mary, Dehradun.
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