Our Founder Archbishop Stephen Ferrando
Bishop Stephen Ferrando was born on 28th September 1895 in the hamlet of Rossiglione, a fertile valley, a semi medieval town in Genova, Italy. His parents, Augustine Ferrando and Josephine Salvi were from a middle class family. Stephen Ferrando was the eldest of the three children whom the parents brought up in the fear and love of God. His only brother passed away during the 1st world war at a very young age.
Stephen completed his primary school in his own village and joined Don Bosco's Boarding School at Fossano and completed his middle school at Valdocco where he was trained by the contemporaries of DonBosco and experienced the actual life style of his father and treasured everything in his heart for his future carrier.
Young Stephen was very much edified by the life style of Don Bosco's oratory and joined the Salesians of Don Bosco on 24th October 1907. Here, under the guidance of his superiors, who really experienced the spirit of Don Bosco, he was guided to imbibe the spirit of Don Bosco. He preceded his studies with great enthusiasm and determination to become a salesian priest. His studies came to a standstill as the First World War broke out and Italy joined the war. He, along with his companions were asked to join the compulsory military service in defence of his motherland. His remarkable intelligence and extra ordinary valour raised him to the rank of a lieutenant. He was awarded a number of medals and certificates of merit by the Government of Italy and prominent personalities like the King of Italy, the Prefect of the City of Genova, the President of the Archaeological Academy etc.These medals and certificates are preserved in the archives of the Missionary Sisters of Mary Help of Christians (MSMHC) Guwahati, Assam.
After serving the Motherland for 4 years with pride and loyalty (1914-1918), Stephen returned to his Congregation with great eagerness to serve the Lord.Young Stephen was very gentle, calm, simple, diligent, disciplined and well mannered. His sense of humour, humility and cheerfulness attracted everyone to him. He was ordained priest on 18th March 1922. Young Stephen, tested in World War I as an "Iron Soldier" was prepared to face any difficulty.
Stephen nurtured in his mind, desire to be a missionary to serve the poor and needy. His passion was fulfilled when the superiors asked him to come to India along with 8 of his companions. With great determination he left his home country for India and reached Shillong, the land of his dream on 23rd December 1923. After a few months he was appointed as Novice Master as Fr. Deponti returned to Italy due to his ill health. Thus Fr. Ferrando took the charge as the Novice Master & Rector of Our Lady's House in Shillong. He shouldered this responsibility until he was appointed Bishop in 1934. He shepherded the Diocese for 35 years. In difficulties and trials Bishop Ferrando went ahead with great courage and daring spirit. Divine providence came to his aid whenever he was in need. He built a beautiful Cathedral of Mary Help of Christians which stands majestically as a pilgrim centre in Shillong.
The Congregation of the "Missionary Sisters of Mary Help of Christians" was founded on 24th October 1942 at Guwahati with 8 girls from Assam by His Excellency, Bishop Stephen Ferrando.The Congregation has done yeoman service to the people of North East in the field of Education and for the upliftment of women, girls and children.Today the Congregation has spread all over India and abroad.
The Congregation's Generalate is situated in Guwahati, the gateway to North East India. The society is governed by the Superior General and her six member team of General Council.
The Sisters give priority to reaching out to villages and conducting various programmes, camps etc. for women, children, youth and adults. They own a few schools and run schools owned by the Church and other Institutions. It has boarding houses for girls, homes for the aged, vocational training centres, dispensaries and mobile clinics. The sisters care for the orphans, the under privileged, the differently abled and mentally retarded children. They are also engaged in mass media communications and youth services.
At present, the Congregation has over thousand members who render their selfless and generous services for the upliftment of the various tribes and communities of people all over India and abroad through 145 centres.