Congregation of Bethany Sisters
Msgr Raymond F. C. Mascarenhas was an educationist of his time and visualized education as the only means to give life and transform the ignorant, especially the poor and the girls. At the same time he was deeply pained to see the distress of many young women who had genuine vocation to religious life but could not get entry into the then existing Congregations because of the requirement of higher education and exorbitant patrimony. Primarily to meet these two purposes and also to impart Christian doctrine and to render pastoral service in the parishes of the rural areas, he started a new Congregation of Bethany Sisters, on July 16th 1921, the feast of our Lady of Mount Carmel, with Marceline Menezes (Mother Martha BS), Flora Mathias (Sr Clare BS), Alice Mathias (Sr Lourdes BS), and Gertrude Gonsalves (Sr Gertrude BS), who were teachers. He had bought a small house with a compound for this purpose on the feast of St Joseph, on March 19th 1921. This sapling that he planted on that day has borne immense fruit as is evident in the service rendered by the Bethany Sisters the world over.
The Congregation that was started with only four members has at present over 1300 members and 76 novices serving in 157 convents in India and 12 convents spread over Germany, Italy, France, Belgium and Mauritania and Senegal in West Africa, and devote themselves to the pastoral, educational, medical and social apostolates.
Msgr Mascarenhas who died on December 23rd 1960, wanted to be buried in the Bethany premises, but the parishioners of Bendur prevailed on the Sisters and he is buried in the Bendur Church as per his original wish expressed when he was transferred from Bendur.
It is heartening to note that Msgr Mascarenhas, Bethany founder and the first parish priest of Bendur has become even more well known after his death through the various miracles he has performed, and hence his Cause for beatification and canonization has been taken up and having obtained permission from the Vatican, he is declared Servant of God, the first stage in the process of canonization, on June 3rd 2008, by Most Rev. Dr Aloysius P D’Souza, the Bishop of Mangalore.