Jan 19

Mother Giovanna Alberoni UMI


Mother Giovanna Saveria Alberoni UMI


Mother Giovanna Saveria Alberoni, former superior general of the Ursulines of May Immaculate congregation who converted a 22-bed nursing home to a full-fledged multi-specialty institution and medical research center in Mumbai, died on January 18. She was 94.

Mother Alberoni, the first Ursuline nun to pursue medical studies in India, died at 1:46 pm at the Holy Family Hospital in Mumbai’s Bandra suburb.

The Italian missionary nun was admitted there a week ago with old age related complications.

At the time of her death, she was a member of the Shalom community attached to the Holy Family Hospital at Bandra.

“Mother Giovanna’s contribution to our congregation has been remarkable. She worked tirelessly for the growth of the Indian mission,” says Sister Nikesh Mecherithakadiel, head of the congregation’s Bengaluru-based Central Indian province that covers Mumbai.

Although an Italian, Mother Giovanna “was truly a mother to the Indians. As a medical doctor her kindness and compassion to the sick was exceptional. She has helped more than 1,000 of poor children to gain education,” the provincial told Matters India

Ursuline Sister Shalet Kalapurackal, who works in the Bandra hospital, says they feel empty after Mother Giovanna’s passing away. “She was the light of our congregation in India,” she told Matters India.

Sister Giovanna, as she was popularly known, was born at San Giorgio Piacentino on October 1, 1926, second of three girls. She was baptized Maria Filomena, her pet name was Mariuccia.

After the 5th grade, Mariuccia’s life mostly revolved around the home and the Church activities.

When she was 12 years, she went to Piacenza city to study in the Ursuline’s professional school. A 3-year course there prepared students for employment in offices.

However, with school principal Mother Bianca Franchinbi’s support Mauricccia continued her education at the ‘Magistrali Section of the Usulines’ school that gave her a diploma for teaching in elementary schools. She also got a chance to study the Lyceum Exam, needed for admission to a university.

Mauricccia later attributed her vocation to the strong faith of her family, the dedicated service of the parish priest, the example of nuns, and the experience of the Second World War. Her mother told her that, when she was carrying her in the womb, she had prayed that the child might be a boy and become a priest.

She joined the novitiate in January 1946 with the 11 others.

Mariuccia wanted to become a missionary in Africa, but her congregation had their foreign mission in India. Mariuccia, who had by then become Sister Maria Giovanna Saveria, landed in India with the third batch of Ursuline missionaries in November 1948. She made her first profession on September 18, 1948, in Kannur, the then headquarters of the congregation’s Indian branch.

She studied English along with the customs and culture of India. She also studied medicine from the University of New Delhi and served the Ursuline hospitals at Kanpur, Calicut (now Kozhikode), Vaiythiri and Mumbai.

The Ursuline Sisters of Mary Immaculate was founded by Sister Brigida Morello in Piacenza, Italy, in 1649. The Ursulines opened their first mission in India in Kerala 1934 to work among the poor in the Malabar region. Initially, they managed dispensaries and visited patients at home. Although the congregation’s original aim was to educate young women, the mission got diversified in India to include medical, social and pastoral services.

The UMI’s foray into medical services began in 1961 with the setting up of their first major hospital in India – Mariampur in Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh. The congregation opened other medical institutions across the country and in 1978 took over Bandra’s Holy Family Hospital from the Medical Mission Sisters.

Mother Alberoni oversaw the transfer of management and played a pivotal role in the hospital’s growth and expansion. She was the first Ursuline nun in India to study medicine. She guided the hospital from a 22-bed nursing home to a full-fledged multi-specialty institution and medical research center along with Sister Bernadina Poomthottam, Monsignor Nereus Rodrigues, and Doctors Faust Pinto and Eustace de Souz.

Funeral Mass




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