Our Founder Fr. Antonius Maria Bodewig

Fr. Antonius Maria bodewig, a German Jesuit and Missionary received 'a call' while working as a professor in the Jesuit College in the mission territory of the German Jesuit Province in Bombay, India, during the year 1873-1876.

He was not happy and satisfied with the prestigious teaching ministry in the college even though he was an excellent teacher. He became aware of the contrasting picture of this country; on the one hand India's thirst for the absolute, the noble values of Satya (Truth) and Ahimsa (Non-violence) enshrined in the scriptures and its rich cultural and spiritual heritage and on the other hand the grinding poverty of the people, illiteracy, discrimination of women, immolation of widows (Sati), child marriages and all kinds of superstitions.

He envisioned bringing about an integrated development of the people and liberating them from the bondages of poverty, injustice and all kinds of oppression.

In spite his great love and admiration for the Society of Jesus he had to leave the society to follow 'the call within the call' after long years of prayer and discernment. In 1888 he left the Society of Jesus and came to his home town Colognes in Germany. In the 1893 he laid foundation for the Missionary society of the Immaculate Conception.

Fr Bodewig had particular vision of the new society. He wanted to establish a new congregation which would specialize itself in a new mode of life, not know then and its apostolate unique culture specific and need based responding to the needs in India. This was an original idea that the society he founded, consisting of priests, brothers and sister would pioneer new initiatives for the evangelization of India especially of Banaras. He wanted the members to be identified with the people they work for.

He felt within himself some invincible power drawing him to Beneras a city with rich spiritual traditions. He wanted that his society should have its first and central house in the same city and in due course "a worthy temple may be erected and dedicated to the Immaculate Conception that she may crush all the evil forces".

Another thought which occupied Fr. Bodewig was the formation of sisters who would devote themselves for the uplift of women, female youth and the care of widows.

Due to several unfortunate incidents caused by the particular situations of his time his undertaking ended in failure. Fr. Bodewig suffered the failure of Good Friday. Men and Women with a prophetic vision, who live ahead of their time, experience such failures.

Fr. Antonius Maria Bodewig died in Rome on 8th January 1915, a day before his audience was fixed with the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XV as a consequence of physical hardships and interior suffering which he had to endure because of his vision unfulfilled.

"Unless the grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies itself, it remains alone, but if it dies, it will bring fruit in hundredfold."(Jn.12: 24)

House at Mariaveld, Belgium