The Franciscan Missionaries of Christ the King By Goretti Ali The FMCK (Franciscan Missionaries of Christ the King) Order was founded in Karachi on 10 August 1937 by Mother Bridget Sequeira , along with Monsignor Salesius Lemmens, OFM (Order of Friars Minor), a Dutch missionary who was the Ecclesiastical Superior of Sindh and Baluchistan. This was done in direct compliance with the appeal issued by Rome urging mission territories to found indigenous congregations. T his is the only Roman Catholic religious order originating in what is today Pakistan, actually predating the better known Missionaries of Charity founded by Mother Teresa in Kolkata, India, in 1950. The Order chose a white sari with a border of three red stripes. The sari was selected as it is a dress worn by the women of the Sub-continent. The three stripes represent the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience that the Franciscans make. Bridget Sequeira was born in Bushehr, Iran in 1905, but her family originated from Saligao, Goa. In 1913 she was sent to Karachi to study at St. Joseph’s Convent School. She passed her Senior Cambridge and Secondary Teacher’s Training. She went on to a teaching post at the same school. A few years after founding the FMCK order, she travelled to Saligao, Goa in 1946 and established the congregation there. It then spread to Mumbai and throughout India. In 2006, four sisters started working in Sri Lanka. The sisters are engaged in educational, pastoral, health and social work. Concern for the rights of the poor is their main thrust. The congregation has constructed schools, orphanages, hospitals and homes for the aged and disabled. Today they oversee several institutions throughout Pakistan. The mother house is at Christ the King Convent (originally known as St. Philomena’s Convent) which is part of the school and Church building in Catholic Colony No.2, Karachi. Sr. Catherine Wilson is the current Provincial. Mother Bridget died in the novitiate house, Rosary Convent Malir, Karachi in 1987. In 1939, Gertrude Lemmens travelled to Karachi to visit her brother Msgr. Salesius Lemmens. S he accompanied him for a month on his rounds of social work in under-privileged communities and was moved by how poor and needy the people were. She returned to Karachi and joined the FMCK order devoting her life to the care of children with disabilities. She opened Dar-ul-Sukun (Home of Peace) on 17 Feb. 1969. Sr. Gertrude received the Sitara-i-Quaid-e-Azam one of the highest honours given to foreign nationals on 23 Mar. 1989. Sr. Gertrude Lemmens passed away in Karachi in Oct. 2000. The Lemmens family in Holland continue to render their support to the various causes Sr. Gertrude was involved in. Due to increasing members of the order in Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka , a need was felt to decentralise the administration for better efficiency and organisation. During its 10th General Chapterheld in 2005, the congregation decided to divide its administration into two provinces : St. Francis of Assisi in Pakistan and St. Clare 's in India and to move the mother house from Karachi to Old Goa. I would like to add here that Mother Andrew Sequeira, RJM (Religious of Jesus and Mary) and Sr. Dolores Anne Pinto, FC (Daughters of the Cross) are Mother Bridget Sequeira’s nieces. Mother Andrew’s father and Sr. Dolores Anne’s mother were Mother Bridget’s siblings. Mother Andrew is presently at Toba Tek Singh and Sr. Dolores Anne at St. Joseph’s Convent, Karachi. A Home for Socially Displaced Girls - The Children of Dar-ul-Sukun The home for socially displaced girls is at Wedderburn Road, Catholic Colony No.2, Karachi. It is a renovated double-storey building and was blessed by His Grace, Archbishop Joseph Coutts on 23 Apr. 2012. The children are from the original Lemmens Home (opened in 1972) and Janiville (opened in 1981). There are around 50 girls aged 5 – 15 and above. Some are special children and all are either orphans or whose families are unable to look after them. The home provides them with all the necessities of life and is run solely on donations. Sr. Zita D’Cunha, FMCK is in charge and is assisted by four nuns. After completing their education, some undertake nurses or teachers training to secure employment. The girls who have homes to return to, do so. But those who have nowhere to go stay back. Presently there are a couple of older children as well.
The home for socially displaced girls is under the patronage of Dar-ul-Sukun which also runs a home for socially displaced boys in Quetta, a home for senior citizens opp. Quaid-e-Azam’s Mazar and a rehabilitation centre in Tando Allahyar. Community development projects include women’s empowerment project and I-Learn girls’ education in Quetta, a disability self-employment and a training & development programme.