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Servant of God Joseph Louis Ravel
1824 – 1881
Franciscan Sisters of the Presentation of Mary



Fr. Joseph Louis Ravel, founder of the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Coimbatore. His service paved the way for the religious to grow in faith and chastity. Our servant of God invokes God on our behalf.

Birth and Early Childhood

There was a small village in Alpes- de- Haute-Provence in the southeast of France known as Valernes. Fr. Ravel was born to a wealthy landlord, Mr. Pierre Joseph Ravel, and Mrs. Francoise Armand on 24th August 1824. He had two sisters. The children were brought up in piety and good manners by their parents. Ravel grew up happily in a Christian family atmosphere. He enjoyed simplicity, joy, humbleness, and obedience towards elders among his sisters, who appreciated him dearly.

School Education

He started his early education in his native place, Valernes and continued his higher education in a nearby town Sisteron from Valernes. It was there that he felt his divine call and decided to offer himself to God. When he revealed his wish to his parents, they accepted God's will wholeheartedly and permitted him.

Priestly Formation

He joined the diocesan seminary at Digne in 1844 and continued his priestly formation until he received the tonsure. He joined MEP on 11th July 1846 and continued his priestly studies. He was ordained a priest on 17th June 1848. After the farewell ceremony, he left for India on 6th July 1848 and landed at Pondicherry in Tamil Nadu on 28th December 1848.

Missionary Zeal

He started his mission in the diocese of Coimbatore; he had a great thirst for saving souls. His love, prudence, and charitable works conquered the hearts of the simple people. From the beginning, people were attracted by his wisdom, love, and docility.

Missionary Works

Missionary activity started in Coimbatore after the sixteenth century. Missionaries from Pondicherry, Goa, and Madurai came to Coimbatore with much zeal and effort to serve the people. The existence of casteism, ignorance, poverty, illiteracy and women's inequality made him contribute more to the people; on 21st November 1853, the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (FSPM) was founded.

He started both Tamil and English Medium schools for the children and entrusted them under the care of the Presentation sisters at Karumathanpatty. He started an orphanage for girls in Coimbatore and an orphanage for boys in Karumatanpatty in 1859. A part of shelters for pilgrims was built by Rev. Fr. Ravel in 1860. He also built a Church in Pallapalayam along with Fr. Arulnather in 1862. A girls' school at Pallapalayam was established in 1874. He served in Wellington from1863 – to 1865. To cater to the spiritual needs of Catholic military soldiers and the faithful of that area, he constructed the first Church and presbytery in 1864. Again he became the parish priest of Palakkad from 1865-to 1872. Then he was appointed as the Rector of the seminary and a parish priest of St. Michael's Cathedral at Coimbatore from 1872-to 1875. The services in Coonoor from 1875-to 1880 were remarkable as he baptized 252 adults and children, blessed 47 marriages, and did the rectification of marriages too. Through his preaching, house visits, and witnessing life, he brought many people into Catholic Church.

Service to the Poor

From 1876 to 1878, there was a severe famine in South India. Their deep faith in the providence of God, love, wisdom, and approachability gained him the affection and love of the people. He showed a special interest in the marginalized and was compatible with them. He identified education as the principal means of empowering women in society.

Eradication of Casteism

In Somanur, Fr. De Gelis appointed a low caste man to look after his horse and accompany him during his journeys. When people came to know about this appointment got annoyed and immediately wanted to remove him. Fr. De Gelis would not heed the people's demand. Hence the people of Somanur stopped participating in the Church activities and threatened him that they would get priests from Goa to work in their parishes. Then Fr. Ravel convinced the people to make reparation for their misdeed and paid a fine for it. Therefore, he tried to bring peace among the people with his strong convictions as his inner self was filled with Grace.

New Ventures

In those days, people used to throw dead bodies into the river or in the deep forest. Seeing this, Fr. Ravel thought of Resurrection and brought the dead into the Church for mass, reciting all prayers prescribed in the liturgical books. This new effort of Fr. Ravel was unthinkable in the culture of those days and paved the way for more social changes in society.

Messenger of Peace

The main aims of the MEP are: to form the Missionaries for the Church, strengthen the faith of the people, and make social changes by educating the people. Fr. Ravel excelled in his philanthropic activities by giving importance to the works, as mentioned earlier. Moreover, the approach and manner in which he solved the problems identified him as the Messenger of Peace.

Last Days

He continued his missionary work in Coonoor with zeal despite his ill health. In 1880 he became very sick. The Bishop of Coimbatore brought Fr. Ravel to take great care of him. Fr. Maury had praised Fr. Ravel, "This good Father was a holy missionary; in Heaven, he will be a protector of the mission and its works." We can understand that he was a great and zealous missionary from these words.

Journey towards Heaven

Fr. Ravel dedicated his life to the will of the Lord. He started to prepare himself to meet God, saying that he would meet God in Heaven soon. Fr. Ravel wanted to receive all the sacraments in full conscience. He often used to say, "Yes, bring me my Lord Jesus and pray to Him to take me soon". The last ten days before his death was an agony. He pleaded to God for a peaceful death.

How sweet is the death to the man who lives well! Like a flower that gives out its last perfume, the good father gave out his last breath on 31st January 1881 at 00.45 a.m. He was buried at the cemetery at Sungam, Coimbatore. Later the grave was excavated, and his mortal remains were transferred from Sungam to the Generalate of Presentation Sisters on 1st June 2009 with the permission of the Bishop of Coimbatore, Most Rev.Dr.Thomas Aquinas during the tenure of Mother General Celine Nirmala.The beatification and canonization of Fr. Joseph Louis Ravel on 14th January 2020. This event is a milestone in the history of our congregation.

Congregation of the Presentation Sisters

The origin of the Congregation of the Presentation Sisters had a humble beginning. Bishop Mgr. Marion de Bresillac wanted to do something against the caste system in India. He believed that women could do better in this fight against the caste system, and it was important to get the women of India to be educated. On seeing Fr. Joseph Louis Ravel's zeal and ability with which he had learned the local language and culture, the bishop gave him the difficult task of founding an Indigenous Congregation for the women to educate the young girls. A young girl from Marianallur, Saveriammal by name, wished to consecrate her life to the service of God in the religious state. However, she had never seen a religious sister or a convent. Fr. Ravel, to whom she had expressed her desire, seeing her good dispositions, found that she had the signs of a true vocation to religious life, and he understood that God was allowing him to start a Congregation.

After deeply considering the matter, taking advice, and praying, he decided to admit her as a postulant on 21 November 1853 on the Feast Day of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. After that, however, the growth of the Congregation was difficult and slow because of the ignorance and illiteracy of the people.

Growth of the Congregation

Fr. Ravel bought a small house at karumathanpatty near the Church for Rupees Seven, which became the Congregation's first house. Though Saveriammal was a pious and wise lady, she did not know to read and write. During her postulancy and novitiate, she was deep-rooted in faith and secular matters. Under the guidance of Fr. Ravel, she received her spiritual training and learned about religious life. After her two years of training, she was allowed to take the vow of Chastity, Poverty, and Obedience, and she was given a simple white and blue saree as her dress. This new Congregation was placed under the protection of Our Lady of Presentation.

In 1854 following the example of Saveriammal, three other girls joined the Congregation as postulants. Then after overcoming all the hurdles, the Headquarters of the Congregation was shifted from Karumathanpatty to Coimbatore (the present Generalate) in 1859. Five professed sisters, twelve novices, postulants, and two lay sisters extended their hands. Thus, the Congregation grew slowly and steadily. In 1865 Sr.Santhaiammal was appointed as the First Superior General of the Congregation by the Bishop of Coimbatore. Later she was re-elected by the sisters on 24 November 1872. Fr. Ravel taught his sisters to be the living teachings of the Great Law of Charity.

In his letter to Mgr. Clement Bonn had said, "I would like that the doors of this establishment should always be open to true vocations to religious life. We can employ its members to all the diversified works of Christian Charity adapted to these nuns; for example, spiritual and physical care of the children, of the old, of all ages, sex, and conditions, as much as the circumstances and prudence will permit, nothing will be excluded; for all these services will be practised in such a way as to make this modest community to the eyes of all, like living teaching of the Great Law of Charity, the true foundation and the beautiful summary of our Holy Religion."

The main aim of the Congregation is to bear witness to Christ by service of the neighbourhood, primarily through Christian, moral, and general education of children and young women; taking care of the orphans, the sick, the aged and the needy, and through the Charitable works which may help us bear witness to Christ and His love. After about one and half centuries of our unrelenting spirit of services in the mother church through evangelization, education, medical, and other social ministries, the Holy See had been graciously pleased to recognize our dedicated fervour and service. Accordingly, the Congregation was elevated to the status of Pontifical Right by His Holiness Pope John Paul II on 15.12.2000. Inspired by the Charism of Our Congregation viz "A Living Teaching of the Great Law of Charity", our Sisters focus on the marginalized and those living at the fringe of the society. Our Sisters are serving to disseminate that Charism with the preferential option for the poor.

Three continents Asia, Africa and Europe
Five countries India, Italy, France, Zambia, Ireland
Nine states in India Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Jammu Kashmir, Rajasthan, Haryana.
Three Provinces Ravel Province, Shantha Province, Francisco Province
Two Region North Region & Kerala Region Respectively Called (Saverino Region & Valan Region).
Two Mission Stations Europe, Africa
Dioceses 40 Dioceses
Communities 149
Number of Sisters 822

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