KRISHNAGAR, (C.M. Paul) – The Generalate and Mother House of the Sisters of Mary Immaculate (SMI) kept 25th death anniversary of Salesian Bishop Louis L.R. Morrow of Krishnagar, with solemn liturgical and commemorative services 31st August. The SMI Kolkata province headquarters based at Kalyani held a solemn Eucharistic celebration on 30 August.
The American Bishop and founder of the “smiling sisters” and “cycle sisters” popular for their village catechesis and activities for the promotion of women is still affectionately remembered as “Father Bishop.”
Louis was born on Christmas Eve, 24 December 1892 at Weatherford, Texas, U.S.A. Later, the family moved to Puebla, Mexico where he joined the Salesians in 1911.
After completing his studies at the Catholic University of Palafox, Mexico, and ordained priest in 1921, he founded “La Buena Prensa” (The Good Press) to promote wholesome literature and cinema.
From 1922 to 1939 Father Morrow served as secretary to the Apostolic Delegate in Manila, Philippines. In 1926 he founded the Catholic Truth Society of Manila to publish Catholic literature, mainly for youth. He became a popular retreat director, a prolific writer and publisher of a series of catechetical books, and also nine text books officially recognized for use in schools in the Philippines. His esteemed book Our Catholic Faith (currently used in several countries) is an exuberant expression of his catechetical charism.
As Bishop of Krishnagar from 1939 to 1969, he was a zealous pastor and missionary – “an angel of God’s love to all.”
While building up the diocese of Krishnagar which in those days extended to several towns of present day Bangaldesh, Bishop Morrow also served the city of Krishnagar in an official capacity as Mayor.
For 12 years Bishop Morrow was commissioner of KrishnagarMunicipality. He also served as official visitor to Nadia District Jail, member of the Advisory Board of the GovernmentHospital, and as consultant to the Indian Red Cross Society of West Bengal.
The older Sisters recall how Bishop Morrow “faced courageously and acted timely and tenaciously during the crisis of World War II, the Disastrous Famine of Bengal, the tragedy of the partition of India as well as withstanding the several natural calamities of floods and droughts.
To realize his vision of reaching out to all people, especially women in their homes, he founded the congregation of the Catechist Sisters of Mary Immaculate Help of Christians on 12 December 1948. He was also an active and effective council Father at the Second Vatican Council promoting the use of vernacular and inclusive language in the liturgy, human rights, equality for women as well as ordination of women to the priesthood.
The first group of eight novices received their religious habit of white sari with three stripes on Sunday 20 April 1952.
Today, 60 years later, there are 625 Sisters working in 77 institutions in 5 provinces and one delegation in India, Africa and Europe. This year the congregation has over 30 novices and some 130 pre-novices.
The mortal remains of Bishop Morrow who died on 31st August 1987 were laid to rest in the cathedral of the Most Holy Redeemer at Krishnagar where even today devotees put fresh flowers and stop by to pray.