COLLABORATOR OF THE FOUNDER
MOTHER MARY MATILDA 1880 – 1950
Josephine, sister of Bishop Fortunatus Henri Caumont, was born on December 13, 1880 in France. Theirs was a family of deep faith. All the members of the family dedicated their lives to the service of God and even their mother became a nun at the age of forty-six. Love for the poor and the call of the missions drew the entire Caumont family irresistibly towards distant India.
In 1911, while laying the foundation of the Mission Sisters of Ajmer, Bishop Fortunatus Henri Caumont requested the Congregation of St. Mary of the Angels in France for a helper. Fortunately enough, his own sister, Mother Mary Matilda, was appointed in February 1911 to collaborate with him.
The Congregation of the Mission Sisters of Ajmer took birth on April 26, 1911, in what is now called St. Francis Hospital, Ajmer. Mother Mary Tarcisius, a humble and holy Sister, came as a helper and companion to Mother Mary Matilda.
The deep spirituality and missionary zeal of Mother Mary Matilda inspired her to work for the uplift of women in Rajputana. She was the first Principal of the school meant exclusively for girls and named ‘Sophia’, which means ‘Wisdom’.
Mother Mary Matilda was one of the first ladies to work for the education of women in Ajmer. She was honoured with the title, ‘The First Lady in the Cause of Women’s Education’, She was also appointed Girl guide Commissioner in 1936. Later, at the request of the Education Department, she accepted to be Inspectress of Girls’ High Schools in Ajmer-Mewara.
Mother Matilda as collaborator of the Founder, persevered in the uphill task of women’s education, facing disappointments and failures with courage and fortitude. The death of her brother, Bishop Fortunatus Henri Caumont, in 1930, came as a great shock to her. Trials had mellowed her, and it was her great confidence in God that sustained her. A woman of faith, she carried on with love and understanding, yet firmness of purpose.
As head of the Congregation of the Mission Sisters of Ajmer, she radiated God’s love to everyone she encountered. She opened Houses in the villages, with Welfare Centres to attend to the medical needs of the poor and Hindi Medium Schools to educate children of the rural and tribal areas. She encouraged and often visited her Sister who lived and worked among the Rawats and the Bhils. She trained the Mission Sisters to be happy Franciscans, prayerful, simple, sincere, hospitable, hardworking, zealous and contented missionaries.
September 8, 1950 was the day the Sisters were to celebrate Mother Matilda’s Golden Jubilee as a Religious Sister. On August 18, 1950, she went round to every department of the House, encouraging the Sisters with here cheerful words. That very night she had a severe heart attack and early the next morning (August 19) her noble soul went to its eternal reward. Her Jubilee on earth was exchanged for greater jubilation in heaven.