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Bethany Society founder Sister Rosario passes away leaving a rich legacy of social service

Tura, March 28: Missionary nun from Spain, Sister Rosario Lopez Herreria, who spent decades in Garo Hills helping the specially challenged children, men and women and also established the biggest institute for their wellbeing- The Bethany Society in Tura, has passed away this afternoon while undergoing treatment at Nazareth Hospital in Shillong. She was 94.

A member of the Catholic Church congregation Missionaries of Christ Jesus (MCJ), Sister Rosario was a well known missionary across the Garo Hills who took the lead to establish a home for the disabled children and provide them quality education through the use of Braille and sign language, while the adult men and women were trained in various crafts and farming practices to help them stand economically strong in society.

She was also a recipient of Meghalaya’s Pa Togan Nengminja award for Social Service.

Sister Rosario (middle) celebrating birthday of 93 year old Sister Carmen (seated) in Shillong a few months ago.

Her body is being brought to Tura and will lie in state at St. Xavier’s School on Good Friday for well wishers to pay their last respects. Her funeral is slated for Saturday.

A close friend of Late Sister Guadalupe of St. Xavier’s who was a pioneer in working with the lepers of Garo Hills, Sister Rosario began her work at Mendal in Garo Hills moving on to Khasi Hills. She established the Bethany Society in Tura in 1986.

Through the society, she opened the Marian Integrated Education for the Blind institute at Kamipara, Araimile in Tura where visually challenged children were housed and schooled. The school was later handed over to the Montfort Brothers of St. Gabrial that went on to establish the biggest education institute for special children in the entire state- The Montfort Centre of Education at Tura.

“Sister was a very dedicated and hardworking nun who had immense love for children and the specially challenged. In Spite of age and health conditions she never stopped working. She will be missed dearly,” lamented Michael K Sangma who was among the first few members to join Sr Rosario in her work in Garo Hills for the specially challenged.

Having witnessed the extreme hardships faced by the people living in remote Gabil region of East Garo Hills, where roads and medical facilities were literally non-existent in the 1990s, she went on to open a creche for children and a school named Kamino Pringprang which has now become a self-reliant institute.

Two permanent complexes of Bethany Society would go on to be established in Garo Hills- one at New Tura, near MBOSE headquarters, and the other at Tebronggre village under Rongram.

Today, Bethany Society institute at Veronica Lane in Shillong is also a testament of the dedication and zeal of Sister Rosario. The Christian Brothers of St. Edmund’s institute donated the land, that was once known as Dhobi field or D division field for the boarders, for the society to establish its institute.

Her last years were spent establishing education facilities for children in China before ill-health brought her back to her roots in Garo Hills.

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