Tracing our pioneers
In 1906, six French Sisters – the torch bearers of the visions and designs of Father Medaille and Mother St Jean Fontbonne arrived in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India. Indian Mission kept growing by the continued response of the missionary zeal.
Towards the MORE of Fr. Medaille …
The zealous missionaries applied their heart and soul to learn English and Tamil. Sisters engaged themselves in village visits to evangelize and take care of the sick and rendered medical services with the starting of a dispensary and for the cholera patients in the municipal hospital where some of the sisters worked as staff. The abandoned children were given a second home through the opening of Orphanage.
A new mission/ ministry was offered to the sisters by the British Colonial Government to start a school with boarding attached for the “Kallars” (a disadvantaged section/ caste of that period). This new venture of Madurai Mission coincided with the arrival of Sr. Rose Benedict, the first American missionary in 1922. The School for “Kallars” was officially inaugurated in 1930. The teaching apostolate that started with nursery school began to take root in full-fledged education ministry in different parts of Tamil Nadu.
In 1950, forty-five years after the arrival of the first set of Missionaries, the Indian women were given the invitation to join the Congregation and a novitiate house was set up in Assumption House, Madurai. Sr. Marie de Britto was the first entrant to the novitiate where Sr. Gabriele CARBELLI was the novice mistress.
In the post-independence era, education especially higher education was the means of empowerment of women and realizing this, the charismatic leader Sr. Rose Benedict tirelessly strove to establish Fatima College in 1953. In the same year Holy Family convent was started along with a technical school and an orphanage.
Sprouts of new life…
In 1977, all the missionaries were called back to their Province of origin and the mantle of leadership fell on the Indian sisters. The Indian Province changed its administrative structure by creating four statutory sectors – Tamil Nadu, Karnataka coupled with Andhra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh. The year 2005 is a memorable year for Indian Province, as Nava Jeevan emerged as a Region. In June 2006, the Province gratefully remembered the arrival of the first missionaries to India with fitting celebration.
In 2008, the Province extended its invitation to the laity to live the charism of the Congregation by forming SJL Associate.
Responding to the needs of the time, Indian province began to take untrodden paths by moving out to newer mission stations in Sri Lanka in the year 2011 and Silchar in Assam in 2014.
The General Chapter of 2017accepted the request of Nava Jeevan Region to become a Province. After the bifurcation the Indian Province christened itself as St. Joseph Province that has 29 communities spread out in Andhra, Karnataka, Kerala Tamil Nadu , Assam, and Sri Lanka. The sisters are engaged in various apostolate and services with compassion and creativity and at the same time by striving to be rooted in Christ.
Among the most important Apostolate areas are:
- Education: from Kindergarten to higher education
- Social Action and Implementation of the Millennium Development Goals
- A pastoral and family apostolate for the formation of the Faith.
- Preventive and curative work for the health including hospital care and health camps
- Formation and collaboration with associates
Towards trans-cultural Mission
From 1970 the Indian Province has been responding to the trans-cultural missionary call of the Congregation. At present, seven sisters are living in inter cultural reality of the Congregation, engaged in various services and ministries.