The Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (IBVM), which brings together the religious better known as "Sisters of Loreto", celebrates 175 years of missionary presence in South Asia.
"With immense gratitude to God we
celebrate the arrival in India of the first sisters, who 175 years ago
brought the love of God", says to Fides sister Anita M. Braganza, head
of the religious Province of South Asia.
Eleven Sisters of Loreto came to Calcutta on 30 December 1841 from
Ireland (the congregation was founded in Ireland, ed) and were the first
religious sisters to land in North India.
The first house of the
religious sisters was opened in January 1842 and during the same year an
orphanage in Calcutta was launched. Later on, the congregation founded
several monasteries and schools in many parts of India, Nepal,
"That experience was the result of a missionary zeal: a life dedicated
to mission, saying goodbye to their loved ones, with no plans to return
home. Catholic nuns were the first to set foot on Indian soil, in
particular by contributing to the training of women and children from
all social classes", says Sister Braganza.
Sister Priyanka Toppo, Indian, bears witness: "The community became my
second home, where I received training, was educated and given every
opportunity to grow at a human and spiritual level. Cultural programs
and other extracurricular activities gave me creativity, responsibility
and maturity. This testimony was the seed of my vocation to become a
sister of Loreto, in order to take care of others just like others took
care of me".
The Loreto Sisters were founded by Mary Ward and help children and young
people to grow through education and other works that address the needs
of the times.