About us > Origin of the Institute

The Institute of the Sisters of Charity of Sts.Bartolomea Capitanio and Vincenza Gerosa(SCCG) also known as the Sisters of Maria Bambina had its origin in Lovere, Italy. It was founded by a young girl of 25 named Bartolomea Capitanio in 1832. Bartolomea’s inspiration to found an Institute took shape because of her deep love for God and through her involvement in the actual situation of the people of Lovere – her native town.

Having studied in the boarding school of the Poor Clares, she acquired a deep piety under the ever vigilant Mother Francesca Parpani. “I want to be a Saint, a great saint and a saint soon” were the words she uttered at the age of 7 at the ‘Game of Straws’. Her spiritual Director Don Angelo Bosio sensed the working of the Spirit in her and guided her in her spiritual Journey. He urged her to note down all the inspirations she received. This resulted in the inspired document we now call ‘the Foundation Document” which forms the basis of our present Rule of Life. She wrote: “The Institute which will be founded in Lovere is be totally founded on charity and this must be its principle aim…should have as its aim the education of poor young girls…devote itself to the relief of the sick..” In this way she outlined a MISSION which, though starting as a personal response to the needs of her environment was deeply rooted in charity and as such destined to be kept up and to spread beyond the bounds of Lovere.

Bartolomea was helped in her project by Catherine Gerosa, a simple, rich, charitable lady of Lovere. Together they consecrated themselves to God in a simple ceremony on 21 November 1832 at Casa Gaia. Thus began the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity. Bartolomea was called to her eternal reward on 26 July 1833 eight months after founding the Congregation. It was left to Catherine Gerosa, under the able guidance of Don Angelo Bosio to carry on the work begun.

The Institute spread rapidly in many Provinces of Italy. In 1860, Mother Theresa Bosio the first Superior General answered the call of the missions of India and sent four sisters to work in Bengal -India. Thus began the mission of the sisters in India.

About us > History of Calcutta Province
Province of Bengal – 1860

Sr. Cecilia Uetz came to India in 1865 as its 1st Provincial Superior. More sisters were arriving from Italy in batches to replace the ones who succumbed to the climate and lack of nourishment. Nothing daunted their vision though they faced death at a young age because their aim was to reach out to the neediest and the poorest. There seemed to have faced failures when circumstances and imminent death of sisters made the Superiors withdraw them from some places.
The sisters had a very hard life with lack of proper accommodation and food. They also faced many difficulties due to difference of language and customs. Above all they suffered because of the climate of Bengal which is very unlike that of Italy. Their woolen dresses were very cumbersome and uncomfortable for the hot climate of India. Yet the sisters bore everything cheerfully for the mission and for the people they were sent to serve. Krishnagar at that time was mostly a mini jungle with no means of communication which made the sisters’ travel to far away villages difficult. They used to go for a few months at a time, stay in the villages, care for them in every way and then return only to go elsewhere after a few days in the community.
The sisters reached out to the widows who had no place in the society, teaching them crafts and needlework to make an earning for them selves. The sisters provided them with shelter and security. They also brought up the children who were neglected, abandoned and unwanted. They gave them education, taught them to be good housewives, mothers etc., taught them tailoring and other crafts so that they could be gainfully employed and make their households a pleasant place to live. The sisters reached out to the sick and opened dispensaries where the healing process started with not only medicines but also with compassion and kindness. They did not hesitate to clean the wounds of the leper patients in the hospital at Gobra, Calcutta, giving them dignity the patients had not known. Even while on death bed, people found the sisters at their side, consoling and attending to them to the end. The sisters had never hesistated to work with cholera stricken people as the epidemic used to strike after every natural calamity such as flood, cyclones and famine.
As successors of this mission we have been able to expand the boundaries to bring into reality the dream vision of St. Bartolomea to be the ‘Daughters of the Redeemer,’ and that of St. Vincenza to serve the most neglected, specially the sick. We are now into mission fields with shifting realities of the present world with new ventures, while also retaining the old. Thus, education is still a priority and we have formal and informal educational institutions where moral values are imparted to the young along with academic knowledge. Health sector has always been a strong need every where, specially, in the villages where now there are dispensaries bringing healing touch of Christ to the ailing. We even have a hospital in a village. From the start of the mission of our sisters in 1860 our priority has been uplifting the women when they took care of the abandoned of the society, unwanted babies and widows – girls who were married young to much older men and got widowed early. Educating them and trying to place them in the society has been the driving force of our sisters. Now it flows into work in the villages where sisters continue to empower women through literacy programme and enhancing them with qualities to be self-sufficient. The neglected elderly and the sick were taken in and looked after in our old age homes. Now the sisters encourage and educate the families to look after and respect their older members in their own families.
The sisters have ventured into new horizons and they now find out means to help the youth to be gainfully employed and the villagers to know their rights. Another stream where the sisters are engaged is, the prison ministry where they actively go to the prisons to listen and motivate the inmates to pursue education or engage in some craft. Many of their children now are staying in our hostel and continue their studies in Govt. schools. Sex workers’ children too are in our hostel studying and are motivated to never engage in the same trade.
All this, many a times, was at their own peril as the sisters did not think of their own life but that of doing good to others. The graves at Krishnagar cemetery are mute witnesses to the gallant warriors who did not waver in their resolution and who died very young.
Very soon the Institute expanded its boundaries to other places as well and the first shoot to flourish was Mangalore in South India and there a Province was erected in 1932. Though now there were two Provinces, yet there was only one Novitiate and it was in Mangalore.
Meanwhile the sisters carried on with their mission in far away land and reached as far as Mandalay (now Myanmar). The sisters used to travel on foot, in bullock carts, in frail boats and crossing the raging rivers on rickety bamboo bridges. They also were adept on horse back, and did not hesitate to ride on the elephants when in need. As the distance was great, for better administration, Province of Myanmar came to be in 1935
At every bifurcation the tears of sorrow of the sisters bathed the land as separation from one another became imminent. At the Independence of India in 1947, Bengal too was partitioned and got renamed East Pakistan. Neighbouring communities now fell into two countries and the sisters suffered this separation of man made boundaries. As the administration posed difficulties, the Province of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) came into existence in 1961. After the war of Independence in this segment in 1971, the country came to be known as Bangladesh.
The Lord blessed with vocations from India and in time the need for a Novitiate in the North was felt. This desire, dream and prayers of the sisters was materialized on 4th June 1948, at 14/1 Convent Rd. The Novitiate came to be known as Sacred Heart Convent as it was blessed on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Later, when the place became unsuitable because of the surroundings in a metropolitan city, the Novitiate was shifted to the sylvan surroundings of East Udayrajpur (Barasat) on 8th Sept. 1985.
The difficulties of communications in the far flung places necessitated once again the Calcutta Province to bifurcate and thus came into existence the Province of North-East India in 1993. Then once again in order to expand the boundaries of our mission in the North of India and Nepal, the last of the Province, the Province of New Delhi was erected on 9th December 2009. At present the Province of Calcutta is spread out to four states - West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar and Orissa with 31 communities and 286 sisters with Rev. Sr. Thresia John Madamana as the Provincial Superior.

About us > Provincial Superiors of Bengal – 1865 - 2018
Sr. Cecilia Uetz -1865 – 1888

Sr. Cecilia Uetz, born in 1831 in Italy, joined the Institute at Milan and came to India on 17th March 1865 as the first Provincial Superior of India. As a vigorous woman and a fine religious, she, in no time won the confidence and respect of the sisters. 23 years of hard work as Provincial Superior caused her health to deteriorate. As a result she was called back to Italy in 1888 and left for her Heavenly Abode on 14th Oct. 1889.

Sr. Giuseppina Brambilla -1888 -1890

Sr. Giuseppina Brambilla, who came to India as the second Provincial Superior soon after the first miracles of Maria Bambina, spread the devotion to the Infant Mary in India. After only a year and half of hard labour in Krishnagar, Sr. Giuseppina passed away on 6th Sept. 1890, leaving an enduring memory of her virtues particularly, of her spirit of self sacrifice

Sr. Regina Ardemagni -1890-1895

Sr. Regina Ardemagni who succeeded Sr. Giuseppina was firm and very humble. She trusted in God implicitly. Unfortunately, after just four years of selfless service in India, due to her ill health she had to return to Italy where she breathed her last in 1895.

Sr. Margherita Gemo -1895 -1901

The fourth Provincial Superior of India, Sr. Margherita Gemo was a fine, courageous, meek and a broad minded young religious. She excelled in her religious spirit and in governing the province. This precious jewel was called to her Father’s house on 8th July 1901.

Sr. Ester Picciali-1901 -1910,1929 – 1932

Sr. Ester Picciali, who was already in Mangalore from 1900, was nominated the Provincial Superior of India in 1901. She governed the Province for ten years and was called back to Italy for reasons of health. She headed the Indian communities once again from 1929 till she returned to Italy in 1937. She was the first Provincial Superior of the newly erected Mangalore Province from 1932 to 1937. She was called to her Eternal reward after ten years on 31st March 1947.

Sr. Nazarena Gaboardi -1910 – 1912

Sr. Nazarena Gaboardi, who was the superior at Krishnagar was appointed the Provincial Superior on 3rd April 1910. Unluckily, Sr. Nazarene fell ill and flew to her Heavenly Father peacefully on 1st Aug. 1912 at Krishnagar.

Sr. Franceschina Luraschi -1912 – 1914

Sr. Franceschina Luraschi made her religious profession at Krishnagar in 1883. She was appointed the Superior of the new community at Fr. Muller’s Institution in Mangalore in 1898. In 1889 she was called back to Italy and spent thirteen years there. She returned to Krishnagar as the Provincial Superior on 17th Sept. 1912. Within two years she fell victim to paralysis and breathed her last on 10th March 1914.

Sr. Anna Gemo -1914 – 1929

Sr. Anna Gemo came to India in 1888. Being a zealous missionary, she soon mastered Bengali and wrote many inspirational thoughts in it. Though she loved people and served them with utmost dedication, she had to return to Italy in 1905 due to ill health. But she longed to come back and wept with joy and gratitude when she was asked to return to India after seven years. She was appointed the superior of the Catechumente of Mangalore in 1912. After two years she was called to Krishnagar to succeed late Sr. Franceshina Luraschi as Provioncial Superior. On 30th March 1929 this brave missionary was laid to rest beside her sister Sr. Margherita Gemo in the cemetery of Krishnagar.

Sr. Davidica Acquistapace -1932 – 1935

Sr. Davidica Acquistapace succeeded Sr. Ester Picciali as the Provincial Superior of Bengal and Burma (Myanmar) for three years. Later in 1935 when the new province of Burma was erected, Sr. Davidica left for Burma and resumed her responsibilities as Provincial Superior there. She died at Kengtung in Burma in the year 1955 on 28th April.

Sr. Ernesta del Corno -1935 – 1947

Sr. Earnesta del Corno who came to Bengal in 1912 was appointed the Provincial Superior in 1935 with residence at Krishnagar. She had worked with rare goodness and charity among the woidows. A woman of prayer as well as a capable leader, she knew well the character of the people: of the Brahmin women as well as of those of inferior castes. During the many difficult periods that the mission went through, it was Mother Del Corno who reconciled the bewildered peoople resentful of changes, to the new situation in each case. She returned to Italy in 1947 and took flight to her Heavenly Father on 8th June 1967 at Bassano del Grappa, (Vicenza) in Italy.

Sr. Rose Minella -1947 – 1966

Sr. Rose Minella who arrived in India as a missionary on 25th Jan 1920, worked first in Calicut. She was appointed Mistress of Novices in Mangalore, in 1937. After ten years of service there, this veteran missionary came to Bengal and took up the responsibility of the Province. She had a daunting task of expanding the work that was started already. Being a visionary, she established educational institutions, health centres and continued village work in more places. She did not hesitate to travel for days on foot, bullock cart or whatever transport was available at that time. She realized the aspirations of sisters when she set up a novitiate for the Bengal Province on 4th June 1948 on the Feast of Sacred Heart of Jesus. She was called to her Father’s abode on 21 Feb.1979. Her courage even at difficult times and upheavels was quite noteworthy.

Sr. Giuseppina Abondio-1966 – 1972

Sr. Giuseppina Abondio was a picture of courage as a matron of the Medical College at Dibrugarh in Assam, when the Chinese aggression took place. With the help of sisters and a few lay nurses she toiled day and night in caring for the wounded soldiers who were brought in at all times. For this great and selfless service, she was awarded ‘Bravery Medal’ and ‘Silver Nightingale Lamp’ by the Govt. of India. This missionary continued the work of governing the province as a Provincial Superior with great zeal and a kind heart. She was very affectionate and at the same time, strove to bring out the talents in the sisters. After her grave illness she was recalled to Italy for better treatment. She went to her Heavenly abode on 2nd August 1974.

Sr. Patricia Erattupuzha -1972 -1981

Sr. Patricia is the first Indian Provincial Superior who shouldered the responsibility of the Province in 1972. Young in age, she was indefatigable in reaching out even the far flung communities in order to enthuse the sisters to continue their good work. She opened new communities in the villages, so that the poor could have easy access to education and health care. Her enthusiasm in reaching out to all people in need of our help rubbed on the sisters and they in turn pursued to alleviate the pain of the suffering poor. The number of sisters was growing steadily and so she made good use of them by venturing into new horizons. Being an educationist herself, she knew that the way to reach young hearts is through it and she inculcated in the sisters the spirit to instill in the young minds moral and social values so that we could build a harmonious society.

Sr. Josephine Vellanikaren-1981 -1985

Taking up the responsibility from Sr. Patricia, this large hearted person was a kind and loving mother to all. Besides looking after the different missions, she saw the difficulties the Novices endured in Calcutta, with noise and pollution affecting their health. She wanted the Novitiate in beautiful, calm and peaceful surroundings with conducive atmosphere for prayer and this she could achieve with her characteristic vigour when the Novitiate was shifted to the new premises on 8th Sept. 1985 at East Udayrajpur, Barasat.. She could not carry on due to her frail health and on 16th June 1995, after bravely and enduraing cheerfully her illness, she flew to her heavenly abode after intense sufferings.

Sr. Judith Puthenpura -1985 – 1993

An unassuming person, Sr. Judith was at the helm of this province from 1985. She too had the vision and courage to carry on the mission with changes according to the times. She saw to the needs of not only the many sisters who by now were ageing, but also the people under our care in the different communities. To do good, she said, we need to turn to God. By now the world was changing fast and along with it, she saw the moral values corroding too. Therefore she insisted that we should be going all out to teach young ones and train them into these values so that through them our society could change too. Sr. Judith never hesitated to go to distant places to meet the sisters and the people however troublesome the journey could be. She carried on the daunting task of bifurcating the province as planned, when it came into reality in 1993 as the North-East Province.

Sr. Baptista Alukka -1993 – 2001

An exuberant but at the same time a very simple person, Sr. Baptista led the province into the new millennium. Having been a Novice Mistress at Secunderabad for quite some time, she returned to the Calcutta Province and in a short time was at the helm of this province. Sr. Baptista was very concerned about the sisters ageing and ill and so she had the inspiration to have a separate house for them that they could have a peaceful life surrounded by peaceful atmosphere. Accordingly, she was able to have a new house ‘Oasis Gerosa’ with quite a few amenities for the elderly and sick sisters, in the same premises as ‘Oasis Gerosa.’ Being a prayerful person, she insisted that it is through prayer that we could turn the tide of this modern trend of crumbling values.

Sr. Ines Anthraper -2001 – 2009

Sr. Ines took up the responsibility of the province at a time when the number of sisters was diminishing. Yet, she had the courage to go ahead and put into reality the plan of bifurcating the province again. After much discernment and ardous process, the New Delhi Province was created and she was once again at the helm of the new province. Nothing deterred her in her resolve and so with courage, she was able to build the now imposing new Provincial House in the place of the old one. Sr. Ines was interested in all the activities and her aim was to do the best for the children, youth, sick, old and anyone in need of our help.

Sr. Thresia John Madamana -2009 –2017

Sr.Thresia John was nominated as the Provincial of Calcutta when the bifurcation of the Province took place and New Delhi Province was born. Prior to her new assignment she had been a Professor of Theology in the seminary at Barrackpur after which she was the mistress of Novices for quite many years. As Provincial Superior she had the challenging task of managing the affairs of the Province in the complex times when the number of sisters had diminished and most of them belonged to the senior citizen’s category, but, fortunately, still with immense apostolic potential.  She encouraged one and all to carry on the mission of Charity, educational and pastoral, preserving the missionary spirit that is Calcutta’s own. She chose to go to the existential peripheries as desired by Pope Francis, encouraged the sisters to work for the less privileged. “We ought to do everything for the poor that would guarantee their happiness.”  With much care she sought the spiritual formation and professional competence of the young sisters so that they would be vibrant missionaries witnessing to the joy of the Gospel. As a person she was simple in her life style, very approachable and totally dedicated to her mission.

Sr. Anice Thekekudy -2017 –

Sr.Anice Thekekudy received her mandate from Mother Anna maria Vigano on 9th December 2017.She took up this sacred mandate with deep faith and trust in the Lord. She comes with much administrative ability as she had been the Superior of the community and Headmistress of the school before her nomination. She has touched the lives of many students with her understanding and personal concern. Her commendable commitment to the service of the young girls in our educational institutions has given the young direction and hope.