The Loreto Sisters (also known as Sisters of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary or IVBM) celebrate 175 years of missionary presence in South Asia this year.
Sister Anita M Braganza, head of the religious Province of South Asia said: "With immense gratitude to God we celebrate the arrival in India of the first sisters, who 175 years ago brought the love of God." Eleven Sisters of Loreto came to Kolkata on 30 December 1841. from Ireland and were the first religious sisters to land in North India.
Eleven Sisters of Loreto came to Kolkata on 30 December 1841. from Ireland 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 convents and schools in many parts of India, Nepal, Bangladesh.
"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", said Sister Braganza.
Sister Priyanka Toppo, said: "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. They are now active in every continent. The Loreto Sisters operate some 150 schools worldwide, educating over 70,000 pupils.
For more information about the Loreto Sisters in India see: www.loreto.in/