A Free Gift of the Lord
and trembling that day long ago ...
Now grown as a big tree that spreads its branches long
From the Andes to the far distant India ...
Here is the history of the Sisters of St. Dorothy, Daughters of the Sacred Hearts, in India. It was a courageous and confident step taken by our Mother General Rev. Sr. Gianna Rosa Sterbini, to start a new mission in India on 15th January, 1983. It was a milestone in the history of the Congregation of the teaching Sisters of St. Dorothy, Daughters of the Sacred Hearts. A positive response to the dream and vision of our saintly Father Founder who dreamed and prayed to the Lord, “... Open to me the doors of the whole world ... ". Looking back we dare to say that we also were "... a seed, a small seed sown in love and trembling that day long ago. Now it is a huge tree that spreads its branches far… ". At present, the Daughters of the Sacred Hearts are present in six states of India, namely, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan. Looking into the past we see with gratitude the important stages in the birth and growth of the Province.
The very first six young courageous girls from Kerala
In the 1960s, the Congregation, moved by its dynamic force of the Charism received by the Holy Father Founder, felt the need to go out ... to bring the love of the Sacred Hearts in India as our saintly Patron St Francis Xavier.
In 1969 Rev. Mother General, Sr. Irma Zorzanello, received an invitation from the Superior of the Sisters of the Providence to go to India, and specifically to Kerala where there was a possibility to recruit young Christian girls who want to consecrate themselves to God for the service of others. On 20th March, 1970, the following six young girls reached Italy to begin their religious formation:
- 1. Angela Pallikara
- 2. Anna Alamkott
- 3. Elizabeth Vattakunnel
- 4. Elsy Kompanathottathil
- 5. Rosa Vadekamparambil
- 6. Reetha Bavally
On 2nd February, 1974 they professed the vows for the first time for one year and on 23rd August 1980 they made their perpetual vows.
Two more candidates, namely, Mary Kompanathottathil and Gracy Alamkott, joined the pioneer batch in Italy on 26th October, 1975 and made their professional courses in nursing and completed their initial formation. They made their First Profession on 30th May, 1982 and the perpetual vows on 9th May 1987.
In the summer of 1975, while the Congregation was having its XIII General Chapter at Vicenza, the first Indian sisters expressed their desire to open a presence in India and the proposal was gladly accepted by the members of the General Chapter.
Beginning the Mission in India
As an initial step, Rev. Superior General, Sr. Gianna Rosa Sterbini, accompanied by the General Councillor, Sr. Ginevra Rossi, went to India, in Kerala to see about the feasibility of starting the new mission. With the blessings and approval of His Eminence Cardinal Joseph Parecattil, of the archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly, and with the help of Fr. Ignatius Pettakattu OFM Cap., the sisters began to search for a suitable place for the first community. Finally, a place was found at Keezhmad village, seven kilometres from Aluva near the Salesian Fathers. This became the first house in India for the first missionaries.
On 15th Saturday, 1983, the pioneer Sisters, namely, Sr. Mary Kompanathottathil, Sr. Gracy Alamkott, and Sr. Piergrazia Semenzin came from the Mother House at Vicenza, Italy, to start the first community in Kerala, South India. They were accompanied by Sr. Chiara Visentin, the General Councilor. On 18th January, 1983, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the pioneers arrived at Cochin, Kerala. They were given accommodation at the Poor Clare Sisters’ convent till 23rd January. Fr. Ignatius Pettakattu OFM Cap. with great generosity helped the sisters in their first steps in Kerala. The sisters were able to see in him the presence and the spirit of our Father Founder. The first house came to be known as ‘ARCHANA’.
The Presence of the Daughters of the Sacred Hearts in India
New Vocations from Kerala
In December, 1983, some girls joined the Archana convent from various villages and towns, accompanied by their parents, wanting to know the Sisters and share their life for a period of time and to discern the Will of God for them. They began the novitiate in Archana and the same community continued to welcome the girls and went ahead with their training in different stages of formation.
The First Religious Profession of the 12 novices formed in India and the inauguration and blessing of the new house named “Archana” took place on 11th February, 1987. The Mother General, Sr. Giannarosa Sterbini, was present for the solemn occasion. We acknowledge her concerns and deep affection in the early years towards this mission of the Congregation in India. In the same year we opened a kindergarten for the children of the village.
In 1984 the portion of the Congregation in India was erected as a Delegation and ARCHANA was its formal residence and Sr. Grazia Semenzin was appointed as the first Superior Delegate. On 3rd December 2011, the Delegation was erected as a Province with 126 sisters as members. Now, Archana is the Provincial house of the Indian Province.
The filial houses in Kerala and in the various missions
- Archana Convent (Provincial House) Aluva
- John Antony Farina Convent - Ezhupunna
- Sacred Heart Convent, Poovar
- Maria Bhavan, Kavaraparambu, Angamaly
- Sacred Hearts Convent, Moongode
- Sacred Hearts Convent, Kuchipudi - Andhra Pradesh
- Sacred Hearts Bhavan, Vijayawada – Andhra Pradesh
- Vimal Hrudai Convent, Chatrapur - Odisha
- Sacred Hearts Convent, Hunsur - Karnataka
- Anbu Illam, Vadakarai – Tamil Nadu
- Sacred Heart Convent and Hostel, Panpoli – Tamil Nadu
- Sheoganj, Rajasthan