The Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Cross was founded in Switzerland, by the middle of 19th century, at a time of great upheaval and change. Vast number of people had been plunged into poverty and misery with the onset of the Industrial Revolution in Europe. Orphaned and neglected children roamed on the roads, the sick and destitute had no one to give them proper care, industrial workers were exploited, and the educational system was badly in need of reform.
Into this situation, God called and sent two great personalities, Fr. Theodosius Florentini, OFM Capuchin and Mother Maria Theresa Scherer who founded the Congregation in 1856 at Ingenbohl . They were gifted with an extraordinary social awareness. It is affiliated with the Third Order Regular of St. Francis of Assisi and is of Pontifical Right. Founder’s motto “The need of the time is the Will of God,” urged him to establish Holy Cross Congregation, who would carry out, the works of mercy. Mother Maria Theresa Scherer, the co-foundress, filled with an active love for the poor and the suffering, hurried at the call of every human misery.
On 15th February 1865, quite unexpectedly death snatched Fr. Theodosius away from his endless activities. It was a great challenge for Mother Theresa Scherer to keep in step with the growing needs of that time. With her charismatic leadership and the loyalty of her sisters, the Institute kept growing through many a storm from its inception. For 31 years she held the great responsibility of being Mother General until she died in the peace of Christ on 16th June 1888 and beatified on 29th October 1995. Her grave in Mother House, Ingenbohl, has become a place of pilgrimage. The growth and expansion still continues, venturing into various apostolates, keeping true to the founders’ Charism “All embracing love for the Crucified, and therefore compassionate love for all people, especially the poor and the underprivileged”.
We the Holy Cross sisters are proud of our two great souls, who attained holiness and eternal bliss by doing ordinary things in an extraordinary way BLESSED ULRIKA NISCH (1882-1913). The saint among the cooking pots BLESSED ZDENKA SCHELLING (1916-1955)“No one has greater love than this, that one gives one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn.15:13).The Mother House of the Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Cross is situated on the Ingenbohl hill in Switzerland, which epitomizes natural beauty. The snow – covered mountains, pristine lakes, alpine villages all make it a visual treat and continue to give inspiration and newness to our sisters in their mission.
The Mother House of the Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Cross is situated on the Ingenbohl hill in Switzerland, which epitomizes natural beauty. The snow – covered mountains, pristine lakes, alpine villages all make it a visual treat and continue to give inspiration and newness to our sisters in their mission.
The present Superior General of the Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Cross: Sr. Marija Brizar
The International leadership:
Sr. Marija Brizar, Sr. Elsit Ampattu, Sr. Verena Maria Oberhauser, Sr. Lucila Zovak, Sr. Anna Affolter, Sr. Sheeja Kolacheril, Sr. Dorothee Halbach.
At present Holy Cross Sisters are working in 17 countries, 12 Provinces and 3 Vicariates.
Total Number of Holy Cross Sisters on Mission around the globe -3279
We 20,000 Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Cross (in heaven and on Earth) are in constant communion, working towards a Harmonious world.
MILESTONE IN THE HISTORY OF THE SISTERS OF MERCY OF THE HOLY CROSS :
India colorful and vibrant, a land as diverse as its people. A mosaic of faiths, cultures, customs and languages that blend harmoniously to form a composite whole. With over 1 billion citizens, India is the second most populous nation in the world. Religion is central to Indian culture, and its practice can be seen virtually in every aspect of life in the country. Hinduism is the dominant faith of India.
Bihar known as a Land of Nirvana is located in the eastern part of the country. The capital of Bihar is Patna which is situated on the banks of the holy river Ganga. West Champaran is an administrative district in the state of Bihar in India. The district headquarters are located at Bettiah.
Bettiah is the Cradle of Holy Cross Sisters’ Mission in India. 18th November 1894 marked the opening of a new chapter in the History of the Sisters of Mercy of the Holy cross. On that day Sisters Lamberta Flamm, Patrona Bichler, Michelina Schrott and Chrysogona Thoma landed in Bombay, India. They were the congregation’s first Sisters to set foot in a mission land. Travelling east towards the state of Bihar and the holy Ganges, they arrived at Bettiah on 22nd November,1894.
In July 1896, less than two years of their arrival, cholera broke out in Bettiah. The orphanage was not spared and fifteen children died within few days. The sisters nursed the sick children day and night with great motherly care. Then the tragedy struck. The sisters themselves caught cholera and within four days three sisters died by the killer disease. Only Sr. Crysogona the youngest among them was spared with a broken health. “Unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains a single grain.”
Despite the dreary prospects another group of sisters arrived and the Mission continued. They found inspiration and strength in the words of the foundress “Do not lose heart, look up to Him from whom all strength proceeds.”
The Commitment, Self sacrificing love, perseverance and compassion of our pioneers in the mission field of Bettiah- Chuhari are incredible.
On 15 January 1934, a violent earth quake devastated the whole of North India. The orphanages in Fakirana and Chuhari were destroyed. Plague and small pox broke out soon after the earth quake. The sisters nursed the wounded and the sick in temporary tents and open fields in the spirit of the Foundress “We hurry anywhere, where human need calls us to be.”
One of the local girls from Bettiah, Francisca Thakur, who expressed her desire to become a Holy Cross Sister, was sent to Ingenbohl for her novitiate. She returned to Bettiah in 1902 as “Sr. Theodosia Thakur” the first Indian Holy cross Sister. She died in 1936.
In 1952 the Holy Cross tree was rooted in Indian soil in Hazaribag. In the same year 22 zealous and courageous young women from different parts of India reached Hazaribag for the Lord’s service. The new Novitiate in Hazaribag was blessed in 1954. The fond memoirs of the spirituality of this Novitiate and the surroundings are still alive in most of our sisters in different provinces.
1st December 1955 was a day of rejoicing and gladness! FIRST PEOFESSION OF FIRST INDIAN SISTERS! That day the Holy Cross family tree really struck root in India. Srs. Immaculata David, Agnes Moonamvayalil, Maria Teresa Tirkey, Pia Madathumkudiyil, Priya Mundathanathu, Alphonsa Joseph and Theodosia Ettumanoorkaran committed their lives to God in the Congregation of Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Cross.From 1894 to 1970 the Indian mission was under mission Superiors
We pay Homage to our Mission Superiors, whose selfless hearts of love made no stone unturned in Bettiah. The vapors of their sweat and blood surround the atmosphere of north India even today.
- Sr. Lamberta Flamm (1894 – 1896 ) Sr. Ida Epting 1896 – 1907
- Sr. Jona Sauter 1907– 1920
- Sr. Melitina Schmidt 1920 – 1926
- Sr. Lucille Lathion (1926 – 1931
- Sr. Waldemar Eberhard 1931-1940, 1949-1961
- Sr. Claudiana Frei 1940-1949
- Sr.Angelica Wildhaber 1961-1970
Our Mother Generals who were, and are, very gracious and generous towards Indian mission:
- Mother Maria Theresa Scherer 1857 – 1888
- Mother Pancratia 1888 – 1906
- Mother Aniceta 1906 – 1921
- Mother Theresia 1921 – 1933
- Mother Agnes 1933 – 1942
- Mother Diomira 1942 – 1954
- Mother Elena 1954 – 1966
- Mother Edelfrieda 1966 – 1978
- Mother Gertrud 1978 – 1996
- Mother Louise-Henri 1996-2008
- Mother Marija Birzar 2009 –
1970 – Declaration of the Indian province. Sr.Sigrid Voggel was the first Provincial of India and she was assisted by Srs.Johanna Brandstaetter, Frances Cherian, Laetitia Pauvath and Anne Tete as councilors.
We Holy Cross Sisters are proud Sr. Johanna Brandstaetter the great visionary of our times for her farsightedness and missionary initiatives. She is the founder of Grihini Training Program (It is renamed as Mahila Vikas Kendra).
The administration of the Indian province which expanded far and wide under the guidance of Sr. Sigrid was handed over to Sr. Julia Erni in 1979. The decision to wear uniform sari as religious dress for the sisters in the Indian Province was accepted by the sisters in view of greater apostolic effectiveness and better inculturation in 1983.
In 1985 16th June Sr. Joseline E.pauvath was installed as the first Indian Provincial.
1985: The growing Indian province was reorganized in to five regions for a more effective administration. The leadership was placed upon the respective regional superiors.
- Central Region ---- Sr. Joseline Pauvath
- North region ---- Sr. Ignatius Kumplamthanam
- Madhya Pradesh region ---- Sr. Johanna Brandstaetter
- West Bengal Region ---- Sr. Frances Cherian
- South region ---- Sr. Julia Erni
Our Provincial Superiors of Indian province:
- Sr. M.Sigrid Voggel (1970 – 1979
- Sr. Julia Erni (1979 -1985)
- Sr. Joseline E. Pauvath (1985 – 1995)
Holy Cross Sisters in India are indebted to our great Missionaries who are part of the Indian soil. Our history in India is incomplete without them. They are….
Sr. Clotildis Krenmayer (Barima), Sr. Sigrid Voggel, Sr. Fidelis Harreiter (Novice mistress for more than two decades) Sr. Clarentia Birchler (Junior mistress more than two decades), Sr. Johanna B., Sr. Elizabeth Brandstaetter, Sr. Herman Josef, Sr. Josepha Maria, Sr. Rosaria Heindl, Sr.M Luzia Grabner, Sr. Magna Maria L, Sr. Leontina Soler, Sr. Maximilla Muff, Sr. Susanne Jung, Sr. Henrika Schnydrig, Sr. Catherine Luethi, Sr. Isabella Puderer, Sr. Willigis Lutsch etc…..
Our Indian General Councilors:
- Late Sr. Shalini Kozhuppakalam (1990-2002)
- Sr. Selma Nalloor (2003-2008)
- Sr.Tessy Churanadu (2003- 2014)
- Sr. Elsit Ampattu (2009-
- Sr.Sheeja (2015-
In 1991 the Indian Province branched out into three provinces.
1. The Central Province consists of Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chattishgarh, Orissa, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. The Provincial house is at Hazaribag.
2. The South province was erected on 14th September 1991, Bangalore as its provincial house and Sr. Anicet Purayidam as first provincial Superior. It consists of Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Goa.
3. The North East Province.
AFRICAN MISSION: In 1993 the great task of implanting the Holy Cross seed in Uganda was entrusted to Indian provinces. The pioneers are Srs. Amala Kunnath, Lekha Vadakettam, Crescencia Kullu,Claudia Kerketta, Veera Bara and Louisa T. The Holy Cross tree in Africa is growing very steadily. There are 32sisters at present (22 Ugandan sisters and 10 Indians) in God’s mission in Uganda.
NORTH EAST PROVINCE: The North East Province was established in Patna on 16th June 1991 with Selma Nalloor as its first Provincial Superior and Srs. Ignatius Kumplamthanam,Vijaya Sharma, Madlen Valikulathu, Amala Kunnath and Genevieve D’Silva as Councillors. The Province consists of 8 States - Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, UttarPraesh Delhi, Sikkim, Assam and Kerala.
It is spread in 16 dioceses- Patna, Muzaffarpur, Bettiah, Buxar, Dumka, Bhagalpur, Delhi, Lucknow, Kolkata, Raiganj, Darjeeling, New Jalpaiguri, Bagdogra, Guwahati, Tezpur and Thalassery.
Our Present Strength:
- Number of Professed Sisters : 355
- Novices : 19
- Postulants : 09
- Candidates : 27
Our provincials who have lead and continue to lead us towards a Harmonious World:
- Sr.Selma Nalloor (1991-1997)
- Sr. Grace Mary (1998-2003)
- Sr. Serena Philip (2004-2009)
- Sr. Valsa Thottiyil (2010-
Today the 355 Sisters are actively engaged in Various Apostolates:
- Medical service
- Social work/Social Action/Pastoral care
- Rehabilitation of the physically and mentally challenged
- Children’s Home, Old and Destitute Home
- HIV/AIDs awareness program and AIDs care unit
- Environmental protection
- Prison Ministry/Legal Aid
- Child Helpline-1098 project
- Home administration/ Farm
- Office / Accounts
North East Province consists of 6 registered societies. They are -
- PATNA HOLY CROSS SISTERS SOCIETY
- WEST BENGAL HOLY CROSS SISTERS SOCIETY
- BETTIAH HOLY CROSS SISTERS SOCIETY
- TRIPOLIA SOCIAL SERVICE
- MAHESHMUNDA HOLY CROSS SISTERS SOCIETY
- HOLY CROSS SOCIAL SERVICE CENTRE, DELHI
North East Province consists of 51communities. They are located in different parts of North India and Kerala. South East Bihar (Patna), North Bihar, West Bengal-Sikkim-Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Jharkhand and Delhi-Uttar Pradesh The communities are spread far and wide in the province.
FORMATION:Formation is an integral part of the Holy Cross life. The young girls who join us undergo different stages of training, candidacy, postulancy, novitiate and Jouniorate. They grow in to maturity, physically, spiritually, psychologically and intellectually under the able guidance of experienced and committed formators and Sisters.
Our Sisters who have flown into eternity:
- We remember that caring heart,
- That special smile,
- That warm companionship
We Holy Cross Sisters are continuing the mission of Jesus in the world today. “The spirit of the lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”(Lk4:18-19)