Sisters of Mercy of Holy Cross

ABOUT THE ORDER

Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Cross (SCSC) - South Province

Provincial Superior: Sr. Flory D'Souza
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Name of our Congregation : Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Cross
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Abbreviation: SCSC
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mother House: Ingenbohl, Switzerland
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Provincial House: Bangalore
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Our Charism: “Compassionate love to all especially to the underprivileged.”
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Motto: “The Need of the time is the will of God.”

A GENERAL VIEW OF OUR CONGREGATION

SISTERS OF MERCY OF THE HOLY CROSS, INGENBOHL

1. FOUNDATION, PURPOSE AND AIM

The congregation of the Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Cross was founded by Fr.Theodosius Florentini OFM Cap. and Blessed Mother Maria Theresia Scherer in Switzerland in the year 1856. It is affiliated to the Third order Regular of St.Francis of Assisi, and is of pontifical Right.

The foundation took place in Switzerland at a time of upheaval and change. A vast number of people in the industrial nations of Europe had been plunged into poverty and misery with the onset of the industrial revolution in Europe. Orphaned and neglected children roamed the roads or were forced to work in factories in inhuman conditions. The sick had no proper care; industrial workers were exploited; the educational system   was badly in need of reform; proper schooling was available only to a privileged section of society.

 In to this situation God called and sent a young Capuchin, Fr. Theodosius, who was gifted with an extraordinary social awareness. It is said of him that “He saw in one hour what most people never see in their lifetime. “He recognized the will of God in the needs of the people of his time and searched tirelessly for means and ways to alleviate their sufferings. Being a son of St. Francis, he was imbued with a profound sense of God’s universal fatherhood, and therefore he saw in every human being under the sun a brother and a sister. He found it intolerable that some of God’s children should live in plenty and wield power over their less privileged brothers and sisters. With boundless confidence in God He used his creative mind and dynamic personality in his efforts to change the unjust structures of society. He initiated and supervised social welfare schemes, drew up a new ‘School organization” which in the course of time was followed, and even set up “model factories” which gave priority to human and Christian values.

To carry out his plans successfully and to give continuity to his works, he founded a congregation of sisters. What was his original concept and aim in doing this?

“I wanted to organize this congregation in such a way that it fits in everywhere, and is able to integrate itself into any condition and situation.”

 Mother M. Theresa, Co-foundress and the first Superior General, cooperated with the Founder in all his attempts at social reform. Like him she too had boundless trust in God and great courage to take risks. Above all, she was filled with an active love for the poor and suffering. She was the kind of sister the Founder looked for:

“I need sisters who understand the cross; with such I can achieve anything.”

2. EARLY YEARS AND DEVELOPMENT

The young community was poor. The sisters felt called to take up works which were not likely to yield profit and to move to places where others would rather not go.” The factory projects met with failure; the founder died suddenly and all too early; the sisters went on begging tours all over Europe to save the Institute from financial ruin. Despite the insecurity and the hardships they had to expect, generous young girls joined in great numbers to give their services in orphanages and houses for the aged and destitute; they nursed the sick both in private homes; they supervised home industries and other welfare schemes. Wherever human need called upon them, the Holy Cross Sisters of Ingenbohl were ready to offer a helping hand. Mother Theresa aptly sums inscription she placed on the tomb of three sisters who lost their lives while caring for the sick during an epidemic:

“Totally given to the crucified, therefore totally to their neighbor….the living presence of Christ’s love among us.”

Thanks to the charismatic leadership of mother M. Theresa and the loyalty of her sisters, the Institute kept growing through many a storm from early existence.

“God will surely help us if we stand together as one, and seek nothing but His glory and the welfare of His people.”

With words like these she kept up the courage of the sisters. When she died in 1888 the Institute numbered 1596 sisters in 397 establishments spread over six European countries.

3. HOLY CROSS SISTERS IN INDIA

The first group of Holy Cross Sisters arrived in India 1894. The Tyrolian Capuchins had invited them to take up at first an Orphanage in Bettiah, North Bihar. Less than two years later three of the sisters succumbed to Cholera during an epidemic, while the fourth one’s health was broken. Despite the dreary prospects another group of volunteers arrived within a few months time and the work continued. There were repeated calamities such as epidemics and famines that increased the number of orphans in North India. In 1897 for instance the sisters had to provide for 594 orphans.

4. WIDEN THE SPACE OF YOUR TENT

The Indian Novitiate and the Expansion of the Mission

The Holy Cross Sisters established their own novitiate in India at Hazaribagh in 1952. This decisive step would soon lead to a “bursting out to the right and to the left.”

Up to this time the apostolic presence of the Holy Cross Sisters had been confined to North Bihar, with just two houses in South Bihar. In the period from 1952 to 1970 three more houses were added in Bihar, and mission work was taken up among the Santals. The sisters also moved out into Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, and southwards to Maharashtra and south Kanara. As the number of vocations increased, new works became possible. On the other hand, the Sisters’ presence in new places made the congregation known among more young women who felt called to religious life.

5. DECLARATION OF THE INDIAN PROVINCE

In 1970 the Holy Cross Mission in India was given the status of a Province. 1985 is another year of great historical importance for the Holy Cross Sisters in India. It marks the FIRST INDIAN PROVINCIAL’S acceptance of responsibility of Holy Cross province in India, spreading from Sikkim in the North to Kerala in the South, from West Bengal to Maharashtra. This event was like a signal for further expansion and development. A number of new stations were opened in rather quick succession in various parts of India. Moreover the development in ecclesial and secular life brought new insights, a growing consciousness of the needs of the people, and also a different approach to socio-economic problems. Educational institutions ranging from pre-primary to Teachers’ Training schools spread over a number of states. The sick were cared for in the government hospitals and dispensaries and later in the congregation’s own hospitals.
In 1991 the Indian Province was bifurcated into three Provinces as Central, North East and South Provinces.

6. PRESENT STATUS

At present around 3500 Holy Cross Sisters are carrying out their various apostolic activities in 450 establishments in five continents. We are engaged in healthcare, pastoral care, education, social work. In short, in the words of our Foundress, “We hurry to anywhere, where human needs call us to be”.