The Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo

Kamba village, Varap post, shahad, Kalyan west,
Thane Dist, Maharashtra, India - 421103


The Sisters of the congregation of “Santa Unión”, who worked pastorally in the parish of Campo Gallo, had to leave the place in 1987, for lack of vocations in the congregation. The Brothers of “La Salle” who worked in the diocesan school with the boarding house for boys could not help much in the parish. In 1988, the bishop of the diocese Mons. Jorge Gottau, proposed to the Sisters of S. C. B. to take charge of the project left behind by the sisters. He said, “the boys of the surrounding villages have the possibility of continuing their studies in the secondary school, while the girls, mainly the sisters of these same boys have to be satisfied with the primary education in their respective places.” Besides, there was the talk that a new government secondary school would be coming soon in Campo Gallo.
So to give the girls of the villages an opportunity to continue their secondary studies, the bishop proposed us to have a boarding house in Campo Gallo. He also had another proposal – to take charge of the project at Donadeu belonging to the parish of Campo Gallo, a small town situated at 20 K.M. before arriving Campo Gallo. The apostolate consisted of having a tailoring and knitting school for women in the locality, taking charge of the pastoral work of the place as well as its surrounding villages. After discernment in prayer, reflection and consultation, Mother Andrea, the Superior General, agreed to take charge of the project of Campo Gallo.

Mother Andrea was on her canonical visit together with her counsellor Sr. Hilary Mattam in June 1989. On July 9, M. Andrea, Sr. Hilary and Sr. Anacletus together with Mgr. Jorge Gottau visited Campo Gallo, to see the project, the place and its whereabouts; it was proposed by the same Bishop. Bro. Bruno Alpago, the director of the community and the secondary school of “La Salle” accompanied us to show the house where we would be living, and also the different institutions of the locality. The parish priest was out of station. After the necessary preparations and arrangements its inauguration took place on the 26th July amidst many of our sisters, and parishioners. The day of the installation of the community, our bishop celebrated Mass in the parish church in the presence of all our sisters including M. Andrea and Sr. Hilary, the brothers of La Salle and good number of parishioners. After the Mass the Blessed Sacrament was brought in procession to the house (200 metres distance) who would accompany the indwelling members day and night all the days of our life. Srs. Anacletus Joseph, Mary John and Gracy Joseph are the pioneers of the community.

The sisters occupied the small house that is in the school premises of the brothers. In the hall adjacent to the house they attended the people who came for help, conducted meetings, worked with the commission of Caritas etc.

The main apostolate of this community is to accompany the girls in the boarding house who are there to continue their studies. But we didn’t have them yet due to lack of space. Therefore, we began to carry out the pastoral works that consisted of visiting the sick and families, catechesis preparing children, adolescents and young people to receive the sacraments, conducting prayer meetings in the different zones of the parish, animating the parish liturgy, processions, organizing midday meal programme in 13 centres, visiting 9 villages preparing them for sacraments – sometimes staying two or three days there ( passing the nights in the class room of the school) preparing people for some important events, for, the distance to these places is 20 – 50 K.M, to add to it the bad condition of roads. To facilitate us in these activities the bishops house provided us with a vehicle.

The following year of the installation of the sisters, they received four girls as boarders accommodating them in the hall putting a partition in the middle. It served as their dormitory, dining room and study room, besides, Sr. Mary John, their mistress accompanied them in the same place. They attended the brothers school. As the time passed many parents from villages came expressing their need of giving their daughters secondary school education. But could not for want of space. Knowing this need of the people, the bishop asked us to look for a site to have a convent and boarding house constructed in it at their cost. As such the new buildings were inaugurated on the 16th July 1996 – modest house for the sisters and the boarding house for 20 girls with all the facilities. Since the number of girls was increasing another dormitory of 12 cots was added 1999. The girls are of 12 – 18 years old studying 1st – 5th year secondary school. They pay a minimum as boarding fees.

The apostolate of having young girls with us is a challenging one. They need constant accompaniment. The sisters dedicated much of their time for their formation – giving tuition classes, teaching them moral and religious values, order and cleanliness, preparing them for the sacraments, as catechists, as leaders to take care of the spiritual needs of their own villages and so on. It is notable to mention that some of them have taught catechism in the parish, some others are able to lead rosary when they gather for the celebration of Mass in their chapels. A total of 122 girls have passed through our institution completing their secondary education in these 28 years. Good number of them have done their higher studies and working as teachers, police, and social workers.

This responsibility of the sisters affected a little of their pastoral work, for they could visit only 3 villages. Of course, the other activities continued with the help of the members of the commission of Caritas. Besides 2 sisters started working in the schools as teachers, which was a felt need for our maintenance. This year we have 24 girls, year by year the number is decreasing because in many of the surrounding villages the government has started the secondary education as continuation of the 7th std. The people are very happy about it, for they can have their children with them. At the same time, we have to think of our future in this place. Srs. Anacletus Joseph, Irene Lobo