Society of Jesus Mary Joseph - Around India
The invitation to start our mission in India came from His Grace Archbishop J.Aelen of Madras of which Andhra Pradesh was a part. The then Superior General Sr.Seraphine Pullens accepted the invitation and prepared the Sisters to take up the mission.
The seven Dutch pioneers - Sr.Seaphique Kluten, Sr. Michaeli Schoten, Sr.Elizabeth Helsloot, Sr.Elza van de Helm, Sr.Luibini Debets, Sr.Xaverini Gijsmen and Sr.Stanislaus Terwindt (mission superior) reached Guntur A.P, India on February 24,1904 and were welcomed by Archbishop and his secretary who had improvised a convent in a native house to accommodate the Sisters for a short time as the first mission house in Vetapalem was under construction.
The Seed Grows Up
Although Vetapalem was originally meant to be only a temporary stay, the General Council decided to carry on the work in Guntur. It is here our pioneers started their work keeping the motto of our Founder Fr.M.Wolff, “I want to work like a giant”, learning the languages (Telugu and English) , starting a dispensary and catering to the needs of people with great love, kindness, compassion, concern and care for the glory of God.
On May 1, 1905 the house in Vetapalem was opened. In keeping with the original plan the entire community should have moved to Vetapalem. However hearing of the enthusiasm of the people and the satisfaction the Sisters had from their work in Guntur, the General Council decided that only two of the pioneers and two new-comers would go to Vetapalem. It was unfortunate that chronic malaria made it impossible for the sisters to live there, so on May 11, 1911 the house in Vetapalem was closed down and in the same year St.Mary’s convent Nellore was opened. Again in 2004, in commemoration with the Centenary of the presence of JMJ in India a new community is established in Vetapalem.
The Dutch missionaries excelled in local language and tradition with the help of two native girls, namely, Allam Philomena and Jujigiri Thomasamma, who were called as “Handmaids” and became “Ammagarulu” (Indian Sisters ) later. Inspired by the service and commitment of our Dutch pioneers many local girls sought admission into the Society, thus growing in number the Society launched out into different ministries.
We Remember… in
1920 – First Australian missionary Miss Mary Glowrey (Sr.Mary of the Sacred Heart) joined the Society in India.
1923 – Miss Isabel Swamikannu (Sr.Mary Stanislaus Swamikannu), joined the Society.
1927 – Amalgamation of the native congregation of the Society of JMJ.
1932 – The second Australian missionary Miss.Ethel Pitt ( Sr.Veronica of the Holy Face) joined the Society.
1933 – Canonically established Noviciate started in Guntur with Sr.Elzinio Luijken as the first Novice mistress.
1937 – The Society in India branched out to the state of Karnataka.
1947 – The third Australian Missionary Miss Margaret Barrett(Sr.Peter Julian) joined the Society.