Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo (SCB)
The Congregation of the Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo (SCB) was founded in 1684 by Rev Fr. Adrian Bresy, who was then the Parish priest of Wez in the diocese of Tournai in Belgium. Its inception originated with the assembly of five young women named Marie Catherine Warquain, Elizabeth Lepe, Marie Barbe Delrue, Marguerite Delrue and Marie Ann Lepez who committed themselves to create a just and hope-filled world through prayer, service and education for the poor and orphaned children of the parish. While running a small classroom from the church’s presbytery these young ladies also formed themselves in a true religious spirit under the guidance and direction of Fr. Adrien Bresy. After the period of novitiate they made their religious vows on November 25, 1685 and became the living foundation stones of the congregation. This date marked the official and canonical existence of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo. Mother Marie Catherine Warquain was appointed as the Superior.
Fr. Adrien Bresy chose St. Charles Borromeo as the patron of the Congregation because the first death centenary of St, Charles which was celebrated in 1684, coincided with the year of the foundation. Besides St. Charles was a great Christian educationist who selflessly dedicated his life for the poor. His virtues of simplicity, humility and zeal to serve the underprivileged had a profound impact on Fr Bresy.
The little seeds of sacrifice that Fr Bresy had planted in the obscure village of Wez has now grown into a luxuriant tree spreading it’s branches far and wide reaching out to all those in need, irrespective of cultures, castes and creeds. The congregation’s apostolate to provide education, medical care, social welfare and pastoral care is witnessed across 4 continents, 8 countries and numerous cities and district across the globe. The Congregation established its presence in India as on 31st December 1929 by setting up its 1st house at Ranipet in Vellore, Tamil Nadu. This was in response to a request from Msgr. Mederlet, Archbishop of Madras for religious to work in his diocese.
The year 2015 marked a milestone for the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo which completed 50 years of selfless service to the Archdiocese of Bombay and to the Parish of St. Anthony’s church, Vakola. The SCB sisters arrived in Mumbai on June 8th 1965, in response to an invitation by the then Archbishop of Bombay, Cardinal Valerian Gracias. The Principal & Manager of St. Anthony’s School, Vakola – Fr. Alfred Augiar had expressed the need for a congregation of sisters to take care of the girls studying in the school, a request that was most willingly accepted by Provincial Superior Mother Christiane Tonneau. In 1966 she commissioned a team of enthusiastic pioneers: Sr. Hyacinth Lewis, Sr. Gertrude D, Sr. Julia D’souza, Sr. Gemma Chavara, and Sr. Victoria Braganza to set up a Kindergarten classroom from the school premises, which is the present day sacristy of St. Anthony’s Church.
The primary section of St. Charles School, Vakola was inaugurated on June 30, 1967 and in 1972 the Director of Education gave his consent to upgrade the school for secondary education up to class VIII. Today, the school is renowned for its quality education and holistic teaching whilst imbibing the values of the Christian faith. During the years 1968 till 1992 the sisters also maintained the Lourdes Clinic, a free dispensary to cater to the medical needs of the poor. True to their spiritual calling and driven by fervor our Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo continue to serve the vibrant parish of St Anthony Church Vakola through tireless works of building Christian Communities, actively working with the youth, teaching catechism to children and helping with the pre-baptism preparations