Five Canossian sisters landed in Cochin in 1889 after an arduous voyage of over two months from Hong Kong. In 1891 the sisters moved from Cochin to Belgaum which is the first house of our Province. Soon, other new houses were opened in different parts of India and the houses got grouped into two Regions and later in 1947 forming one Delegation with the Headquarters in Bombay. In 1966 the Delegation was made into a Province. As the Foundations were on the increase, in 1988 three Provinces were formed: India-Centre with 21 houses, India-South with 18 houses and India-North with 14 houses.
Since 1988 the Province of St. Francis Xavier, India-Centre has developed and spread in five Western States of India – Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh with a total population of more than 200 million. The official languages of these States are Marathi, Gujarati, Konkani, Kannada and Hindi respectively. However, English remains the overall universal language for commerce and civil function.
India is diverse in culture, language and social customs and is noted for its unity and diversity and pluralism. It has multi religions with different ethnic and social groups. It makes India a kaleidoscope of people with diverse colours, classes and creeds possessing an ancient and rich cultural heritage.
The vast bulk of our people are agriculturists. 80% of people live in the rural areas. India has rich natural resources and over these years the Indian economy has grown very much but the unequal distribution of wealth results in a large number of poor. Of late we experience atrocities against Christians caused by fundamentalism and fanaticism. This is worsened by unchecked corruption inducing social and economic stagnation. Communal riots, suppression of human rights, oppression of the poor, caste discrimination are all signs of the decline of tolerance and fraternity. All these conditions challenge us in our various ministries.
Our Province is composed of 210 sisters of whom 15 are temporary professed. We have 4 Novices and 3 Postulants undergoing Initial Formation.
We have 26 communities out of which 12 are small communities, 7 medium sized, 5 big and 2 Apostolic Groups. These communities are spread in 8 Dioceses in 5 States of India. 14 of our communities are situated in rural areas catering mostly to the needs of the tribals.
The composition of our Province with Sisters of different cultures, languages, age groups, experiences and educational qualifications is indeed a wealth. Each one’s uniqueness of temperament, abilities, strengths, complexity, fragility and incompleteness are accepted in faith and charity and is inevitably woven into the fabric of everyday life. We celebrate differences and cultivate cultural integration seeing it as the missionary dimension of consecration.
We engage ourselves in the fields of education, evangelization, human promotion, social outreach and networking, pastoral care of the sick, formation of lay people, facilitating Spiritual Exercises, where we are committed to live Magdalene’s greatest desire: “above all make Jesus known and loved”, giving preference to the poorest. Through our ministries we strive to touch each person with the love of God.