The first arrival of the Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary took place in the year 1896 when they arrived in Sri Lanka after the invitation of the Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Van Reeth SJ who invited them to come to Sri Lanka to engage themselves in the missionary activities, particularly in the Diocese of Galle. There was a special ship that came and harboured in Galle carrying the sisters who came and lit the flame of love in the people of God in this country which continues to give light even to this day.
Sacred Heart Convent, Galle
As per the instructions of the Bishop of Colombo, the Sisters paved the way for their first venture for the education of girls in the manner of the Sacred Heart Convent in the very first of year of their arrival in Galle in 1896. At a time where the girls of this country were not very exposed to a social life, education and common activities in the society, this venture brought about education, discipline, broad outlook towards society and oneself, wisdom, fortitude and strong Christian faith. They began the school as a mixed school and with the lapse of just 5 years, the intended values, ethos, culture and ideals were instilled in the lives of the students. The school, though taken over by the government in 1960, remains one of the best schools in the southern province and serves the children of the area with dedication and commitment.
St. Mary’s Convent, Matara
The Sisters moved on to Matara with their services and with the strong intention of establishing another school for the girls of Matara area. They started a convent and a school and completed the construction work in 1908 and started St. Mary’s Convent, Matara. The school started expanding rapidly through the history and finally turned out to be one of the best designed school in the premises of the Shrine of Our Lady of Matara. This school remained a private school at the take-over of the schools in 1960 and is administered by the Sisters to this day.
St. Joseph’s Convent, Kegalle
The school was formed by the Sisters of Charity in the year 1910 for the education of the children coming from Kegalle area. The establishment of a school in Kegalle came to be a wise decision in terms of the facilities that we can avail for the students who come from an area which is not well-exposed.
Convent of Child Jesus, Ratnapura
This school was established in 1924 with the leadership of the Charity Sisters. They came and started life in Ratnapura and wanted to extend their services to the children of this area as well. They extended a common invitation to everyone to come and join the school, through which they were able to give a very important guidance to the children of this area. This convent education was given to everyone who sought it irrespective of their religion. The young girls who received this education became well-grounded in their personalities. They were able enter into a peaceful culture by their education. In addition to the education, they were also able to give the girls many more things such as the knowledge of English, vocational training, good values, etiquettes about family life and personality building and many more. This school was taken over by the government in 1960.
Thus, we realize that the Charity Sisters were able to put up 4 main schools in the 4 main cities in the Diocese of Galle, providing good education equally to everyone.
Their Involvement in Education Today
The Sisters of the congregation involve themselves in teaching in both government and private schools. Few sisters teach in some of the Catholic Private Schools in the Archdiocese of Colombo. There are other Sisters who teach in government and vested schools in areas such as Jaffna, Mannar, Trincomalee, Galle, Ratnapura and Kegalle.
Special Education Centres
- Supem Uyana
This is the very first home and residential centre for the differently abled children started the Sisters of Charity. This is situated in Gonapinuwala and was started in 1964. Many parents having children who belong to this category take shelter in this home.
- Daya Mina
Daya Mina is a day centre run by the Sisters of Charity. This place is meant for the children who are supposed to be having learning difficulties and others who are supposed to be slow learners. Daya Mina strongly believes that these children are differently gifted and there is no difference between them and the rest of the children in the society. They are functioning at different levels to contribute to the society. They are being helped to develop to the maximum their inherent potential and so taking their rightful place in the society.
- Meth Mihira
This is another institute run by the Sisters to provide education to the differently abled children in the society. This centre is in Moratuwa.
The Sisters of Charity are remembered with gratitude for the enormous contribution they have done for the church and they will be well remembered for many more years to come.