Apostolic Carmel Sisters
The first group of Apostolic Carmel Sisters arrives in Sri Lanka on the 5th of February 1922 during tenure of the office of Mother Mary Aloysia, the 2nd Superior General of the Apostolic Carmel Sisters (1910 – 1928) in India. They came and landed in this country as a mighty step forward in response to the call of Rt. Rev. Gaston Robichez SJ, Bishop of Trincomalee, who recognized the educational aptitude of the sisters and eagerly sought their apostolic presence in his diocese.
Their first act of commitment to the Lord in this country was to begin a new mission by accepting St. Mary’s school in Trincomalee, which was vacated by the Sisters of Cluny from France. Having received the summons to leave for Ceylon, Sr. Lourdes, Sr. Cresence, Sr. Clare and Sr. Justine thus pledged touching the bronze-coloured soil of this sanctified acreage.
Sisters of Cluny left in the care of the Apostolic Carmelites, two schools, one English medium and one Tamil medium, an industrial school and an orphanage.
Three months later, in the same year, five more Sisters, namely, Sr. Eulalie. Sr. Leonie, Sr. Perpetua, Sr. Theodolinda and Sr. Catherine arrive in Ceylon to take control of the school and the convent in Batticaloa. With these two pioneering schools in Trincomalee and Batticaloa, the Apostolic Carmelite Sisters step into the undertaking of the yet unfinished noble task of educating the youth of this land.
The spreading out of the mission of the Lord in the hands of the Apostolic Carmel Sisters begins to take place when the Most Rev. Dr. Bede Beckmeyer OSB, the second Bishop of Kandy being captivated by their commitment for a promising future for the children as well-versed educationists, invited them to work in his diocese. They pioneered their mission in the diocese of Kandy by taking over St. Ursula’s Convent in Badulla and the school attached to it. Later, as the neighbouring parish of Bandarawela was in need of a catholic school management, the bishop requested the Sisters to accept the new mission of Bandarawela. The glory and the grandeur of St. Ursula’s Convent, Badulla and Little Flower convent, Bandarawela thus came to their existence within the hold of Apostolic Carmel Sisters of which the spirituality that existed can be seen no more as they gripped away from the perpetually vowed hands with time’s adventures few decades away.
The little that began with this concise history came to be grown as a massive tree as their work and presence spread to almost all the dioceses in Sri Lanka today except one.
They believe that the love of God for His people can be better seen when they give themselves completely for the apostolate of education. For them it is another vocation within the vocation. They minister to children and look after them in school while imparting quality education.
At the vesting of the schools in state in 1960, they the lost control of almost all the school that were under their care, except Holy Cross College, Gampaha, which was started by Madam Francis Perera in 1928. The sisters take over the school in 1941.
A very short and concise sketch about their schools which they administer now with the agreement of government’s legislations is as follows.
St. Mary’s College, Trincomalee
This school was started by the Cluny Sisters in 1864 and was handed over to the sisters in 1922.
St. Cecilia’s Girls’ College, Batticaloa
This school was started by the Cluny Sisters in 1876 and was handed over to the sisters in 1922.
St. Anthony’s Balika Vidyalaya, Dematagoda
This school was started by the Good Shepherd Sisters in 1917 and was handed over to the sisters in 1936.
Carmel Girls’ Central College, Chilaw
This school was started by the Most Rev. Dr. Edmund Peiris OMI in 1943 and was handed over to the sisters in 1967.
All Saints’ College, Colombo 10
This school was started by the Good Shepherd Sisters in 1904 and was handed over to the sisters in 1952.
St. Paul’s Balika Maha Vidyalaya, Kelaniya
This school was started by Rev. Fr. Maurice J. LeGoc OMI in 1935 and was handed over to the sisters in 1945.
St. Anthony’s Balika Maha Vidyalaya, Colpetty
This school was started by the Francis Xavier Sisters in 1940 and was handed over to the sisters in 1947
St. Theresa’s College, Atchuveley
This school was started by the Holy Family Sisters in 1876 and was handed over to the sisters in 1947.
Holy Cross Tamil Maha Vidyalaya, Sori kalmunai
This school was started by Rev. Fr. Gonsalve SJ in 1823 and was handed over to the sisters in 2015.
Sacred Heart Vidyalam, Mutur
This school was started by the Most Rev. Dr. Gaston Robichez SJ in 1903 and was handed over to the sisters at a later stage.
Roman Catholic Tamil Vidyalaya, Thethapolai
This school was started in 1918 by a layman and was handed over to the Sisters in 1999.
Don Bosco Vidyalayam, Jaffna
This school was started in 1955 by Rev. Sr. Stanislaus Mary of Apostolic Carmel Sisters.
St. Benedict’s RC Vidyalayam, Jaffna
This school was started in 1905 by Rev. Fr. Gnanapragasar OMI and handed over to the sisters in 1978.
Apostolic Carmel School, Maharagama
In addition to these schools, they also run a non-formal education center in Maharagama this was started in 1985 by Rev. Sr. Mary Pierre.
Mission of every schools maintained by the Apostolic Carmel sisters is almost same. That is providing opportunities for every child for a higher education, based on Christian values and morals, enabling them to face life’s challenges with wisdom and be worthy citizens of Motherland. And also to offer the society the most fruitful generation of students through a teaching learning process which leads to physical, mental, social and spiritual development. Pre- School education is also one of the main mission focuses.
In addition to these schools, the sisters also run 1 day care center, 13 boarding houses and 8 children’s homes and 3 Girls’ hostels through which they extend their services to the needy children and the girls in the society.
The silent work done by the Sisters of Apostolic Carmel Congregation is to be highly appreciated by all of us, especially their commitment to the poor and the marginalized children is very much highlighted.