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History of Loreto Convent

History of Loreto Convent Home

Founder of the IBVM – Mary Ward

The Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary was founded by Mary Ward, an English woman in the year 1611. She founded the Institute for the propagation and strengthening of the Catholic Faith, especially through the Education of girls. In 1909 Pope St. Pius X recognized her as the foundress of the Institute and forty-two years later, Pius XII did the great honour of naming her as “the outstanding pioneer of the lay apostolate among women”.

LORETO – IRELAND: TERESA BALL

The Irish Branch of the Institute was founded by Frances Teresa Ball at Rathfarnham on 4th November 1822, and the convent was named ‘Loreto House’.

LORETO – INDIA: DELPHINE HART

In 1841, Mother Teresa Ball sent seven Loreto Sisters and five Postulants, all in their twenties, under the leadership of Delphine Hart to India. They were welcomed at Calcutta by Bishop Carew and installed at Loreto House, 7, Middleton Row. They were the first Congregation of Sisters to come to North India.

LORETO IN THE NORTH EAST – SHILLONG (1908 – 2012)

SHILLONG, originally the capital of Assam, and now the capital of Meghalaya, is the centre of Loreto missionary thrust in the North East. The Loreto Mission started in 1908. There were Primary schools existing even before this, till the great Assam earthquake struck in 1897 and brought down everything to the ground. The Prefect Apostolic Monsignor C.E. Becker – invited Loreto to provide education in English medium for the children of the tea planters of Assam and those of the railway personnel. The Provincial sent Mother Borgia Irwin and Mother Annunziata Martz to assess the situation and report back. They fell in love with the place and the people, and were impressed by the generosity of Msgr. C.E. Becker. Msgr. donated six acres of land on St. Mary’s Hill together with Rs.20,000 for the foundation and on May 8th 1909, five Loreto Sisters under the leadership of Mother Mechtilde Costelloe started classes with 23 day scholars and 3 boarders. The number of students increased rapidly and enrolled students of European, Anglo-Indian and Khasi communities.

In a short time, the Government approved the tremendous progress made by Loreto School in Shillong and soon it became a Government-aided Secondary school sending up pupils for the Cambridge and Trinity College (music and speech) examinations in 1913. Mother Mechtilde Costelloe, the first Superior of Loreto Convent and School, was known as a very efficient and dedicated sister. In recognition of her achievements in teaching and education Mother Mechtilde was awarded the Kaiser-I-Hind Gold Medal on New Year 1914. The girls of the Convent, on their part, led the hymns in the Church on Sundays and Feast days and took part in other parish activities.

In 1936, a devastating fire broke out leaving the Salesian Fathers and their pupils homeless. Loreto Convent was miraculously spared. The nuns at once opened their doors to render aid and hospitality to the afflicted. In 1942, during the Second World War, Loreto School in Shillong was taken over by the government to serve as a hospital for the sick soldiers coming in from Burma. The Loreto Sisters took the students to Loreto Convent in Shimla in order to continue with their studies without missing their academic year.

In February 1943, a disastrous fire broke out and the Convent was burnt to the ground. Only the rink was saved. On Christmas Day, 1972, the rink was completely destroyed by yet another fire. It was replaced by a hall and gymnasium. In 1984, the boarding school was closed and the number of day pupils increased.

Initially the school followed the ICSE Board which was replaced by the Government of Meghalaya Board of School Education. The early batches appeared in the exams as ‘private’ candidates and later went up as ‘regular’ candidates many of whom were placed high on the merit list and were awarded accordingly.

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