:: Chennai
03-01-2015
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Good Shepherd Convent , Chennai

The convent of Madras was founded on November 21st 1924, at the request of Bishop De Castro of Mylapore.

Our first house was at “LUZ” with Mother Paula as its first Superior. After sometime the sisters shifted to “Somerford” Adyar as the Luz property belonged to the Diocese, and could not really ever belong to the Sisters of the Good Shepherd. Another property was sought and “Somerford” was thought suitable. It was a large property overlooking the Adyar River, with spacious grounds, and ample accommodation, for the girls, and later, the lady boarders who came.

Here life was very difficult, as the place was so far from the city. The sisters supported themselves by giving lessons in English, music and art. They also did laundry work for the boys of St.Bede’s School. The fees were low and inadequate for support. It was decided to shift near the town if the work of the Good Shepherd was to prosper in this large city.

Once more we searched for a suitable site, and in October 1929 the sisters occupied the present one known as “Moorats Gardens”. There was no compound wall, only a large old house dating from East India Company Days, this was occupied as the convent.

In the few out-houses the children were housed by day, and at night slept on the sisters’ verandahs, and so life took shape, in those distant days. The history of the convent is one of hard, up-hill work – a debt of Rs.90,000 had to be paid for the property. Mothers Philip, Aiden and Matilda, the first superiors, made great efforts to pay off this amount, but as our income was low, it was finally paid only in 1946 by Mother Ita of Burmah, R.I.P. Our school began with eight pupils. Up to 1942 we followed the Cambridge System when on the advice of our chaplain, Father Murphy S.J., we switched over to the Matriculation Examination – In view of the political situation in the country. Our school became very popular and over the years has grown to its present strength of 2500 pupils.

The industrial school was opened in March 26th, 1929, by a good friend, Mr.File, who gave the Sisters every support by granting government recognition. Orders for needle-work used to come from the elite of the city. And under the guidance of dear Sr.Mary Bernard R.I.P. many skilled needle workers were turned out, capable of earning a living.

In April 1942 due to the fall of Singapore, and Japanese threat of invasion the whole convent shifted to Yercaud – to a place known as “Bears Cave” the property of a very good benefactor, Mr.Thambuswamy, a Lutheran.

During our absence the convent was occupied by Best & Co., with their rent we existed, as we had no other income at this time.

Once more we returned and opened the school in August, but few pupils came due to the war-scare. In 1946, cracks were noticed in the present building and a catholic engineer from Prynn Abbot ordered immediate evacuation of the convent. We had no place to occupy except Fathima Hall, which served as chapel, dormitory and parlour for two years. During that time the classes were held in the convent, all round the chapel, on verandahs and small rooms. Since the convent was unsafe, a building was rented near Christian College High School and here the sisters used to go every day and teach our pupils.

Mother Matilda made great efforts to rebuild the old convent. She also built one part of the high school, now the junior school. Again we were faced with financial trouble, so to meet the need Mother sold the land bordering Nungambakkam high road, on which people built the present houses.

Pressure for admission in the school increased so much that Mother Lucy R.I.P. extended the present junior school, before she died in 1957.

In 1951 the nursery section of the school was started. A new construction was built in the year

In the year 1952 Marian Home was started for young girls for protection and skill training. Due to the bad condition of the building a new building was constructed in the year 1997.

In 1958 Mother Matilda purchased “Eccleston” house and property from Binny& Co at a cost of Rs 4.5 lakhs borrowed from Indian Overseas Bank. In 1966 the present high school was completed at a cost of Rs. 5.5 lakhs borrowed from Egmore Benefit Society.

In 1967 the present convent was undermined by white ants which eroded the wooden beams in the sisters’ dormitory, necessitating major repairs and alterations. During this time the community occupied Eccleston until our present chapel was blessed on April 23rd 1969, by His Grace Mgr.Arulappa, Archbishop of Madras – Mylapore. This building was rented out to poompuhar and later to Fr. Immanual for social service. After a major renovation this building is used for the young working girls and students from the year 2000 and is known as Roshini Nivas.

In 1970’s a programme was initiated by Sr. Anthony for the children of slums. It was called Priyavanam. This was closed in 1995. In the year 1996 a home for the disadvantaged children was established which is known as Mottukal. It also has outreach programmes in some of the slums in Chennai.

Despite many hardships our mission has prospered and our old girls and friends are loyal, devoted and helpful to us. As we glance through the pages of the past, our hearts go out to God in gratitude for His manifold graces and blessings to us.


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