The Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Fatima was founded by Servant of God Francis Xavier Kroot, MHM, on 8 February 1893, at Bellary in Karnataka, then under the archdiocese of Madras. Born on 7 December 1854, in Holland, Francis Kroot joined the Mill Hill Missionary Society of St Joseph, was ordained a priest on 8 June 1878, and reached India on 8 August 1878. He served in the capacity of a military chaplain in Poonamallee, Madras and Bellary.
His dream of having a Congregation of Indian women who would carry on the missionary work of caring for the less fortunate and underprivileged natives was finally realized in 1893 with the inception of the Congregation bearing the name as the “Missionary Sisters of St Francis Xavier”. The Sisters of Good Shepherd were entrusted with the formation of the candidates and Rules for the independent Congregation were drawn up and approved by Bishop Joseph Colgan of Madras.
The first batch of three postulants received their religious habit on 8 Feb 1893. On 8 September 1895 these Sisters pronounced their first vows and were moved to the first convent, St Francis Xavier's near St Lazarus church, Cowl Bazaar on 29 June 1896. Later a Novitiate was also established to accommodate the increasing number of candidates.
Years that followed were tumultuous and the Sisters faced upheavals from all quarters. Hoping against all hope for a better prospect, in 1951 Mother Stanislaus, the then Mother General dared to take the leap into the unknown. She sought permission from Bishop John Hogan of Bellary and Bishop Andrew D'Souza of Poona, to shift the Generalate and Novitiate to Poona. Accordingly new rules were framed and as per the directives of Bishop Andrew the Congregation was re-Christened to “Sisters of Our Lady of Fatima” and Pune became its headquarters. Thus 16 July 1951 marked the shift of the Generalate and Novitiate from Bellary to Pune.
The new Constitutions were officially approved by Bishop Andrew D'Souza on 13 May 1957. The Decree attesting to the canonical erection of the Institute as a Religious Congregation of the diocesan order was issued on 15 December 1970. With the strong support from Bishop William Gomes the then Bishop of Poona, the Congregation slowly spread in the vicinity and the neighbouring dioceses. The Decree of Praise was obtained on 18 March 1982, with the help and encouragement from Bishop Valerian D'Souza of Poona, thus raising the Congregation to the state of the Pontifical Right.
Provinces & Region
At the VII General Chapter of 1995, the proposal for two regions was taken up and on 1 June 1996 the 'Southern Region' and the 'Western Region' were created. Later in 1998, after the mid-term Chapter the same were named as 'Bangalore Region' and 'Mumbai Region'.
The VIII General Chapter of 2001 decided to elevate the two Regions to Provinces and a separate new Region for the North and Northeast be created. On 10 April 2002, the official approval for the Revised Constitutions was obtained from the “Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life”. The First Province Chapters were held, separately in both the Regions in April-May 2002. From June 2002, the two Provinces, namely, 'Bangalore Province' & 'Mumbai Province' and from 16 July 2002 a separate unit, the 'Northeast Region' started functioning.
Our Lady of Fatima
This statue was brought all the way from Portugal to Pune by our former Superior General, Sr. Santan and it is placed in Fatima Generalate Chapel.