Vepery is proud and privileged to have been the birth place of the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph. The community is located in one of the busiest parts of northern part of Chennai. The people of the locality belong to various religious and cultural backgrounds. The people at this place belong mostly to the lower middle class and the poor section of the society.
The Convent at Vepery has a profound history tracing back to the founding and establishment of the FSJ congregation by her founder Bishop John Aelen, a Mill Hill Missionary, who was also the Parish Priest at St. Andrew’s Church, Vepery. The inaugural ceremony of the then new congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph was held in the vicinity of St. Andrew’s Church, Vepery on 13 February 1883. From 1883 to 1954, the convent at Vepery served as the Mother House (Generalate) of the Congregation. Four sisters under the leadership of Mother Kanikai Mary of the Congregation of St. Louis De Gonzague were sent by Rt. Rev. Dr. Francis Marie Leouenan, the then Bishop of Pondicherry at the request of Fr. John Aelen to set in motion the founding of the proposed new congregation. Thereupon, Rev. Mother Kanikai Mary trained three young women who had the intention of becoming religious sisters. They were Rosammal (Sr. Mary Francis), Rasammal (Sr. Gertrude), and Anthoniammal (Sr. Josephine). They made their first profession on 19 March 1887, the feast day of St. Joseph. Two small houses donated by the Archbishop were named as St. Joseph’s Convent. It was in March 1887 that the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph became an independent congregation under the leadership of Mother Mary Francis, the then Superior General, and with the patronage of Archbishop John Colgan, Madras.
In the beginning, Rev. Fr. John Aelen, the founder envisioned radical equality and was determined to uplift the downtrodden through education. Hence, with the help and support of the sisters, he established two schools to reach out to the poor children of the society. He strongly believed that education is a powerful means to liberate the poor and thus can effect transformation of the society. Consequently, in 1883 a school, which is presently St. Joseph’s Girls Higher Secondary School, was started. Later St. Joseph’s Primary School and St. Joseph’s Nursery and Primary School were established to educate the poor children of the locality. All the three schools have grown over the years and presently more than 3500 students are on roll. It must be noted that already in 1883 St. Antony’s Home for Children was established to provide education and accommodation for the poor girls of the locality. In 2006 Bishop John Aelen Study Centre – an evening school was initiated to educate the people dwelling in the surrounding slums. In 2007 a new convent building was constructed, which was blessed by Fr. John Taylor (St. Joseph’s Society of MHM). Besides being involved in education ministry, the sisters also participate in various pastoral, evangelical and social ministries.
St. Joseph’s Girls Higher Secondary School
St. Joseph’s Primary School
St. Joseph’s Nursery and Primary English Medium School
St. Antony’s Home for Children
St. Joseph’s Convent
124, Kalathiappa Street
Chennai – 600 112
St. Joseph’s Convent: 044-25323069
St. Joseph’s Hr. Sec. School: 044-25325166
St. Joseph’s Primary School: 044-26403979
St. Joseph’s Nursery School (Eng. Med): 044-26402408
St. Antony’s Home for Children: 044-26433839
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