St. Joseph’s Convent International School is a Catholic educational institution conducted by the Religious of the Congregation of the Daughters of the Cross. The name of the Managing Body of the school is St. Joseph’s Education and Medical Relief Society. The School falls within the religious jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Bombay.
Admission is open to girls of all castes and creeds. Value Education forms an important part of the school curriculum.
The school strives to impart a sound liberal education aimed at the development and full flowering of the total personality of the child. Hence, education is directed towards the training of the pupils’ intellectual, moral, spiritual, emotional, physical and aesthetic endowments and such cultural attainments as are suited for girls.
In the true spirit of education for all, especially the weak, the school admits students challenged in different ways – economically, socially, physically and intellectually – and gives them the special care they need. Academics is paramount and co-curricular activities not far behind.
We strive to create good patriotic citizens, mindful of their own rights and eager to work towards ensuring the rights of others, especially the marginalised.
This is education at St. Joseph’s and we go “Forward God Helping” !
- To provide a multidimensional education- intellectual, physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological- for the girl child.
- To achieve excellence at the level of the student’s potential by encouraging cooperation rather than competition.
- To form students who respect persons with their differences and learn to live in harmony with all.
- To foster in students a sensitivity to and care for the earth so as to ensure a sustainable development
The mission of our school is providing a multi-dimensional education – intellectual, physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological for the girl child.
Respect, Excellence, Sustainable Development, Enlightened and Empowered Women are the core values of St. Joseph Convent International School.
St Joseph’s Convent was the first school in Mumbai ( erstwhile Bombay ) to teach the Cambridge curriculum since its inception in 1863. Post Independence the curriculum switched to the ICSE curriculum and a few years back, the school decided to stay with only the State Board curriculum.
Based on feedback from the Alumni, Parents as well as the growing need for International education the school has decided to form international education for Grade VIII and add additional grades in the years to come.
(Les Filles de la Croix)
In this Sign, thou shalt conquer
One dusk evening, in 1833, Jeanne Haze was standing in the courtyard of the Carmelite order in Liege with her friend, Virginie Sorage when she saw a large black Cross, with a crown of ivory etched against the sky with each detail clearly visible. The Cross disappeared, leaving an indelible impression on the young women.
The Cross gave them their “Directive Principles” – “In this Sign you will learn to love to consider others as your brothers and sisters, called like yourself to build the Kingdom of the Good News in Justice and in Peace. To combat everything which seeks to set human beings at odds for there is only one Lord and He is the God of Love. To believe in the absolute tender love of the Father, even in times of darkness and depression, to place everything in the Father’s hands, not as a way of escape, but as a gesture of total trust, as one relies on those one loves, without this sign, without experiencing difficulty, poverty of spirit and death, there is neither birth nor growth.”
Jeanne Haze founded the Congregation – Filles de la Croix – the Daughters of the Cross – on 8th September, 1833 at Liege in Belgium. They dressed alike in a long black dress and wore a black head dress lined in white – and the Cross. They gave themselves religious names –
Jeanne – Sr Marie Therese
Ferdinande – Sr. Aloysia
Miss Lhoest – Sr. Clara
Miss Soroge – Sr. Constance
Miss Ancion – Sr. Julienne
No one who required their help was ever refused or rejected – orphans, prisoners, war victims, old incurables, penitents – all felt their healing touch of love and service.
In the different countries where the Congregation is established, the Daughters of the Cross will always have a special preference for those who are poorest. They will serve Christ in the works of general and special education, the care of the sick and the aged, abandoned children, the physically and mentally handicapped, the socially deprived, local pastoral work and the various needs of the Church. They will remain faithful to their original charism, which excludes no work of mercy.
The Lord’s plan for spreading the work and charism of the Daughters of the Cross began. In Aspel, Germany, a new Catholic school was opened. Bismarck, Chancellor of Germany, compelled all Catholic schools to close and the Sisters were forced to leave. They were invited to England where they were wanted and appreciated. Europe, by now, was outwardly calm and the Congregation gathered strength and spread to Ireland, Belgium, Germany, Holland, Italy, North and South America and eventually to Africa and India, even the Far East.
Mother Marie Therese’s Daughters of the Cross flourish in her love and vision, centuries down the line, all over the world.
Blessed Marie Thérèse (Jeanne Haze), the foundress of the Daughters of the Cross of Liège
Jeanne Haze was born in Liège, Belgium, in February 1782. She came from a loving family which gave her spiritual strength throughout her life. Her first experience of suffering came as a result of the French Revolution when Jeanne and her family were exiled to Germany. During that time her father died. The family lost everything and Jeanne became aware of the transitory nature of material belongings.
She was conscious of her vocation very early in her life. Because of their own experience of the Cross, Jeanne and her sister Ferdinande were drawn to those most in need. In answer to a request by Dean Cloes of St Barthélemy in Liège, they opened a school for poor children.
Jeanne and her sister were joined by other young women wishing to lead a religious life. The local curate of St Barthélemy, Father Habets, who had initially been opposed to their desire for the religious life, soon changed his mind and collaborated in the writing of the first Constitutions of the future “Daughters of the Cross”.
On September 8th 1833, Jeanne and her sister made their perpetual vows, receiving the names Mother Marie Thérèse and Mother Aloysia. Two other companions, Sisters Clara and Constance, made their temporary vows for one year and two postulants entered the noviciate. Thus the Congregation of the Daughters of the Cross was born in the Carmelite Church of Potay, next to their own little convent.
Blessed Marie Thérèse was beatified on April 21st 1991
Sister Theodorine is probably the most colourful of our Congregation’s many ‘apostles’ of India. Her years here coincided with the hey-day of the British Raj. She arrived in Bandora in 1867 and, in her 32 years in India, Sr.Theodorine laid the foundation of one of the finest schools in India, St.Joseph’s Convent, Bandra.
Marie Caroline Mevis was born on February 18, 1832, in Tongres. She became attracted to the religious life chiefly through what she had witnessed of a very new religious order, the Daughters of the Cross, and at the age of 18 in 1850, she presented herself to them as a postulant. She took her first vows in 1852, was appointed Superior at the age of 20! and spent the next 10 years working with young delinquents.
To offer to go to India in those days was the ultimate in renunciation. Generally, the sisters who composed these small but frequent bands of volunteers for this difficult enterprise, did not expect to see their homeland again. The cemetery at Bandra testifies how brief the life span of these sisters who lie there.
Those who somehow survived the debilitating heat, dust, disease, epidemics as did Sister Theodorine, lived a veritable martyrdom. Yet a lively correspondence flourished between the sisters in India and those in Europe, especially the Mother House. Moreover, Sister Theodorine kept a remarkable Journal, handwritten in beautiful cursive style, now preserved on yellowing paper in the Provincial Archives in Bandra. We are planning to post these pages on the website, and we invite you to read of Sister Theodorine’s life and times as recounted by this remarkable lady herself. Amiable, benign, charming and simple, all sweetness and goodness, she had a devastating faith, for it devastated the rationalists who were and still are, often embarrassed by Heaven’s literal response to her prayers. The book is full of anecdotes on how St. Joseph was always around the corner.
This story illustrates the combination of visionary and practical realist that was Theodorine. She believed that God helps those who help themselves, so after praying, she usually looked for a solution. One day in June 1871, the provision room and the money box were empty. Theodorine borrowed rice and oil from the Jesuits across the street. It was Retreat time, and on the third day, two of the big girls called to the Sisters to come out of seclusion and take a look at the store room. It was overflowing. A cart has just delivered boxes of all kinds of provisions and the delivery man assured them that it had all been paid for. Later, Theodorine discovered that the good angel was a retired English Major.
She had a great sense of humour, was a superb musician, and like every missionary, loved adventure. In a wonderful chapter, “Perils in the Wilderness”, her 1874 trip across jungles to a small Christian settlement, Chyebassa in Bengal, is recounted. Bombay to Calcutta took 3 days, mostly by train. Calcutta to Midnapore by boat for 2 days when Theodorine almost drowned. Midnapore to Balasore by bullock cart.
Finally, the most dangerous part of the journey through the jungles by “palanquin”. She was hoisted by four bearers, accompanied by eight bodyguards carrying torches to ward off the tigers. In the 36 hour journey, she encountered wild animals and “thugees”. At one village, the magistrate was a Brahmin would not give food to a Christian. The quick-witted Theodorine said, “But I am also very high caste. In my culture, I belong to the caste of Queens. I am a Ranee!” (After all, she told herself, I am a Bride of Christ). The situation changed rapidly. The Brahmin sent for a white cow, had it milked before her, and all the villagers turned up waving palms to accord her a royal welcome.
The Bad Times …
Sr. Theodorine ministered, fed, clothed and educated India’s poorest, old, sick and orphaned. She nursed them through the Great Famine of 1877, when Death and Disease were constant companions.
Her last years in India were overshadowed by the greatest catastrophe she had ever witnessed, the Bubonic Plague, with its terrifying symptoms and agonizing in its swift closing stages. Bandra Village was attacked early in 1897 and the population fled their houses and lived in palm huts, while the dead were carried away in cartloads.
Lord Sandhurst, the Governor, appointed a committee headed by General Gatacre, to combat the Plague on a war footing. Theodorine’s Sisters nobly offered their services and were appointed to various hospitals. Their efforts were nothing short of heroic. Sister Elizabeth died of the Plague and was christened the “Martyr of Charity” all over India.
Newspapers vied in praising the Sisters who endangered themselves, most without medical training, since they had left their classrooms to go to the Plague hospitals. General Gatacre wrote extensively of the Sisters’ fortitude in his Report to the Government.
In June 1898, Sr. Theodorine was made Honorary Serving Sister, by Lord Sandhurst, presented with documents and badge from HRH, the Prince of Wales.
And the good times ….
There were good times too, like the Golden Jubilee celebrations of Queen Victoria in 1887. The Government gave the children of the Orphanage free rail tickets to Bombay in a special train. So the whole population of St. Joseph’s enjoyed themselves that day in the Grand Procession, fireworks, and they picnicked royally. The Municipal Authorities gave Sr. Theodorine Rs. 50 to buy sweets for the children and they closed the day spellbound by the beauty and brilliance of the illuminations.
Now it is evening ….
Ill health compelled Sr. Theodorine to return to Europe in 1899, after 32 years in India. Her heart was in India and paradoxically, she felt exiled in her own country. As her health improved, she was back as Superior in the delinquent home where she started her career.
In 1901, Sr. Theodorine celebrated her Golden Jubilee. Good wishes flowed in from every home in Bombay Province, but most precious of all were from her Orphans, past and present.
On 5th March 1911, she went to the Lord.
From Monsignor Baunard’s funeral oration –
“In this great heart burnt a fire, whose heat turning to energy, gave motion to everything – in herself, and in all around her.
It was the love of Jesus Christ, of souls, of the Church.
The Cross was the great lever which served to lift everything heavenwards. She worked and suffered with all her being and with joy, her eyes always fixed on eternal things.
She finished her apostolic life in silence, in prayer and thanksgiving …”
Theodorine was a charismatic figure; in her care for the old and dying, she is the 19th century counterpart of Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
150 years after Theodorine arrived in India, her legacy has endured. Today St. Joseph’s Convent, Bandra, a truly democratic institution, provides value education to girl children from every strata of society. We reckon Theodorine would just chuckle with pride.