Convent of Jesus and Mary, Sialkot

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Convent of Jesus and Mary
128 Haider Road, Sialkot Cantt.
Sialkot, Punjab, 51300
Type High school
Religious affiliation(s) Roman Catholic
Established 1856
Founder Mother St. Gonzaga Bergonhoux
Administration Catholic Board of Education
Gender Girls
Age 4 to 16

The Convent of Jesus and Mary, Sialkot was the first Catholic school in the Punjab and second in British India after Agra. It was established in 1856 opened at the request of the Archbishop of Agra. It was established by five nuns headed by Mother St. Gonzaga Bergonhoux.

The school is located at 128 Haider Road, Sialkot Cantt 51300. House System:Blue House (Service) Red House ( Unity) Yellow House (Discipline) Green House ( Faith)

HISTORY: The first Catholic school in the Punjab was the Convent of Jesus and Mary, Sialkot, which was opened at the request of the Archbishop of Agra, His Lordship, Msgr. Michael Angelo Jacobi. Msgr. Jacobi seeing the need for a good educational establishment for young girls, informed the Provincial Superioress of the Convent at Agra of his desires, and invited her to open a foundation in Sialkot and extend the good works of the Congregation of Jesus and Mary already established in the United Provinces of Oudh and Agra.

In December 1855 five Sisters left Sardanha for Sialkot, via Lahore, accompanied by the good Archbishop himself. Mother St. Gonzaga Bergonhoux was named superior. Accompanying her were, Mother St. Chrysostom Gubbins, Mother St. Macaire Dervieux, Mary St. Patrick O’Sullivan and Mary St. Veronica Reghilini. It was a long, wearisome and dangerous journey from Sardanha to Sialkot in those days, but the zeal of the tiny Congregation was not to be daunted by dusty roads and difficulty journeys. The bullock-cart had rough wooden wheels and no springs, and it broke down frequently on the bad roads, a route of about 329 miles. They traveled at night since the midday sun was too hot. Meals were taken at small villages on the way, with rice and milk being the daily food. Eggs were a treat on occasion.

What must have been most dreaded were long stretches of road at night, where forests came to the edge of some roads, and these were infested by wild beasts and even by bandits. But hardships and perils did not affect the valiant group at all. Reaching Lahore was quite an achievement, but there was still another 80 or 90 miles to go. The party of Sisters and the Archbishop finally arrived in Sialkot on the 15th. February 1856. The first community consisted of 5 nuns and 3 possible postulants. Thus was begun the first Convent of Jesus and Mary in the Punjab. The house had no surplus furniture. There was a total absence of anything extra, which might mean ease or comfort. They were really poor. This austerity did not dampen their zeal.

We quote from an account by Archbishop Jacobi describing the beginnings of the apostolic works. “With Mother St. Gonzaga at the helm, work was begun to ready the place for boarders and day scholars. One can well imagine this dynamic missionary together with her willing group preparing a fit place in which to receive needy children of the district and to serve them. Parents were informed of the importance of sending their daughters to school. Visits were made to the homes. It took time for many to grow accustomed to the idea that girls should attend school. Finally the day arrived for the opening of school and the nuns thought of the work so dear to the heart of their Foundress, “to train souls for heaven by imparting a truly good education.”

The work progressed well. The children came in slowly, but they did come, and soon the house was full. With joy all looked forward to a new year when the work would progress even further, but there were growing signs that all was not well. Shadows of an uprising were spreading all over. The first shots were fired on July 9, 1857 and the Sisters went on to suffer the terrors of the Indian Mutiny or the First War of Independence.[1]


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