In 1967, Rev.Fr.Ardusso, S.D.B., an Italian missionary founded the Guild of Social Serevice, at Tirupattur, North Arcot District, Tamil Nadu. Solely for the development of the poor and backward classed of the locality. The Guild was registered on March 9, 1967. In a letter dated October 1, 1971, the President of the Guild, Rt.Rev.Msgr. S. Lazar, S.D.B. Vicar General of Vellore tendered his resignation and requested the Secretary of the Guild, to make the necessary amendments in the constitutions.
At the VII General Body Meeting of the Guild held on Sunday, July 1, 1973, Mother Renee who was a member of the Guild was replaced by Mother Francisca, the new Superior of the three communities.
At this meeting it was resolved to hand over the Social Service Centre Project (in S.No.121/1, Pachal village area, Tirupattur) including the land and the buildings (erected and to be) to the Sisters of St.Charles Borromeo. They will therefore be in charge of the buildings already existing (Storerooms cum double car-shed, Dispensary, Cottage Industry Hall and Tailoring Training School) and of those to be brought in the near future. (Staff Quarters, Home for the destitute aged) and of all the Social Activities to be conducted there in.
Besides all such activities, they may start any more they desire, like a small Hospital, a Boarding for destitute girls, a Primary School, etc.
The sisters from Jolarpet attended the dispensary once or twice a week at the Guild Centre and attended to the patients, giving th4em relief from their ailments. Meanwhile the then Provincial Superior Mother Christiane and Mother Renee accepted the invitation of Fr. Ardusso to take up the project of the Guild and of the Social Services. The first three pioneers were Sr.Carola and Sr.Mathew from Jolarpet and Sr.Vincent from Bangalore.
Mother Provincial arrived at Jolarpet on March 20, 1973 to open the new project of Tirupattur. Fr. Ardusso had built a dispensary and a workshop for spinning, a tailoring section was under construction on a 5 acre piece of land given to the convent. Rev.Fr. Amala Dassan the parish priest cut the ribbon and declared it open. So the twin communities were transformed into triplets. The dispensary started functioning regularly from April1, 1973.
A spinning centre was opened in the campus, on October 2, 1974, Gandhi Jayanthi day. It was inaugurated by the President of the Sarvodaya Sangh. Many poor girls received trining, it also promoted a small-scale industry for the women of the area. Twenty nine girls were given employment, twenty five for spinning and four for operating the plying machines.
On April 21, 1974, Sr.Francisca the Superior of St.Charles Convent,Jolarpet was elected as the Ex-Officio President of The Guild and the Social Services at the General Body meeting. On November10, 1974 during the executive meeting the property of the Guild of Social Services of Tirupattur was officially handed over to the new Ex-Officio President. But Fr.Ardusso being the vice-president of the guild continued to do all the important transactions until the construction work of the convent was completed.
On November 10, 1974, the Bishop of Vellore blessed and laid the foundation stone for the convent. On June 1, 1976, Mother Benedicta Lobo, the new Provincial Superior and her councilors made the community of Tirupattur a separate canonical community. Sr. Paula was appointed as the superior of the new community. On January 1, 1977, the community occupied the new community building, until then the sisters were living in the dispensary building.
Fr.Ardusso helped out in the construction of the hall for the tailoring and embroidery section. He also visualized the future needs of the sisters, and purchased 0.25 acres of land across the road for the purpose of building a Nursery school, to be source of income for maintaining the sisters. On June 1, 1977, the needle work section was opened and blessed by Rev.Fr.Stephen Bernard, Rector of Don Bosco, Tirupattur.
Rev.Fr.G.Baruchi blessed the kitchen block on December 25, 1976. On July 24, 1978, Rev.Fr.Castelli, S.D.B., blessed the corner stone of the chapel and work commenced on it. The long awaited chapel was blessed by Rev.Fr.A.T.James, S.D.B., on November 26, 1979. Opening a mat-weaving section intensified the social work programme. It was blessed by the nephew of Sr.Carola, Rev.Fr.V.T.John, S.D.B., the parish priest of Jolarpet.
The spinning section was upgraded by replacing the hand machine with pedal machines. An exhibition was organized and inaugurated on April 13, 1982, by Natrajan, chairman of the Sarvodaya Sangh, the machines were blessed by Fr.A.T.James, parish priest of Tirupattur.
Responding to the signs of the times, the great visionary Rev. Fr. Guezou S.D.B. inspired them to extend the horizon wider by opening a school in 1988. A boarding house for boys was also inaugurated, but it was closed down later. Evening coaching class continues to be a boon to the poor children from other schools. Since spinning had no future prospects, we were forced to terminate this department. Tailoring classes continued to serve several women. Gradually dispensary and tailoring classes had to be discontinued as the need of the time could not be met with.
In St. Charles Matriculation School, the increase in strength of the students necessitated the extension of the school building. The school was also upgraded to Std.X, in January 25, 2003. Mother Benedicta, the Superior General, inaugurated the new building. As the number of students went on increasing and there was need to update the school with laboratories, library, an additional building was an urgent need.
In January 27, 2007 this building was inaugurated by the Provincial Superior Sr. Jaya. Today the school is upgraded to higher secondary and it is picking up gradually.
The sisters carry on the good work according to the signs of the times. They are engaged in outreach programme, especially in Annandapatty and Olipuram. The Sisters render their services to the sick, lonely, aged, provide job opportunities, get admission for the students in various institutes, supervise the evening tuition classes for about 100 poor children, provide food for them after the class, are engaged in counseling to individuals and families and conduct spoken English classes to some of the women in the locality.
Pastoral care is very much part of our Charism. The Sisters are actively involved in the celebrations of all the important feasts in the sub stations. They teach Catechism and help the laity to take active part in the parochial celebrations. Even the Novices render timely help in the parish. The Sisters of the community are very much indebted to the Don Bosco fathers who extend their spiritual help. Once a week and on certain occasions they offer mass in our Chapel and at ‘Arpana’.
After having received the guidance and direction regarding the S.C.B Associates from Sr. Sheila, the General Councillor and the chair person of COSAF, the community ventured to initiate it in the year 2006. Today under the leadership of Sr. Jane it is functioning well with 12 active members. Tirupattur was in fact the venue for a two days seminar of all the animators of the S.C.B Associates of the 3 Provinces. With great joy we welcomed 28 members for this meeting. It was conducted by Sr. Ignatius and Sr. Jane. The planning was done earlier at the General Administration. It was very informative especially for those who have not yet started the S.C.B Associates.
EXTENSION OF THE CONVENT
Due to inadequacy of rooms for the ailing and the aging Sisters and also to accommodate visitors and retreatants, a building has been constructed on the rear of the existing community building. It was planned and supervised under the direction of Sr. Francisca. Now it is a boon to many who come to us specially the old and sick Sisters.
Sr. Ann Mary Sequeira, who was active as the Superior of the community, went to Chennai for a medical check up. There she died of a heart attack on July 31, 1989, while manipulation was given as treatment. Her untimely death left the community in sorrow. Her mortal remains were taken to Bangalore as her dear and near ones resided there.
On January 5, 1996, Sr. Carola, one of the pioneers of the Indian mission left for her eternal reward at a ripe old age of 81. It happened to be on her birthday.
Sr. Francisca, who spent herself for a number of years in this community died on the March 15, 2010. She did suffer with many ailments but intensely towards the last few weeks. Every brick, every flower, in fact everything in Tirupattur speaks of the gentle touch, aesthetic sense and master mind of Sr. Francisca.
“The atmosphere of generosity of a fervent and loving community plays a very important role in the formation of each Sister. In such formative community, each of us, through personal responsibility, discovers the value of a true atmosphere of prayer, sisterly relationship, openness to others and apostolic zeal as factors of progress and perseverance in our vocation.” SCB Const. # 67. The community of Tirupattur has taken this direction of the Constitutions and tries to be an enriching and effective community for the formees in the campus.
Recounting the steady progress of the missions at Tirupattur, is a great joy. ‘Ever onward we progress towards the Promised Land…..’ is signified by this community. The fragrance of ‘Bright Smile’ goes so naturally to the poor and the needy around us. St. Charles Social Service Centre is always an “Inn” where one can enter any time and feel at home.