Holy Cross sisters arrived in America from France in 1843. Since then, they have always willingly ventured into the unknown. Consider Asia, where the roots of Holy Cross are deep and strong. In 1852, three Holy Cross women and five Holy Cross men answered Pope Pius IX's appeal. The Pope asked for missionaries in what was then East Bengal in India. Holy Cross sisters made two lengthy mission trips to that delta region over the next 45 years. But before the end of the century, they were called home due to "death and constant illness."
Did You Know?
The Bangladesh nation was once part of India and is the birthplace of poet-philosopher Rabindranath Tagore.
Holy Cross in Asia
It was 1927—a new century and a new age. The year found Holy Cross sisters once again venturing to southeast Asia. In the coming decades, India experienced its war of independence and Bangladesh, a liberation war. But the sisters remained. In fact, during the violence in Bangladesh, Holy Cross sisters hid and sheltered more than 90 Hindu women.
In 95 years of continuous ministry, the Congregation has responded to the needs of the people they walk with. Alarmed at the high rate of illiteracy, sisters taught in schools. They soon founded several, along with hostels for children who lived far away and could not otherwise obtain an education. The sisters also created income-producing cooperatives that helped raise women out of poverty. They consistently collaborated with other congregations and organizations to improve the lives of the people. With those who expressed an interest, they quietly shared their Catholic faith. And they established their first Bengali novitiate in 1980. Study and formation houses for young women discerning their calling soon followed.
Bangladesh and India ministries
Today, more than 100 sisters minister in Bangladesh and northeast India. They respond to needs at places like Holy Cross School in Kulaura and Holy Cross Girls High School and Hostel in Dhaka. They also created two sewing centers where they teach low-income women a viable craft with which to support their families.
Sisters serve the needs of the Church by conducting faith formation workshops for tribal people who are Catholic. Currently, they are helping a new parish establish itself. For people who are victims of human trafficking, they provide much-needed services and education.
As more women from the region continue to join the Congregation, this growth ensures that Holy Cross’ roots here will always be deep and strong.