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Holy Cross Hostels Changing Lives for Students and Families

posted in: Education, India

Most young students in the United States live close to a public school and have access to free transportation, allowing them a safe way to arrive each morning. In other areas of the world, realities like this are far less likely to exist. Distance, weather and poverty often keep children from accessing schooling. Addressing these obstacles, Holy Cross hostels can change lives by connecting students to education and other experiences and resources.

Sister Elmolin Lyngkhoi, CSC, with students from the girls hostel in Jatah, India.

Congregation hostels are changing lives. Here, Sister Elmolin Lyngkhoi, CSC, poses with students from the  hostel in Jatah, India.

Students from St. Paul’s Lower Primary School, Jatah.

Students from St. Paul’s Lower Primary School, Jatah.

The Congregation operates 13 hostels in Africa and Asia — all of them providing food, water, common medicines and educational resources that ensure students’ success and well-being. This arrangement can benefit more than just the students. In economically oppressed areas, many children are required to work and help provide for their families rather than going to school. Donor-supported hostels provide a solution for this issue by economically supporting the student in a safe environment close to their school.

“We believe that through our works in the hostel, we can fulfill some of the students’ dreams of becoming good leaders in the Church and society as a whole.”

—Sister Ribilin Thongnibah, CSC

Ensuring safety and accessibility for children seeking education

It is a parent’s dream for their children to have access to a formal education so that they may achieve a brighter future. Sister Ribilin Thongnibah, CSC, director of the girls hostel in Jatah, India, is very grateful to be a part of providing structure and support for her young students. “With [donor] funding, we are able to help a few students with their school fees, food and lodging in the hostel,” Sister Ribilin says. She added, “One of the girls in our hostel lost her mother and was not able to pay all of her fees. But with the [Ministry With the Poor] fund, we were able to cover one month of her hostel fees. This would have not been possible without this support.”

The Congregation’s hostel in Jatah, where students have planted a garden.

The Congregation’s hostel in Jatah, where students have planted a garden.

A young student reading at St. Paul’s Lower Primary School.

A young student reading at St. Paul’s Lower Primary School.

Children’s safety when commuting to school is also a primary concern. Jatah, for instance, receives some of the heaviest amounts of rainfall in the world, making long treks very dangerous due to flooding and severe weather conditions. Residing in a Holy Cross hostel reduces this risk, allowing a short and safe commute to school every morning.

A young student at the Congregation’s hostel in Jatah, India.

A young student at the Congregation’s hostel in Jatah, India.

The value of a Catholic education

When parents send their children to the Congregation’s hostels, they entrust the sisters to provide emotional, social and spiritual education to the students as well. This is just another way that the Congregation's hostels help change lives. Holy Cross hostel daily schedules include chores, study time and gardening. This encourages healthy habits and promotes life skills that students can carry with them into adulthood. 

The Congregation’s founder, Blessed Basil Anthony Moreau, once said, “How we educate the mind will change with the times; how we cultivate the heart is and will remain timeless.” His goal for education was to develop the unique hearts and minds of young people so that they might live more Christ-like lives. Inspired by their founder’s vision, the Sisters of the Holy Cross also look to the spirit of Christ to create authentic communities that reflect the dignity of all, the message of Christ, care for our common home, and the education of the whole person.

As Sister Ribilin explains, the sisters have a positive influence on students' values. And with the sisters’ wisdom and guidance, the effect of a biblical community can be impactful. Through growth in faith and prayer, the community encourages each other, holds each other accountable, and cares for one another through their individual life experiences.

813 children had a safe place to live while attending school in Ghana, Uganda, Bangladesh and India.

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The impact of the Holy Cross community

The spirit of the Holy Cross is alive and well in our hostels. “This ministry helps us sisters who live in this community make God known and loved,” says Sister Ribilin. “We instill in them a deeper faith in God through daily prayers, teachings and other activities, especially during our Congregation feast days.” Impacted by the Holy Cross community, many of the students at the Congregation’s hostels feel called to God and service. “We have some girls who stayed with us who are interested in joining our lives as Sisters of the Holy Cross; there are also some who are already in the formation as discerners,” says Sister Ribilin. “We believe that through our works in the hostel, we can fulfill some of the students’ dreams of becoming good leaders in the Church and society as a whole.”

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This story also appeared in the 2023 Annual Giving Report. To receive the report or inSpirit magazine, use the button below and fill out our online request form. You can also sign up to receive the online newsletter from the Congregation’s Development Office.