History of the Apostolic Carmel Congregation
One small seed sown in the rich soil of India and destined to grow was the beginning of the Congregation. It was founded in Bayonne, France on July 16th, 1868 by Mother Veronica of the Passion and established in India on November 19th 1870.
Sophie Leeves, her former name, born on 1st October 1823, was an English lady. She was well educated and an extremely versatile woman. She had everything but was not truly happy. She was searching for the truth and found it in the Church.
She was still searching - a far higher destiny awaited her. She had a call to give herself totally to the service of God. She joined the Congregation of the Sisters of St Joseph of Apparition on 14th September, 1851, in Athens, Greece. As a nun, Sophie received a new name - Sister Veronica of the Passion.
There are moments when the Plan of God and searching, of human beings converge, and such a thing happened with the meeting in Calicut, in Kerela, India, in 1862 between Sister Veronica and Father Marie Ephrem, a French Carmelite.
Having worked in several schools in Europe, Mother Veronica was sent to India, Calicut where she learnt Malayalam, eager to fit herself to give an all-round development to the girls in this new field of labour. The school progressed rapidly. Many Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Parsee families sent their children to this school where all distinction of caste and creed was forgotten.
It was while here, that Mother Veronica heard another call - a call to enter "Carmel". Relying on God and empowered by Him, she surmounted all difficulties, ridicule and insults and in 1867 she went back to France to start the foundation of Carmel . She faced all the challenges never giving up hope in God and 1867 she started a small house in Bayonne, France and there the Apostolic Carmel was born. She trained a batch of three Sisters and sent them to India.
It was on 19th November 1870, that the three Sisters landed in Mangalore and started the St Ann's School for girls. Mother Veronica had fulfilled the purpose God had for her - A Carmel for the Missions". Truly she could say "Obedience is my life". For the next 33 years of her life, until her saintly death on November 16, 1906 she continued to water the tiny plant that was transplanted to India on 19th November, with her prayer and sacrifices.
The Apostolic Carmel, has striven to keep alive the spirit of Mother Veronica in excellence in Education and other Works of Mercy, her love for the poor, her simplicity, contentment and joy. The education of all classes and creeds has been a challenging enough mandate. The same charisma i.e. God's all sufficing love and zeal that attracted our Foundress and kept alive by her, drew all of us to the same congregation.
With this in view, the Apostolic Carmel provides a suitable catechesis for their Christian students in all their schools and colleges and other Institutions and value Education for their non-Christian students which forms a compulsory part of our curriculum. This does not in any way, interfere with the religious beliefs of other denominations.
Mary, the Queen and Beauty of Carmel, is our Patroness. Like her our call is primarily to belong to Him, to be immersed in Him: and it is His overflowing love that urges us to be completely available to the world by reaching out in self emptying love.
To-day , the sisters cater to the needs of children in high school, teacher training institutions, degree colleges and technical schools, all of which are conducted both in English medium and Regional languages. They also run creches, children homes, hostels and boarding houses all over India, in Sri Lanka, Kuwait, Pakistan,Africa and Bahrain.
The Educational institutions of the Congregation of the Apostolic Carmel, a Catholic Minority (Under Article 30 (1) of the Constitution of India) cater to the educational needs of the Catholic children. However they are also open to children of all classes and creeds.