About Us
31st of October 1872, exactly 125 years ago, a small but quite impressive procession with Cross bearer, acolytes, priests, Bishop and Catholic congregation wound its way down what is now Shahnajaf Road, escorting a small band of travel weary sisters to St. Joseph's Parish Church, and lining the route to the church was a crowd of people wishing to unite in the greeting offered to the nuns. The Loreto Sisters had arrived in the city of Nawabs. The dusty and travel _stained sisters would have preferred a little less publicity but the Bishop wished their arrival on their new mission to be as public as possible.
The group of seven sisters led by Mother Joseph Hogan had come at the invitation of His Lordship Bishop Paul Tosi who felt that their was a great need for a Catholic school for girls in Lucknow . Accordingly he approached the superior of Loreto Convent, Darjeeling, which was then in diocese to send sisters to Lucknow.
Even today the journey from Darjeeling to Lucknow is quite a difficult one but in those days it was positively daunting. But generosity was the chief characteristics of Mother Hogan and once she and sisters were convinced that undertaking this foundation would conduce to the Greater Honour and Glory of God there was no hesitation.
The long arduous journey across the plains to the railway at sahibganj was made on bullock wagons covered with canvas, a scant protection against raging storms and tropical Sun. To add to the difficulties there was the ever present danger of dacoits. Rivers were crossed by placing the bullocks and wagons together with their occupants on precarious raft. No wonder the Sisters sang the Litany of Our lady in transit.
Almost two weeks after starting, on 31st October 1872, the little party reached Lucknow accompanied by the Bishop who had joined them just before they crossed the Ganges. They were given a warm welcome by the Parish Priest, Father Lewis, who conducted them to the house he had secured for them adjoining the Church; in what is now Shahnajaf Road.
The early days in Lucknow were days of great inconvenience and privation. The nuns were in black sage habits, compared to which, for summer wear in Lucknow , the sack cloth and ashes of the early days of the Church would be almost a luxury! They had bare minimum of possessions, so chairs had to be carried from the dining room to the Chapel when the need arose and even to the parlor when visitors were announced. When they wanted to wash or have a bath they had to queue up for the one basin and jug!
It was in this house that the first Loreto School was started in Lucknow on the 4th November 1872. At the beginning of the new year of 1873 came the first boarder, Amy Glynn, and when others joined, Mother Joseph knew that her little Convent was far too small. In April of the same year, she had the good fortune to secure a large house which was later to become the Royal Hotel, but which was to be Loreto Convent for eight years. The need was felt of having a conveyance to bring the children who lived at a distance and so Mother Joseph designed, and built an 'omnibus', the first to be seen in Lucknow.
In 1880 the present Convent, then known as the Cantonment Hotel, was purchased. It is interesting to note that the grounds once formed part of the King of Oudh's hunting grounds. Later new wings were added to accommodate classrooms and dormitories, but in 1915 the Northern part of the building suffered very seriously during the floods of that year, and the nuns were compelled to spend entire nights under umbrellas. Arches gave way and the roof of the chapel collapsed crushing every priedieu and chair under its weight. The sisters escaped death by the grace of Divine providence because the caller had overslept that morning and rang the calling bell late so the sisters were still dressing when the roof gave way. After this the entire northern part of the building had to be pulled down and the present handsome edifice was build.
The school flourished and in 1904 second school St. Agnes's Loreto day school was opened on station road and this school intern started the little flower Hindi medium school in 1950's. The later is now known by the Hindi title "Sant Pushpa Vidyalaya". In 1955 recognition was granted for a college and as a beginning, girl were prepared for the intermediate examination of the board of intermediate examination of UP and permission was given to start degree classed in 1958. The degree college has since been closed and today school has classes from nursery to class XII
From the stately portals of Loreto convent generation of girls and boys (Boys were admitted up to the 1960's) have gone out to make their mark in the world. Many of its alumnae have earned name and fame and the school itself has maintained a high profile amidst the ever growing no of educational institutions that have grown up around it over the last 125 years. All of this is well known and needs no telling but what has not been so well known is what has been, and still being done for the less privileged, and it is encouraging to know that many past pupils have carried with them that concern for the under privileged and translated it into concrete action on their behalf.
Today It is fairly common for students of urban schools to undertake social service projects in rural areas and city slums but Loreto was a pioneer in this field over thirty years ago when the social league was started, and over the years thousands of children from the nearby slum areas have been taught after school hours by the students of the school. This social service league is still very active and has given root to a more structured offshoot in the of "Jagriti literacy and tailoring centre" which opened in 1994 and to which has now been added an adult literacy class from august this year. Classes for over 150 children who have either dropped out of school in the lower classes or have never had the opportunity to attend school are conducted daily from 8.30 am to 12.30 pm and four teachers are engaged to each them. Besides this, the students of the main school teach them on one to one basis during their Community Service period. The School students develop a personal interest in them and learn to love them as persons, and not as objects of pity and charity. In this way they gain awareness in God's love, care and compassion and find meaning in life and hope for the future. Thus we strive form educated women , alive to the needs of the world, with knowledge which gives them power to act, and motivated by the love which gives them purpose and wisdom in their action, women who will seek in a truly human way to bring about a new order of love , justice and peace, thus contributing to the building of a new India.
It was in this spirit too that the Little Flower Hindi medium school now known as Pushpa Vidyalaya was started to carter to the poor children of the area, for whom English medium would be a problem. It has about 375 students on the rolls as present.
As we look down the arches of the year ahead we hope and pray that our well loved convent within school and college may continue to accomplish great things for the glory of gods, and the welfare of India and that the prediction made in the 16th century by a Foundress Mary Ward "Women time to come will do great things for god" may be ever more fully realized in out time. This is what inspired the variant little band of 7 Loreto sisters to leave their home and country and even the little home they had found in Darjeeling and brave the long treacherous journey to set up a house in the scorching planes and as we look to the future we pray that we will continue to translate their vision into reality.