Sisters of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (SVM), an Eparchial congregation in the Archeparchy of Kottayam was founded on 24th June 1892, the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Kaipuzha, Kottayam district even before the erection of the diocese of Kottayam. It was started with the dual intention of Servant of God Mar Mathew Makil providing an opportunity to the women of the knanaya community for religious life and making possible the holistic development of women at large.
Being a great devotee of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Mar Mathew Makil wished very much that the congregation that he would found, accept the spirit of the Sacred Heart as its charism. He named the congregation Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary since he knew that the Order of visitation of Holy Mary in France in which St. Margaret Mary was a member was dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Moreover he was inspired by the visitation of Mother Mary to Elizabeth ( Lk. 1: 39-56).
Two widows, Eleeswa Kunnacheril (Sr. Eleeswa) and Mariam Mazhuvancheril (Sr.Margrete) were the pioneers of this congregation. Four girls were also accepted as aspirants on the day of the foundation itself.
The charism of SVM is to follow Jesus, gentle and humble (Mt. 11:29) as mother Mary, lead the people of God especially the women to His salvific love and to attain Christian perfection through religious life.
The Motto of this congregation is Live + Jesus. St. Francis Sales, St. Jain de Chantal and St. Margeret Mary are the Heavenly patrons of the Congregation. Now there are 604 sisters working in India and abroad, putting into practice with earnestness, the uncompromising faith, deep sense of prayer, exceptional love of the neighbor with which the founding father was blessed.
After the foundation of the congregation, many independent branches came up in different parts of the diocese and a generalate was instituted in 1983 at S.H. Mount, Kottayam. When many families of the diocese migrated to Malabar, seeking better living conditions, the then bishop of the diocese, Mar Alexander Choolaparambil appointed Msgr. Cyriac Mattathil to guide them and the congregation was asked to assist them. Thus the first house was established in Malabar region at Madampam, Kannur district on 27th January 1945. In course of time many SVM houses were begun in different parts of Malabar and a regional house was erected in Kannur in 1992.
The main apostolate of the Congregation is to provide education to women. The great visionary Mar Mathew Makil had realized the necessity of educating the girls as the catholic faith formation of the future generations largely depends on them. With this view he established the first school (St. Margarets School) in Kaipuzha. Presently our sisters provide value based education from nursery school to professional colleges without discrimination of caste, creed or religion.
Although in the beginning our principal aim was only the education especially of the girls, as the circumstances demanded we widened our mission areas. Realizing the needs of the times, the congregation has set up a hospital in Kidangoor. At present our sisters are working in different hospitals and dispensaries of the Archdiocese, Govt. Medical colleges and the district hospital, Kottayam.
Home Missions, christeen programmes, counseling centers, rehabilitation centers for the mentally challenged, hostels, technical schools, tailoring centers, parish apostolate and various women empowerment programmes are also undertaken by our sisters.
The mission of the congregation is the development of the individual, family and community especially of the women folk through education, medical care, parish ministry, family renewal programme, counseling and other charitable activities based on gospel values.
SVM sisters started their mission in Khandwa, M.P in 1983. They are actively participating in the educational, pastoral, health care, and other developmental activities through schools, hospitals and social works. Our sisters rendered free service at Tanzania from 1984 to 2012. We are actively involved in pastoral, health care and humanitarian services in Germany(1984), Italy ( 1988), Switzerland (1989), U.S.A(2000 ) and Bangalore ( 1997).
The sisters of the congregation with a glorious history of 120 years bow their heads before the Lord for his divine providence throughout.
SVM the light that was lit by the Servant of God Mar Mathew Makil on 24th June 1892 is an ever brightening globe that showers light to many.