Little Sisters of the Poor in India
At the service of the elderly Poor
Established on December 7, 1882
The Story of Kolkata Home
Mr. Asphar, a Maltese gentleman born in Calcutta had visited the Little Sisters of the Poor in Malta and appreciated their work. He wanted something similar for the abandoned old people of the city of Calcutta. So He requested Monseigneur Goethals, the then Archbishop of Kolkata, to write to the Mother House of the Little Sisters of the poor in France inviting the Little Sisters to start a Home in India. His request was granted by the Mother General and her Council and eight Little Sisters of the Poor set sail for Kolkata. They carried with them a relic of the true Cross and one of St. Thomas, Apostle of India. The MESSAGERIES MARITIMES CO gave 5 French Little Sisters free passage on their steamer and 30% reduction for the Little Sisters. Mr. Aspher sent 2000Francs for their expenses on such a long voyage. Mr. & Mrs. Asphar were at the port when their ship touched harbor on November 30, 1882,so it was on this day that the first group of the Little Sisters of the Poor arrived in Kolkata to be at the service of the aged poor. Here they were in a strange country, not knowing the customs or language except the language of love and devotedness. The warm welcome they received from this couple and the Jesuit Fathers has gone down in the annals of their foundation.
The Home was the first in the East; other Homes would soon be opened in the Far East, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and China. From December 7, 1882, the doors have been opened to the Aged of every caste and creed. The specific work is to shelter the aged poor, to nourish and clothe them, to give them medical care and comfort so that they enjoy peace in the closing years of their life. The hospitality towards the aged poor is an apostolate which is ever more relevant. We are invited to show respect for life, for which God alone is the Master. In October 1884 a very important event was marked by Divine Providence. Ms. Catherine Dobson, aged 18, daughter of English Parents, born in Calcutta, with knowledge of local language, entered as a Postulant.
What a joy for the Home. The Postulant accompanied the collecting sisters on their rounds and explained the running and the needs of the Home in local languages. The Collecting thus expanded rapidly and very successfully. As the years went by, it was nearly impossible to continue renovations and upgrading on the original building, so it was decided in October 1991, to rebuild a new Home with better facilities. With the help of good benefactors we were able to complete this project in1998. In November 2007, the Home celebrated the 125th Anniversary of its existence in Kolkata. Today our Home accommodates 120 Men and Women, aged sixty and over without distinction of race, caste or creed.