The Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Fatima, originally known as the Missionary Sisters of St. Francis Xavier was founded by Msgr Francis Xavier Kroot MHM, on 8th February 1893, in Bellary, Karnataka, India, then in the Archdiocese of Madras.
Born at Zwolle in Holland, F.X Kroot joined St. Josephs Missionary Society in London and came to India in 1878. While serving as military chaplain in Bellary, he dreamed of a Congregation of Indian women to care for the less fortunate and underprivileged people of India. With the approval of Archbishop Joseph Colgan of Madras, Msgr F.X Kroot set about realising his dream. Sister Andrew, Sister Anna and Sister Clare, the pioneers, formed the first community on 29th June, 1896, at St. Francis Xaviers convent, Cowl Bazaar, Bellary.
From the very beginning the Sisters had to face many problems and difficulties. For the sake of further growth and development, the Novitiate and Generalate were shifted to Pune on 16th July, 1951, by Mother Stanislaus Baptista, the then Superior General, after the Decree of transfer was issued by Bishop John Hogan of Bellary, on 25th March 1951. Bishop Andrew D’Souza of Poona diocese had our Constitutions revised and asked us to change the name of the Congregation to Sisters of Our Lady of Fatima as he felt that at that time devotion to Our Lady of Fatima was becoming popular in India and the spirit of the Congregation would be more aptly expressed through this name. These Constitutions were sent for approval to Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of Faith, Rome, in 1955.
Since there was no document giving evidence of the canonical erection of the Institute, the same Dicastery on 15th December 1970, issued an equipollent Decree attesting to the canonical erection of the Institute as a Religious Congregation of Diocesan Right.
The Congregation obtained the ‘Decree of Praise’ on 18th March 1982, by the decree Prot N. 1670/82 from the ‘Sacra Congregatio pro Gentium Evangelizatione Seu de Propaganda Fide.’ The Constitutions were once again revised by the General Chapter held at Fatima Convent, Pune, in May 1983. This was done in order to make it correspond with the new juridical status of the Institute, as a ‘Congregation of Pontifical Right.’ These Constitutions were then approved by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples or ‘de Propaganda Fide, on 16th November 1987. By Divine Providence, the Congregation began growing in strength and expanding in varied apostolate necessitating a decentralized administration. In order to facilitate the effective animation and administration of the growing Congregation, the VII General Chapter of May 1995 resolved to form two Regions from 1st June 1996.
The VIII General Chapter of May 2001 further resolved that the existing two Regions, Mumbai and Bangalore, be upgraded into Provinces by February 2002, and a new Region called the Northeast region for the North and Northeast, be created by June 2002. The X General Chapter of the Congregation held in February 2013 in Pune, emphasizing the need for a ‘radical living for our God-given mission’, decided on a revision of the present Constitutions and Directory of the Congregation to reflect this thrust in our life and mission. The X General Chapter further decided to call a special General Chapter to study and finalise the revised draft of our Constitutions. The same was unanimously approved by this General Chapter held at Fatima Generalate, Pune, in February 2016. On 19th March 2017, these new Constitutions were certified with the Decree of Approval.