Foundations and Communities

The Congregation was born in 1877 before the discovery of gold on the Witwatersrand. People were flocking to South Africa from Europe in the hope of creating a new life for themselves and their families. They loved the wide open spaces, the wildlife and the possibilities that a new world would offer to them.

Some came only to join the army which offered a sure salary and sustenance for their families. They did not question whether the wars with the local peoples were just or not. Often it was the only opportunity of work offered to them and they took it. Once in South Africa, they adopted the attitude of most of the settlers from Europe. They felt superior to the people already living here, both Black and White, and their own rights and needs held precedence over those of the existing population.

Into this atmosphere seven women arrived from Germany to tend to the needs of the German settlers in the Eastern Cape Province. They did this with creativity, industry and care and provided a school for their children in King William’s Town.

Within the first decade of their life in South Africa, the Sisters saw the needs of the local peoples and responded to these needs with the same dedication and love.

Thus, in answer to requests and the perceived needs of the people, Convents, Orphanages, Hospitals and Training Colleges sprang up in unlikely places all over the country. Many of these institutions were later closed in the 1950s due to Government pressure to lessen the influence of the Church in African circles.

Despite the Institutes having been closed, the work that had been done there lives on in the hearts and minds of those who had attended them. Women who had been trained at the Teacher Training College in Village Main, City Deep in Johannesburg continued to meet annually for many years after the school had closed. They carried the education and spirit which they had received into schools throughout South Africa and were often promoted to leadership positions because of the quality of their work. It is impossible to measure the fruit of the work done by the Sisters of the Congregation, even long after the Institutions had closed their doors.

From August 1904 Sancta Immaculata Convent, newly acquired in Schlehdorf, Germany began to receive recruits whom they hoped would go to the Mission Fields of South Africa. Over the years many vocations were drawn for this mission field.

Sr Aidan Kilbride 1901 – 1967

In 1933 the Sisters of King William’s Town were approached by Father Bede Jarrett, the English Procincial who, forseeing problems which would face the Church under Nazi Germany, asked the Sisters to take over the Priory at Hinckley, Leicestershire.

Mother Aidan Kilbride and Sisters Ambrose Teubes and Madeleine Stamm undertook the Mission to the English District