Lady Immaculate Convent, Ottapalam – 1938


Sr. Maria Dhanya AC


Ottapalam (Single Bridge) with its larged areas of cultivate land was the ancestral home of several leading statesmen in the early decades of this century. Connected with these was Sri. Chettur Sankaran Nair, a pioneer among the great builders of New India. In 1926 he undertook a pilgrimage to the shine of Badarinath in the Himalayas and lost his wife in the course of this pilgrimage. Lady Sankaran Nair, was of a highly charitable disposition and in her life time a number of boys and girls owned their education to her benevolence. Sri. Chettur Sankaran Nair, who was also a firm believer in the equality of women, decided to perpetuate the memory of his wife by founding a Girls High School in her name, in her native town of Ottapalam. A donation of Rs.10,000/- was given to the district Board – the finance to open the L.S.N High School with form I – VI in this way a crying need was met, for in Ottapalam, women lagged behind. Though they had rich heredity they had yet little education.

The district Board however had little time to devote to schools extending over the whole of Malabar, and in 1938 decided to closed down LSN School, unless a private management under take or to take it over. It was thus that development which are referred to as unfortunate by worthy wisdom, pave the way for the successful functioning of God’s plan. Such an unfortunate incident in the history of Ottapalam – the cultural capital of the old Malabar District was the closing down of the Lady Sankaran Nair Board High School on June 8th 1938.
Newspapers flashed this news right through the district some of the friends of the Apostolic Carmel specially Mrs. Sankaran from Tellicherry approached Sr. Leonore at Tellicherry and asked her to extend the benefits of the convent education also to South Malabar. Knowing the possibilities thus held out Mother Leonora immediately approached Mother Josephine the Superior general at Mangalore and returned with the letter to his Lordship the Bishop of Calicut Rt. Rev. Leo Proserpio S.J for permission to take over the management of the closed school at Ottapalam and open a convent there. We see the divine finger of Providence in the fact that on the same day that this request was made, the Bishop had received by post a letter from the sisters of Ernakulum with the same request. Since the Apostolic Carmel had already opened the convent at Shoranur the Bishop granted immediately the permission for the establishment of the new convent. The president of the Malabar District Board also hailed the idea. He gave the immediate sanction for the transfer of the management of the school to the Apostolic Carmel on condition that the name Lady Sankaran Nair High school be retained. Along with the transfer all the furniture, science equipment, maps and two small sheds were also made over.
At the time there was not a single Catholic family at Ottapalam, it was completely populated by Nairs and other sections of Hindus. The school at Shornur had been functioning from 1930 as an English Medium School. The Congregation was short of Keralite hands to take over schools with Malayalam as Medium but the Call of God sounded clearer when it was the case of Ottapalam. Here was a “Mission” proper where the glad news of the Gospel had to reach, and it was to the Appostolic Carmel to happen to the message “The harvest is ready” though the labourers are few. On 18th June 1938 Mother Josephine, Srs. Bartha and Leorna along with Sr. Victorine came to Ottapalam. They found the everything in a mess. Inspite of all the difficulties they stayed one day there.
On June 20th 1938 quite unexpectedly at 6.30 p.m in the midst of heavy rain, Mother Lidwine , Srs. Eanswide and Syra arrived followed by a cart containing the language. As they were to form the first personal of the new convent.
On the 2nd June 1938, thirty three children were enrolled. Mother Leonora addressed the children in Malayalam and explained our objectives in coming to Ottapalam. She spoke to them of Lady Sankaran Nair and then of another Lady Immaculate under whose name the new convent would be opened. Besides the sisters there were five secular teachers joined the school. In May 1940 Sr. Eanswide was appointed superior and the first good news that come were the results of the first batch of S.S.L.C students who had been sent up for the examinations. 9 out of 10 had passed.
In the year 1942 marks an epoch in the history of Lady Immaculate Convent and perhaps in the history of all our schools in Malabar with the opening of a secondary training school with Malayalam as the medium of instruction. The Boarders went upstairs and the ground floor was given to the training school. In 1942 the month of December Chapel was blessed and the Blessed Sacrament was reserved in the convent. It served also as Parish and the Holy week services were held here this year. In 1948 we got Fr. Porta S.J as Parish Priest who was earned in teaching catechism and exhortation to the community. We secured 100% in training school results. A new period of development came in with Sr. Clarice as Superior from May 1948 to December 1953.
A new land mark in the history of Lady Immaculate Convent came with the purchase of pleasant view. 2 acres 75 cents with a substantial three storeyed house of good stone and rose wood and teak and work has provided a decent boarding house for the students and at the same time enabled to teachers to shift from the convent premises. This change proved a great relief to the sisters. The purchase of the entire property loomed large among the many intention they prayed for. Before 3 year were over Mother Clarice wrote in her dairy “ we are happy to record that 11 of our Training students have already joined the Apostolic Carmel and two house maids. Two more joined the Syrian sisters at Trichur and one house maid entered the Great Carmel”.

Institutions under Lady Immaculate Convent