Marvellous Beginning

The origin of our Congregation traces back to the 19th Century in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. It was founded by Thatipathri Gnanamma, a laywoman. She was an ordinary woman who hailed from Phirangipuram, a small village in Guntur District, Andhra Pradesh. Gnanamma was married to Innaiah, a catechist of Phirangipuram. This pious couple was blessed with five sons. Unfortunately, Gnanamma became a widow at the early age of 37. Left alone to raise her five boys, she put her entire trust in Divine Providence and raised her children with a strong foundation in the basics of the Christian faith. Four of her sons joined religious life, while one settled down in a family. Freed from all family commitments, Gnanamma moved to Kilacheri, a village located 40 km from Chennai, and settled there, despite having no acquaintances. Thus, the infinite wisdom of God led her to Kilacheri, the cradle, the very Bethlehem of the new Congregation.

During her time, educating young girls was an impossible dream. Gnanamma remained constantly in touch with illiterate girls in the locality and identified education as a principal means of empowering them. Rev.Fr.Arokianathar, parish priest of Kilacheri, helped her reflect concretely and proceed with founding a school for girls in Kilacheri. To materialize her vision, she established a school exclusively for girls in 1863. Inspired by her committed service to the cause of women, two young girls requested to assist Gnanamma in her work and expressed their desire to become nuns. Anxious to ensure the continuity of her work, Gnanamma accepted their request and sent them for formation at St.Anne’s Novitiate of the Good Shepherd Congregation in Bellary. After their initial formation, these two became sisters on October 4, 1874, thus giving birth to a religious Congregation with a specific vision for the betterment of women known as the “Sisters of St.Anne - Madras”. Our Congregation was founded in response to the pressing need to empower women through education. Therefore, it was the mission that necessitated the formation of our Congregation.

Our widening horizons

Our Congregation attained Pontifical status on December 6, 1979, under Pope John Paul II. The Generalate is located in Madavaram, Chennai. In 1987, our Congregation was divided into three administrative regional units with separate headquarters in Bangalore, Chennai, and Tanjore. These regions were elevated to the status of Provinces in 1999. In 2014, the Congregation was reorganized into two administrative regional units (North and North East India and Vijayawada regions) with separate headquarters in Barasat and Vijayawada, respectively, and three Provinces (Bangalore, Chennai, and Tanjore) with separate headquarters in Thambuchettypalaya - Bangalore, Perambur - Chennai, and Yagappa Nagar - Tanjore, respectively.

Currently, we count 613 sisters residing in 131 houses across 38 Dioceses. Our Congregation has expanded its outreach to Jharkhand, Meghalaya, and West Bengal, aiming to uplift the lives of the tribal communities in those regions. In our ongoing commitment to extend our mission and support the less privileged, we have established foundations in Australia, Germany, Italy, and Spain.

Today, numerous challenges sadly perpetuate the marginalization of certain segments of the population. As followers of Mother Gnanamma, we actively address these issues through various specific services.

As our predecessors remained faithful to the vision of our Foundress Mother Thatipathri Gnanamma by establishing schools in remote villages to educate girls, we continue to keep the flame of this vision alive by providing services to those we identify as marginalized in the areas where we operate. We engage in educational ministry, healthcare services, social work, and evangelization to address the contemporary needs of the Church.

An endless journey to end the sufferings of the hapless people

The journey that Mother Thatipathri Gnanamma embarked on in 1874 with just two young professed sisters has brought us to the state where we stand today. We advance with great vigor, reaching out to those who reside on the periphery. Our commitment remains steadfast as we continue to engage in ministries that uphold the original spirit of our Foundress. Presently, we stand as a united group of willing hands, committed minds, and compassionate hearts. We are confident that the powerful legacy of our Foundress will continue to illuminate, guide, protect, preserve, strengthen, and empower us on our journey of religious life and dedicated mission toward building a just and equitable society.

Mother Gnanamma’s Spirit Lives On

Our Congregation submitted a petition for the Cause of Beatification of Mother Thatipathri Gnanamma to Most Rev.Dr.George Antonysamy, Archbishop of Madras-Mylapore, on September 21, 2013, obtained the necessary Nihil Obstat from the Congregation for the Cause of Saints and eventually appointed a Board of Inquiry. After examining the petition and consulting the competent Congregations at the Vatican City, the Holy See declared Thatipathri Gnanamma Innaiah as Servant of God on January 21, 2014. The Archdiocese of Madras-Mylapore thereby initiated the Cause of the Sainthood of Servant of God Thatipathri Gnanamma. By the grace of God, the Solemn Closing Ceremony of the Diocesan Inquiry on the Life and Heroic Virtues of Servant of God Mother Thatipathri Gnanamma occurred on July 22, 2022, at St.Thomas Cathedral Basilica in Santhome, Chennai. Let us continue to pray for this special intention.

Name of the Congregation Society of Sisters of St.Anne - Madras [SSAM]
Founded by Thatipathri Gnanamma
At Kilacheri
In 1874
Number of Sisters 613
Number of Houses 131
Number of Dioceses 38