Sant Joseph Sevika Sanstha (SJS) as a religious order was the brainchild of the then Bishop of Indore Rev. Francis Simons SVD, who along with SJS Foundress Sister Baptista Simons SSpS, during his tenure in India discovered to their chagrin that there were no Catholic religious society existing at his time (in 1960s) that were focused on social upliftment ministries within the general populace, along with spiritual building up of God’s people within His Church.
God began moving when during the Second Vatican Council at Rome in the year 1962, His Excellency Bishop Francis Simons SVD had an opportunity to talk with Pope John XXIII about his ideas on establishing a new religious congregation who would work especially for the poor, neglected and less privileged in Indore, Madhya Pradesh.
Bishop Simons proposed the name of Sr. Baptista Simons SSpS, who was a Dutch missionary belonging to the Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit religious order, to be the one who would establish and lead the new religious order. Sr. Baptista, who popularly became known as Mother Baptista, was already working with young and old women.
Thus the religious order, Sant Joseph Sevika Sanstha (SJS), was founded with St. Joseph the Worker as the patron saint on 13th of January 1965.
Mother Baptista began the religious Congregation with four girls from her special class who expressed their desire to work committedly towards the vision and goals entrusted to her by God.
The beginnings were small but very significant.
The small house of Father Bernard within the Bishop Compound was white washed and cleaned. The priest moved to the Bishops House.This house was called “Rabbit Hall”.
On 13th January 1965 at 5 pm, four girls were admitted into the new Congregation in a simple ceremony. As they entered the small house the only things with them were an electric Philips iron donated by Bishop Simons, some loaves of bread from Saint Raphael’s School nearby, and three oranges, also given by St. Raphael’s School. They had to borrow cupboards, beds, tables, chairs and their basic needs wherewithal.
The Congregation members were popularly called as Sevika Sisters of Indore.
From its humble beginnings, the Congregation has gone on to establish many mission stations in various parts of India. There are now 250+ sisters who are engaged in various social upliftment activities, evangelization and apostolic ministries in different states of India.