The Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo in Norway



As the newly appointed Apostolic Vicar of Norway, Bishop Dr. Johannes Smit in March 23, 1922, first moved was to start a station in Molde. Molde, 'rosernes by' - town of roses, which is located in Sunnmore was not a big town but it became the seat of the province and was the most sought after tourist area in Norway.

Bishop Smit bought a house in June 1923, an old two floors house made of wood. The first floor was improved and became the chapel. The first parish priest was Father Peter Breukel.

To have sisters, Bishop Smit then approached the Congregation (Sisters of Charity of St. Charles Borromeo) in Netherland. During that period, the Congregation was well known for its outstanding work in nursing and was running hospitals including the biggest hospital in the Netherlands. It was also known that the Congregation founded hospitals in the Netherlands India (Indonesia). The sisters counted 1.000 when the four sisters, Mother Fulgentia, Sister Constantina, Sister Fortunata and Sister Ermelindis, left Rotterdam on June 30 1923.

It was on July 25, 1923 that the Chapel and Mission was inaugurated by Cardinal van Rossum assisted by Bishop Joh. Smit and Fr. Breukel.

After only a short time, the sisters decided that they can open a simple hospital in the second floor of the building. They themselves transferred to the basement. With the generous support of the Chief Doctor of Reknes Hospital and under the able leadership of Mother Fulgentia, the hospital became well known even in other districts. They were also supported by Consul Dahl and his wife. It was a big lost for Molde when Sister Fulgentia, the sisters first superior was transferred to Hamar in 1924.

Mother Fulgencia who was energetic and well trained, was accompanied by Sister Xaveria, Sr. Adalberta and Sr. Engeline. They immediately started St. Torfinn Clinic and introduced themselves to the Doctors in Hamar who were very happy that the Clinic has also maternity unit. On May 29, 1924 the little Chapel was inaugurated by Bishop Smit assisted by Fr. Kjelstrup and Fr. Jorna.

St. Torfinns Klinikk was manage by able superiors. After Mother Fulgentia who in 1926 was elected as General Superior of the Congregation, she was followed by Mother Theresiana from, 1926 to 1929 afterwards by Mother Constantina who in 1935 was changed by Mother Constance. In 1931, after years of longing to have a bigger place, a new clinic was built. Beside it St. Torfinns Church was erected which was inaugurated on September 1939.

Meanwhile, the sisters in Molde also worked hard. On February 21 1933 the corner stone of St. Carolus Hospital was put in place. By December of the same year, the sisters were able to transfer there. But it was on February 1, 1934 that it was inaugurated in the presence of the unforgettable Mother Fulgencia, town's authority, doctors and other personages.

In 1934, Sister Norbertha, Sr. Ermelindis and Sr. Prudentiana arrived in Kristiansund. They opened a Clinic and named it 'Stella Maris'. According to its records, 5,000 babies were born there.

In 1954, 'Stella Maris' kindergarten was started. Both the 'Stella Maris' Clinic and the Kindergarten school were sold and turned over to the government in 1971.

It was in 1959 that Sr. Felix with other sisters built a small hospital in Ålesund. In January 1960 it officially opened and was named 'Mariaheimen'. The sisters worked in Ålesund until May 2, 1972.

Sr. Marielea began their apotolate at Bærum in 1968. In 1972 they closed and left the area.

On June 26, 1967, Norway became a vice-province. It's first session was in Hamar. Instead of a policy engineered by Maastricht's General Board, which also appoint a superior, Norway could now hold its own chapter, pursue its own policy and appoint its own superior. It had legislative authority to propose its own vice-provincial board members to the General Board.

But it was also during this period when the demands by the Norwegian government became more stringent. The sisters were faced with high costs of managing the hospitals and the schools. Besides, they gradually started to grow older and more lay people had to be employed. Increasing the number of sisters was out of the question. Hence, it was decided to timely withdraw sisters from the hospitals and kindergartens before government would take allocations. They too, had to cope with shortage of staff.

It was 'sad' for the sisters to see the hospitals and kindergartens they had witnessed building and were so proud of pass into other hands. They realized that all allocations also influenced community life. The sisters now rendered paid services in other hospitals, nursing homes and municipal kindergartens. One advantage though was that they drew a line between work and community life.

For the parishes concerned, it was a major loss for, at that time, lay people were not involved with pastoral care the way they are now. However, the parishes wherein the sisters decided to stay gained from the situation as the sisters could now take on more pastoral tasks. They also concentrated on fostering ecumenism and more time was invested in workshops and in courses for pastoral care. The vice-provincial board was confronted with changes in her apostolate.

It can be said that in the period between 1967 - 1980, all schools, clinics and hospitals were taken over either by the State or by local government and that the sisters went to live in private homes.

The sisters were held in high esteem by Church and State. This became once more obvious when the Congregation celebrated 50th anniversary of her mission in Norway. The Bishop of Oslo spoke with great appreciation of the sisters. He said: "I know that all the Catholics in Norway are convinced of the fact that the sisters have contributed largely to the foundation and growth of the church in this country. The sisters can look back on many meaningful works of activity with conspicuous results. Even a jubilee like this cannot hide a certain fear for the future.

The way the congregation has embraced this new age and circumstances was marked by our diocese as realistic and of clear judgement. Therefore, I believe that the sisters' work will have a future here."


In 1980, two sisters went to Moss in order to make a start with rendering assistance to the great number of refugees that kept coming to Norway in those days: people from Poland, Vietnam, Croatia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, etc.

In 1983, Mr. R. Van Weert (M.A.) visited this vice-province. Valuable conferences were held.

Conferences which made the sisters aware of their own identity and their inner experience of religious life grew stronger.

Highlights were the preparations for and celebration of the sixtieth anniversary of the presence as a congregation in Norway, the special times of prayer on occasion of the Holy Year, the joint retreat and handing out of the new Constitutions. Radio and television kept the sisters posted of the actual needs in the world. By prayer and financial support they showed solidarity with all the members of the congregation and with all parts of the world. In actual practice, it meant helping Tanzania financially.

More and more, however, the emphasis in the vice-province shifted to prayer. A natural development. The sisters knew to give meaning to their life as religious in such a way that it answered the ideal that matched the Congregation's aim: "To love God and fellowmen."

They always regretted having to write in their annual reports that, again, some sisters had left for the Netherlands for good. The sisters though were happy to have two young Indonesian sisters: Sister Stephani and Sr. Pauline, in their midst who arrived in Norway on Sept. 4 1988.

The first four sisters went to Molde in 1923. In 1990, the last sisters left this town after sixty five sisters had served the Church and the people for a longer or a shorter period. The convent/house there now is occupied by the Missionary Sisters of the Trinity, a Filipino congregation. In Bærum, the Sisters of the Holy Cross, a Vietnamese congregation occupied the place and ran the kindergarten school.


In September 1990 Sr. Louisie and Sr. Hilaria visited the vice-province. They were present at their annual meeting. The theme of the meeting was "Being Religious in today's world".

On January 1, 1992, a new-provincial board was elected. It's first task was to devote itself with even greater enthusiasm to "Prospects of the future". On the same year, the vice-province celebrated its 25th anniversary. Sr. Domenico came and helped the sisters study and reflect the booklet, Mother Elisabeth, Her Spirituality Highlighted".

On February 7, 1995, Sr. Agnes Ofelia Simbillo came to support the dwindling number of sisters. She was tasks to take care of the pastoral well being of the great many Filipino Catholics and their families who have settled in Norway.

The closing of the century was a remarkable year for the sisters. Officially, the vice-provincial and later the Regional house in Hamar was closed on August 14, 2000 the day Sr. Hilde, the Regional superior and Sr. Agnes Ofelia drove to Moss. The next day, August 15, Sr. Hilde with her family took the long drive to the Netherlands, bringing with them all the important papers, documents and other remembrances of a long and a fruitful pastoral life in Norway.

August 15, 2000-

Moss, the last house that was opened is located at Jeløy, Moss. It is 59 klms. away from the city of Oslo and is located in the south-east side of Norway. The convent/house is two story and is made of wood. The view, especially in winter, is beautiful. One can see the main island of Moss and the Oslo 'fjord'. It is 7 minutes drive to the Catholic Church and to the centre of the town. A few houses from it, is the Lutheran Church of Jeløy. It was in this church that the confirmation in 1993, during the 150 anniversary celebration of the Catholic Church in Norway, was held.

Living there now are three sisters: Sr. Stephanie, Sr. Pauline and Sr. Agnes Ofelia. Beside their (Sr. Stephanie and Sr. Pauline) respective works in the House of the Aged and (Sr. Agnes Ofelia) in the Catholic Diocese of Oslo, they also help in the Parish of Moss as Pastoral Care Workers and Sacristans. At present (2007), with the Parish Priest, Sr. Stephanie attends to Ecumenical activities of the Parish. Sr. Pauline is on her sabbatical year.

The sisters with their enthusiasm and strong faith face the challenges and signs of the times. They look forward to welcoming more sisters in their midst. With all their weaknesses and strength and with faith, hope and love in their hearts, they, like all the other sisters and daughters of Mother Elisabeth carry on her legacy, vision, mission and apostolate.

May the name of the Lord be praised and His people be served.

By Sr. Agnes Ofelia Simbillo

av Webmaster publisert 08.11.2007, sist endret 27.04.2012 - 17:09