The presence of the Carmelite Sisters of Charity of Vedruna in Melipilla began in 1917, thanks to the initiative of Mrs. Rosa Mena, widow of Barros, who wanted to have a school in the city. Therefore, he asked the congregation to found one and offered a piece of land located on Barros Street, as well as a sum of money for the maintenance of the free school. In 1919, construction of the building began and in February 1923, the first six sisters arrived to form the community.
The Nuestra Señora del Carmen school, for basic education and humanities, and the private school No. 13, for free basic education, were run by the sisters for 50 years, until 1978, when the last high school students graduated and the paid school was closed. The free school continued to serve female students until 2009 in premises located on Vargas and Barros streets, when it moved to the end of Merced street. Since 2016, the school has been run by the Marianist Congregation and educates students from kindergarten through the fourth year of high school.
The community of the Carmelite Sisters of Charity of Vedruna in Melipilla was also a space of encounter with the Lord for the inhabitants of the city, since in its beautiful chapel the Sunday Eucharist was celebrated, which was transmitted by radio and became a space of evangelization for the rural sectors.
Following the invitation of Vatican II to Religious Life to return to the sources and renew itself, the Carmelite Sisters opened the insertion community in Huilco Alto in 1976, and in 1980 they inaugurated a polyclinic on the side of the house. For several years, they were also in charge of the municipal boarding school for girls from rural areas located in Chocalán.
In their efforts to promote the training of women, they obtained resources from the Basque Government to construct a building in Cerro de la Cruz that housed various training workshops for women in the sector, led by the Sr. María Arzalluz.
The Sisters remained in Huilco for 30 years, attending not only the polyclinic but also the pastoral life of the Santa Joaquina chapel, visiting families and collaborating with the catechesis of the Santa Teresa de los Andes parish. Sr. María Teresa Laborda attended the polyclinic and along with her, lay people and professionals who provided their services free of charge. Also remembered is Sr. Ester Cepeda, who created the group of sick visitors.
Flor Maria, ccv