God at work in Jamshedpur Province – 75 grace-filled years
Two humongous events of Grace: the 150 years of the very first Catholic Baptisms in the whole of Chotanagpur, and 75 graceful years of mission impel the Jamshedpur Province to celebrate God at work in their missions. It all began in Chotanagpur, in December 1868, with the arrival of Fr. Augustus Stockman SJ, deputed by the Bengal Vicar Apostolic Walter Steins SJ, from the Belgian Jesuit Province.
Here is a little peek into the history of how the Jamshedpur Province was born:
The Chaibasa area, known as ‘Kolhan’, is where the Ho tribals reside. They were the owners of their lands. The tribe operates under its own regime of laws and customs. The ‘new faith’ - the catholic way of life - did not appeal to them when the missionaries preached the Gospel. Hence the mission made little progress. The first Catholics, who were then baptized on 8 November 1873, were Munda tribals. They soon moved away to the neighbouring Munda area, and Fr Stockman accompanied them. Forty years of labour produced a meagre harvest (about 200 baptisms). In 1909, the Bengal Mission closed the Chaibasa station and sold the land.
In 1927, the Ranchi Diocese was created. The first Bishop of Ranchi, Msgr Louis van Hoeck SJ, decided to reopen Chaibasa in 1932 with a Jesuit resident pastor. With the missionary approach somewhat modified and the Hos, seeing the benefits the catholic faith would bring them, accepted the faith in thousands. Today, 15 Parishes or more serve the Kolhan area.
1935, Chaibasa came under the new Ranchi Jesuit Mission. Both the Calcutta and
Ranchi Jesuits continued to labour, until after 1948, when the Jamshedpur
Mission was born. The then Fr General J. B. Jansens established the Jamshedpur
Mission (Manbhum and Singhbhum districts including the kingly states of
Kharswan and Seraikela) effective 12 March and entrusted it to the Maryland
(USA) Jesuit Province. The first batch of six Jesuits from Maryland led by Fr.
Carroll Fasy, arrived on 14 January 1948 and joined the Jesuits working here in
seven Parishes and one school.
Soon, in September 1948, a second batch of seven arrived, and they - priests and scholastics from Maryland - kept on coming until the last Jesuit in 1969 arrived; a total of 65 Jesuits enthusiastically embraced the ministry in the newly formed Jamshedpur Province.
In 1982, the JCI (today, JCSA - the Jesuit Conference of South Asia), assigned Orissa (now Odisha) to Jamshedpur Province. Three priests arrived in Bhubaneswar in 1984 and in 1985 they purchased the Loyola Bhavan residence which now serves as the house of the Regional Superior.
In the same year, the Archbishop entrusted to the Society the administration of St Paul’s Minor Seminary and the Human Life Centre. The latter had started in 1981 under the leadership of a Sacred Heart priest. The Province’s desire to expand and the Chief Minister’s appeal for “an XLRI type institution” bore fruits in the creation of the Xavier Institute of Management in 1987; which later on, in 2013, becomes the first Jesuit University in India - XIM University.
The Jamshedpur Province fondly celebrates the 75 graceful years during which God has blessed it with Jesuits and lay who are willing and available for the mission. The Province remains ever grateful for the apostolic boldness and spiritual heritage the Belgian and Maryland Provinces have bequeathed to Jamshedpur: the seed they sowed, 75 years ago, has now become a gigantic tree.
The Jubilee theme ‘Moved by Grace’, with three sub-themes - Remember the Past, Rejoice at the Present, Reimagine the Future - recalls the abundant blessings received over these years. The story of the Jamshedpur Province is a testament to the power of faith in action. It is a story of courage and sacrifice, of love and compassion, and of God’s grace at work in the world.
For all that has been: Thanks.
all that is to come: Amen.
In a letter to Fr. Antonio Moreno, President of the Jesuit Conference of Asia-Pacific (JCAP), Father General announced a change of jurisdiction for the mission in Pakistan. The mission, as of 1 April, will be under the responsibility of JCAP.
The Jamshedpur JCSA meeting was special for many reasons. One of them was that JCSA was held in the ‘Karma Bhoomi’ of Fr. Stan Swamy. It was an added impetus to us to read the signs of the times so as to make our life-mission relevant.
Legend has it that St. Ignatius of Loyola sent St Francis Xavier off with the words “ite inflammate omnia.” I believe that he would share the same message with the members of Jamshedpur Province today when we are celebrating our Platinum Jubilee ...
Lent is an invitation to prayer and reflection - a time to discern who we are and what we are called to be. To enter into that prayer we must also look at the people and experiences that formed us.
Jesuit social apostolate encompasses a wide spectrum of activities and engagements ranging from works of charity to taking sides in solidarity with historically marginalised peoples and their struggles to bring structural and systemic change for a more just and humane society.
“Can a Jesuit be a magnet? I believe so! M.J. Peter is one such Jesuit. He irresistibly attracts the crippled, the lame, and the weak to himself with his magnetic therapy coupled with his vivacious personality.”