The Beginning: The First Five Jesuits for Patna Mission

In September 10, 1919, Pope Benedict XV issued his apostolic letter Nova in Indus, to establish the Diocese of Patna and entrusted it to the Jesuits. Fr. Vladamir Ledochowski, the then Superior General of the Society of Jesus, assigned the Jesuits of the Missouri Province to this new mission. In 1921, Frs. William Eline, SJ, Henry Milet, SJ, Edward Anderson, SJ, Patrick Troy, SJ, and Thomas Kelly, SJ., the first five Jesuits of Missiouri Province came to this mission in Patna. In 1928, the Chicago Province was formed from Missouri Province. Patna mission was handed over to Chicago Province. Again in 1956, Chicago Province was divided to create a new Detroit Province. Over 155 Jesuits from America, mainly from these two Provinces came as missionaries and served people of Bihar in Patna mission. The hard work and the generosity of Missouri, Chicago and Detroit Provinces, raised Patna Mission soon to a Vice-Province and then in 1962, to an independent Province.

A Brief History Patna Jesuit Mission

1620: First Jesuits, led by Fr.SimonFigueredo, came to Patna at the invitation of the Nawab of Patna.Mukerab Khan (Prince John). Short, dangerous stay.

1921: Belgian Louis Van Hoeck, S.J. ordained Bishop of Patna on March 6

1921: First five American Jesuits arrived on March 16 (Eline, Milet, Troy, Anderson and Kelly).

1921-37: 59 American Jesuits came to Patna. Indian vocations increased.

1922: “Patna Mission Newsletter” started (today: Patna Jesuit).

1927: Khrist Raja High School started in Bettiah Parish; moved to new site in 1929.

1928: Bishop Van Hoeck called to Ranchi as its first bishop and Bishop Bernard Sullivan, S.J., ordained.

1934: Great Bihar earthquake destroyed many churches and buildings.

1938: Patna Jesuits handed over Bhagalpur area to T.O.R Franciscans; new mission stations started in south of the Ganges. Work among the Dalits

1940: New St. Xavier’s School started in Patna.

1942: Msgr. Jacob Vellarungatt started Mission Home in Palai, Kerala, for vocations to the north.

1943: Diwan of Jaipur invited the Patna Jesuits to open St. Xavier’s School at Jaipur.

1947: Bishop Sullivan retired (to Denver); Bishop Augustine Wildermuth, S. J. ordained in Chicago.

1950: Fr. Raphael Sah translated New Testament into Hindi.

1950: Fr. Jack Barrett founded Sanjivan Press and printed a weekly Catholic Paper, “Sanjivan” till 1968.

1951: Nepal invited Jesuits to open a school at Godavari-outside Katmandu. Fr. Moran started.

1956: Patna became a vice province. Fr. Ed. Mann first vice-provincial.

1959: Apostolic School opened in Bettiah; Candidature for post-high school boys already there.

1960: Novitiate opened in Patna: XTTI, Digha Ghat.

1960: The Arch Bishop of Delhi invited the Patna Jesuits to start St. Xavier’s School at Delhi- Fr. Loesch gets old Cecil Hotel property for the School.

1960: Fr. Raphael Sah started “Prabhat Prakashan”.

1962: Patna Became a Province. Fr. Louis De Genova first Provincial.

1968: Christian Brothers handed over St. Michael’s School to the Jesuits.

1971: Xavier Hall in Bangalore opened for candidates from Tamilnadu and Karnataka.

1974: Fr.Jack Barrett founded Catholic News of India (CNI).

1975: Rural development, adult education started in Bettiah (later R.E.A.D.) Khagaul and Ratanpurwa followed later.

1975: “Ravi Bharati” communications center started at Navjyoti.

1979: New Province Education Policy: all schools to be Hindi Medium and aided.

1980: Bishop Wildermuth retired; Diocese divided: Bishops B.J.Osta (Patna) &J.B.Thakur (Muzaffarpur) ordained.

1980: Regional Theology Centre started (XTTI-1980; Bettiah-1981; Danapur-1982)

1984: Nepal became an independent ecclesiastical unit; Msgr. Anthony Sharma, S.J.- Superior.

1985: Nepal made a dependent Jesuit Region. Fr. William Robins - Superior.

1988: “Northwest Project” became dependent Delhi Region. Fr. Varkey Perekkatt - Superior.

1988: Barbigha upgraded to High School: B.Ed. College started in St. Michael’s campus: Ravi Bharati given over to Jesuit management, independent of Navjyoti.

1990: Latonah upgraded to High School: Atmadarshan retreat house started on XTTI land: Legal Aid Apostolate begun (based at St. Xavier’s Patna)

1992: New mission started in Aurangabad. New candidate house in Lucknow.

1994: Mission Home handed over to the Diocese of Palai.

1995: Land purchased for new centre in Bodh Gaya: Charismatic Retreat Apostolate got first full-time Jesuit: Fr. George Karama.

1996: Second Year Novitiate shifted to Itarhi mission in new building.

1998: Bettiah Diocese formed out of the western districts of Muzaffarpur, Bishop Victor Henry.

1999: Patna became an Archdiocese with suffragan dioceses of Bettiah, Muzaffaropur, Purnea and Bahagalpur.

2000: Tarumitra Ashram, ecology centre, inaugurated on XTTI land New Disha Jesuit Residence and Research Centre blessed: New Regional Theology Centre at Khaspur blessed and occupied.

2001: St. Ignatius School, Aurangabad, St. Xavier’s Higher Secondary School, Bettiah and Social Service started in Madhubani.

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