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March 2021 was indeed a great day in the history of Patna Mission – a year-long celebration of the Patna Jesuit Centenary was brought to a close, but it was also the beginning of a new chapter in the story of Patna Jesuits. The celebrations began at 8.30 am at the sacred resting place of our ancestors (XTTI cemetery) with a prayer service, which included paying homage to the Jesuit pioneers and companions who had toiled to serve the people of Bihar and nurture the Patna Jesuit Mission in the past 100 years.

From there, symbolizing the pilgrim church in Patna Mission territory, we walked in solemn procession to Kalaam Hall of St. Xavier’s College of Management and Technology, Patna, to offer our sentiments of thanksgiving and to pray for our future journey, at the altar of the Lord of History. Melodious singing by the Kurji Parish Choir led us devotionally into the Holy Eucharist, Archbishop of Patna Archdiocese, Most Rev. Sebastian Kallupura was the main celebrant, accompanied by the bishops of Muzaffarpur and Bettiah dioceses, Archbishop Emeritus, Administrator of Buxar Diocese and over a hundred priests. Following the Corona pandemic restrictions, only about five hundred Province members and invited guests were present in the Hall. At the offertory, the congregation truly sang from the heart ‘TAKE AND RECEIVE O LORD…’

The Holy Eucharist was followed by a cultural cum motivational programme. Our Provincial, Fr. Donald Miranda, gave a warm welcome to our honorable guests. The whole programmecelebrated the joyful ‘partnership for the gospel’ (Phil 1:5) among the Patna Jesuits, the Diocesan Fathers, Religious women and men, and the laity. Video messages from Father General ArturoSosa, Fr. Brian Paulson, Provincial of the Mid West Province,USA, and Fr. Theodore B. Bowling, senior most member of Patna Province (96) brought alive the history of hundred years. Fr Stanislaus D’Souza, the President of South Asian Assistancy (POSA), Provincial of Delhi and delegate of the Superior of Nepal, Provincial representatives of the Jesuit Conference of South Asia (Consultors of POSA), Provincial of Calcutta and Socius of Darjeeling Province, Vicar General of Patna Archdiocese, Superior Generals of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart (SSH), and Sisters of the Charity of Nazareth (SCN), former Superior General of the Sisters of Notre Dame (SND) Provincials / Regional Superiors of eight congregations of Sisters, lay representatives from among our collaborators and beneficiaries, were our esteemed guests who were felicitated on the occasion.

Dances, singing, a short play depicting our history kept the audience spell bound. A book consisting of sharing and reflection of thirty-four of our veterans regarding their Jesuit life in Patna Mission, titled ‘WINGED COLOURS OF HOPE’, edited by Fr. Donald Miranda, Provincial, was released. Another book, ‘HISTORY–HERITAGE– HORIZONS – Apostolic Plan of Patna Province for 2021- 2026’, which is a compendium of the apostolic plans of all our ministry commissions and their units (institutions and Centres), was released, marking the promulgation of these plans. In his beautifully worded letter Father General had approved these plans by a letter and blessed us with his encouraging words as we took a leap into the new horizon of the next and many more centuries to come; his letter was read prior to the release of the compendium. The centenary song, composed and sung by Fr. Edward Mendonca and four other Patna Jesuits, added to the melody of the programme. However, it was not the end of the show! It was the delicious and sumptuous meal which gave the final touch to the day’s celebrations.

Our hearts are filled with gratitude towards and prayers for our benefactors including our near and dear ones, collaborators and beneficiaries of our services. Truly, we, Patna Jesuits, are ‘Blessed by the Lord’ (this was the title of the book which presents ‘A History of the Patna Jesuits 1921-1981’, published in 1996) because of His being with us in and through all our friends in the mission and we step into the future ‘With Renewed Vigour and Zeal’ (title of Decree 1 of GC 35).

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