A Brief History of Bengal Jesuit Mission
1574 – Frs. Antonio Vaz ,S.J and Pedro Dias, S.J came to Bengal along with the traders as soul-saviors.1575 – Fr. Francisco Fernandez, S.J. and Fr. Domingo de Souza, S.J. were entrusted with the Bengal Mission.1578 – Fr. Francisco Fernandez , S.J. was appointed the first superior of Bengal Mission.1579-80 – Fr. Antonio Tavares, S.J. founded Ugolim (Hooghly) at the mouth of the Ganges near the first settlement of Satgaon.1599 – King Pratapaditya of Jassore invited the Jesuits to his kingdom with a gift of land at Iswaripur, Khulna.1600 – In Chittagong, the church of St. John the Baptist, blessed on 24th June 1600, and church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, on 8th Dec 1600 at Jamalkhan.1602 (14th November) – death of Fr. Francisco Fernandez, S.J the first Martyr.1606 – The Church in Bengal was placed under the Jurisdiction of the newly erected See of Mylapore.1611 – The end of the Mission in Sandwip with the departure of Fr. Nunes, S.J. and Fr. Saleme, S.J.1628 – Arrival of Fr. Manrique, S.J.1629 – Fr. Manrique transferred to Chittagong.1617 – Jesuits returned to Hugli.1617 – King of Arakan invited the Jesuits to his kingdom1620 – Resistance from the Hindu Kings, fearing that after conversion the subjects would leave the kingdom.1620, December – a new house was started in Patna.1622 – Siege of Hugli. 8 Jesuits died. 4 escaped to Sagar Island.1623 – Only 4 Jesuits in Bengal.(1 in Patna, 3 in Hugli)1625 – Year of persecution, famine and disease. Jesuits die one after another due to plague.1626 – Expeditions to Tibet – Many die on the way. Frs. Cacella, S.J. and Cabral, S.J. reached, but found the journey not so fruitful. Fr. Cacella proceeded to China. Fr. Cabral returned to Hugli.1632 – Hugli/Bandel was attacked. Destruction was enormous. The Christian community never fully recovered from this attack.1640 – Jesuits return to Hugli.1663 – Efforts were made to rebuild the Hugli college and the church.1673 – French Jesuits settled in Chandernagore purchasing 20 acres of land for Rs 401.1677, July 29 – Proposal was made to detach Bengal from Maylapore to be made a Vicariate. (in order to correct the abuses of faith). But this plan was not materialized.1688 – the French purchased 942 hectares of land for Rs 40,000.1691 – Chandanagore church was built. Fr. Jacques Duchatz, S.J. was the architect.1694 – The college in Bengal suffered for want of personnel and financial assistance.1695 – Chandangore became an independent parish of the Jesuits.1700 – Kolikata and Gobindapur were founded at Sutanuti1712 – Mgr Laynes, S.J. made his first pastoral visit to Bengal, reaching there in mid-January 1713 he reached Chittagong and stayed there for nine months.1713, November – Mgr Laynes left for Dacca.1740 – Invasion by the Marathas. St. Paul’s was destroyed.1737 – Fr. Pierre Duchamp, S.J. became the parish priest of Chandanagore.1736 – The Maharaja of Jaipur invited two more Jesuits to set up an observatory.1740 – Chapel in Murshidabad was built around this year 1740. taken over by the Augustinians and later regained by the Jesuits on April 6, 1757.1764 – Padrishibpur Mission was built by Fr. Pedro Gonsalves, S.J.1765, 5th November onwards war between the English and the French hampered the work of the Jesuits. The Jesuits were being tolerated till 1773 when the Order was officially suppressed by King Louis XV.1834 1846 – Post-restoration – Bengal Mission under the British Jesuits1834 – Canonical Erection of the Bengal Vicariate.Pope wrote to the Irish Jesuit Provincial asking that Jesuits be sent to Calcutta.1834, May 31 – Mgr St Leger and 7 Jesuit companions left Plymouth for Calcutta.1945, July 31 – The Jesuits started St Xavier’s College, with Fr Chadwick, S.J. as Rector.1840, October – Fr O’Sullivan, S.J. imprisoned for 8 days, for distributing arms in Chandernagore, a French colony1841, March 14 – The Catholic Herald was started by Fr Kelly, S.J.Fr. Backhaus went to Rathfarnham near Dublin to appeal to the superiors of Loreto Sisters (IBVM) to send sisters to Calcutta. Though initially only six were chosen, twelve arrived along with Mother Delphine Hart and Fr Backhaus. A spacious building near Middleton Row was purchased for the Sisters.The construction work of St Thomas church was started.In 1845 – Fr McCann resigned from the pastoral work at St Thomas’.1846, August 26 – Recall of the Jesuits was published.1846, September 5 – Administration of the College was handed over to new directors; students given holidays (lasting for 13 years; next academic year began on January 16, 1860).1846, On September 25 – 14 Jesuits left Calcutta.
Bengal Mission under the Belgian Jesuits (1859-1915)
1859 – Mgr. Oliffe, Vicar Apostolic of Calcutta wrote to the Jesuit General requesting him to send Jesuits to Calcutta.1859, On Nov. 15 – First batch of 5 Belgian and two English Jesuits arrived in Calcutta, under the leadership of Fr Henri Depelchin.1860 – St. Xavier’s school was opened on Park Street.(Eventually the Bengal mission gave birth to seven Jesuit provinces : Ranchi, Madhya Pradesh, Jamshedpur, Dumka-Raiganj, Darjeeling and Hazaribagh.)From 1924 more Jesuits from Sicily and Malta (1924), Yugoslavia (1925), Canada (1947), the Maryland Province (1948) joined their companions.1873 – Fr Delplace went to live in Basanti .1885 – With Burdwan and Midnapore as epicenters, the Jesuits moved to the interior areas where there was a sizable Santal population. Early pioneers were Fr Knockaert , S.J. and Fr Schaff, S.J. They were soon followed by more dynamic missionaries: Frs Poncelet, Albert Ernst, Pierre De Cocq, Mangal Das, Aloysius Carvalho, to name a few.1863 – 1922 – Inter-faith dialogue, earliest pioneer was Fr William Wallace (1863-1922), who wrote a book on Hindu Clairvoyance and Philosophy. Then followed Fr Pierre Johanns and Fr George Dandoy, who started Light of the East . Leter Fr Johanns published To Christ through the Vedanta.1915 – 2013 – POST-RESTORATION HISTORY OF CALCTTA PROVINCEThe seven Jesuit Provinces that emerged from the Bengal Mission.i) CALCUTTAii) DUMKA-RAIGANJiii) DARJEELINGiv) HAZARIBAGHv) JAMSHEDPURvi) RANCHIvii) MADHYA PRADESH1935 – Bengal Mission divided into ‘Calcutta Mission” and “Ranchi Mission”.1948 – Creation of Jamshedpur Mission, with some territory taken from Calcutta.1968 – The Mission in Orissa (present diocese of Balasore) was handed over to the Congregation of the Mission (CM Fathers).Jesuits from other parts of the world:1924 – from the Sicilian Province, later from Malta1925 – from Yougoslavia (present Croatia and Slovania)1947 – from the newly created Maltese Province1947 – from Upper-Canada Province1948 – from Maryland Province1952 – from The Australian Province2005 – in the territory of Calcutta Province there were as many as 57 different Congregations at work: – Priests (13); – Brothers (03); – Sisters (41)Education: After St. Xavier’s Calcutta (1860) and St. Lawrence (1937), schools were opened in new industrial areas: Durgapur (1963), Burdwan (1964), Haldia (1971).1978 – Expansion of the school of Rahabpur into high-school and later on higher secondary school.St. Xavier’s College continues to expand, opening new departments, including post-graduate ones and becoming autonomous under Calcutta University.1963 – Eexpansion starting from Kalna (Frs. Siluvai, Mangal Das amd Beckers) then Pandua, Gurap and moving to Bankura District: Bankura, Mirga, Jhantipahari (Fr. A. Carvalho and others).The Bangladesh Mission: the Satkhira mission was under Calcutta province till 1952.1994 – we returned to East Bengal (today’s Bangladesh) and since 1997 the apostolate has expanded: residence in Dhaka, retreat house and pre-novitiate in Mothbari and quasi parish in Bhobanipur.1976 – The Province started its own novitiate in Dhyan Ashram.1985 – Juniorate at Dyan Ashram1990 – 2012 – The Loyala house of studies for collegians functioned at Prabhu Jesu.1997 – 2011 – The Regional Theologate (RTC) was run in Shantiniketan.1998 – Udayani Social Centrte (later Udayani Social Action Forum – 2000) was started in Ballygunge.2009 – Navjyoti Niketan, Jesuit formation center and retreat house was started in Kuchilabari, Bangladesh.2010 – Kalahrdaya – was started at Bakeswar.2011 – St. Francis Xavier’s Quasi-Parish in Bhobanipur, Bangladesh.
SEPTEMBERSep 6, 1666: The Great Fire of London broke out on this date. There is not much the Jesuits have not been blamed for, and this was no exception. It was said to be the work of Papists and Jesuits. King Charles II banished all the Fathers from England.Sep 7, 1573: The death of Princess Juana, Regent of Spain, the emperor’s daughter. She died as a Jesuit scholastic, having taken vows secretly under a special dispensation.Sep 15, 1927: Thirty-seven Jesuits arrive to begin a Tertianship at Hot Springs, North Carolina. The property was given to Jesuits by the widow of the son of President Andrew Johnson.Sep 19, 1715: At Quebec, the death of Fr Louis Andre, who for 45 years labored in the missions of Canada amid incredible hardships, often living on acorns, a kind of moss, and the rind of fruits.Sep 22, 1774: The death of Pope Clement XIV, worn out with suffering and grief because of the suppression of the Society. False stories had been circulated that he was poisoned by the Jesuits.Sep 25, 1643: John Casimir Sobieski, son of King Sigismund of Poland, joins the Society. Three years later he was made a cardinal. In 1648 he was elected king but abdicated in 1668.Sep 26, 1886: At Florence, in the “Re Umberto” theatre, 3000 liberals shouted for the expulsion of all Jesuits from Tuscany. Soon after, the theatre was burned to the ground, the fire being visible as far as Fiesole.Sep 29, 1558: In the Gesu, Rome, and elsewhere, the Jesuits began to keep Choir, in obedience to an order from Paul IV. This practice lasted less than a year, until the pope’s death in August, 1559. It was later rescinded by his successor.