Jesuit Mission

 

Saint Ignatius of Loyola

1491-1556

 

Saint Ignatius of Loyola

Ignatius was one of those remarkable characters of the 16th century. A Basque nobleman, he was just over five feet tall. His father entrusted his son's education to an official at King Ferdinand's court. Ignatius tenaciously went through the long training and became a brave knight.

In May 1521, in the battle between Francis I, King of France and the Province of Navarre, Ignatius was wounded in both legs. In hospital he underwent a painful and unsuccessful operation. During the long weary weeks of convalescence at home Ignatius read two books, the "Life of Christ" by Rudolph of Saxony and the "Flos Sanetorium", which transformed his life.

In 1522 he left home went to the shrine of our Lady of Montserrat near Barcelona. There he hung his sword and dagger as a pledge of his new consecration to Christ and His Mother. For the next year he lived on alms, spending long hours in prayer. There he wrote his "spiritual exercises", the most efficient and widely used Retreat Manual today. Firm in his determination to serve God, but realizing that first he needed the weapon, of knowledge, he completed his philosophical and theological studies at Paris University. There he won six men, all brilliant students.

The day came when Ignatius and his companions decided to form themselves into a new community. After much prayer and consultation Ignatius prepared a document, outlining the new order, to be known as the "Society of Jesus", which was made a religious order by Pope Paul III.

"Ignatius had a real facility for finding God in all things," his close friends used to say. The end came suddenly for Ignatius. In 1556 he fell ill. On July 30, he sent Father Polaneo to Vatican for Pope Paul IV's last blessing. Next morning at sunrise, shortly after the secretary's return, Father Ignatius passed away peacefully.

On July 31 every year, Jesuits throughout the world celebrate his Feast.

 

St. Francis Xavier

1506-1552

 

St. Francis Xavier

Francis Xavier was born in the royal castle of Xavier, in the Kingdom of Navarre, on 7 April 1506, in Spain. In 1525, Francis went to study in Paris at the Collége Sainte-Barbe, University of Paris, where he met Ignatius of Loyola who was pursuing theological studies to become a priest. Ignatius' saying: "What will it profit a man to gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" made a deep impression in the heart of Francis Xavier and eventually decided to follow Christ like Ignatius after having gone through the Spiritual Exercise.

He was one of the first seven Jesuits who took vows of poverty and chastity at Montmartre, Paris in 1534. He led an extensive mission into Asia, mainly in the Portuguese Empire of the time and was influential in evangelization work, most notably in India. He also was the first Christian missionary to venture into Japan, Borneo, the Maluku Islands, and other areas. In those areas, struggling to learn the local languages and in the face of opposition, he had less success than he had enjoyed in India. Xavier was about to extend his missionary preaching to China but died in Shangchuan Island shortly before he could do so.

The Indian mission of the Jesuits lies at the very origin of their Order. It is to India that Ignatius of Loyola, the Founder of the Society of Jesus, sent his greatest son, Francis Xavier. Xavier was a zealous "missionary on the move". He constantly traveled along the Fishery Coast, then west, into Marava country, then to Mylapore (present day Chennai). He sailed to Malacca and Japan in 1549 where he spent two and a half years. In April 1552 he sailed to China via Malacca from Goa, never to return alive. He died at Sancian, a small island facing China, on the 2nd of December of the same year. Wherever he went, he plunged himself into charitable and pastoral work preaching the message of God's love to people. He worked in India for ten years, from 1542 to 1552, it is called the Xaverian decade.

Jesuits at the Mughal Court

Jalaluddin Muhammed Akbar, the great Mughal ruler was a religious man, who in the words of his son "never for a moment forgot God". Akbar got his first insight into the Christian character and religion from the actions of two Jesuits - Frs. Antony Vaz and Peter Dias, who had reached Bengal in 1576 at the request of the Bishop of Cochin. These Jesuits had severely rebuked some Portuguese merchants who had defrauded the Mughal treasury by not paying taxes. They had asked them to restitute, otherwise there would be no forgiveness for them. Akbar was greatly impressed by this news and curious about the religion, which insisted so much on honest dealings. Soon he sent for Fr. Gil Eanes Pereira, Vicar-General of Bengal, who in turn suggested that he should invite the Jesuits to his court. In September 1579, Akbar's ambassador arrived at Goa, asking for two learned priests to be sent to Akbar's court.

The three Jesuits chosen for the project were Fr. Rudolf Acquaviva who led the mission, Fr. Antony Monserrate and Br. Francis Henriques as his companions. They reached Fatehpur Sikri via Surat and Gwalior on February 28, 1580 and were received with extraordinary warmth and affection by the emperor, whose attachment continued throughout the three years of the duration of the mission. Since Akbar did not become a Christian and appeared to be doubtful as to all forms of faith, unwilling to commit himself, the Jesuits thought they might as well spend their time elsewhere. In 1582, Francis Henriques and Monserrate returned back leaving behind Rudolf who wanted to pursue the efforts for some more time. But in 1583, Rudolf too returned to Goa as nothing positive happened, thus ending the first Jesuit Mission to the great Mughal Empire.

The first Jesuit Mission cannot be considered as a total failure. Their presence did help to bring about a better understanding between Islam and Christianity. In 1591, a second mission consisting of Fr. Edward Leitao, Fr. Christopher de Vega and Bro. Stephen Riberio arrived at Lahore on Akbar's invitation. But it lasted less than a year. The Jesuits soon felt that they were engaged in a futile task and feared that Akbar was manipulating them for his own ends.

Once again after a gap of 13 years, Akbar's earnest efforts to obtain a replacement were rewarded. In May 1595, Fr. Jerome Xavier (grand nephew of Francis Xavier) accompanied by Fr. Manuel Pinheiro and Bro. Bento de Goes arrived in Lahore on a third mission. This time Akbar gave them permission to open a school. However, the king avoided the subject of religion with the Fathers on the pretext that the Jesuits needed to learn Persian before embarking on religious discussions.

Jesuit Contributions to Bengal

It is said that Akbar brought the Jesuits to Northern India. As mentioned earlier, it was the conduct of the first two Jesuits in Bengal in 1576 that drew the attention of emperor Akbar to the Christian Faith. When the two left, Fr. Gil Eanes Pereira of the Diocese of Cochin followed their mission in Bengal. Jesuit priests returned to Bengal in 1598-1599, with the intention of working there on a more permanent basis. They started a school and a hospital at Hooghly for some months. From Hooghly they went to Chandecan, the capital of Raja Pratapaditya of Jessore, where they were received most cordially by that Prince and the Portuguese as well. The Raja granted them full permission to preach to his subjects and to baptize all those who wished to become Christians. It was at Chandecan (Jessore) that the first Jesuit church in Bengal was opened in January 1600. From Chandecan they proceeded to Sripur where Raja Kedar Rai was friendly. They also went to the great port of Chittagong and Dianga.

From 1602 to 1615 the relations between the Portuguese and the king of Arakan (in whose territory these two places belonged) were generally hostile. The Jesuit Fathers were therefore imprisoned and the Christians were ill-treated. Kedar Rai of Sripur and the Raja of Chandecan also did the same. Under these circumstances the surviving Jesuits left Bengal, some going to Pegu (Burma) and the others returning to Cochin.

After a short interval, by 1616, there were once again six Jesuits in various parts of Bengal. One was stationed at Sripur, where nearly a thousand Christian refugees from Sandwip had settled down after the expulsion of Fr. Sebastian Gonzales from Dakha. Another Jesuit was in Dhaka. The other four were stationed at Hooghly and Pipli. In several of these places the Jesuits erected churches of their own. But when they tried to expand their activities in Hooghly, the Augustinians resisted them and imposed certain restrictions on their work. It was at about this time that the Jesuit residence of Hooghly became a modest "College" where children were taught to read and write, and speak Latin.

In 1625 there was a terrible famine followed by pestilence. Four of the Jesuits belonging to Hooghly College and two Augustinian fathers died in the service of the plague-stricken. As the century advanced the Jesuits were often not able to replace their losses, while the Augustinians generally maintained a sufficient number of priests in Bengal. Jesuit work suffered a serious setback with the seizure of the Portuguese settlement by the Mughals in 1632, but they continued in Bengal, which was an Augustinian mission field since 1599.

Under the patronage of the Portuguese Padroado, the Augustinians, the Jesuits and the Dominicans had been catering to the spiritual needs of the Portuguese and in the process had also baptized hundreds of natives, including the vast numbers of prisoners and slaves captured by them in the course of frequent wars with the local chieftains. Some of the missionaries, through their spirit of service during the frequent outbreak of plagues, attracted a number of people to the Christian fold.

In 1691, a small group of French Jesuits had come to Chandernagore from Pondicherry. In 1694, two more French Jesuits, Father Duchatz and Debeszes had come to Chandernagore after the failure of a scientific expedition to Siam, now Thailand. They began ministering to the Catholics of the town. By the beginning of the 18th century, the Catholics of Chandernagore were served by the Jesuits working in two churches and a school. Fr. Charles de la Breuille seems to have been the first parish priest (1693-1698) of the church of St. Louis. We hear little about the life and work of the early Chandernagar Jesuits.

Jesuit Bishop Francis Laynes of Mylapore, which he ruled from 1710, visited Balasore in June 1712 and was well received by the English Governor. He then paid a brief visit to Calcutta and moved on to Bandel, the Christian centre (close to Chandernagar) where there were Europeans, Eurasians, and Indian converts, mostly from the lowest castes. The Bishop began thereafter the formal visitation of the territory which is today Bangladesh, spending no less than nine months at Chittagong, before proceeding to Dhaka. Everywhere there were baptisms, confirmations, marriages, and other church ceremonies, which had not been seen in Bengal for long. Apart from a considerable number of 'public' or open Christians, there were in this region also many hidden or secret Christians - hidden because of the Mughal ban on conversions - who also came to the sacraments quietly.

After his exhausting travels, Bishop Francis Laynes retired quietly to the Jesuit house at Hooghly, doing what work he could, and trying to recoup - but he was in poor health, as the long years of missionary life had taken their toil. Shortly after Easter 1715, he was seized by a fever and the zealous sannyasi-Bishop died in June when not yet sixty. His visitation and presence seemed to have given new life to the Bengal mission, but with his death things again came to a standstill. The Jesuits had a house, a school and a Church at Bandel. In 1706, there were only two Jesuits left, Francis Ozech, the Rector and another priest. The station ceased functioning in 1740, with the death of the last priest, Fr. Deistermann. When Fr. Tieffenthaler visited Bandel in 1765, the house and the school were but relics of the past and the Church was in a dilapidated condition.

The nineteenth century was a period of growth for the Society of Jesus under the able leadership of Fr. Roothan, the Jesuit General who collaborated on a world level with Gregory XVI and the 'Congregation for the Propagation of Faith, for the restoration of the missions. As the plea from Calcutta had been for English speaking born priests, the new Vicariate of Bengal was entrusted to the Jesuit province of England, with Fr. Robert Saint Leger from Ireland as the leader of the new mission. The Jesuit General wanted to make of Calcutta for British India what Goa had been for Portuguese India. The immediate scope of the SCPF in sending the Jesuit Missionary expedition under Fr. Leger to the newly established Vicariate of Calcutta was to put an end to the existing scandalous factions and to serve more adequately the numerous Catholics who appealed to the SCPF.

The English Jesuits came to Bengal in 1834. A group of eight with one diocesan priest landed at Babughat in October 1834. In July 1835 they started St. Francis Xavier's College at Moorghyhatta, Calcutta, the first Jesuit College in the East after the restoration of the Jesuit Order in 1814. In 1841 they shifted the college to 22 Chowringhee, the present site of the Indian Museum. In October 1846, the Jesuits handed over the college to the local Bishop Most Rev. Dr. Carew and left Calcutta. The college was subsequently closed.

In the beginning of the second half of 19th century, the Bengal Mission had been entrusted to the Belgian Province of the Society of Jesus. Since the people of Calcutta had insisted on having priests well versed in English, the final expedition was composed of four Belgian Jesuits with Fr. Depelchin as the Superior and three English Jesuits. The Missionaries reached Calcutta on Monday 18 November 1859.

When the Jesuits were entrusted by Propaganda with the missions of Bengal, they were made responsible for the existing Calcutta parishes. Four of them had a history behind them: The Cathedral Church of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary built in 1799. The Sacred Heart Church Dharamtala and Our Lady of Happy Voyage at Howrah in 1834 and St. Thomas' Middleton Row in 1842. The Jesuits in the course of time added four new parishes: St. Francis Xavier, Bowbazar (1897), St. Teresa's, Taltola (1898), St. John's, Sealdah (1907) and St. Ignatius' Kidderpore (1911).

Jesuits are known as pioneers. Their pastoral care and concern of the faithful and pioneering works in various fields in 24 Parganas are highly appreciated. The Sacred Heart Church, Dharamtala was transferred from the Portuguese Padroado to Mgr. Carew in August 1841. Fr. Goiran who came to Calcutta with the first English Jesuits in 1834 became the first Parish priest and continued till Fr. Verali succeeded him in 1844.

Some protestant Christians from 24 Parganas came to the Sacred Heart Church, the then centre of the Bengali Christian community, expressing their desire to become catholics. With the encouragement of Mgr Carew and the help of Mr. Maikel Crow, the then District Collector of 24 Parganas, Fr. Verali visited Kaikhali several times. A small chapel was built in 1845 and Fr. Zubiburu, a Carmelite, went to reside there. Besides Kaikhali, Fr. Zubiburu founded a small community at Krishnagar in 1845 and another at Midnapore in 1846.

In 1865 Jesuit Fr. Goffinet settled at Kaikhali. He often visited the small Christian community of Debipur and opened a school in August 1869. In 1870 the school had 144 pupils. Fr. Delplace is acclaimed the " founder of the 24 parganas Mission". He started Basanti mission in October 1873, Khari in 1874, Baidyapur in 1875, Raghapur in 1876 and Morapai in 1877. "He would stay in one village for two or three months, instructing the people, then moving on to the next village that invited him".

The school of St. Xavier's, Calcutta was reopened on 16th January 1860 at 10 Park Street with 75 students on the roll. The school building was originally a public theatre called the Sans-Souci Theatre. The company that started it having failed, His Grace Dr. Carew had bought it. By 30th January, there were 86 pupils. The college annual functions were honoured by the presence of the successive Lt. Governors of Bengal and three times with that of Viceroys: Sir John Laurence in 1868; Lord Mayo in 1870 and Lord Lytton in 1877. The College was affiliated to the Calcutta University in 1862.

In Bengal there are two Jesuit provinces: Kolkata and Darjeeling with 350 Jesuits spread all over the State. Dumka - Raiganj province partially extends into Raiganj area of Bengal. Jesuits are involved in educational work, pastoral ministry, tribal and dalit welfare programmes, social research and action, social communication and medical and health care. They are chiefly known for their educational institutions, big or small. They are responsible, to a great extent, for the educational and socio-economic advancement of tribals in the Chottanagpur and Santal Pargana areas.

In the educational field, there are two Jesuit University Colleges, namely St. Xavier's College, Kolkata and St. Joseph's College, Darjeeling; ten High Schools (St. Xavier's, Kolkata, Durgapur, Burdwan, Haldia, Raiganj; St. Lawrence School, Kolkata, St. Paul's School, Raghapur, St. Joseph's, Darjeeling, etc); one media research centre affiliated to UGC (EMRC), one communication centre (Chirabani) and numerous primary schools and hostels in villages. There are around 25,000 students studying in Jesuit educational institutions in Bengal.

Fr. Lafont, professor of Physics at St. Xavier's College, played a leading role in popularising science. Sir J. C. Bose and Dr. C. V. Raman found encouragement for their introduction to science in the person of Fr. Lafont. He was called the "Father of Science in India." Modern Indology owes much to the Belgian Jesuits like Johanns, Dandoy, Bayart, Antoine, De Smet and Fallon of St. Xavier's College, Calcutta. They had become enamoured of the rich religious and cultural heritage of India and Bengal.

They contributed a lot to the development of Bengali culture and enriched the Bengali and Sanskrit languages. They made profound contributions to the dialogue between Hinduism and Christianity and added a whole new dimension to apostolic work. "Light of the East" series, published by Fr. Dandoy from 1922 to 1946 to encourage inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue is worth mentioning here. Their only ambition was to serve to the best of their abilities the two causes that they cherished most in their hearts: the cause of Christ and the cause of India. Fr. Fallon was called the "apostle of inter-religious dialogue" in Calcutta.

Jesuits in North East India

Jesuit Archbishop Meuleman, SJ of Calcutta sent his own secretary, Fr. Lefebvre in June 1915 to take charge of the Assam Mission from the Salvatorians who were interned in concentration camps. Within a short time four other veteran Jesuits, Frs. Boone, Vial, Kkrier & Grignard joined him. The five Jesuits occupied only the four resident centres of Shillong, Raliang, Gawhati & Bondashil.

Although the Jesuits were experienced missionaries and their superior, Lefebvere, a virtuous & zealous pastor, they were too few to look after all the mission centres. Everywhere people wanted schools. When the Catholic schools were either abandoned & new ones not opened, the Protestants were approached by a small number of Catholics and subsequently they became Protestants. The Jesuits worked in the Assam Mission with great zeal and dedication despite the paucity of personnel and the limitations imposed by the war and post-war years. They were convinced that they would be in the Assam Mission permanently. However, their Superior General insisted with the Congregation for the Propagation of Faith in Rome, to relieve his confreres from the Assam Mission.

In 1967 Fr. Verstraeten, a noted educationist of St. Xavier's College, Kolkata was deputed on a one-man commission to explore the possibilities of a Jesuit mission in Nagaland. His report said: prospects: glorious; peoples' needs: extreme; educational standards: low; cooperation: promised; likely response: overwhelming. The only major hurdle was: Nagaland is a "sensitive", hence restricted area for foreigners since the Chinese invasion in 1962.

Archbishop Hubert Rosario, SDB of Dibrugarh had earlier appealed to the Jesuit General, Fr. Pedro Arrupe to send Jesuits to the North East. Now Calcutta Province, though the closest geographically, could not spare any Indian Jesuit. Karnataka Province accepted the challenge and sent a batch of three Jesuits to Nagaland in 1970. They opened the Loyola School in Jakhama village in 1971. Gradually number of mission stations and educational institutions were started. St. Joseph's College, Jakhama was opened in 1985. Today there are around 100 Jesuits working in the NE and their work is flourishing.

Jesuit Education

Perhaps the best-known education in India is imparted by Jesuits. They conduct not less than 52 university colleges, 17 Institutes of Business Administration and 220 high schools spread throughout the country, almost all of them among its most reputed (for example: St. Xavier's, Calcutta, Mumbai, Ranchi; Loyola, Chennai, Vijayawada; St. Joseph's, Bangalore, Trichy; XLRI, Jamshedpur). In them, more than 360,000 students belonging to every religious, linguistic and socio-economic group, receive their education.

Ignatius of Loyola, out of firm in his determination to serve God and His people, founded the Jesuit Order, called the "Society of Jesus". Pope Paul III approved it as a Religious Order in 1540. Ignatius was an outstanding character of the 16th century. One of his first companions was the then professor of the Paris University, Francis Xavier, who came to India in 1542. The Society of Jesus is the largest religious order in the Catholic Church with 20,563 Jesuits spread all over the world. It has taken up every conceivable form of work, which may, lead to people's total welfare. The Jesuits, according to Ignatius, should be ready to undertake in any part of the world, work which will be for the "Greater Glory of God" (the Jesuit motto: Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam). The Order remembers on July 31 it's Founding Father who died 445 years ago.

Though nowhere in the Order's Constitution is it stated that education is to be given special importance, the Jesuits have come to be particularly known in the public mind for their educational work and have acquired the reputation of being among the world's best educators; in every country a Jesuit school or college is synonymous with quality secular education given in an atmosphere conducive to character formation with emphasis laid on spiritual and moral values and the development of an integrated human personality.

India and the United States rank among the most important countries in regard to the size of the Jesuit educational undertakings. In the USA there are no fewer than 45 Jesuit Universities, and 75 high schools. In other Asian countries such as Japan, Nepal, Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam, the Jesuits conduct reputed schools and university establishments, which make a notable contribution to the education of their youth. The situation is the same wherever the Society of Jesus has established itself.

St. Francis Xavier opened the first Jesuit school in Goa in 1543. It was named St. Paul's College. Nothing exists of this institution today except its memory, but it was the predecessor of hundreds of other schools and colleges.

The first Jesuit school to be opened in Europe was in Spain during the lifetime of the Order's founder. As he explained to one of his close friends, Ignatius saw in the school an opportunity to do good by initiating the young into secular and human knowledge and simultaneously into spiritual and moral values -- the love of God and human person. The success experienced here encouraged the Order to go in for more and more schools and college of every kind, so that soon education came to be considered the primary work of the Society of Jesus. Hence, the Jesuit dictum " Give us a boy and we will return you a man, a citizen of his country and a child of God."

Any worthwhile book on the history of education will mention the contribution made to European educational thinking and development in the 16th and 17th centuries. It was at this time that Jesuit schools were opened all over Europe and in them the newly discovered classics of Greece and Rome were successfully used in the formation of the young. The "Rattio Studiorum" or "Guide to Education" produced by the Jesuits at the end of the 16th century remains an educational classic down to our day.

Jesuit educational methods derive directly from the Order's own spirit. There is first a willingness to use any branch of human knowledge, modern languages, philosophy, theology, medicine, law, media and every branch of science and technology - nothing is taboo in Jesuit education. Secondly, there is the stress on character formation and discipline combined with the development of freedom. Next is the continual drive towards self-improvement, by stretching talents and abilities in every field as far as they can go. Ambition and individual emulation are stimulated by prizes and awards; simultaneously, teamwork is encouraged through the "house system" in schools - a Jesuit innovation.

No Jesuit education is complete without attention to the development of the moral and intellectual qualities of leadership: love for the country, integrity, human relations, understanding, hard work, organisational ability, cooperation and teamwork, and the power of expression in speech and writing.

A Jesuit school or college aims to form "men and women for others" who will be agents of needed social change in their country. Jesuits view their work as "the service of faith in God and the promotion of Justice in the world". Special and preferential treatment is given to economically poor students in terms of financial and academic support.

One may wonder what keeps these Jesuits united or keeps them going. The answer lies in their basic characteristics, which are, first of all the Order's "humanism" - its refusal to condemn anything that is human - and its willingness to use all human knowledge and achievements in the service of God and people. Another Jesuit characteristic is obedience or flexibility and willingness to adjust. The only thing a Jesuit is taught to be rigid and uncompromising about is moral evil or sin. Another mark of the Jesuit is the way of combining stern inner discipline with maximum freedom for each individual member in external life and in the choice of methods. Finally there is a certain typical thoroughness in all that is undertaken. This is expressed by the frequent use of the word "magis", "greater", "higher" in relation to the goals the Jesuits, as individuals and as a community, strive for. Their age-old maxim is to aim at the greater good for the greater number of people.

 

Jesuit Higher Educational Institutes in India

They run no less than 52 university colleges, 17 institutes of business administration and 220 high schools spread throughout the country, almost all of them among its most reputed. More than 360,000 students belonging to every religious, linguistic and socio-economic group receive their education. In the context of glaring inequalities and widespread poverty, the insistence is no longer on influencing the rich, the learned and the powerful as the best means of doing good, but rather on helping the common man to live a decent human existence as the first prerequisite for any spiritual concern.

A new thrust is seen: a single-minded and wholehearted response to the multi-religious and multi-cultural realities of the modern world. Their response is promotion of justice as an integral dimension of faith and a dialogue with unbelievers and with those of various secular ideologies. These three bearings now guide the course of Jesuit activities and institutions.

List of Jesuit Universities in India

University Location Website
Xavier University, Bhubaneswar Bhubaneswar www.xub.edu.in
St. Xavier's University, Kolkata Kolkata www.sxuk.in

 

There are 52 Jesuit Colleges in India)

Some prominent ones:    
College Location Website
St. Joseph 's College, (1844) Tiruchirapalli www.sjctni.edu
St. Xavier's College, (1860) Kolkata www.sxccal.edu
St. Xavier's College, (1869) Mumbai

www.xaviers.edu

St. Aloysius College, (1880) Mangalore

www.staloysiuscollege.co.in

St. Joseph 's College, (1882) Bangalore www.sjc.ac.in
St. Joseph 's College, (1888) Darjeeling www.sjcdarjeeling.edu.in
St. Xavier's College, (1923) Palayamkottai www.stxavierstn.edu.in
Loyola College, (1925) Chennai www.loyolacollege.edu
St. Xavier's College, (1944) Ranchi www.sxcran.org
Loyola College, (1949) Chhattisgarh www.lck.edu.in
St. Joseph 's College of Commerce, (1949) Bangalore www.sjcc.edu.in
Andhra Loyola College (1954) Vijayawada www.andhraloyolacollege.ac.in
St. Xavier's College, ( 1955) Ahmedabad www.sxca.edu.in
Loyola College of Social Sciences (1963) Kerala www.loyolacollegekerala.edu.in
St. Xavier's College, (1964) Thiruvananthapuram www.stxaviersthumba.org
Arul Anandar College, (1970) Madurai www.aactni.edu.in
St. Joseph 's Evening College, (1972) Bangalore www.sjec.edu.in
Loyola Academy Degree & PG College, (1976) Vijayawada www.loyolaacademyugpg.ac.in
Loyola Degree College, (YSSR) (1979) Pulivendla www.loyoladegreecollegeysrr.ac.in
St. Xavier's College, (1988) Nepal www.sxc.edu.np
North Bengal St. Xavier's College, (2007) Rajganj www.nbxc.org
Loyola College, (2009) Vettavalam www.lcv.edu.in
St. Xavier's College, (2009) Patna www.xaviercollegepatna.org
St. Xavier College, (2010) Jaipur www.stxaviersjaipur.org
St. Xavier's College, (2015) Burdwan www.sxc-bwn.ac.in
     

Renowned Jesuit Management Institutes

Institution Location Website
Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar Bhubaneswar www.ximb.edu.in
Xavier Labour Relations Institute (XLRI) Jamshedpur www.xlri.ac.in
Xavier Institute of Social Service (XISS) Ranchi www.xiss.ac.in
Xavier Institute of Management Jabalpur (XIMJ) Jabalpur www.xidas.in
Loyola Institute of Business Administration (LIBA) Chennai www.liba.edu
     

 

 

St. John de Britto

1647-1693

 

St. John de Britto

John de Britto, known as Arulanandaswamy, was born at Lisbon on March 1, 1647 in a wealthy family. A playmate and fellow-student of the princes of Portugal he entered the Society of Jesus on Christmas Day, 1662. In 1673 he sailed from Lisbon for the East with 17 fellow Jesuits. During the course of the voyage 13 of them died. De Britto was one of the four who survived. After his arrival in Goa, he continued his theological studies and then towards the end of April 1674 he set out for Madura Mission.

At Kolei he acquainted himself with Tamil customs. He preferred sitting cross-legged on the ground, drinking without the brass water vessel touching his lips, eating meals with his hands, walking barefoot, wearing a flowing shirt called "anghi" and a turban on his head, and rings in his ears. He abstained from eating meat, eggs and fish and took to rice and vegetable curry.

Within six months he had learnt Tamil. He proceeded to preach the word of God in the five ancient kingdoms: Vellore, Jingi, Tanjore, Madura and Marava. He travelled hundreds of miles in spite of many hardships and the fear of attack upon his person.

In 1686 Britto was arrested by the command of the chief minister of Marava called Kumara Pillai. He was beaten mercilessly and subjected to water torture. Eventually he was freed.

Among those he helped was a prince of the royal family, called Tadiya Teva, whom Britto had cured of a disease. The prince decided to give up the practice of keeping many wives. Kadeli, one of his many wives, complained about her dismissal to the Raja of Marava. The Raja had Britto arrested. He was sentenced to death. The next day he was taken to Oriyur and was beheaded on February 4, 1693.

De Britto died a martyr's death. He was canonized by Pope Pius XII in 1947. On February 4 the whole Church celebrates De Britto's Feast.

 

Teilhard de Chardin

A Passionate Champion of Christ

 

Teilhard de Chardin

Pierre Teilhard De Chardin, a great Jesuit of the century, was thought to be a controversial Christian. While reading his book The Phenomenon of Man, his great contribution to the world, especially to the world of philosophy, one is touched by his humble and simple religious life and by his exceptionally wide knowledge and the new way he looks at existence. At the same time, the reader is disturbed to know that Teilhard was sent to China as a punishment for his scientific approach. Teilhard, a prophet, a mystic, a scientific philosopher, and a committed priest, was born in 1881 at an Auvergne in the heart of France. He was the fourth in a family of 12 children. At the age of 12 he was sent to the Jesuit college of Longre. His teacher, Henri Bremond, said that he was a serious student, "perhaps too serious".

At the age of 18, he joined the Jesuit Order. He had hardly started his studies in geology in Paris when the World War I broke out. He was enlisted as a stretcher-bearer and served during the whole period of the war. When the war was over, he returned to his scientific research and became a Professor of Geology in 1920 at the Catholic Institute of Paris.

After three years of Teaching he went to China as a member of the scientific expedition which eventually discovered the Synanthropus, one of the most primitive specimens of man. When he returned to France in 1924, he faced opposition to his scientific ideas from his superiors. It was about this time he made the pathetic remark: "If one tries to break new ground, or to walk in a new path, one walks straight to Calvary."

In 1927 he went back to China and lived uninterruptedly for 27 years. It was there that he wrote his two famous books: Divine Milieu (1927) and The Phenomenon of Man (1938). Death came to him suddenly at the age of 74 after his return to the USA in 1954. He died peacefully on Easter Sunday April 10, 1955 at St. Patrick's Church, New York. After Mass he mingled with the crowds, that human phenomenon he loved so much and then went to a concert. That is when he fell. And his last words were: "I don't remember a thing ... oh ... this time it is terrible".

A few years before his death Teilhard had told a priest friend, "Pray hard for me that I may not die bitter". In fact he did not die bitter, but died as a deserted son. Neither the Church nor the Jesuit Order encouraged him in his work during his life-time. It was only some years after his death; the Church authorities and individual clergymen realized the importance and relevance of Teilhard's scientific and philosophical ideas. Today more and more people, Christians as well as non-Christians, accept his views and take keen interest in studying his philosophy.

Teilhard's message

In his book The Phenomenon of Man he talks about pre-life, life, the Alpha Point, the Omega Point, and so on. According to him the pre-life is what we call matter. In calling it 'pre-life', he wants to imply that there is already a direction, a tendency, an obscure sort of will in matter.

He distinguishes three things in matter: plurality, by virtue of which the substratum of the tangible Universe, dizzily numerous and minute, slopes down towards a limitless base, disintegrating as it goes. Secondly Unity, which pushes the elements towards each other so as to comprehend them together in one great whole, the Universe. And finally Energy, or capacity for interaction. The immediate consequence of this is that the world forms 'a system by its plurality, a Totum by its energy'.

What is new here is that we can see matter under the twin categories of duration and of evolution, instead of fixity and geometry. The whole universe in fact, is found to be engaged in an immense evolution, to which astronomy claims to be able to assign an initial date - between five billion five hundred million and eight billion five hundred million. Teilhard recalls at this point that two principal laws rule matter - that of the conservation of energy and that of the degradation of energy. The more the quantum of energy in the world functions, the more it gets used up. This is the fundamental phenomenon of the world which necessarily leads to the "Phenomenon of Man".

Law of Complexity

The great factor in the evolutionary phenomenon as expounded by Teilhard is the "great law of complexity and consciousness'. It is a law implying a structure, a converging psychic curvature of the world upon itself. This is called the metaphysics of union and fits well into the evolutionary conception of the cosmos. Evolution takes place along the axis of complexification - we pass from the relatively simple to the complex. Thus we pass on to atoms from atomic particles, from atoms to molecule and successively to molecular compounds, carbon compounds, viruses, cells living organism, plants, animals and finally man; briefly pre-life, life and thought.

"All energy", says Teilhard, "is of a psychic nature." But this fundamental energy is divided in to two distinct components: a tangential energy, which brings together all the elements of the world in an ever-increasing complexities, and a radical energy which draws it in the direction of a state even more complex and even more directed towards the future.

According to Teilhard, matter and psychism were co-created. Just as man's body goes back to some primordial matter, which has gradually evolved, so does his psychism or soul. The whole matter is permeated by the spirit, although this is not evident at all levels. The whole man, body and soul, thus emerged form matter. Just as matter evolves from the very beginning into a body that becomes more and more human, so psychism from the very beginning evolves into psychism that becomes more and more human. To put it in Teilhard's own words: "We must accept what science tells us that man was born from the earth. But more logical than scientists when they lecture to us, we must carry the lesson to its conclusion, that is to say, accept that man was born entirely from the world, not only his flesh and bones, but also his incredible power of thought."

The most revolutionary and fruitful aspect of our present age is the relationship it has brought to light between matter and spirit; spirit is no longer independent of matter and vice versa. It follows from this that spirit and matter are two facets of one and the same thing. Man's soul and his body, the inside and outside (Teilhard would say "within and without") have existed at all times. In Teilhard's words: "In the world nothing could ever burst forth as final, across the different thresholds, successively traversed by evolution which has not already existed in some obscure primordial way." And this applies to life, to consciousness and thought.

The Alpha Point

This is the "terminus a quo" of evolution and a rather obscure point in Teilhard's system. It is not what we usually understand by "creatio ex nihilo". According to Teilhard the starting point of evolution is infinite multiplicity, but disorganized: "Infinite Disorder". It was like having stones but not the building or like having seeds but not the plant. Creation, for him, is a creative union, viz. what brings about unification out of multiplicity; thus creation is not and cannot be instantaneous. It is still going on. Evolution does not proceed haphazardly; it is orthogenetic; it has a direction, a goal, an axis of development. The axis passes through the amphibians, reptiles, mammals, the primates and leads straight to man. We can almost pinpoint the axis in the gradual, observable complexification of the nervous system, especially of the brain.

We can follow it almost step by step. If we go back in time, we can follow the axis of evolution as it crosses various thresholds, leading from lithosphere to the biosphere (the vitalization of matter); and from the biosphere to the noosphere, the thinking layer which now covers the world.

The Omega Point

If the cosmic design has a meaning, a direction, a goal, it must have a definite terminus towards which it is advancing. It must have a nucleus. A synthesis can take place only around a nucleus, around which the consciousness of the whole humanity will finally crystallize. In other words, if evolution follows very many lines, there must be a peak in which they must converge. And this peak, he calls "Omega Point."

He also describes the attributes of the Omega Point which are:

  1. It must be already existing;
  2. It must be personal - an intellectual being and not an abstract idea;
  3. It must be transcendent;
  4. It must be autonomous - free from the limitations of space and time; and
  5. It must be irreversible, that is it must be attainable.

He expressly states that in the Omega Point, the human person and his freedom will not be suppressed, but super-personalized. Personality will be infinitely enriched.

Having said these, he passes form hyper-physics to theology and revelation. He finds in the Gospels, especially in St. Paul's writings, a truly existing personal, transcendental, autonomous and irreversible center of cosmic evolution - Christ. He says that Christ is the Omega Point, and in this all-embracing revealed perspective, he maintains that the Incarnation, Resurrection and the Ascension of Christ should be viewed not merely as historical events, affecting Christ only, but as cosmic events, affecting the whole cosmos.

Teilhard's Christian dimension where he makes Christ as the meeting point of science and revelation, of the natural and supernatural of the human and divine in one and the same person, is something to be reckoned with. Though Christians in general are comfortable with this view - Christ as the Omega Point, to many Christians and Church authorities, he sounds a heretic from the point of view of Christian teaching and philosophy. A concrete example for this could be his view: "The Earth was probably born by chance".

One who understands Teilhard and his teachings inherently, will never call him a heretic. Though the Church and also the Jesuit Order were hard on him, he had been very loyal to the Church and a true, committed priest. As one of his close friends, Pierre Leroy, a Jesuit says, Teilhard tried to give us a less infantile image of God, more in conformity with current knowledge. The God he adored and venerated, the God he proclaimed is in no way and impersonal force which we cannot reach. For Teilhard, as for all true believers, God is a personal God: He is He who is: he is. Teilhard is and will remain a passionate champion of Christ. The Human Phenomenon par excellence.