An abstract with special reference to Boys’ Town trustees Involvement.
In 1968 His Grace Dr Justin Diraviam, Archbishop of Madurai desired to open a University College with special emphasis on Philosophy and Science for the higher education of men, especially the Seminarians in Madurai District.1 He sought the assistance of several religious congregations and had no response.2 “At long last and most unexpectedly” Brother John Ealred, the Director and Trustee of Boys’ Town, Nagamalai offered his services to the Archbishop as his agent, to establish the College.3 The matter was discussed by the regional Council of the De La Salle Brothers for India at their meeting on 1st January, 1969 at Mangalagiri. The higher superiors in Rome were contacted. On their advice the Council drew up six points for an agreement with His Grace. It was expressly stated in that letter of 4th January 1969 that “we have understood from our Brother Superior’s letter that our congregation is not prepared to accept any financial responsibility for the College. This does not mean, however, that we will not make every effort to raise funds on behalf of the College”.4 The Archbishop did not reply. The matter rested there; and there was no clear-cut written agreement with His Grace on the degrees and aspects of Commitment involving the parties. As time passed, this lapse led to serious misunderstanding of the position of the Brothers, particularly the role of the Boys’ Town Trustee in his involvement with the finances of the College. The Board of Management of 9 members which met once a year for formality’s sake had no College endowment to administer and for all practical purposes the Board was as good as non-existent.5 Several of its rules hastily drawn up to register the Governing Body as a Society to satisfy the University for purposes of recognition of the College were quite impracticable. 6 The Correspondent of the College is to be officially appointed by the Archbishop at a meeting of this Board, as all moneys paid to the College as grants are to be paid to the Correspondent by name, after the resolution appointing him to the position has been filled by the Director of Collegiate Education, Madras. 7
(1)- Letter of His Grace, the Archbishop to the University, dated 08 11 ’68 (L.1)
(2)- In Archbishop’s message to the first College Magazine (1970 –’71) page 7
(4)- Letter of the Chairman of the Regional Council of the Brothers in India to His Grace the Archbishop of Madurai dated 4 01 ’69, and minutes of that meeting. (L.3)
(5)- Vide No. 900/A of 27 02 ’70 Registrar of Madurai University, to Archbishop and the reply of the Archbishop dated 17 03 ’70
(6)- Rules of the Managing Body of De La Salle College, Document No. 4 – Registered No. 27/1970 of 30 03 ’70 – (L.27)
Brother Ealred became the first Correspondent of the College1 and he was succeeded by Bro. C. Fernando after the former’s departure. 2 During the first year of its existence the College was not entitled to any grants from the government. The College was admitted to teaching and other grants by Special Government Orders Rc. No. 15992/S2/70 dated 02 06 ’71and Government Memo. No. 33811/M2/71- (1) DATED 18 05 ’71.
In the establishment of the College the sympathy and support of the other Bishops of Tamil Nadu were sought both by His Grace the Archbishop and Bro. Ealred. In a particular manner the support of His Grace, the Archbishop R. Arulappa of Madras, the Chairman of the Tamil Nadu Bishops’ Conference, was warm and encouraging, for “a special feature of this College is going to be the great help it is to render to the Church in Tamil Nadu by giving every possible cooperation in the education of future priests”. 3 Here the Archbishop of Madras struck the key-note aim of the College from the point of view of an apostolate.
In consultation with his Grace, Dr Diraviam, and with the other Bishops who were all written to, Bro. Ealred drew up a unique building scheme for the proposed College, as a three-stage project which leaned very heavily on contributions from donor agencies from overseas for capital expenditure of stages I and II of the building programme. 4 According to the contemplated contribution analysis the total cost of De La Salle College was to be in US$ 534,670 or Indian Rupees 37,42,690/- Of this Rome was expected to give $193,000 or 36.09%, the Government of India $2,39,000 or 44.7%; Donor agencies $52,000 or 9.72%; the Bishop’s Conference of Tamil Nadu $30,670 or 5.53%; and U.S. aid to India $20,000 or 3.74%. It was thought that the financial support of the local Bishops would be used to create a reserve fund “in order to relieve the worry involved, in meeting recurring deficits that there might be in the early years”. 5 This did not happen. Banking on these supports, the founding of the College was undertaken. Requests were made through the Tamil Nadu Bishop’s Conference, and through the Inter-Nuncio and Cardinal Gracias of India, to Propaganda Fide in Rome for U.S. $ 193,000 (Rs 14,28,200/-) 6.
(1) – List of the Managing Body of De La Salle College Document No. 4 – Registered No 4 – Registered No 27/1970 of 30 03 ’70 (L.33)
(2) -Appointment recognized by the Collegiate Director in Proceedings R.C. No. 15992/S2/70 dated 07 07 ’71.
(3) -Vide Archbishop Arulappa’s message to the first College Magazine.
(4) –Bro. John Ealred Letter to Archbishop Arulappa of Madras on 08 09 ’69 (L. 6) also documents sent to Donor Agencies (D1,D2,D3).
(5) -Document: D 1.
(6) -Brother John Ealred Letter to His Grace R. Arulappa of Madras, 08 09 ’69.
(7) -Vide the Capital formation in Document in Document: No. D3, A2.4.
In hot haste land to site the College was searched for. In Kovilankulam Village off Karumathur there was a disused bed of an irrigation tank, unfit for cultivation. His grace the Archbishop of Madurai provided Rs 1,10,000/- and the property was bought in three stages. Fourteen bits were pieced together to become 38.19 acres, costing Rs 96,920/- + Rs 9,235 for stamps + Rs 528.50 for Registration; Rs 2,907.60/- for Brokerage and Rs 408.90/- for other expenses. 1 The larger portion of the land belonged to the present owners of the Velmurugan Bus Company. Mr M.K. Mohideen Rowther of Keeshamathur, Madurai District, was used as an agent for the purchases.
Another plot of land had been bought with the aid of Misereor by Boys’ Town at Keelapatti and his Grace gave $3,000 Canadian, to develop it for experimental Rural courses at the College. The latter land was extended to 48,13 acres and developed for agricultural purposes, so that by 1972 the total value of the Keelapatti farm was estimated by the Karnam (village Govt. Official) at Rs 4,17,715/- .2 The Boys’ Town Trustee sold this farm, later on, to the College for a sum of three lakhs of rupees and in so doing fulfilled an undertaking given to the University Commission by both his Grace the Archbishop of Madurai and his agent Bro. Ealred, at their first visit of Inspection of College property. 3 There was, however, no legal transfer of this property to the College as both properties were then held in the name of Boys’ Town Trust of which the Archbishop was the Chairman. The Boys’ Town trust was the vehicle used to establish the College, 4 as the Boys’ Town Trustee was also the College Correspondent under the legally constituted Board of Management. 5 Thus, gradually the Boys’ Town Trustee became administratively involved in the financial transactions of the College, and this in more ways than one.
In the first place he became involved in property transactions, in finding and acquiring 40 acres of land for siting the new College at a distance of not less than seven miles of an existing College in a moffusil area and according to the requirements of Madurai University. The College was located in close proximity to the University Campus.6 For the sake of getting the College recognised by the University a new academic frame-work for the College was contemplated from the very beginning,
(1) -Vide: The College Property (Document No. D9) and Sketch L. 49.
(2) -Vide: Report of the One man Commission Document. No. L 21. Also notes on Keelapatti Property: Documents. D.9,D10, L42, L43 & L 14
(4) -See Bro. Ealred’s Letter to Canara bank, Madurai of 03 10 1969.
(5) -Registered as an Association with No. 27/1970 on 30 03 1970 with witnesses Mr Francis Raj, Accounts Clerk of Boys’ Town and Mr S. Singarayayar, Member, Board of Management, T.B. Road, Madurai.
(6) -Vide: Letter L.2
Where a Rural Developmental Science Course was to be a significant new feature and through which agricultural extension in the service of the poor of the neighbourhood was to be provided with the help of Misereor and Cebemo and for this scheme Keelapatti became an integral part of the College property.1 It is gratifying to remark that idea has now crystalized in a B.Sc., Rural Development Science Course presented by the first Principal of De La Salle College and enthusiastically received by the university as an examination subject with a new syllabus and a new Board of Studies at the University. 2
Secondly, as the Correspondent of the College and agent of his Grace the Archbishop, the Boys’ Town Trustee became the chief client of the Engineering Construction Corporation of Madras for the building of the College. The Trustee attended the meetings with the building contractors. Thus, at a meeting held in the E.C.C (Eastern Construction Co.) office, in Madras on 3rd July 1969 arrangements were made with the General Manager and the Chief Engineers and Architect to give the contract for the buildings, to the E.C.C. The terms of the agreements were not formal, yet set down in a minute where conditions were spelled out. 3 Brother Ealred was careful to mention in the letter of approval of the estimates for Stage 1 that “The Management has agreed to place the entire contract with M/S E.C.C.4 For payments at different stages of the building construction it was a verbal gentleman’s agreement, as to the amounts, and times of payment.
According to article 6 of the minutes of the meeting held in Madras a commencement was to be made with the construction of the buildings only after a 10% advance of the cost of Stage 1, was made by the clients. 5 Although the building plans and estimates were passed by 8th September, 19696 and reminders were given to the E.C.C. to start work, they did not do so till the first instalment was paid on 9th December 1969. The reason for this delay in payment was obvious. Bro. Eared had no funds at his disposal. He opened a Bank Account under the name ‘De La Salle College Account, Boys’ Town Trust, Nagamalai’, on 21st November, 1969 and that with Rs 100/- only. 7
(1) -Vide Notes on Keelapatti – Document L 42.
(2) -Letter of the University on Rural Development Science B.Sc., also letters to Misereor and Cebemo in College files and in Boys’ Town College file.
(3) -Vide L.4.
(4) -Bro. John Ealred’s Letter dated 8th September, 1969.
(5) -Minutes of the meeting held on 3rd July, 1969 in E.C.C. Office, Madras.
(6) -Letter of Bro. Ealred to E.C.C. No. 6a, dated 8th Sept. 1969.
(7) -Vide: Bank Pass Book No. 665 of 21 11 1969.
Then he transferred temporarily Rs 25,000/- of Boys, Town money to this fund. 1
As there was no money yet forthcoming from Rome he was compelled to think of another serious involvement – an overdraft of 5 lakhs from Canara Bank, Madurai. The Bank’s terms and conditions for the overdraft appear in the documents in the dossier and the nature of the commitments are seen there.2 The newly bought College lands and the buildings to be set thereon ran into mortgage. As the security was not enough the fixed deposits of His Grace the Archbishop of Madurai and the deeds of the Archbishop’s Sivaganga Property had to be moved into the Bank.3 The Archbishop of Madurai stood surety for the entire overdraft.4 Pending the Bank’s legal adviser’s report on the marketability of the mortgages, a sum of Rs 1,50,000/- was released to the E.C.C. on 9th December, 1969 as the required 10% to start work on the buildings. When the Lawyer’s report was received and accepted by the Bank’s Head Office in Bangalore another Rs 3,50,000/- was allowed to the E.C.C. on 22nd June, 1970. It will be noticed here that the overdraft would have been complete for 5 lakhs on the very day the overdraft a/c was opened. So moneys had to be moved in from overseas or elsewhere if the overdraft a/c was to continue. By now Bro. Ealred was desperate for funds. Earlier he had undertaken for Boys’ Town to sub-contract for the E.C.C. in the making and supplying and fitting of frames and doors, windows etc., in the buildings and these had to keep pace with the progress of the builders. 5 This was another involvement that went hard on Boys’ Town.
An advance sum of Rs 30,000/- was given by the E.C.C. for the frames and in due course door and window frames, shutters, ventilators, and hand railings were provided for a total sum of Rs 83,702.57 for Stage 1 (the lecture block, the 3 hostels, the kitchens and stores and servants’ quarters).6
Now the donations from Rome were eagerly awaited. The University Commission had come and gone; and still by May 1970, no start had been made with making furniture for the Lecture rooms. In June, 1970 a sum of Rs 1,43,369.15 arrived as first instalment of the P.W.G. funds. It was thought opportune for the Correspondent to set out for Europe in quest of more funds. So on 13th July 1970 when the College opened the Boys’ Town Trustee was conspicuous by his absence at the Solemn Blessing of the Buildings and Inauguration of the College Courses.
(1) – Entries in Pass Book No. 655. This was the first Bank a/c of the College prior to the sanctioning of overdraft a/c on 9th Dec. 1969 and operated on 22 Jan. 1970. Then account No. 655 ceased and the overdraft a/c began operation till it was closed on 20 09 ’72.
(2) – Letters No’s 27, 28, L11, L13, L15, L16, L17, L19, L25
(3) – Letter to his Grace, the Archbishop dated 26 10 ’70 for fixed deposit receipt No’s 058469 & 058576 for Rs 2,437,98.86.
(4) – Vide Letter L7
(5) – Vide Minutes of the Meeting on 3rd July ‘’69 – No. L4
(6) – E.C.C. list document No.8
Further donations from P.W.G. Germany came. In November 1970, a sum of Rs 8,37,987.82 and the final instalment in Feb. 1971, a sum of Rs 1,85,593.60 This was the $ 193,000 that was expected or Rs 14,28,200 for Phase 1 of the buildings of the College. 1 These sums were channelled through the Canara Bank and were acknowledged by the Archbishop of Madras, the Chairman of the Tamil Nadu Bishop’s Conference. The Overdraft account could now continue to be operated and all expenses, capital and current for equipping the College, its Library, the hostels, the payment of teachers, the levelling of the grounds, the providing of a water supply, became possible through cheques drawn on the overdraft account. 2 It was the overdraft account that made the running of the College possible during the first year when it was not entitled to any grants. But as the E.C.C bills came in and were not met and the Bank interest at 9% accumulated, the debts to the Bank increased. 3
The situation was aggravated by the undertaking of Stage II – A Science Block and a 4 Storey – Hostel Block. The funds expected as scheduled in the analysis for this Stage II failed to arrive. The Archbishop had undertaken to meet the bills of the contractors should donor agencies fail to support the college with funds.4 The E.C.C. became desperate and stopped work in July 19715 and the Boys’ Town Trustee, too departed leaving matters in a state of utter chaos. On the eve of his departure, further loans amounting to Rs 3,45,000 had been taken from the Archbishop of Madras to meet the needs of Stage II.6 From this sum two lakhs were paid to the E.C.C, one lakh to Boys’ Town, the balance of the sale of Keelapatty land and Rs 45,000 for science equipment to the College. In all by Sept. 1971 the Brothers had paid the E.C.C. a sum of Rs 16,80,000 (Rs 11,40,000 for Stage I and Rs 5,40,000 for Stage II). All College Overdrafts and loans had to be supported by the Archdiocese. The debt situation is seen in the document number D.18 in the Dossier.
It was unfortunate that the Fr. Procurator who could have helped had been kept out of the financial scene right through the establishment of the College. He was bitter & uninterested & uncooperative till Sept.1971 when he came in, to help his Archbishop out of the difficulty.
(1) -Vide D.19 Account with P.W.G;
(2) -Vide D5, D7, D15, D16, D18, and D 14
(3) -Vide D.18 showing sums the College has taken on Overdraft and loans since December, 1969 up to March 1972.
(4) – Vide Note to Archbishop on Stage II L 37 signed on 22 09 ’70
(5) – Rs 4,00,000 was due to E.C.C on Stage II by 31 05 ’71 and notice of discontinuance was served on 17 06 ’71 & subsequent letters E.C.C/D.S.C. 306.71 & E.C.C./D.S.C 5137 of 0307’71 asked for payment.
(6) -From the Archbishop of Madras to be refunded by end Sept.1971. By Bank of Baroda Rs 1,00,000 + Indian Overseas Bank Rs 1,45,000 + National Grindlays Bank, Madras on order No. 8741 of 0907’ for a/c on Most Rev. Dr R. Arulappa and Rev. C.M. Fernandez, Procurator Rs 1,00,000/-
(7) -Details in Document D6 and D7.
There were then attempts made to throw the blame and shift the financial responsibility, on the Brothers.1 Gradually, his Grace was made to realise his position and responsibility and accept his mistakes. In the process he looked to another Religious Congregation to take over and run the college with the retirement of the present Principal and Correspondent on 12 12 1972.
In the detailed list of Receipts and expenses2 given by the Fr. Procurator of the Archdiocese of Madurai to Rev. Bro. Visitor, the Boys’ Town had to account for Rs 5,53,160.96 on 31 03 ’72. Of this Rs 3,00,000 is the amount taken as sale proceeds of Keelapatti to the College, the balance is accounted for as follows:- 3
1. To sale of Keelapatti
2. To furniture made
since 01 04 1972 for College
3. To Union Bank on loan &
Interest on Keelapatti
4. To Developmental
Expenses Sep. ’71 to Nov. 72
5. To travelling expenses of
the Director B.T & others
(1969 – ’71)
6. To office Expenses at B.T.
(1969 – ’71)
7. To Electricity bill for temp.
Supply to College 17 06 ’71
8. To Sports gear 31 12 ’71
Note: The present worth of Keelapatty Property on 14 10 ’72 with the developments is Rs.4,17,715.00 (Vide D.10)
(1) – Archbishop’s memorandum to the Superior General on 26 02 ’72 and Fr. Jesudasan’s letter to Bro. Provincial dated 24 06 ’72.
(2) – D. 14 This is the crucial Debit/Credit a/c with the Archdiocese.
(3) – Documents D10, D11, and D12 and letter of Bro. Visitor from Colombo.
The Procurator has liquidated the College Overdraft account including the interest payable and a payment of Rs 5,54,843.35 on 29 09 ’72 and has redeemed College property and Keelapatti land from mortgage and the title deeds are with him.1 Further he paid a sum of Rs 3,00,000 to the E.C.C to complete the essential portions of the Hostel Block (No. 4) and the Science Block fully. 2 By the time this work will be completed the E.C.C will demand another Rs 3,00,000.3
The Procurator has also subsidised the payment of the Staff from time to time as his account shows. Copies of the audited statement of the Accounts have been given to the Procurator for the academic years 1970 -’71 and 1971 – ’72.
At the next meeting of the Board of Management on 12 12 1972, the balance sheet of the College accounts up to that date will be presented where separate accounts of the Receipts and Expenses on the General Account, the Scholarship Account, the Special fees Account and the Hostel account will be shown indicating the bank and cash balances in each account. The Principal & Correspondent will also present an estimate of the total assets of the College, the Stock lists and Inventories of furniture, library books and equipment as on 01 12 ’72. Copies of these will be sent to Rome and to the Boys’ Town Trustee and the Regional Chairman in due course. The new Principal will have the keys, Bank Books and Pass Books. With this act the administration of Bro. C. Fernando will come to a close. His Grace, the Archbishop of Madurai will hand over the administration to the Jesuits as already arranged by him.
(1) -Bank Statement to the Principal on request.
(2) -In the final E.C.C. Bill for Stage I presented to the College on 20 07 ‘’72, the full cost of Stage I came to Rs 12,71,146.13. The balance of Rs 1,31,146.13 was adjusted from the Rs 3 lakhs given by the Procurator to restart and complete Stage II.
(3) -As per the largest progress bill of the E.C.C dated 16 11 ’72.
Work done on Stage II amounts to Rs 8,67,164.41
Work paid on Stage II amounts to Rs 4,62,319.59
Therefor the balance due = Rs 2,74,770.16
When fully complete with water and lighting services both blocks will cost Rs 9,00,000 (Present Value Rs 8,67,164.41)
Dated 01 12 1972 and signed by BROTHER CALIXTUS FERNANDO
PRINCIPAL AND CORRESPONDENT
GIVING UP THE COLLEGE
The Archbishop refused to pay the running costs of the college despite the agreement he made earlier. The Brothers were willing to see to the administration but could not accept to finance the college. The Brothers decided to hand over the college on December 12th 1972 and the Archbishop then handed it over and the entire administration to the Jesuits. In his autobiography “The Man from BORNEO” Bro. Michael Jacques, Assistant stated that he ordered the withdrawal of the Brothers from Karumathur College since the Archbishop was sticking to his guns by expecting an international congregation like the Brothers would fund the college and be responsible for its finances. The Archbishop refused to pledge diocesan property as an endowment for securing recognition of the college as was required by law. Failing to get the Brothers to shoulder the burden and blaming them for their failure he then turned to the Jesuits who accepted the administration of the college provided it was endowed and financially supported. Bro Michael Jacques needed to act in order to save the Brothers from ruin with regard to Boys’ Town and the other Lasallian institutions in India by withdrawing them from Karumathur College.
RESCUING BOYS’ TOWN FROM THE FINANCIAL DISASTER CAUSED BY GETTING INVOLVED WITH THE SETTING UP OF THE DIOCESAN COLLEGE
The Bishop of Madurai Dr Diraviam, had at the beginning approached all the religious congregations in his diocese to get their backing for his pet project that he wished to bring to fruition namely the establishment of a catholic university in his diocese. Everyone had turned him down. He then turned his attention to Bro. Ealred who had just completed the first phase of construction of Boys’ Town along with Bro. James Kimpton. Having convinced Bro. Ealred that he could find the funding he persuaded him to undertake the construction for which he had acquired the land at Karumathur a few miles away from Nagamalai, Puthukottai on the main Theni Road. The bishop convinced Bro. Ealred that he was certain to receive a grant from Misereor for the building of the college and in the meantime he could go ahead and borrow money from banks until the grant arrived. He gave Bro. Ealred a letter pad of signed blank forms with his bishops’ stamp to enable him to secure the loans. Bro. Ealred began the construction of the university college pending the arrival of the funds from Misereor and by the time the time the project was nearing completion there was still no sign of the funds promised by the bishop. Bro. Ealred went to the diocese only to be told that there was no money from Misereor and they were not going to finance the project. When he confronted them about the loans that he had taken against the promises given by the bishop he was told that he had no authority from the diocese to raise funds on behalf of the bishop and that what he had done was his own responsibility. The debts incurred as a result of the building of the college was the responsibility of the Brothers at Boys’ Town and that as far as the project was concerned it was upon them to find the money to service the debts and not the diocese. Bro. Ealred had not only undertaken the building of the college but had also signed up staff for it. Bro. Calixtus Fernando from Singapore was recruited as college President and courses put in place for the launch of the college as a university.
Not only had Boys’ Town property been mortgaged to secure loans for Karumathur College but the production departments of Boys’ Town had been used to produce doors, windows and furniture for the building. It drove Boys’ Town into crippling debts. The bishop refused to undertake raising funds in the diocese for to meet repayments of the loans taken out for the college but he wrote to every bishop in Tamil Nadu and to all the priests and religious in his diocese that the Brothers were wholly responsible for all that had transpired with the building of the college and had acted without the blessing of the Bishop of Madurai. Bro. Ealred became so disillusioned that he left India and returned home to England in 1971 refusing to reply to any communication about what had happened. Even Bro. James Kimpton who was appointed to take over and try and rescue Boys’ Town from the fiasco could not elicit any response from Bro. Ealred on what he knew about what had transpired. It was highly likely that Bro. Ealred had undergone a breakdown in his health and couldn’t respond to any queries. Mr. Germanus his long-time friend wrote a long letter to Bro. Ealred pleading with him to help Bro. James as to the extent of the borrowings drawn down on Boys’ Town but was told that he wanted nothing more to do with India ever.
Bro. James Kimpton was left to pick up the pieces and try to rescue Boys’ Town from the predicament of all demands being made for repayment of the loans that had matured due to the building of La Salle University, Karumathur and the failure of the bishop and his vicar general to accept their responsibility. He soon discovered that nothing in Boys’ Town actually belonged to Boys’ Town as everything had been hypothecated to the banks. The only thing that existed in Boys’ Town that the Brothers could claim as belonging to Boys’ Town was the boys there. Bro. James did not only not accept the denials of the bishop and his vicar general for their responsibilities and blaming the Brothers for the fiasco of De La Salle College but wrote to every bishop in Tamil Nadu and to all priests and religious in the diocese refuting the baseless allegations of the bishop and his vicar about the Brothers in Boys’ Town in the matter. His actions earned him the wrath of the bishop to the extent that Bro. James received a communication from Rome that if he did not leave Boys’ Town he faced the possible prospect of excommunication. He left Boys’ Town by May 1974 but by then he had managed to repay all loans to banks and funding agencies where Bro. Ealred had secured money. By the time the next Brother took over Boys’ Town as administrator there was a clean slate for its continued operations. Bro. James brought with him to the new Boys’ Village the one outstanding loan of Rs: 1,20,000/- that had not been cleared in the time he was there and over time dealt with it also leaving the new administrator of Boys’ Town with a clean slate and no debts to begin his administration.
The purchase of La Salle Tower also became a topic of controversial debate for many because of the involvement of Bro. Ealred with Miss Patricia Bates whose family owned the property and sold it to Boys’ Town. The amount of money paid by the Boys’ Town Brothers for acquiring La Salle Tower was rumoured to have been taken from Boys’ Town by the then Bro. Ealred for his own use after he had left the Brothers and married the one time Boys’ Town typist, Patricia. It was spread abroad that John Bushell took the money from the Boys’ Town account to Australia and that it was not used in the purchase of La Salle Tower. Sadly it would appear that it wasn’t just malicious talk spread by diocesan people but was fuelled by others much closer to the Brothers themselves.
It would seem as if we were once more, enacting, though on a different stage, the former tragedy experienced a century earlier ………. when the Indian Pioneer Brothers of the century before …………. were censured by Brother Imier of Jesus. Vis. …………. In his Far Eastern Report to Brother Gabriel in 1906, when he wrote:
“Paucity of personnel, lack of training both religious and pedagogic and lack of ability, prudence and even common sense which gave rise to scandals, quarrels with missionary priests; desertions, upheavals…(MS Colombo 26 1906-Rome Archives)
Mr. M. Germanus
Germanus and his father had been brought to Boys’ Town by its founder Fr. Viswasam in 1960 until the project was handed over to the Brothers on 21st August 1961. Fr. Viswasam was to later be appointed Bishop of Coimbatore but Germanus and his father who were his cousins and had hailed from the same village decided to stay on in Boys’ Town. They were responsible for the construction of most of the large open wells sunk on the property. One well in particular bears the name “M. Jermanus 1963”. This particular well in the wet land area beside the farm house was named in memory of the accident that almost cost Germanus his life when he fell into it during its construction. It was almost sunk to its full depth and still dry, when Germanus lost his footing after being handed a large stone by another worker, stumbled backward and toppled into the well. His father who was present and knew how to approach an accident case bundled Germanus into his arms and lifted him out. His injuries though fairly serious healed and apart from a lame leg made a full recovery. They continued to work for Boys’ Town until 1973.
Benildus House was the last building to be completed at Boys’ Town in 1969. It was built as a Juniorate for the training of young boys considering becoming Brothers later. The design was Mr Laurie Baker who was a renowned architect in India and of British origin and who was also renowned for the use of locally available cheap materials for constructions. Benildus House was based on a model that he kept on his table at his residence in Kodaikanal. He drew the plans based on this model and presented them to Bro. Ealred (John Bushell). Bro. Ealred had just Rs: 100,000/- to work with and it wasn’t enough to present to ECC who had constructed the other major buildings completed by then at Boys’ Town. He decided to turn to Mr Germanus for the work of constructing this last project. Because of lack of finance available Bro. Ealred enabled Germanus to establish himself as a businessman by buying for him a brick kiln works and thus be in a position to produce the bricks used in the construction of Benildus House.
In this way by keeping the costs to a minimum Germanus completed the construction work for a total of Rs: 107,000/-. It was his first ever entry into the world of building construction and with the success of the project he got launched as a building contractor and Bro. Ealred was the one he credited for his success. Bro. Ealred was also one with an astute business mind as he was also anxious to establish a partnership with Germanus for the next big undertaking that he was about to embark on. By then Bro. Ealred was heavily involved in the construction of De La Salle College, Karumathur.
A story narrated by Germanus at this time concerned his own misfortune to do with the disappearance of an expensive camera from Boys’ Town. It was the practice that when everyone attended Mass in the campus they left their rooms unlocked. There were a number of volunteers from overseas working in Boys’ Town during the early days helping to establish the trade skills that were on offer and to train personnel in the use of the sophisticated machines that had been installed in the industrial training buildings for purpose of educating the boys in their use. Some volunteers also undertook to help set up the pork processing units that enabled Boys’ Town to supply pork meat to Spencer’s of Madras on a weekly basis.
The skills of curing the meats and packaging them was imparted by experts brought from overseas. Many of these volunteers came through the VSO agency (Voluntary Services Overseas) run by the UK government and still to this day one cottage at Boys’ Town is referred to as VSO Cottage. While the staff and students were attending holy Mass an expensive camera was stolen from one of the volunteers. His friends in support when they saw that the police were not anxious to do anything concrete to try and recover the camera took it upon themselves to investigate where it might have been offloaded in Madurai. One volunteer named Keith who happened to be in the city and had phoned Boys’ Town to say that he needed a lift was asked by the others to remain where he was until they arrived. They chose Germanus to accompany them to the city and help to point out the camera shops where they thought that the camera might have been flogged. He agreed to accompany them but kept at a distance so not as to be involved in anything that might happen. When the foreign volunteers got to the shops they put so much pressure on the shop owners to produce everything they had for their scrutiny to discover the stolen item that one owner offered them a replacement camera to get them off his premises. So big was the commotion with the foreigners that a large group of onlookers were attracted to the scene. As the volunteers were leaving one spied Germanus at the end of the street and called out “come here my guide”. Immediately the onlookers pounced on Germanus and began beating him severely for his involvement in the fracas.
He was punched, kicked and badly beaten. A chain that he was wearing on his wrist was used to tie his arms together and he was frog marched off to the police station where he was arrested. He was ordered to sit on the floor in a corner of the room during the completion of the police investigation. Bro. Ealred was informed about what happened and rushed to the police station to plead the innocence of Germanus in what had taken place in town. The police were angry about the conduct of the volunteers and the disturbance of the peace. The volunteers were vehement in pointing out to the city police that they had registered a case with the local police but that they had failed to take action. On verifying with the local police station the claims of the Boys’ Town volunteers the police were persuaded that Germanus was innocent and to release him from custody. Bro. Ealred found him crying quietly in the corner of the police cell room having been so traumatized by all that had happened to him.