LA SALLE ARPANA NIVAS (LAN) NOVITIATE: 2004
The Novitiate, situated in Bangalore, Karnataka, S. India, was named “La Salle Arpana Nivas”. The name Arpana (a Tamil word) denoted the commitment which the novices intended to make at the end of their novitiate formation, each one ‘being a follower of Christ for a community service of evangelization and education available to all but with a preference for the disadvantaged’ (R90). ‘Nivas’ is a Sanskrit word that means House. This development took place as the result of a recent growth in the number of new Brothers joining the congregation, as Bro. Alvaro Rodriguez, fsc., the Superior General, stated in his approval letter dated December 12, 2003, “… as it does, the deeper roots that the Institute is establishing in the country”.
La Salle Arpana Nivas was officially inaugurated by Most. Rt. Rev. Ignatius Pinto, the Archbishop of Bangalore in the presence of Bro. David Hawke f.s.c, the Regional Chairman of PARC, Bro. .Aiden Kilty f.s.c., the Institute Formation Secretary, Bro. Michael Broughton, the Area Director of Singapore as the representative of the District of Penang, friends, members of other Religious Congregation and the Brothers of the Delegation on June 12, 2004. The Novitiate first functioned at a rented house owned by Mr. Narayanappa at Suvarna Estate, Bilwarada Halli, Bannerghatta Post, Bangalore – 560 093. By establishing the Novitiate (La Salle Arpana Nivas) in 2004, in Bangalore, the capital of Karnataka State, the Brothers returned to the State after 136 years, with heart-felt of thanksgiving and hope.
Re-entry of Lasallian Presence to the Indian State: Karnataka,
The Brothers came to south India in the nineteenth century after a request was made by Bishop Michael Antony, Vicar Apostolate of Mangalore, backed by the approval of the Cardinal Prefect of Propaganda and the Papal Nuncio in France, for Brothers to open an establishment in Mangalore (Now in the state of Karnataka). At the beginning of 1859, four Brothers were sent on this mission. The Brothers established a novitiate for native postulants in the Bishop’s House in Mangalore. In the same year the Brothers were also establishing themselves in the south east at Mangalore. But due to various reasons as explained earlier, the Brothers had to leave Mangalore in 1868, after nine years of their presence in Karnataka.
By newly establishing the Novitiate (La Salle Arpana Nivas) in 2004, in Bangalore, the capital of Karnataka State, the Brothers returned to the state after an absence of 136 years, with a heart-felt thanksgiving and hope. If the first initiative in establishing the Institute in Karnataka was undertaken by Brothers from France, the second was taken up by the sons of Mother India from Tamil Nadu.
Declaration of Rationale to begin the Novitiate Programme in India:
The PARC 25 (Pacific Asian Regional Conference of Brother Visitors) held in Kogoshima, Japan, on Feb 14-18, 2002, studied a possible increase in the number novices in the PARC Region. The analysis then was that most candidates were expected to be from India. Though India still wished to send its novices to the PARC novitiate at LIPA, growing financial constraints and the political situation at the time made it increasingly difficult to obtain the necessary visas to enter the other countries, (particularly the Philippines, where the previous Novices were sent). The Indian Brothers strongly advocated the desirability of having a novitiate in India in preference of sending the candidates to the PARC LIPA Novitiate in the Philippines.
The members of PARC felt that having a novitiate in India would be a credible solution and that it would be also less expensive given the constraints experienced in acquiring visas along with other difficulties. Further, there were other additional resources in such places as Bangalore that had well developed Centres of religious study & houses of formation that the Novitiate formation programme could tap into. Therefore, PARC 25 decided that the Delegation of India could submit a feasible study report to Brother Aidan Kilty, FSC, Institute Secretary for Formation, for consideration and for eventual submission to Brother Superior General for Institute approval. A long period of constant dialogue between the Institute’s Formation Commission and the Delegation of India preceded the eventual approval of Bro. Alvaro Rodriguez., f.s.c., Superior General. The Superior General gave approval and hoped that the opening of a Novitiate in India would bring joy to Brothers and Lasallians all over the world, signaling, as it did, the deeper roots that the Institute in India. Apart from overcoming the problems of travel to a foreign country and the cost of living compared with India, there were a number of other advantages in having the Novitiate in Bangalore.
The Barnagatta zone where the novitiate was located had a significant number of other congregation novitiates and they conducted inter- novitiate programmes on a regular basis. The Brothers and novices regularly participated in these programmes and were expected to take turn in preparing and presenting them from time to time. Across the city another zone named Carmalarum there were eleven novitiates where they could also participate if the staff considered it advantageous.
The inaugural function took place on June 12, 2004 at 10:30 am. at La Salle Arpana Nivas, Suvarna Estate, Bilwarda Halli, Bannerghatta Post, Bangalore – 560 083., Bro. David Hawke, FSC, Regional Chairman of PARC, in the presence of Most Rt. Rev. Ignatius Pinto, the Archbishop of Bangalore, who graciously attended together with Bro. Aidan Kilty, fsc., Institute Formation Secretary, Bro. Michael Broughton, Area Director of Singapore as the representative of the District Penang, along with the Brothers present declared the new novitiate open.
Bro. Heldon Fernando was appointed the first Director for this new Novitiate and Bro. T. Amalan as Dean of Studies and Sub-Director was also assigned to this new Community. The Delegation of Brothers was very appreciative of these two Brothers for their willingness and generosity in offering themselves to be members of this new community. The first Novices to follow the Novitiate programme in Bangalore were Antonyraj, Antonydoss, Santiyago, Thomson, Brinesh V. Rayen, Raja Vijayan, Victor, Ignatius Britto, Xavier and Arockia Vincent. They spent their two years novitiate in the rented house at Bilwarada Halli, belonging to Mr. Narayanappa.
The Brothers were very grateful to His Grace, Most Rev. Dr. Ignatius Pinto for his permission to enter the Archdiocese and to Bro. Alvaro Rodriquez., f.s.c., the Superior General, and his Council for the trust and confidence that they placed in the Brothers of the Delegation. Mr. Narayanappa, the owner of the leased house, generously offered his residence to the Brothers to begin their life in the State of Karnataka and was very helpful in every way possible by allowing them to modify the buildings to make life conducive for the programme. Mr. B. Rangho Fernando helped the Brothers to secure land to develop a purpose built novitiate and was a constant and staunch supporter to all. Bro. James Kimpton from RTU financed a bore well at the new site for the use of the community and Bro. Alvaro, Superior, also contributed financially to the lease of the building to begin the Novitiate.
OPENING OF THE NEW NOVITIATE BUILDING 28 MAY 2006
At the opening of the new Novitiate building Bro. David Hawke, Delegate, addressed the gathering as follows:
“Most Rev. Bernard Moras, Bro. Arockiadoss, Brothers and friends of the Delegation of India.
On an occasion such as this, I think immediately of the final chapter of the Rule of the De LaSalle Brothers which is titled; “The Vitality of the Institution”. It tells us:
“The life and development of the Institute depend primarily on the mystery and power of grace”.
The inauguration of the Novitiate of the Delegation of India is a sign of the “life and development” of the Institute in this part of the world. This is indeed a moment of grace for the Delegation and all who will form and be formed in this place.
I wish to address my comments first to all to the Brother Novices and the postulants who will soon become novices and those in the Aspirancy and Juniorate programmes of formation. You, my friends, are the reason for the inauguration of the novitiate today. Your calling by God and the discernment of it, is indeed an example of the vitality of the Institution. Hence in the name of the Institution today, I salute each of you, your families and Brothers who have accompanied and will accompany you.
In particular, I single out Bro. Heldon, Director and Bro. Amalan, Sub-Director of Studies. You have a special role in the life of the novices as formators. Daily, you mentor, accompany and teach the novices, forming a community with them and assisting them as the power of God’s grace works in their lives. The Delegation appreciates all you do in the pivotal ministry of formation.
God has blessed us today and the Founder would once again say; “God be blessed”. He has blessed us through the outstanding generosity and commitment of people who have worked on the project from its conception to birth today. I pay tribute to Bro. John Fernando, former President, Bro. Mark Murphy, former Delegate and their Council, along with Bro. Arockiadoss recently appointed as President of the Delegation. Had Bro. John not given special attention to the project would not have been possible. The Delegation is indebted to these two Brothers.
Bro. Alvaro, Superior General and Council, Bro. Aidan Kilty, international Secretary for Formation and Commission granted the necessary approvals along the way, ensuring that the Delegation delivered a novitiate programme complying with the policies of the Institution and requirements of Canon Law. I acknowledge Bro. Aidan’s support, not only with the development of the novitiate, but also his contribution to formation in India over these past ten years.
No development such as this is undertaken without the necessary funds to build and maintain it. Today with deep gratitude we thank our donors; Bro. Alvaro Superior General, SECOLI, the District of San Francisco, Ireland, Great Britain, the Netherlands, South Belgium and Australia.
In their presence today, I thank and honor Miss Irene Tan, Benefactor of the Institute and Bro. Cassian Pappu of Malaysia in the District of Penang. Miss Tan’s generous gift and willingness to have chapel named in honor of her late Father is deeply appreciated. Likewise, Bro. Cassian’s fundraising in Malaysia for the Delegation is valued. Irene and Bro. Cassian; I assured you of the prayers of the Brothers and especially the novices here in Bangalore.
Reaching the Unreached is also a generous donor of the Novitiate, indicative of the fact that this important ministry in the Delegation values the work of the Novitiate and offers work to the newly professed Brothers.
Today we acknowledge and offer our prayerful thanks to a litany of donors from overseas and particularly the USA. Their names are recorded on a plaque to mark the occasion.
The Brothers thank Your Grace for your support and leadership. We thank also, the Holy Cross Fathers for looking after the sacramental needs of the novitiate community. We are delighted to be your neighbours. We are mindful too that the local parish welcomes the novitiate community for apostolic work and worship.
What we see in the building today is a product of the professional and technical skills of all who laboured on this site. I am amazed at how quickly buildings are erected in this country. As we take pride in this special place we express our gratitude to;
As we celebrate together today may we see this inauguration as a sign of hope in the future, not only in India, but also throughout our Lasallian world. May the blessings of this day accrue to each of us”.
Sunday 20th April 2008 was truly a ‘red letter day’ in the history of the Delegation of India at the Novitiate, Bangalore. Twelve Novices took their First Vows as De La Salle Brothers. They were Brothers Anudeep Kumar, Arockia Regan, Arul Jeevahar, Arul Paneer Selvam, Bala Raju, Chiranjeevi, Jesu Raj, Kulundai, Lourdu Jude, Robert Browing, Sudheer and Sudheer Kumar. Six others received the Religious Habit and one was formally accepted into the Novitiate. The six who received the Holy Habit were Novices Arockiasamy, Darryl, Edison, Jeyakumar, John Peter and Suresh. Postulant Arul Doss was received into the Novitiate.
The Brothers who made their first vows had the privilege of being accompanied by their parents who were there to witness and bless their sons on entering the Religious Life. They garlanded them at the door to the Novitiate and accompanied them to the altar where they sat behind them and actively participated during the celebration of the Holy Mass when it came to presenting the offertory gifts and embracing their sons upon the acceptance of their vows by Bro. Arockiadoss, President of the Delegation.
The chief celebrant at Holy Mass was Rev. Fr. Arul C.S.C. Diocesan Secretary of Bangalore Family Commission and accompanied by Fr Charles Ducan C.S.C. the Novitiate Chaplain along with other clergy, many being relatives of the young Brothers. The liturgy celebration took place under canvas in the Novitiate quadrangle where many Brothers, Sisters and other relatives and friends of the Brothers were accommodated.
Bro. Arokiadoss delivered the homily on the theme of ‘Association’ and why the Institute had adopted the ‘Vow of Association for the Christian Education of children’ as the first and principal vow of the vows the young Brothers were about to take. He traced the history of the vow from the time the very first Brothers along with the Founder JBS de La Salle took that vow along with Obedience and Stability at the very beginning of the society of ‘Brothers of the Christian Schools’. He told the assembly that the 44th General Chapter of the Brothers appealed to Rome to grant permission to allow the Brothers to make the vow of ‘Association’ the first of the vows of the Brothers and the Sacred Congregation granted permission within few days.
During the felicitations after the liturgy Brother Aroickidoss took the opportunity to release the publication of the ‘Meditations for the Time of Retreat’ translated into Tamil that was completed by four young Brothers at Boys’ Town recently. It was indeed a fitting tribute to their efforts and the parents of the First Vow Brothers were also garlanded. Brother Sudheer and Novice Edison felicitated the gathering accompanied by Brothers Chiranjeevi and Jesu Raj who delivered the vote of thanks.
After the ceremony the whole assembly was treated to a sumptuous meal provided by ‘Jewel Caterers’ a local catering firm. Everyone ate heartily and thoroughly enjoyed the occasion. Later all the relatives and friends bade the Brothers and Novices farewell and proceeded to the city to catch transport to their homes. Many Brothers were also in attendance and some departed immediately to their home communities while others remained overnight. We rejoice that God continues to bless our Delegation with renewed strength in granting the vocations we had the privilege to be with today.
Later in June, first year Novice Aruldoss was joined by five candidates from Sri Lanka who came to join the Novitiate in India in preference to going to Lipa Novitiate, Philippines. They were: Annai Joseph, Nelson Revel, Gnanasekaram (Sekar), Jesunesan Dias (Santhan) and Malith Jayan Silva. The Novitiate staff included Bro. J. Felix, Director, Bro. Arulsamy, Bro. Reginald (Mani), from Sri Lanka and Bro. Joe Reid.
Bro. Arulsamy left the Novitiate in 2009 when he was appointed to administer the Nagapattinam School. Bro. Felix in tribute to him wrote as follows:
“The novitiate was privileged to have had the presence of Bro. Arulsamy on the Novitiate staff for the past one year and some months. He greatly influenced the lives of each and everyone here in his own unique and quiet way. That he came back all the way from Nagapattinam to complete the course of study on the History of the Early Institute with our First Year Novices speaks volumes about his character and sense of duty that he has brought to the life and vocation of a De La Salle Brother. I know from many sources that this is how he has lived all his life. He has had the privilege and onerous responsibility in his life to have been the founder member of a number of our institutions in the Indian Delegation of the Brothers. He began the mission at Suranam, and then he was asked to start the mission at Keesara in Andhra Pradesh and later again at Dindigul. These are the institutions of which I am aware. He also held posts of Principal in other brothers’ institutions and still found the time to pursue a Doctorate in Education. That all of our Indian institutions are functioning well today owe in large part to the influence and dedication to the ministry of Bro. Arulsamy.
That he has accomplished all this and yet is recognized by all as a man of gentleness and humility is evidence of his dedication to living the life of a brother and a man dedicated to his religious convictions. His dedication to prayer and the spiritual exercises of the Novitiate have been an example to all of us. He has been a shining example to us here at LAN and we are all privileged to have been in his company.
We wish Bro. Arulsamy God’s choicest blessings in his new assignment at Nagapattinam. Even though the mission there is up and running there are many problems still to be faced before we are able to say that it is secure. I am confident that with Bro. Arulsamy’s guidance and inspiration the brothers will succeed in establishing a strong and vibrant apostolate in that Tsunami affected area. We salute you Brother and pray for you as you take up the ministry in your new community and we pray that God will continue to bless you abundantly in the years to come”.
When Bro. Arulsamy left La Salle Arpana Nivas, Bro. Emmanuel from Sri Lanka replaced him. He was joined by two more candidates from Sri Lanka, Kanistan and Kanistopher along with Indian candidate Gabriel to begin their novitiate programme in 2009. For the five novices who came from Sri Lanka in 2008 to Bangalore to make novitiate along with the Indian novices and the two who came the following year, the move was welcomed by everyone as it would have guaranteed the viability of the novitiate were it not for the problems caused in trying to renew visas. The Indian government changed the conditions for renewing tourist visas in December 2009 which meant that the Sri Lankan novices could not come back to India after a short break. As they were not recognized students following a certified course, they had no choice other than to travel on tourist visas. At the beginning it was possible for them to return home and have the visas renewed within a fortnight, and this absence from Novitiate for the process was acceptable to the Institute given the special circumstances. The government of India however, made it mandatory in December 2009 that in order to renew a tourist visa a period of two months had to elapse before the renewal process could start. A novice could not be absent from Novitiate for that length of time and it would have constituted a severe disruption to the formation programme. The novitiate was then temporarily moved to Colombo in Jan. 2010 to overcome the problem. However, with the drop in the number of candidates from both India and Sri Lanka applying for novitiate the next year, it was no longer feasible to have a novitiate for just Indian and Sri Lankan candidates in either India or Sri Lanka. The Brothers once more began sending the candidates to Lipa in the Philippines for novitiate training from 2011.