De La Salle brothers

Congregation of

DE LA SALLE BROTHERS

LASALLIAN SOUTH ASIA DISTRICT (LASAD)

Congregation of

DE LA SALLE BROTHERS

LASALLIAN SOUTH ASIAN DISTRICT (LASAD)

ST. JOSEPH’S NOVITIATE, MANGALAGIRI: 1964

In his history of the Brothers in India Bro. Arulsamy put together the following sequence of events:

         

In 1964 Bro. Vincent Joseph, the then Provincial along with Bro. Thomas Xavier and Bro. Hilary Joseph were in search of a suitable place for the novitiate. At that time Mr. J.M.B. Roche, a loyal old boy of the Brothers, offered 3 acres of land and buildings including the chapel in Mangalagiri which is fifteen kilo meters west of Tuticorin. Those buildings had been a social centre started by J.L.P. Roche Victoria, father of J.M.B. Roche. The Brothers considered the place suitable for a novitiate and in February, 1964, the old buildings and the Chapel were completely renovated under the critical eye of Bro. Xavier. The four Postulants at that time also helped to paint the doors and windows.  On 8th of March, 1964, His Lordship Thomas Fernando, the Bishop of Tuticorin, officially blessed St. Joseph’s Novitiate and Bro. Vincent Gottwald, the Provincial, declared open the building in the presence of several clergy, Brothers and well-wishers. 

 

Bro. Austin Antony Dee who had served for 36 years in Sri Lanka was appointed Director of novices and Bro. Thomas Xavier was appointed sub-director. There were four postulants who started their Postulancy under the guidance of these two veterans. The Bishop donated eleven acres of land for the use of Brothers. Bro. Vincent, Visitor announced that the Superior General was deeply touched by the generosity of Mr. J.M.B. Roche and conferred on him the signal honour of Benefactor of the Institute and presented him the Diploma.                                                 

The Brothers came to live in the new residence only on 12th of March 1964 after the renovation work had been completed. Though many things were in short supply the Brothers and postulants bore the difficulties patiently and started their training programme zealously. The first taking of the Holy Habit took place on 7th Sep. 1964. The novices Selvaraj and Antony Arulsamy received the Holy Habit from Bro. Lawrence O’Toole, assistant Superior General.  Bro. Antony Arulsamy and Bro. Selvaraj made their first profession on 8th of September the following year during the offertory of the Mass. Bro. Vincent Gottwald received the first vows of the two Indian Brothers after an interval of almost one century. It was the fruit of the dedicated labour of Bro. Cassian Pappu, the then vocation promoter. For six months after their profession the two scholastics continued to stay in Mangalagiri till they left for the Scholasticate in Colombo for on 5th of March 1966.

 

Bro. Austin, with the help of the novices, planted coconut seedlings around the property. Since there was no ‘supply of pumped water’ in the absence of electricity to irrigate the plantation the novices along with their novice master carried water in buckets for the coconut plants and fruit saplings. Even Fr. Emmanuel Diez, the chaplain, helped to water the plants occasionally.  Bit by bit the farm was developed. New wells were dug and the irrigation system was improved. Projects were written to donors and money was obtained to manure and cultivate the land. The novices cultivated paddy and vegetables sufficient to meet the needs on the Brothers and novices from time to time.

THE NEW NOVITIATE BUILDING, MANGALAGIRI:

Since the old ‘social centre building’ was not conducive for the training of the novices, Bro. Austin applied for and got the money to build a new spacious building and Mr. John Motha, an old boy of the Brothers, was the contractor chosen, to build it. It was blessed by Rt. Rev. Thomas Fernando, Bishop of Tuticorin, and opened by Bro. Pablo Manuel, Vicar General of De La Salle Brothers, on 30th of March 1967.

After thirteen years of Yeoman Service, as novice master Bro. Austin left Mangalagiri for a deserving holiday and on 15th August, 1977 and Bro. Hilary who had spent many years of service as Director and principal in Mannar, Sri Lanka, became the new novice master.  At this time there were five Indian novices and seven Sri Lankan novices attending the novitiate. Bro. Patrick Minus was by then the sub-director of the novitiate. In January, 1978, Bro. Joseph Fernando was appointed sub-Director. He was also put in charge of the farm and developed it into a profitable one. Since Bro. Hilary’s visa of stay in India could not be renewed, he left Mangalagiri on 16th of January, 1979, and Bro. Austin once again became the Director of novices. Bro. Joseph continued as sub-director of the novitiate.

During the novitiate period the novices were given a chance to experience the apostolic life of the De La Salle Brothers in the field of teaching catechism to the children. The novices went to a few villages around Mangalagiri and taught catechism to 100 children on Sunday evenings.  Under the guidance of the novitiate staff, and taking into consideration all the socio-psychological aspects of the local children they prepared the lessons well under the guidance of the novitiate staff. The novices also organized liturgical services and prayer sessions for the children of the villages. After Bro. Joseph, Brothers Jerome, Ignaci, Motha, Paulraj, and Amalraj were appointed to the novitiate community and also assisted in forming the novices and in taking care of the farm.

 

Postulancy 1969: Bro. Maxwell, Rupa, Nirmal, Donald, Granville, Joseph Fdo’s group 

 

    In June 1984 Bro. Joseph Fernando succeeded Bro. Austin as novice master. He introduced many innovative methods for forming the novices. The development of new land took place under the supervision of Bro. Paulraj. The novices continued to go to the neighbouring villages for Sunday catechism and Bro. Antony taught them pedagogy.

 

In June, 1986, Bro. Thomas Fernando became the novice master for one year assisted by Bro. Amalraj. The formation programme was changed at this time as the postulants had to first complete a degree programme before entering the Postulancy and afterwards they went to Sri Lanka for the novitiate. Mangalagiri novitiate was temporarily closed. Bro. Motha from Tuticorin looked after the property and the farm. From 1988 to 1989 the Postulancy programme was conducted at Mangalagiri and Bro. Heldon was appointed the director of the house and Postulancy programme.  One year later Mangalagiri became a Juniorate and Bro. Heldon continued in charge of the juniors and Bro. Gerald ably assisted him in addition to his vocation promotion work. In 1992-93 Bro. Gerald became the Director of junior novices and the juniors attended high school studies in the nearby Pudukottai. From 1993 to 1995 Bro. Arockiasamy was appointed the Director of Mangalagiri. In 1996 Bro. Rajan became the Director of the community. But since the juniors could not get places in the local Pudukottai schools, they were forced to travel to Tuticorin daily to continue their studies. Bro. Rajan, with the help of PROYDE, Spain, built a community centre for the use of the neighbours of Mangalagiri. He also built a new kitchen on the premises. He renovated the novitiate building and modified the old building.

 

In the millennium year the community consisted of three Brothers and 32 junior novices. Bro. Robert continued to teach in P.M.O-La Salle Hr. Sec. School, Tuticorin besides helping Bro. Rajan in assisting the juniors. Bro. Uvari Antony, the next vocation promoter also helped to strengthened the community.

Report prepared by Bro. Calixtus Fernando for the 1976 General Chapter

HOUSES OF FORMATION:

 

The Novitiate Mangalagiri:

            The Houses of Formation made a new beginning in India as recently as 1964, when the Novitiate and Juniors were started in Mangalagiri and Tuticorin respectively. The Novitiate took in the novices from Sri Lanka and India.

 

The Novitiate and Observations on Recruiting:

            The first house of the novitiate was on old leather tanning factory belonging to an old boy, Mr. J.B.M. Roche who gifted it to the Brothers in 1964 together with an old chapel building in 1908. He also gifted about 3 acres of land. In 1968 a new two-floor block arose on the Novitiate property, thanks to financial assistance from Bro. Pablo Manuel, the Vicar General who laid the foundation stone. Bro. Austin Dee was the Novice Master since the inception and Bro. Xavier had helped him as Sub-Director almost up-to his death in 1974.

            Recruiting in India has not been easy, nor, we may say, very rewarding up till now. The De La Salle Brothers were naturally unknown to the youth of this country. Our first efforts were to get aspirants for the novitiate. Brothers Xavier and Hilary were mainly responsible for the first group of four postulants. Their recruiting had to be rather quickly done. Then the better candidates had naturally been selected by other Recruiters earlier in the field, and so their perhaps accounts for only one of these four postulants being a Brother with us today. It was then decided that a Juniorate was essential if we were to make a good selection of aspirants. From 1964, the Juniorate has been functioning, and nearly all the Tamil Brothers we have to-day have passed that way. The percentage of perseverance of these Juniors has been very low indeed. This can probably be put down to the hasty intake, in our desire to build up numbers, failing thereby to test the candidates for a sincere vocation. Then there was a certain amount of insincerity on the part of the parents so many of whom claimed their children back once the senior classes were reached in school. May be, too, we hadn’t enough to show that would arouse their admiration for the Brothers. Life and work, for there was only a poorly staffed school catering for the more backward children of the area, at least socially if not intellectually. On the other hand there was only Boys’ Town, to point to, and that was just growing into shape. In fact, we had not much to show even by way of Brothers at that time.

            This concentration on the Juniorate for our recruiting accounts for the total absence of novices from 1965 to 1969. This was perhaps one of our biggest mistakes, for it has left us with so few Brothers after ten years and more of novitiate. The following are the STATISTICS FOR THE NOVITIATE FROM 1964-1975. During this period there have been ten groups of novices here; only in 1971 was there a gap with no novitiate going on.

 

Year

Ceylon Novs.

Indian Novs.

Total

Made Vows

No. with us

30-10-75

Ceylon

India.

1964

0

3

3

3

0

1

1965

6

0

6

5

1

0

1966

2

0

2

2

1

0

1967

6

0

6

5

4

0

1968

4

0

4

4

2

0

1969

13

4

17

16

11

2

1970

1

2

3

2

1

1

1971

1972

7

2

9

9

4

1

1973

1

4

5

4

1

3

1974

8

0

8

8

8

0

Total

48

15

63

58

33

8

% of preference of those who made the vows:   Ceylon … 33/48 = 73.3%

                                                                                    India    …   8/15 =  61.5%

                                                                                    For all  … 41/58 = 70.6%

 

           There is no doubt the odds have been against us as far as recruiting is concerned over the past years. No one can say that efforts have not been made. A full-time recruiter had been appointed. Bro. Emiliano went about his work most conscientiously. If he did not have much to show for his trouble, there may be many other causes for it. One thing is, however, certain and that is that our very existence in India depends on the success of the recruiting during the next few years. The present recruiter, Bro. Joseph is young and inexperienced, and needs very help and encouragement. I think it is the help he needs most. Most Brothers should involve themselves in recruiting when opportunity offers. They should work in conjunction with the Brother Recruiter. But they may often be working on their own and in their own area. There is great scope for the Brothers in India where so much liberty still prevails.

 

Observations:

           The Juniorate and the Scholasticate have both suffered because of being at unsuitable locations and lack of trained staff. We did our best to remedy the former but with no great success, while the latter can only be remedied when trained men who become available here on the spot, for very few outside personnel have been able to come to our help. Every opportunity has been given our young Brothers to qualify themselves. An academic degree (B.A. or B.Sc.) and a professional qualification (B.T) are required for registration as an approved teacher in a government aided High School. That they are obliged to be away in the various colleges for long periods without contact with their community is a great pity but is almost inevitable when one considers the almost impossibility of finding colleges in one locality that would offer all the subjects required by the Brothers.

            Where we have failed most noticeably, perhaps, is in providing a suitable theological and ascetical formation in the Scholasticate year that would compare with their academic studies. It is in this field that the dispersal of the Brothers for long periods has been most prejudicial. Ways and means should be sought to remedy this. Will our joining with another Congregation of Brothers in India solve this problem?

 

            Our position with regard to personnel has been made more critical by the defections of men in key posts or who were specially trained for posts here. It has not been possible to replace them. And so the onus of responsibility… falling on too few, and, in many cases, still inexperienced men. The results are tensions of various kinds. Such being the case, further enlargement of projects with the necessary demand for personnel is not in the interests of the Region as a whole, at this juncture.

            Financially we shall need the assistance of the Institute for some years to come. If most of our Brothers are to be assigned to Boys’ Town or similar projects, we don’t see how we can make the Region financially viable. Unless these Institutions are in a position to pay the Brothers a real salary, and come to the assistance of the Houses of Formation, the retired Brothers, Regional expenses, etc. From what we see, the Boys’ Town can only just make ends meet. This should we make clear in any report to the Major Superiors and the General Council.

 

The Juniorate:

           In 1964, thanks to the pioneer work of Bro. Cassian and other Brothers who recruited the Indian boys to the Juniorate, there were 6 Junior novices at Tuticorin and Bro. Lawrence became the first Director of the Juniorate.

            Since the Brothers were not well known in India the vocations to our congregation where not bright. In spite of that in 1967 there were 30 juniors under Bro. Xavier. In 1969 Bro. William became the Director of the Junior novices and he was able to send 4 junior novices to the Novitiate.

 

In 1970, Brothers thought that Tuticorin was not so good a place for the Juniorate and so they shifted the Juniorate to Madurai. They built a fine Juniorate in Boys’ Town but the juniors stayed there only for three years as schooling wad difficult.

            In 1973, the Juniorate was shifted back to Tuticorin and Bro. Emiliano became the Director of a well-organized Juniorate. Since Bro. Emiliano had to go for higher studies Bro. Arulsamy became the Director of the Juniorate. At present there are three junior novices in Tuticorin and nine juniors in Boys’ Town.

            For the past 11 years 103 juniors have come to the Juniorate. Out of these juniors there are at present six Brothers, two novices and twelve juniors. It shows that either the selection was not very good or they were not as well looked after as they should have been. It is up to us to improve the method and recruitment as well as the method of training. With God’s help the Brothers hope to increase local recruits in India in the near future.

 

Year

Number of Brothers in De La Salle House

Brothers Scholastics at De La Salle House

Junior Novices

Junior Novices gone to the Novitiate

Defection from the Juniors

1964

3

6

2

2

1965

3

9

2

1966

3

3

10

3

1067

3

1

32

8

1968

3

1

29

12

1969

3

1

24

4

7

1970

2

12

2

8

1971

2

9

7

1972

3

7

2

5

1973

2

1

23

3

7

1974

2

2

23

2

10

1975

2

2

    3+9*

* at Boys’ Town, Benildus House

 

THE SCHOLASTICATE:

 

                  During the ten years (1965-1975) we had two distinct approaches to the preparation of the Brothers Scholastics of this region. From 1965 to 1970 there was no local Scholasticate. The individuals concerned were catered for, one by one, in the communities of Boys’ Town or Tuticorin. In 1965 two Brothers were sent overseas to Wynonna, U.S.A. for a five year Scholasticate. In 1966 three made their Scholasticate in Colombo.

            In 1970, with the establishment of the College at Madurai, the Juniorate and Scholasticate were co-housed at Boys’ Town, Madurai for two years and at Pudukottai, Madurai for one year (1973). Within the latter period of five years there were six Directors in charge of the Scholastics. The House of the Juniorate, also called “Benildus House” has been the Central House for the Scholastics attending various Institutions. It is the home for those doing a year’s orientation course before or after the Novitiate. Some Scholastics follow courses in colleges situated in distant towns. Thus two attend St. Joseph’s Trichy whilst resident at the students’ hostel there and two attend other colleges from De La Salle House Community and one attends an engineering College from Boys’ Town, Madurai. During the vacation all these assemble in the Central House of the Scholasticate. This Diaspora situation causes weakness in the formation programme. No proper religious courses could be organized on a systematic basis. An assignment course is all that is possible for religious studies.

            As the minimum qualifications for a recognized teacher entering a high school is a first degree plus a professional course of one year. These courses are important in Tamil Nadu.

            Another weakness of the system has been discussed elsewhere as to community life and follow up. The majority of those who made their Scholasticate overseas have not proved themselves loyal and stable. The scholasticate is still in its infancy and is passing through a process of evolution and experimentation.

 

SCHOLASTICATE STATISTICS 1965-1975:

 

Total No. of those who did academic studies in the 10 years                               = 17

            Total No. of those qualifying with degrees                                                =   5

            Total No. of those in the process of qualifying                                          =   6

            Total No. of those who left us during the period                                        =   7

            Total No. of those still persevering                                                             =   9

            Percentage of Perseverance = 9/17 = 53 per cent Nos.:

 

1964:1;           1965:2;           1966:3;           1967:4;           1968:0;           1969:1; 1970:1; 1971:1;             1972:1;           1973:2;           1974:1

 

General Observations:

 

The Indian Region of the District of Colombo has existed since August 1961. Beginning with Boys’ Town in the Archdiocese of Madurai the apostolate of the Brothers has extended to the Diocese of Tuticorin. There are 5 houses in all, the Novitiate and the Ornellas Schools and Community being founded in 1964. We have two socio-educational institutions organized on behalf of the destitute (the orphans), one high school for the poor and three houses of formation; the Novitiate, the Juniorate and the Scholasticate existing as separate houses in three different places. All the buildings for these came up during the ten years 1965 to 1975 and these were possible because of magnanimous support from our higher Superiors in Rome and from Donor agencies and gifts from Brothers of various countries. In all, twenty-five Brothers have worked in the Region since the inception, (twenty two from 1965). Of these fifteen are missionaries from Europe, America, Australia, Malaysia and Ceylon. There are ten Indian Brothers. Today there are six scholastics and two novices and with these the number of Indian Brothers will be half that of the Brothers in the Region.

            The institutions of the region produce little or no income as they are organizations for the poor and for those in formation. The region is trying to support its formation programmes with the proceeds of a small estate. A District or the Institute will have to nurture the region yet for some time more till the local Brothers increase in number and can ear for the area through their labours.

            The past ten years have seen much material development at Boys’ Town, the Boys’ Village, the Ornellas High School and the Novitiate where new buildings were put up in place of temporary ones. A Regional Council administers the region. Its Chairman acts as a liaison officer between the Brothers and the higher Superiors in Rome. The Brother Visitor maintains his authority over the region by his visits and arrangements. Recruitment has been mainly confined to Tamil Nadu State where Tamil is the medium of instruction and the official language of the State. A policy of consolidation rather than of expansion has been adopted in determining the extent of the Lasallian apostolate in the two dioceses. In this land of teeming millions and numerous villages wonderful opportunities for education and social development exist.

            Our stability and progress will, however, depend on the rate of increase and quality of local vocations. Foreign missionaries are allowed temporarily after screening, by Government. Most of the missionaries have been birds of passage. The Houses of Formation will have to function with full vigour and Institute support to build up this missionary sector of the Institute is necessary for the next ten years.

 

1965 – 1975:

            No. of Brothers who worked in the Region                                  =          25

            No. of Brothers missionaries in the Region                                 =          15

            No. of Brothers local in the Region                                               =          10

            No. of Brothers in Houses of Formation now                              =            6

            No. of Brothers: defections (Europeans: 2; locals: 2)                =            4

 

(Admissions to and defections from the houses of formation are given elsewhere).

 

            Report for 1976 General Chapter by        Bro. C. Fernando, FSC.,

Regional Chairman,

                                                                                                India.