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Goethals News Bulletin
Goethals Indian Library & Research Society, Kolkata
Vol. XII No. 1 Bulletin January-March 2009

News Update | Articles | Researchers | New Arrivals | Mails & Emails


Seemar Majhe Ashim Tumi
ST. XAVIER’S KOLKATA
(1835 – 1846)

St. Xavier’s College Kolkata had two beginnings: one on 1 June 1835 and the other on 16 January 1860. The first phase of the College was a brief period of just twelve years during which it changed addresses thrice to accommodate the increasing number of students attracted by the high standards it set.

In October 1834, a group of Jesuits from Liverpool, England landed at Babu Ghat under the leadership of Rev. Robert Leger, the Vicar designate of Bengal. They established the College of St. Francis Xavier at Murgyhatta at a house of Fathullah Apcar, an Armenian Catholic. Father Francis Chadwick was appointed the Rector of the College. This initiative gave an impetus to the Catholic community that lacked the educational reform that marked the Protestant community of the early nineteenth century.

In January 1836, the College was transferred to 3 Park Street for a rent of Rs. 250 pm. The College now needed qualified staff. Fr Chadwick traveled to England and brought with him a group of Jesuit scholastics to teach in the College. In 1838 Fr. Chadwick, reputed for his sternness, left on a long leave due to ill health. Fr. Richard Sumner became the Rector. He quickly mastered Bengali and conducted services in Bengali. By 1839, the College was a matter of pride for the Catholic community of Calcutta.

As the number of students grew, the college was moved to 22, Chowringhee in January 1841, where now stands the Indian Museum. The College began to draw many students from the affluent families. The Jesuits were also running simultaneously a school in the Bowbazar area to serve the less privileged families. That year Dr. Patrick Joseph Carew, an Irishman and a former Vicar of Madras, was appointed the Vicar of Calcutta. Mgr. Carew, a man of the old school, had nurtured reservations about Jesuits. The next five years were not smooth for both the Vicar and the Jesuits. There were confrontations on numerous occasions, which finally led to the departure of the Jesuits from Calcutta in October 1846. The College of St. Xavier’s had no staff.

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ST. XAVIER’S
(1860 - ………)

After a gap of 13 years, the repeated requests of the Catholic community in Calcutta to the Holy See bore fruit. A band of seven Belgian Jesuits arrived at Calcutta in November 1859, under the leadership of Fr. H. Depelchin (Rector: 1860-1871), the Founding Father of the second St. Xavier's. They shifted St. Xavier's from Chowringhee to the Sans Souci Theatre in January 1860, which is now the honest home of learned professors and zealous students.

One hundred and fifty years of service to the nation. St. Xavier’s, Kolkata has grown today into a leading educational institution in India. Both St. Xavier’s School and College are proud of their contribution to the cause of education and culture in Bengal for 150 years. These twin institutions have produced many great educationists and students who earned credit for their Alma Mater.

Fr. E. Lafont was appointed Rector in October 1871. He was a born teacher of physics. The terrible cyclone of November 1864 proved the beginning of his fame. The catastrophe might have been much greater, had not Fr. Lafont given the timely warning.

It was Fr. O’Neill (Rector: 1904-1913) who gave the College its crest and the motto: Nihil Ultra, a motto, significant and suggestive of a noble ideal, of an unconquerable hope, that should urge the Xaverian always to aim high. The motto of the young Xaverian is the old maxim: “Perfectum nihil est, aliquid dum restat agentum” (Nothing is perfect as long as anything remains to be done).

The tiny seed has grown into a mighty tree. In the year of its centenary (1960), St. Xavier's had on its rolls 3503 students. It has, now 50 years later, 7,106 students of whom 2,162 are in the school and 4,944 in the college. A total teaching staff of 213 is educating them. The school section, starting from the Primary, leads up to the ISC Final Examination. The College offers UG and PG courses under five faculties: Arts, Science, Commerce, Business Administration, and Education.

The Society of Jesus, a Christian Religious Order founded by Saint Ignatius of Loyola in 1540, runs St. Xavier’s College. It is one of the 24 University Colleges run by the Jesuits in India. The Jesuit College aims at forming young men and women of competence, commitment, compassion and conscience. St. Xavier's College thus aims at making its own contribution towards a transformation of the present-day social condition so that principles of social justice, equality of opportunity, genuine freedom and respect for religious and moral values, enshrined in the Constitution of India, may prevail, and the possibility of living a fully human existence may be open before all.

St. Francis Xavier is the Patron of St. Xavier’s. There is scarcely an educated Indian who has not heard the name of Francis Xavier. It is to India that Ignatius of Loyola, the Founder of the Society of Jesus, sent his greatest son, Francis Xavier in 1542. Xavier was a zealous “missionary on the move”. He sailed to Malacca and Japan in 1549 where he spent two and a half years. In April 1552 he set sail to China via Malacca from Goa, never to return alive. He died at Sancian, a small island facing China, on 2 December 1552. 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 10 years, 1542 to 1552, called the Xaverian decade.

The list of the old students of St. Xavier’s is studded with many scientists, actors, filmmakers, poets and many industrialists in Bengal. It can boast of some of its pupils who became world famous: Rabindranath Tagore and Jagadish Chandra Bose. While Tagore was impressed by the relationship between teachers and students at St. Xavier’s, Bose found encouragement for his introduction to science in the person of Fr. Lafont, who was called “the father of science” in India. The list includes three chief ministers of Bengal - H. S. Shurawardy, Siddhartha Shankar Ray and Jyoti Basu. Hardly will you find an important office in Kolkata where you do not come across a Xaverian!

St. Xavier’s has always been known for its cosmopolitan and all-India character. Much before the ex-pression “national integration” gained currency, St. Xavier’s has tried to foster among its students the spirit and practice of it. Coming as they do from all over India and from various communities, they live in complete harmony, understanding and mutual respect. Thus they are encouraged to develop beyond local and group affinities, loyalties to the country and to society at large.

The National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) recognized St. Xavier’s College as an “A” grade institution in 2003. In May 2006, it was declared a Centre with Potential for Excellence by the UGC. From July 2006, it became an autonomous college (the first in West Bengal).

St. Xavier’s has all these 150 years remained steadfast and persevered in the midst of troubles and anxieties. Now with all the richness of the past, it faces the future with the same spirit – “Nihil Ultra” (Nothing beyond).

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Stamp on St. Xavier's

On the occasion of St. Xavier’s 125 years, celebrated in 1985, the Government of India honoured the College with the issue of a stamp.

Stamp Issue Date : 12/04/1985
Postage Stamp Denomination : Re 1.00
Postal Stamp Serial Number : 1158
Postal Stamp Name : ST. XAVIER'S COLLEGE CALCUTTA

Tribute to St. Xavier's at 125

The President of India, Gaini Zail Singh, while inaugurating the 125th anniversary of St. Xavier's school and college on February 13, 1985, said: "St. Xavier's can justly take pride in shaping the character of great men like Tagore and J. C. Bose. It is a great centre of learning. St. Francis Xavier's effort has been rewarded".

"Generations of students looked upon St. Xavier's not just as an institution but as their home. In this home, a conscious effort is maintained to encourage friendship and unity between students of different communities and religious".
Cardinal L T Picachy, S. J.

"How strict the Jesuit Fathers were when it came to enforcing discipline and maintaining the academic atmosphere. I was one of the lucky ones, who escaped being caned ... St. Xavier's can attain the eminence and glory as there is 'no interference with its educational policies'. Other educational institutions can learn from the example set by St. Xavier".
 ­ Jyoti Basu


Tribute to St. Xavier's at 150

Undoubtedly, St. Xavier’s is one of the greatest academic institutions in India. Some of India’s greatest minds have been students here, such as Rabindranath Tagore, Jagadish Chandra Bose, Ramananda Chatterji and several others. Over the years, this institution has produced not only brilliant academic minds but also true citizens of India. What I am particularly struck by is the deep and abiding chord of fraternity that the institution has fostered in the Xavierian. To say the word ‘Xavierian’ is akin to saying the word ‘family’ and I am honoured to be amidst this great family today.
- Shri Pranab Mukherjee.

“St Xavier’s is important and has improved the quality of education in Bengal. Higher education is at the centre of the developmental process of any country and the Honourable Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh, who unfortunately could not attend the event, has already implemented a Knowledge Commission with the objective of establishing a better educational system in the country,”
- Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, Chief Minister, West Bengal at the 150th Inaugural function.

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St. Xavier’s Today

School

Students Teachers
  H.S. 329   SJs 03
  Secondary 930   Men 33
  Primary 903   Women 55

              Total =

2162

                     Total =

91
 
Non-Teaching Staff
  Men 32
  Women 03
 

Total =

35

 

College

Students

Professors

B.A. Boys 179   Total = 191
  Girls 517      
B.B.A. Boys 81

Non-Teaching Staff

  Girls 112      
B.Sc. Boys 614   Men 79
  Girls 561   Women 03
B.Com. Boys 2273   Total = 82
  Girls 677      
B.Ed. Boys 43      
  Girls 67      
M.Com. Boys 47      
  Girls 35      
M.Sc. Boys 84      
  Girls 125      
Total Boys 3321      
  Girls 2094      
  Grand Total = 5415      

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" ... In that world where faith and power clash, the Society of Jesus has been the most fabled and fabulous, the most admired and reviled, in the practice of both. From its first beginnings during a revolutionary time almost exactly like our own, and down the four and a half centuries of the Society's existence, Jesuits have been both a puzzle and a model for the rest of the world. Friends and enemies, Catholics and non-Catholics, have all tried to unravel "the power and the secret" of these religiously trained and devoted men who stand as giants in every secular pursuit of mankind as well. In science and art, writing and exploration and teaching -- and not least in world politics -- Jesuits always aimed to be the best. And they were. They had a part to play in every major political alliance in Europe and America, in Asia and Africa. They became shapers not only of religious history, but also of world history. Even Nazi generals (incl. Hitler) dreamed of such a cadre of men; and even Lenin envied them."

- Malachi Martin, The Jesuits


Characteristics of Jesuit Education:

  1. Jesuit Education is world affirming - goodness, wonder and mystery of the world.

  2. Jesuit education as an instrument for enhancing and enriching life. Character formation, discipline with freedom.

  3. It emphasizes total/integral formation of each one in the context of the community - intellectual, moral, physical, leadership qualities, teamwork, creativity, communication, human relationships, values etc. Promotes academic quality and excellence.
    That is why the Jesuit dictum - "Give us a boy, and we shall return you a man, a citizen of his country and a child of God".

  4. It is innovative. For example "House System" in schools - a Jesuit innovation. Many youth Movements have been started by the Jesuits: IMCS, AICUF, LTS, and CLC etc.

  5. Religious / spiritual formation - Worship of God and reverence for creation.

  6. Promotes dialogue between faiths, cultures and ideologies.

  7. It gives personal care and concern - person cantered curriculum etc.

  8. It encourages participation of the student - opportunity for personal discovery.

  9. Encourages life-long openness to growth.

  10. It is value-based and value-oriented.

  11. Promotes realistic knowledge of self, the other and the world - awareness of social realities.

  12. Service of faith and promotion of justice.

  13. Forming men and women for others (Arruppe). Forming leaders for the country and the world.

  14. Manifests an option for the poor.

  15. Stresses lay-Jesuit collaboration.

  16. It involves Praxis - an on-going evaluation of work and its fruits.

"The basic principles that Loyola had set forth for his Company were powerful catalysts. Once his men harnessed their energies within his organization to the worldwide work, they produced a unique phenomenon of human history. That is why the eighteenth ­ century German theorist, Novalis wrote: "Never, never before in the course of the world's history had such a Society appeared. The old Roman Senate itself did not lay schemes for world domination with greater certainty of success. Never had the carrying out of a greater idea been considered with greater understanding. For all time, this Society will be an example to every society which feels an organic longing for infinite extension and eternal duration ... " (Malachi Martin, The Jesuits p. 27).

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Exhibition on St. Xavier's 150 Years

On this occasion of 150 years of St. Xavier’s School and College. The Goethals Indian Library and Research Society organized an Exhibition of All Documents: Books, Files, Pictures, Magazines, Manuscripts relating to ST. XAVIER'S at the Goethals Indian Library & Research Society, (2nd Floor above the Main Chapel), From 16th January to 15th February (9.00 AM to 4.00 PM).

The exhibition was a huge success. There was a large number of visitors. The old photographs of the Fathers, Teachers, Students and of the buildings were appreciated by all who attended. The Daniell’s Paintings, as well as the Old Calcutta prints of William Wood and James B. Fraser were also displayed.

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Visitors Speak

Abhisweta Roy Chowdhury – It was a splendid exhibition making us feel very proud to be part of this great college.

Anisha Bhutia – Excellent exhibition. It was a treat and an honour to be linked with such an institution which has such rich heritage and I hope to carry forward.

Avishek Mondal – It was a remarkable exhibition which I shall cherish all my life and I am proud to be associated with a college which has such rich heritage.

Saurav Kumar Das – It was really nice and a rare experience to witness the old photographs of our college on its 150th Birthday.

Shreya Chakrabarty – A few moments of rendezvous which filled me with ecstasy, a walk down the memory lane revealed what I never knew.

Ujjainee Ray – An excellent exhibition, rich with emotional grandeur. Very well organized.

Upasana Biswas – Good and fantastic Collection, taking us back to the Olden (Golden) period of St. Xavier’s College.

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New Team at Xavier's   

Fr. J. Felix Raj, SJ, Principal

Fr. Dominic Savio, SJ, Vice-Principal (Commerce)

Fr. Jimmy Keepuram, SJ, Vice-Principal (Arts / Science)

Prof. Albert Gomes, Controller of Examination

Prof. M M Rahman, Vice-Principal (Commerce Evening)

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New Arrivals

Contemporary Issues of Indian Economy by Dhirendra Nath Konar, Akansha Publishing House, New Delhi, 2009.

Cross-Currents in the Modern Short Story (Ed.) by Sucheta Mukherji and Aditi Das Gupta, Loreto College, Kolkata, 2005.

Dalit - A Low Caste of Hinduism by S. K. Modi, Navyug Publishers and Distributors, New Delhi, 2008.

Indian Biblical Reflections by K. P. Aleaz, Punthi Pustak, Kolkata ,2009.

NGOs In the Human Right Movement by Dr. Kaushlendra Mishra, Navyug Publishers and Distributors, New Delhi, 2008.

Socio-Economic Development of Dalits in India by S. K. Modi, Navyug Publishers and Distributors, New Delhi, 2008.

The Tantric Religion of India by Dr. A. C. Barthakuria, Punthi Pustak, Kolkata, 2009.

Urbanization and Urban Systems in India by R Ramachandran, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2008.

Women Movement and Human Rights by K. Kartikeya, Navyug Publishers and Distributors, New Delhi, 2008.

Women’s Empowerment in South Asia by Sudha Nayar, Navyug Publishers and Distributors, New Delhi, 2008.

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Researchers at the Goethals

Miss Jumit Lepcha, Darjeeling, on History of Lepchas,

Mr. Kishan Harijan, Darjeeling on Jagadish Chandra Bose and his Research works.

Ms. Deepti Myriam Joseph, Kolkata, on Writings of Women and Women Missionaries in 19th century.

Ms. Indrani Dasgupta, Kolkata, on Christmas during British period.

Rith Basu, Kolkata, History of St Xavier’s College.

Vihutoli Kinny, Kolkata, on Brahmabandhab Upadhyaya.

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Mails & Emails

I am writing to congratulate you on your becoming the Principal of St. Xavier's College, Kolkata. May the choisest blessings from the heaven shower on you. I wish you all the very best in leading the college as well as its Alumni.

150 years' celebration has just begun and I think there are many serious things to do, which a person like you will kindly appreciate. They are like coming out with a proper Commemorative Volume, including an authentic history of the college. (What we have is just the history of the beginning), but its glorious journey should be preserved for the posterity.

We have seen your efforts on documenting Fr. La Font, s.j., in the Goethals website but some other legendary Jesuit Priests who were related to the College but contributed greatly to the society also need to be documented in the form of a book. We also must come out with a volume comprising articles on all of them, otherwise the future generation would never know the existence and contributions of these legends.
Snehasis Sur, Doordarshan News, Kolkata

Thanks a lot for sending the Goethals News....... Congrats for highlighting the Orissa issue and violence. I had visited the Khandamal area last week for three days spending time with the victims at the relief camps.
Sarto, ABCD, Kolkata.

I was enlightened at the Goethals Library. It is a storehouse of knowledge.
Jumit Lepcha. Darjeeling.

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Goethals Indian Library & Research Society, St. Xavier’s, 30 Mother Teresa Sarani, Kolkata-700 016, India.
Tel: 0091-33-2280 1919; email: goethals@vsnl.com  Web-site: www.goethals.in 
Director: Dr. Fr. Felix Raj, SJ; Staff: Mr. Sunil Mondol and Debu Mondal.

 

 
 

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