February 10 – EARLY INDIAN-BORN BROTHERS
EARLY INDIAN-BORN BROTHERS
Br. Paul Majella, who died on 10 February 1977 at the age of 81 and was called the handsome and good old man of Tidivanam, was one of the early Indian Brothers who were about the same age as the first French Brothers who went to India. As early as 27 December 1904, just over a year after his arrival in India, Br. Denis, Principal Director, admitted as a postulant a young man who was to become Br. Louis Mary. As he could not communicate with him, he entrusted him to the parish priest of Tindivanam, Fr. Combes. In November 1906, having learned some English and Tamil, Br. Denis left Pondichery for Tindivanam where he opened a novitiate which admitted only two novices at a time and remained in operation until 1928. The candidates who carne later, around 1930, were sent to Perulwez, Belgium, for their novitiate.
Fourteen of those who entered in those heroic times persevered. Here are their names in the order of their dates of birth.
Br. Louis Mary was born in Tarnilnadu in 1878 and died at Yercaud aged 79;
Br. Augustin Novello was born in Tamilnadu in 1882 and died at Tindivanarn aged 76;
Br. Francis Nather was born in Tamilnadu in 1883 and died at Coonoor aged 76;
Br. Gabriel DaYriarn was born in Tamilnadu in 1885 and died at Cuddalore aged 38;
Br. Andrew was born in Tarnilnadu in 1892 and died at Tindivanam aged 75; Br. James was born in Tamilnadu in 1895 and died at Tindivanam aged 89;
Br. Mathurin was born in Tamilnadu in 1896 and died at Yercaud aged 42; Br. Paul Majella was born in Karnataka and died at Tindivanam aged 77; Br. Claudien was born in Tamilnadu in 1897 and died at Yercaud aged 83;
Br. Philip was born in Tamilnadu in 1889 and died at Coonoor aged 34;
Br. Stanislaus Kotska was born in Karnataka in 1889 and died at Yercaud aged 55;
Br. Aloysius was born at Mahe in 1900 and died at Yercaud aged 67;
Br. Francis Xavier was born in Karnataka in 1906 and died at Yercaud aged 51;
Br. John of God was born at Pondichery in 1905 and died at Madras aged 62.
(Those who made their novitiate at Peruwelz were Br. Claudien, Br. Francis Xavier and Br. John of God.)
Three of them came from the Mangalore region (now Kamataka), and all the rest from Tarnilnadu or the neighbouring French territories of Pondichery and Mahe. One of them, Br. Andrew, who worked on the farm at Tindivanam, spoke only Tamil and never used English. All their families were deeply Christian families. Some of them lived in the village of Idaikattur which stands in the region of Madurai, formerly evangelised by three Jesuitpriests: St Francis Xavier, Fr. de Nobilis and Blessed John de Britto.
They only entered the novitiate at a mature age, mostly when they were 25 or 27 Some were given a religious name familiar in the Congregation, e.g. Louis Mary Mathurin, Gabriel (in honour of Br. Martial, as DaYriarn is translated Martial).
Two-thirds of them were teachers. Br. Paul Majella was for a long time head of All Saints’ High School at Hyderabad. Br. Claudien ended up as Provincial Bursar. Br.
John of God was the first vocations Director in Kerala and the first Indian capitulant in 1953.
Many lived to be over 70, two lived to be over 80, and their younger confreres used to speak of the “old guard” with affection and admiration. They did so for good reasons because their kindness, regular observance and piety (Br. Andrew used to do the stations of the cross three times a day) were highly edifying. What has been said of one of them, Br. Francis Nather, (See 24 July) goes pretty much for the rest as well.