January 25 – BISHOPS WHO WERE OUR BENEFACTORS IN INDIA
BISHOPS WHO WERE OUR BENEFACTORS IN INDIA
The Brothers in India took charge of most of their schools at the request of Bishops who most of the time were on the best of terms with the Brothers to the extent that some of them, such as Mgr. Diravian and Mgr. Mathias, were real friends to them.
Mgr. Justin Diravian was born at Palakurichy. Before he became a Bishop he gave financial aid to the Province for the construction of StJames High School in his small home town, then at Manapparai for the construction of St John’s Boys Town. When he became Bishop of Trichy he warmly welcomed the Brothers to his diocese in the two large colleges of RSK and Campion. After he became Archbishop of Madurai he invited the Brothers to take charge of the teacher-training college and Sattur College.
Mgr. Mathias was a Salesian born in Paris in 1887. When he arrived in India in 1922 he was appointed Prefect Apostolic of Assam. When he became Archbishop of Madras in May 1955 he got to know the Brothers and from then on kept supporting them. In 1954 he invited them to take over the beautiful college Santhome opposite his cathedral. In 1955 he passed on the Brothers’ address to the Jesuit Fathers in Ranchi who were looking for someone to take over their colleges. In 1957 he invited them to take over from the Franciscans Pondur Little Flower Orphanage.
His fondest dream was to establish in his diocese a school for the deaf and the blind and to entrust it to the Brothers. In 1953 he approached his great friend Br. Louis Bureau, Provincial of India, who agreed in principle. However, for lack of qualified personnel, the Brothers could not take up the invitation until June 1961, when, after much difficulty, a building site was found in the Adyar district, to the south of the town, and a first building constructed; in September 1962 it could house five blind and 45 deaf students. The building was called Saint Louis in honour of Mgr. Louis Mathias and Br. Louis Bureau. When the buildings were completed they were inaugurated on 6 February 1964; the ceremony was graced by the presence of the Prime Minister of Tamilnadu.
Mgr. Mathias also gave a piece of land in the Alandur district in Madras for the construction of a technical school. After his death the administrator of the diocese, acting on behalf of the Archbishop, invited the Brothers to take charge of another school at Chengalpattu.
Mgr. Mathias died on 3 August 1965 at Legnano in Italy while on a journey to Europe. His body was immediately taken back to Madras and now lies in the cathedral in front of the altar of the Blessed Virgin.