June 1 – YERCAUD
Yercaud stands on a hill and a good road with 20 hairpin bends leads up to it. The road did not exist when the Brothers decided in 1917 to move into a house standing at an altitude of 1,500 metres, far from the hot plain; the house stood in a small town where they used to take a rest in summer; the Sisters of St Joseph of Cluny were running-a boarding school there catering for European and Anglo-Indian girls. After helping the priests of the Foreign Missions for 14 years in Pondichery, Tindivanam and Bangalore, what the Brothers wanted most of all was to run a school of their own.
Actually they founded two schools at the same time. an English-medium school for well-off boarders and a Tamil-medium school for the local children. The first one, Montfort’School, was beaded by Br. Eugene.:Marie until 1943 (with a six-year brea from 1930 to 1936). The second, St Joseph’s, was first run by the Brothers, but was handed over to lay people in 1933 and struggled along until Br. Louis-Mary, the first Jndian·-born Brother, who had been headmaster from 1926 to 1933, took over the management in 1944. It kept growing and became a secondary school in 1976, then, in 1989 a technical school offering courses in electricity and fitting.
Montfort School soon became internationally renowned: right from the start it took students from all over India and from the Asian English-speaking countries (Thailand, Singapore, Kuwait, Iran, etc.). Its vast complex includes large schoolrooms, many laboratories, seven playing grounds, a swimming pool, an assembly hall, a chapel for Catholic students and a prayer room for other religious denominations. The students’ uniform is in three different colours: a khaki one for weekdays, a white one for Sundays, and one for festive occasions (grey trousers, blue jacket with the school badge, white shirt and blue tie). Although the number of students is not as big as those attending St Gabriel’s School at Saint-Laurent, the two schools resemble by their structures, their spirit, their old boys’ association and their influence. One of the old boys of Yercaud who is now a Jesuit priest has written, “I have travelled all over the world but I do not think I have found anywhere a better education than that given at Yercaud for character and physical training, artistic development and Christian values.”
In Yercaud also, at the foot of Montfort School, is Saint Louis Provincial House built in 1961; two kilometres away is Eachinkadu novitiate acquired in 1952 and including a community cemetery; finally a dozen kilometres away, is Honey Rock estate, bought in 1933; it is a coffee plantation employing some 60 workmen.
In 1993, when the South India Province was divided into two Regions, one of them was called the Yercaud Region. On 28 April1998 the Region became a Province. It includes northern Tamilnadu and is likely to spread to the neighbouring States of Kamataka and Kerala.