June 21 – IN BIHAR AND ORISSA
IN BIHAR AND ORISSA
Chotanagpur, to the south of Bihar, has an animist population and was evangelised by Belgian Jesuit priests at the end of the 19th century. They established the diocese of Ranchi and started several schools. In the mid-twentieth century they intended to withdraw from them and devote themselves to parish work. On the advice of Bishop Mathias of Madras they invited Br. Eleazar, Provincial of India, to take them over and he agreed. Four Brothers arrived at Noatoli on 21 June 1955; they were to manage a primary school, which soon became a secondary boarding school, and a teacher-training college which turned out every year hundreds of male and female schoolteachers for the village schools.
Then the Jesuit priests handed over to the Brothers their large secondary school at Ranchi, St Aloysius’, the school at Nawatanr (1966), the house for their third-year retreatants at Sitagarah which became a novitiate in 1968; they also handed over their school at Kanke on the outskirts of Ranchi (1968), and their Loyola technical school at Patna (1969) on the bank of the Ganges. Meanwhile in 1958 a juniorate had been started at Noatoli and a scholasticate in Ranchi; a school had been taken charge of in 1961 at Lachragarh in the southern part of the State.
It was at Pauta in Bihar that an experiment of welfare work was made in 1974 among the “tribals” (See 14 May). It was repeated in several very poor villages: Dhawaiya (1980), Goderdaha (1983), Balidih (1986), Badgunda in the parish of Chakai (1990). The Brothers who had withdrawn from Dhawaiya in 1986 returned there in 1994.
From 1975 all the communities in Bihar made up the Ranchi Region within the Northern Province. The Ranchi Region soon spread to the neighbouring state, Orissa:, when it agreed to take over a school at Dhenkanal (1976), then one at Kansbahal, which had been started by the Utmal factories for its workers (1978). In 1991 the Brothers withdrew from the school at Dhenkanal and took over another one at Cuttack the following year.
In the meantime, the Province of Ranchi had been set up in 1989. It has two special features: more than half its members were born in Bihar and the majority of its schools serve poor country people. The latest one is the technical school at Hazaribagh (1999) near Sitagarah.