Loreto convent asansol

Keywords: loreto convent asansol
Description: Loreto Convent, Asansol is a Catholic Institution under the management of Asansol Loreto Educational Society - represented by the Sisters of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Loreto

Loreto Convent, Asansol is a Catholic Institution under the management of Asansol Loreto Educational Society - represented by the Sisters of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Loreto Sisters). The school is recognised by the Education Department of the Government of West Bengal and is under the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education (Anglo-Indian Board of West Bengal) and affiliated to the Indian Council for Secondary Education (I.C.S.E. and I.S.C.) Loreto Asansol has completed over 138 years in the educational service of the region. In order to understand the story of Loreto Asansol, one must know a little about Mary Ward, Foundress of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, whose Sisters, popularly known as 'Loreto', manage the school.

In 1877, Loreto Convent Asansol opened in a small three-roomed, thatched bungalow situated at St. Patrick’s end of the present hockey field. The nuns came in response to a request from the Parish Priest Rev. Fr. Jacques S.J. Asansol had become an important railway centre and had a large Catholic population and a bungalow was available at a low price. The Jesuit Fathers had built a fine Church and had moved their Scholastics into the property which is now St. Patrick’s School, so the spiritual needs of the Sisters would be served, who would in turn serve the educational needs of the local Community. At this time Mother Delphine Hart was very worried about one of her community who suffered from persistent fever. A change of air was prescribed but the invalid was not able for the journey to the healthier climates of either Darjeeling or Hazaribagh where Convents were already established. It was winter when Mother Delphine set out to see the property, accompanied by the delicate sister. She was impressed and felt that it was an answer to her prayer and an opportunity not to be missed. Furthermore she was pleased to find that the climate seemed to be healthy, with its keen, dry, un- polluted air and expanses of green paddy fields.

Soon five sisters arrived from Calcutta and began to hold classes in the ground floor of the Presbytery on the 7th Feb, 1877. It was a day school with 35 children. Soon it was attracting pupils from farther afield. The zealous Pastor, Fr. Jacques, saw the need for a boarding school so he set to work again. The railway company, which benefitted most from the presence of a school, made land available, about a mile from the Church. Government gave a grant to help in the construction of a building. Fr. Jacques who was architect and foreman of the work chose to build the facing the great Railway Tank, below which sloped acres of woodland and in which nestled two natural reservoirs. He personally supervised the making of the bricks and saw to it that the building had the benefit of a south breeze and deep verandahs to shelter it from the sun, keeping in mind Asansol’s very high temperature in the summer months. By 1885 the Convent was completed – a three storey building, imposing and massive, with walls four ft. thick, spacious verandahs, numerous archways, doors and windows.

This was “The house that JACK BUILT” -to this day, a monument to the great architect, Fr. Jacques S.J. So healthy and above all so quiet did the place prove with its extensive grounds and facilities conducive to prayer and spiritual growth that in 1880, Mother Delphine transferred the Novitiate to the new Convent in Asansol where it remained until 1903, when it was transferred to Darjeeling. The Jesuit Scholasticate had already moved to St. Mary’s, Kurseong and the Christian Brothers took over their property and began St. Patrick’s School there. Thus a large section of the Catholic population was being served educationally. There was great joy in the surrounding districts in 1885 when the boarding school opened after a third storey had been added. However the top storey was damaged after an earthquake and had to be demolished in 1897. In 1909, to accommodate the increased demand for boarding facilities an East Wing consisting of classrooms and dormitories was built at right angles to the main building. In 1928, a West Wing was added, containing a Concert Hall, Music Rooms, Children’s Dining Room, Dormitory and Dressing Room. It was now a full-fledged Boarding School. Unfortunately no records are available for these early years. Presumably they were lost or destroyed when the whole building and campus was taken over by the military towards the end of the Second World War from 1942 to 1946. Important items, we are told were stored in the Chapel when the Community and Boarders evacuated to Simla. They found everything in disarray on their return. Only a few School Log Books dating from 1930 could be found. Up to that time our only source of information is in the cemetery, where we get the names of the pioneering Sisters who laboured and died here R.I.P.

Mothers General who guided and inspired the Institute from 1861 to 1935 and under whose leadership Loreto Convent, Asansol came to birth in 1875 and was nurtured.

On the 2nd February the inmates of Cheshire Home and Nirmal Hriday (MC House), were given a grand jubilee lunch and entertained by our girls of YCS, LTS, JPIC, TARU MITRA.

Preparations for this great event began well over a year ago, by way of painting, repairs, colour-washing of the building, etc and general planning. On the 7th February 2001 the Jubilee Year was officially inaugurated with a special Eucharistic Service to pray for God’s guidance and Blessings on the year ahead. After Christmas life became hectic as new ideas began to grow. Sr. Tressia’s quick thinking and fertile planning kept us all on our toes. The Theme –Stretch Beyond – was discussed and was on paper well in advance, but it was not until January that Sr. Igora gave it flesh with the inspiring words. Then came Sr. Anita Braganza who breathed spirit into it with her lively music and so the Logo came to full life and was ready for the Grand Finale…. All Staff worked overtime to ensure the best results. Parents too wanted to know what they would do – it seemed the whole of Asansol was celebrating.

The festivities began on the 7th February 2002 with an open-air celebration of the Eucharist, to which all the Priests, Religious, Staff, Students, member of the Loreto alumnae trust and Friends were invited. Bishop Cyprian Monis was the main celebrant. He was assisted by Fr. Valerian Fernandes Vicar General and Fr. I.P.Sarto, Secretary and several other Priests.

On arrival the Bishop was welcomed in the traditional Santhal custom, that is, with washing of the feet, garlanding and dance. This was done by the Santhal girls of Paricharika Ashram, who were residing in Loreto. The Ashram was run by Fr. Mongal Das under the auspices of the Asansol Diocese. Twenty-four dancers led the concelebrants to the altar, which was beautifully decorated by Sr. Mala and her team and Sr. Beatrice formally welcomed all. A lovely statue of the pilgrim Mary Ward, in fibreglass, arrived just in time from Krishnagar and was blessed at the beginning of the Eucharistic celebration. It is now on a ledge over the entrance of the Junior School Centenary Building. There was a brief commentary on a few significant events and people in the history of the institution. As each event was recalled, different people were asked to light the Jubilee lamp. The Liturgy included veneration of the Holy Bible, arati and special readings and hymns of praise and thanksgiving in English, Hindi and Bengali. Special choirs led the English and vernacular singing but all from Class 5 upwards, including non-Christians, were eager to join in. Our Bishop gave a brief homily – his words were appreciative and encouraging. At the offertory, sweets were blessed for distribution to the many non-Catholic students and friends present, during the Communion service. After the final blessing, the Bishop lit a Diya from which 125 other diyas were lit and the Congregation proceeded to the Basket Ball court for the Agape carrying their lights to spread the spirit of Mary Ward wherever they go and place them around Our Lady’s Grotto, (near St. Patrick’s gate). The choir sang ‘Song of the Nations’ – may we be a shining light to the peoples of the earth. Buffet lunch was provided for 700 people while all 800 children got a lunch packet. On the same night the Executive members of the Loreto Alumnae Trust hosted a delicious dinner for the Community and visitors at the Asansol Club. There were about 20 sisters.

On the 8th the Alumnae organized a Re-union of all Past Pupils. It was a dinner and dance programme accompanied by the Millennium Band. Each one was allowed to bring a partner, so the number present was about 400. It was a dull day and when a drizzle began about 5 p.m. it was feared that it would have to be held indoors. There was a power cut too. What was going to become of our fairyland with all the coloured lights on the trees and along the building? Banners with Mary Ward’s Maxims in bold letters against a deep red background, hung from the 2nd floor of the senior school building right across. Damp chairs and wet ground were soon forgotten. After a welcome speech by Sr. Tressia the evening began with the well-loved Loreto Chorus. The presence of so many Sisters and Teachers of by-gone days made the evening very special and they were in much demand. Souvenirs – T Shirts, bracelets, key chains, post-cards, caps, hankies, badges and stickers were on sale. Mrs. Vaz, past pupil of 1942 batch and former Teacher, was invited to cut the 3-tiered Jubilee Cake. Sr. Beatrice challenged all to fulfill the vision of Mary Ward – that ‘women in time to come will do much’, after which she released the Brochure. Dinner was served about 8 p.m. Soon afterwards, the music slowed down, good-byes were said and all returned home with fond memories of their Alma Mater.

The Cultural Programme on the 9th began with the March Past – the School Flag and our Logo for this special year, with the theme of the Jubilee – STRETCH BEYOND – were carried by the school captains. The item ‘Tableau’ on the programme won great applause. It depicted the history of Loreto from the beginning, very graphically. Mary Ward passed before our eyes in her carriage drawn by a modest little chestnut pony, which wore a coloured feather duster on its head (for elegance). A fairly modern Mother Teresa Ball, who brought the Institute to Ireland, was the next to occupy the carriage. Then Mother Delfine Hart was seen crossing the ocean to India in the Scotia with her 7 companions. Her arrival in Asansol was even more spectacular. The Howrah-Asansol Express engine with its 3 carriages puffed its way before our disbelieving eyes and so the history went on, describing briefly our activities and out-reach programmes. The dances were from Punjab, Bengal, Gujarat, Nagaland and Kerala. Bharat Natyam, Kathak and Manipuri were danced simultaneously to the same music. Whereas each and every class deserves credit for its drill item, special mention must be made of Ankur Vidyalaya’s splendid performance with their Jubilee Stars. Ankur Vidyalaya is an off-shoot of our ‘Reach Out’ project. The Mass Drill stole the show with its formations – LCA, 125, The Cross, Olympic rings, Ocean waves and flowers.

Finally the whole school – all 1069 and 80 from Ankur Vidyalaya came on the field to form the Logo and sing the theme song, ‘Stretch Beyond’. It was really a Grand Finale – even the little KG joined physically as well as audibly in the final S T R E T C H, while some white gas balloons embossed with ‘LCA, 125’ rose into the air. After the rousing applause from proud Mummies and Daddies and all, Sr. Tressia thanked all who contributed to the grand success of the celebrations and Monday was declared a well-deserved holiday. Then all 3700 present were very happy to be given tea and snacks – the end to a perfect day.

Many, especially Past Pupils, wanted to be invited to the Cultural Programme but space was a problem. The Local TV gave good coverage. One agency has recorded 18 hours of video. Mary Ward’s maxims have been painted on the wall outside the main gate on the G.T. Road. We thank all who lent habits and school uniforms at such short notice. Sr. Igora and her 7-horse power team (Pre-Novices) did a great job in preparing the rooms for all our visitors. We were sad to see all go at cockcrow on the 10th morning. Everyone was happy and congratulated Sr. Tressia, Sisters Staff and Students on the marvellous team-work and discipline which resulted in such a good performance and brought joy to so many. With the exams so near it was back to study immediately. The children rose to the occasion and did their school proud.

11th november– All 28 delegates to the Education Meeting in Kolkata arrived by the Shatabdi Express and were given a royal welcome. Children, waving flags of the different countries represented by the delegates formed a guard of honour from the gate up. The Pre-Novices took over with an Adivasi welcome dance, followed by a traditional Indian greeting by the Community at the entrance door, amid exquisite Rangoli decorations. The children gave a short welcome programme on the basket ball court, high-lighting our Indian culture. Our visitors went round the senior and junior school and interacted with the children feeling very much at home. After lunch at 1.15 the majority were still fresh enough to enjoy a trip to Maithon Dam while some rested or relaxed with the Community. After tea it was time for saying Good bye and departure on the 6.30 train. Only Sr. Beatrice remained for the CRI meeting to be held the following day.

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