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Christian Brothers

The first of the Irish Christian Brothers arrived in Kolkata in January of the year 1890. It was Vicar General, the Reverend T.Oliffe who, on a visit to Ireland, petitioned the Superior General of the Irish Institute of Christian Brothers to undertake the change of schools in India. The Brothers initially started in The Calcutta Male Orphanage and later with a second opening at St.Joseph’s College, Bow Bazaar. The early years were difficult in Calcutta. However the Christian Brothers were determined to take up challenge. Theirfaith and courage in the face of difficulties, their fidelity and their refusal to turned aside by obstacles that seemed insurmountable has served as an inspiration in the years that followed.

It was in 1890 that the Archbishop made a passing reference to Asansol and was anxious that a school be started there. The opening of the first school outside Calcutta took place in January 1891. This was St.Patrick’s, Asansol. Br.Paul Kinnear was appointed Director. The school started with 4 brothers & 13 boys. The year 1892 so the unfolding of the drama of a dynamic Indian Province, in which the Brothers were united “with a common purpose and a common mind.” The work of expansion gathered momentum with the formal taking over of St.Joseph’s College, Nainital. Other openings included a school at Howrah, St.Michael’s High School, Kurji (Patna), Goethal’s at Kurseong, St.George’s Free School, St.Joseph’s Colligiate School, Allahabad, St.Edmund’s, Shillong, St.Vincent’s, Asansol in 1927, St.Edward’s, Shimla, St.Mary’s, Mt.Abu, St.Aloysius High School, Quilon, St.Columba’s, New Delhi, with training centers for Brothers at Kurseong and Shillong.

In April 1968, the brothers took over the conducting of the Parish school at Dadar (Mumbai). By the early seventies the Brothers opened two schools, one at Bassein (Mumbai) and the other in Goa. On 5th January 1990 the Brothers in India celebrated the centenary year of the coming year to Calcutta of the little band of four Irish Brothers. While the number of Brothers in most of the Provinces of the congregation, the last decade or so has witnessed an unprecedented missionary effort to deprived countries and regions throughout the world.

Accordingly in 1988, the first missionary effort of the Indian Province was launched with the departure of three Brothers to the Gambia, West Africa. The choice was simply because it was the most deprived area in Africa as far as educational facilities were concerned.

Today, the Christian Brothers are the inheritors of a great tradition of men who toiled and gave their lives unsparingly in a great cause. The Brothers in India have attained the numerical strength beyond anything ever known before in our provincial history. Within this vast continent the Brothers have become attentive to the cry of the poor. They have expanded their ministry with new openings at Gujrat, Karnataka, Meghalaya, and Arunachal Pradesh and very recently to Myanmar. Within a short period of time the ministries carried out by the Christian Brothers and committed lay people who minister alongside them, is not confined to the classroom. Brothers in India are now involved in a center for the deaf and physically handicapped at Shillong, ministries with street children and involved with National Open School system. With a deep awareness that their primary vocation is the need to make the Most Helpless their special concern in all their educational endeavors, the Christian Brothers in India continued a process of identifying their distinctive values of Edmund Rice education in the school network.