Holy Cross College in India and other Catholic Schools Bring Hope to Tribal Population

Holy Cross College in North-East India

The Congregation of Holy Cross is providing education as a cornerstone of its long-term commitment to human development in northern India, two Holy Cross priests told a Notre Dame audience on Feb. 15.

Rev. Emmanuel Kallarckal, C.S.C., described how Holy Cross College, founded four years ago in the city of Agartala by the Province of North-East India, and led by him as principal, has become a channel of service and hope for people in the state of Tripura, a majority of whom are of tribal origin.

“Education is one of the best means to reach out to these people,” said Father Kallarckal. The Holy Cross mission of “educating hearts and minds” is improving lives and affirming respect for human dignity through the college and more than a dozen other schools, he added.

Holy Cross first brought its mission to that region of the world–to what was then called East Bengal–in 1852. The new Holy Cross College is the first Catholic, English-language college in Tripura, not far from India’s borders with Burma and China. People of tribal origin constitute a majority of the college’s students, and many of them are the first generation in their families to attend college.

Rev. Pinto Paul, C.S.C., another member of the Holy Cross community in northern India, said the congregation’s commitment to education conveys the message that “every child is a gift of God who can become a world-class citizen.”

Catholic education forms students with lifelong values, but the values are also lived out through such work as improving sanitation and health care for the population, said Father Paul. Indeed, schools serve as local centers of health care.

While visiting Notre Dame, Father Kallarckal attended an annual conference on human development sponsored by the Ford Family Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies. He was accompanied by Robert Lushai, a tribal-background student from Holy Cross College in Agartala.

The priests’ presentation in Remick Commons at Carole Sandner Hall was co-sponsored by the Institute for Educational Initiatives, the Kellogg Institute for International Studies and the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE). They were introduced by Rev. Robert Dowd, C.S.C., an assistant professor of political science and faculty fellow at Kellogg who directs the Ford Program. The University Notre Dame is sponsored by the United States Province.

The presentation included remarks by Notre Dame undergraduates who had conducted independent research on education in northern India. They had received support from the Holy Cross community and from Prof. Tamo Chattopadhay, a faculty fellow in both the Kellogg Institute and the Institute for Educational Initiatives. Chattopadhay also represented Notre Dame as a speaker at the graduation ceremony for Holy Cross College’s Class of 2012.

Father Dowd concluded the discussion by saying he hoped these educational connections between Notre Dame and the work of the Congregation of Holy Cross would increase: “Holy Cross is doing remarkable work that is helping the people of northeast India to realize their God-given potential,” he said.

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