The mission in East Bengal, India, was one of the missions established by our founder, Blessed Basil Moreau. In 1851, at the request of Propaganda Fide, the Vatican Congregation for Church’s missionary work, Moreau accepted responsibility for this mission territory. Two years later, on May 25, 1853, the first Holy Cross priests, brothers, and sisters arrived to the region.
The Congregation’s principal work was to establish the local Church and to evangelize. Despite many hardships, the missionaries through zeal and perseverance welcomed people from several villages to Christianity and began to construct the infrastructure for the Church.
The partition of British India in 1947 divided the Holy Cross mission in East Bengal into two areas. The bulk of the mission was now in East Pakistan (which in 1971 would become Bangladesh). The rest of the mission remained a part of India, including the border states of Meghalaya, Tripura, and the Barak Valley region of Assam where the Congregation was working among the tribal peoples.
In order to have a steady supply of missionaries for the Congregation’s growing work in Northeast India, Rev. Christopher O’Toole, C.S.C., the Superior General at the time, sent Holy Cross religious to open a house of formation in South India. South India was chosen as it was an area rich in vocations.
On April 6, 1959, Rev. Alfred McClure, C.S.C., arrived to Yercaud in the state of Tamil Nadu, and together with other religious from Canada, he began recruiting vocations from South India and preparing them for missionary work in the Northeast. With the growth of indigenous vocations to Holy Cross, many houses of formation were established in the states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, and Maharashtra.
In the meantime, Holy Cross expanded and established new missions in Northeast India in the states of Meghalaya, Tripura, Mizoram, and Assam. Evangelization through education and socio-developmental programs helped establish vibrant and active Christian communities among the people. With the growth of a number of high schools run by the Congregation, the need for a Catholic college arose and finally was realized in June 2009 with the establishment of Holy Cross College in Agartala. It is the only Catholic college in the state.
With the Congregation’s work in Northeast India firmly established and vocations continuing to come from South India, Holy Cross priests and brothers began expanding their ministerial work in South India, including schools, parishes, and other socio-developmental programs.
The growth of vocations in India has also allowed the Congregation not only to expand its mission in the country, now spread out over four provinces, but also to send priests from the country as missionaries around the world, including to the Philippines, Canada, and the United States.
The work of Holy Cross in India is conducted by the Province of Northeast India (Agartala, Tripura), the South India Province (Bangalore, Karnataka), the Province of St. André (Bangalore, Karnataka), which is composed only of brothers, and the Province of Tamil Nadu (Trichy, Tamil Nadu).
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