The mission in East Bengal, India, was one of the missions established by our founder, Blessed Basile 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 were able to convert several villages to Christianity and to construct the infrastructure for the Church.
The partition of British India in 1947 divided the Holy Cross mission in East Bengal into two. 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.
"Holy Cross accepted the diversity of India – both the challenges it posed and the opportunities it offered. This ability assists us in our ministry – be it educational, pastoral, or social action."
– Rev. Devadoss Naidu, C.S.C.
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.
"The fruits of this missionary zeal, especially in this difficult and impoverished area, are many, and they only continue to multiply. As the decision to take up a very challenging mission in Koloriang, Arunachal Pradesh, close to the Chinese border, demonstrates, we continue to carry out the mission entrusted to us with great courage, trusting that our sacrifices today will be the seeds of the Church in the future."
– Rev. George Kallungal, C.S.C.
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.
"The comprehensive nature of the education provided by Holy Cross is a living example of the vision of our founder and his instructions to touch people’s lives. By adhering to Blessed Moreau’s vision and trusting in his intercession, we will continue to respond to the crying needs of Indian society."
– Br. Sesuraj, C.S.C.
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 work in the country, but also to send priests from the country as missionaries around the world, including to the Philippines, Canada, and the United States.
"Our community realizes that there is a growing need in India to attend to the needs of families and especially Christian families that go through tremendous struggles to hold on to Christian family values due to globalization and consumerism. It is an increasing way that we as the Holy Cross family seek to bring hope to the families we serve." – Rev. Justin Diraviyam, C.S.C