Loyola Technical Institute, Madurai

LTI has the unique distinction of not only celebrating the Golden Jubilee along with the Jesuit Madurai Province but it has also the unique identity of “only one of its kind” in the whole province. Unlike the other famous institutions, LTI had a difficult, unstable origin and this had its repercussions throughout its life as if a patient spending all his life in I.C.U. Most probably on seeing the difficult stunted growth the province never thought of starting another technical school.

 

However, The Jesuit Madurai Province has been prodigally providential whenever LTI had faced rough weather of all kinds off and on. There was nothing wrong with its objectives existence- as it was started fifty years ago already with the `Would be vision’ of the Society, “The preferential option for the poor” and the institute had never registered an affluent boy in its register for all the boys were almost below the poverty line and could never afford University education.

 

Stunted Growth but Glorious in Achievement:

LTI can never boast of creating academic stalwarts but it has economically empowered the lowest category of hundreds of people by technically educating them towards job opportunities. This may not be a glorious achievement only to those who have been frowning at this institution as a perennial, financial liability. The students passed out here are sought after not only by renowned private entrepreneurs but also by the public sector. The academically incompetent rural boys belonging to the down-trodden category shape up so well to make this institution top rank in academic results and even in sports’ this achievement is made despite the obsolete infrastructure and very limited hostel facilities. The students from the enviable rural culture live up to their tradition and remain unchanged by the city culture of this great Tamil City. Yes, this institution is different and hence a different scale of success has to be applied. The self-confidence with the boys acquire here within a span of two years to face life anywhere under any situation is itself a success story. This is the only school that works throughout the year without any annual holidays.

 

Flash Back:

The fifty years of history is like watching a Tamil mega Tele-serial, filled with lofty ideals as its goal but not without the life long tragic struggles, anxiety, pain and anguish with a few occasional comforting events. Yet the grace of the God was not wanting… leading to Peace lying deep at the substratum like an unseen river flowing quietly underground! Many Jesuits traveling in this boat have experienced the violent storm only to experience that the turbulent sea would one day become calm with its serene gentle waves. The eschatological hope was never doubted or faded.. the light was always flickering clear and bright… Otherwise this institution would have seen its tomb-stone long ago.

 

The caesarean Birth:

St. Joseph’s industrial school was handed over to Tiruchi Diocese when Madurai Diocese was created. The Province lost the training ground for the Aspirants. Bishop Peter Leonard, S.J., of Madurai Diocese made two attempts to start an industrial school. The first one was started in Karaikkudi on 01.07. 1939. But with the Second World War breaking out on 01.09.1939, procuring of money and material became difficult. Fr. Arul Jeganathan who started this school (De Britto Industrial School) had to close it and went away to Palayamkottai on 25.01.1940.

 

The war was over in May 1945. The Bishop called back Fr. Arul Jeggannathar to make another attempt: this time in Devakottai After 5 years of waiting this attempt also given up by the bishop due again to financial restraints. The Society therefore had to make its own arrangement to prepare its Brothers.

 

Rev Fr. Humbert Pinto, the Vice Provincial of the Madurai Vice province obtained the permission of Very Rev Fr. General to make provision for the training of the aspirants in an industrial institute.

 

Most probably in 1947, the society bought from the bishop four acres of land and decided to start a technical school. (the present site at Gnanaolivupuram). Rev Fr. Paul Richard, S.J. who was then the assistant P.P. of the Railway Colony Parish was asked by the provincial to make the preliminary arrangements to start the school. He took up the work on 10.07.1950 and spent 1-½ years securing the necessary permission from the Government and the municipality. First the built compound wall around and fixed up a large corrugated tin sheet shed 155’ X 35’ X 14’ a gift from France. All this spadework took almost two years.

 

In May 1952 Fr. Provincial called in Fr. Arul Jegannather to start the school. He took charge of it from 01.06.1952. Fr. Richard remained assistant and Fr. Denis Arango as the second assistant and spiritual Father of the students. The little community lived in make shift rooms in the shed and was getting food from St. Mary’s Madurai, three miles away.

 

New Community:

As this was inconvenient and not practical, a small kitchen and a refectory began and the foundation stone was laid on 08.09.1952 for a block of two sotreyed building with six rooms in it four for the fathers, one for the Aspirants and one for the Chapel, with all the other dependenceies for convenience added to it on the eastern side. Cooking in the new kitchen was start in 1.11.1952 and the house was occupied after being blessed by Fr. Kulandaisamy, Superior of St.Mary’s Madurai, on 19.03.1952 the feast day of St. Joseph.

 

Baptism and Childhood:

The newborn baby was named” The Nazareth Technical School” and started beginning from 01.07.1953 with Carpentry and Fitting sections. In November of the year motor mechanical section was inaugurated.

In June 1954 there were many applications especially for the mechanical section but the school had to limit the admissions to thirty for want of accommodation, tools and working benches. (Nor had we the money to procure them). Fr. Arango was therefore sent to America to raise funds for this institute and for other purposes of the mission-but on reaching come in Columbia he met with an accident and died. His place was taken by Fr. August Andre as the spiritual father of the boys.

 

Fr. Richard went away as a missionary to Mauritius on 14.04.1955 and Br. Lourdu was sent here to be assistant on his place.

 

Confirmation:

To attend the school for two or three years and unable to get a valid certificate at the end of the course was discouraging to our students. A move was therefore made to get the school recognized by the department of Industries and Commerce, Madras. To satisfy their conditions for recognition more space was provided by building two tiled sheds 100’ x 20’ adjacent to each other for accommodating the carpentry section in July 1955; in the following month another shed of 40’ X 20’ was added to smithy works. A larger storeroom was provided on the western side of the shed and the old storeroom was given to the welding section. The main shed was thus reserved for machinery and motor repairs.

 

After completing all these improvements the application for the recognition of the school was submitted to the Director of Industries and Commerce on 16.08.1955. The principal of Tamil Nadu Polytechnic was deputed by the Director to inspect the school and submit a report. He carried out his inspection on 20.09.1955 and wrote a favourable report. Recognition was granted to start form 01.06.1956 four trades: Carpentry 3 years, Fitting 2 years, Electrician 2 years, Automobile Servicing and Maintenance 2 years.

 

Name Loyola Technical School

This institution attached so far to St. Mary’s Madurai under Fr. Irudayam as Superior was put under the care of Fr.J. Santiago, Superior of Madurai District from 15.08.1956.

 

The long negotiated transaction to buy the whole turning and moulding workshop from a private owner Mr. Kanagarajan was finally settled favourably and the workshop was bought for Rs. 15,000/- (“a good bargain” to quote Fr. Jegannathan). Three lathes, the drills and the foundry Cupola with other materials were set up and a moulding shed was constructed. It was blessed on 15.09.1956.

 

The name `Nazareth Technical School” was changed to “Loyola Technical School” and so recognized by the Department of Industries and Commerce, Madras state from 01.06.1956. (There was another Technical School in the name of Nazareth Technical School at Nazareth, Tirunelveli… and most probably to avoid confusion the name change was necessary…. Besides it was the 400th anniversary of the death of St. Ignatius).

 

On 1910.1956 the statues of St. Ignatius was blessed and erected on a pedestal in the center of the compound by the Provincial.



Juniorate for Brothers: On 08.09.1960 Archbishop Peter Leonard blessed the Juniorate. A new block for the Juniorate was constructed as an extension to the Jesuit Residence.

 

Miserere mei Misereor: Misereor had contributed to the growth of this institute tremendously. In 1963 Misereor had sanctioned Rs. 43,000/- to build classrooms with a hostel. A workroom also was constructed costing Rs. 27,000/- again offered by Misereor. On 23.06.1976 the Jesuit Provincial with a few more Jesuits had a meeting with Mr. Santiago, Executive Director for IGSSS for a project to be sent to Misereor for the expansion and revitalization of LTI. The plans and estimates were sent to Misereor on 11.08.1977 and Misereor sanctioned Rs. 9,50,000/- on 7.11.1948. A vital help indeed.

 

Thembavani Illam: There was no college for catholic boys in Madurai. As an alternative Thembavani Illam was constructed in 1967 to provide hostel accommodation for 42 students studying in different colleges in Madurai. But then the majority of the students were non-Catholics. The establishment charges of this hostel were a source of income to the Institute. Since it was too difficult to manage students coming from different colleges we had to close it down in 1981 once and for all. It continues to have its own tragic trail.

 

Major Crisis In 1968: During the time of Fr.I. Thomas as Superior the institution faced a crisis. There was no technically qualified Jesuit to run the Automobile workshop profitably. (The income was supposed to compensate the concession offered to the students in the institute and the hostel). The annual loss incurred was increasingly heavy. Hence the Superiors thought of handing over this institute to the De la Salle Brothers who were running the Boy’s Town at Pulloothu. The negotiation was going on for more than a year but finally De la Salle Brothers gave up the idea. Besides, as usual, a few sane, senior Jesuits had objected to the entire proposal and wanted the Jesuits to continue to run it because it was the only school offering job-oriented courses to the poor section of the society.

 

Closure of Juniorate: In 1970 the Junior Brothers had to be sent to Calicut for Juniorate and hence the Loyola Juniorate was closed. The aspirants however continued their training here.

 

New Hostel for Boys: Fr. Mathew D. Muttom built the new hostel for 50 students in 1976.

 

The Golden Days: Fr. Theruvil M. Mathai as Superior for 7 years from 1981 June and as Director for three more years, did quite a lot for the growth of the institute.

 

Our students hitherto appearing for the State Level examination did not have sufficient job opportunities. Fr. Mathai took all possible steps and succeeded in getting the recognition of the Central Government. He sent the staff for training to upgrade themselves. With the help of his friends and benefactors, he purchased the necessary equipments for practical classes. The approval was given to four trades: M.M.V., Fitter, Electrician and Wireman.

 

The New Academic Building:

The classrooms for 152 students were not enough. Fr. Mathai with the financial assistance of the French provincial constructed a long, two-floor building for classrooms, well furnished and workshop sheds for the practical. Fr. Mathai also prepared three Brothers to teach in this institute.

 

Bank and Shops:

Fr. Ignatius remodeled the 10 shops along the front compound wall. The province constructed a building for Canara Bank for rent (blessed by Fr. Aloysius Irudayam, the Provincial on 15.06.1993). Till now these rentals form the major income of the institute.

 

The Automobile Workshop:

The Automobile workshop was necessary for the practicals of M.M.V. students and also as an income-generating source to the institute. There was always the moral struggle to get away from unrighteous practices done in any automobile workshop to run it as a successful business.

 

On 5.1.1978 a Government Order was received terminating the approval for major repairs of Government vehicles for all private workshops from 28.2.1978.

 

On 28.2.1978 as precondition for the approval for the major repairs of Government Vehicles the Auto Workshop was registered under Factories Act. Our automobile workshop depended 90% on Govt vehicles. On 2.11.1978 we received the approval for major repairs.

 

On account of the heavy losses over the years there was an idea of closing the workshop. Therefore an evaluation of Loyola Automobile Workshop was done on 18.04.2000 by a committee constituted by the Provincial. The study was conducted for a month and according to the report presented on 20.05.2000 it was decided to revamp it on a trial basis for a period of one year to see its further functioning and the community, after one year, and after a process of discernment closed the workshop on 28.02.2001. The workers were paid off with a bank loan of Rs. 7,60,000 and this loan was paid back by the Province in 2002.

 

The mortal remains are kept in the workshop to evoke different emotional sentiments of all those who were associated with it for 50 years. Perhaps a day will come when it comes back to life, may be in a different form.

 

Sri Lankan Refugee Students:

From 01.06.1998 non-formal technical education is offered to 20 refugee students every year, totally funded by the Jesuit Refugee Service.

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