St. Xavier's H.S. School, Thoothukudi

Ever since St. Francis Xavier landed at Tuticorin in 1543, the presence of the Jesuits in the religious, educational and social fields were deeply felt by the local inhabitants particularly by the fisher-folk. Christianity was fast spreading along the costal areas by the tireless work of the fervent Jesuits like Fr. Antony Criminali who was martyred at vedalai in 1549. Many local churches were put up. Punnaikayal was the center of the Mission then. Along with the evangelizing work the Jesuits were providing education also. In fact at Tuticorin in 1567 the Jesuits started a primary school and it is said that a systematic class-wise teaching and learning was introduced for the first time in the whole of India. The present Xavier’s Hr. Sec. School owes its origin to this historically ancient primary school. It was started in the year 1884.

 

Since then a band of dedicated Jesuits nurtured this temple of learning by their selfless service and hard work. Fr.S. A. Rayappan introduced technical and education and he put up Engineering, textile Technology block in 1957-58. In 1962 Fr.C.V. Mattam, an able administrator, became the headmaster. It was he who managed to acquire much more property for the Xaveriana campus amidst many hurdles and difficulties. He also opened a Government Hostel for the fishermen community boys in Xaveriana campus. For nearly 10 years it served the purpose of accommodating hundreds of students. 


Abolition of English Medium:

In 1965, permission was obtained from the educational department to introduce English Medium sections in the school. But, in the year 1978, the Jesuits made a policy of `Preferential option for the poor’ and hence they abolished the English medium in our school. But, due to the request from the Bishop of Tuticorin and by the earnest appeal of the parents of the local area, English medium in eleventh and twelfth standard was retained.

 

Full-Fledged Hr. Sec. School and Centenary Celebrations:

In 1978, during Fr.D. Arockiam’s reign, St. Xavier’s High School was upgraded as Higher Secondary School, and the centenary celebrations celebrated in 1984, is yet another milestone in the history of St. Francis Xavier’s Hr. Sec. School. Along with the Governor of Tamil Nadu, His Excellency Shri. S.L. Khurana, a good number of dignitaries from all over Tamil Nadu was invited for the gala function. They all appreciated the selfless services rendered by the Jesuits for the past 100 years without counting the cost. These centenary celebrations were masterminded by the then Headmaster Fr.S. Ignatius, S.J.

 

Fr.G. John Gualbert,S.J. extended the staff room and constructed a new building to facilitate the students. Fr. William Alphonse improved the academic excellence of the students. Presently Bro.Irudayam Antony is giving his best to continue the good work started by his predecessors. Soon the school will celebrate its 125th year of its existence in the Pearl City in 2009.

 

XAVERIANA – Jesuit community

There are seven Jesuits in the community. Four of them are directly involved in the educational ministry. Two of them are engaged in the spiritual ministry. One Jesuit is taking care of the day today needs of the community. The members of the present Jesuit community are as follows: 
· Rev. Fr.Dominic Royce, S.J. Superior & Teaches in the school
· Rev. Br.A. Irudayam, S.J. Headmaster & Correspondent
· Rev. Br.G.Titus., S.J. Minister
· Rev. Fr.Lawrence Gabriel, S.J. Student Counsellor & Spiritual Director
· Rev. Fr.A.Stanislaus, S.J. Teaches in the school & Parish Priest of Inigo Nagar
· Rev. Fr.George Vedamuthu, S.J. Treasurer and Teaches in the school
· Rev.Fr. S.P.Savarimuthu,S.J., Spiritual Director

They are doing a wonderful service in serving the local Church and particularly the poor fisherman and the Dalit students. They have adopted two villages namely Inigo Nagar and Bharathi Nagar for neighbourhood ministry. Evening study centres are started in those two villages and a good number of children come for the evening study everyday and benefit a lot. Two teachers are appointed to guide those children in their studies. With their vision and mission they are reaching new heights.

 

INIGO NAGAR PARISH

Inigo Nagar Village is situated at the out skirt of Tuticorin Town in the eastern coast of Tamil Nadu. It is 100% Catholic Christian Village with 250 families and with a total population of 1800. As fisherman they have put up their huts fishing nets and boats close to this sea shore since 1970 though the land does not belong to them. It is the property of the Governmant Port Trust. At any time they may be asked to vacate the spot. Economically they are very poor as their daily earning is very little and so they lead a hand to mouth existence. Educationally they are highly backward and most of them are illiterate. Even at a very young age they go for fishing to earn their livelihood.

In 2003 January, Most.Rev. Peter Fernando, the then Bishop of Tuticorin made the sub station of Our Lady of Snows’ Basillica, Tuticorin into a parish and it was entrusted to the pastoral care of Jesuits of Xaveriana initially for three years. Fr. Stanislaus was appointed as the first Parish Priest of Inigo Nagar. The patron saint of the parish is St.Ignatius. To improve the education of the children, Fr.Stanislaus started a Nursery School for the kids and with the help of Government he started a special school for the child labourers and as a part of neighbourhood ministry an Evening Study Centre was started and a teacher has been appointed to guide the children in their studies; to empower the women folk a tailoring Institute for Girls, a job oriented centre for the unemployed women and also a Post saving scheme for 23 widows were started; a monthly saving scheme for 50 child labourers and a yearly saving for 17 handicapped in the village were also introduced.

 

Future Need of the Parish:

Land being a perennial problem, especially after tsunami in 2004 December, there is a proposal to shift the whole village to the other side of the road. In that case it could be very well amalgamated with Lions Town parish. And the Jesuits as a team could take up the Lions Town parish and form a Jesuit Parish community there (like the Salesians at Therespuram). Till then no permanent developmental works, such as putting up a parish church, a presbytery, a primary school, etc could be initiated at Inigo Nagar.

 

Onward March!:

Treading on the footsteps of St. Francis Xavier hundreds of Jesuits have worked unceasingly to build this institution all for `For the Greater Glory of God’. The same spirit of Magis still continues. On the occasion of 450th Death anniversary of St.Francis Xavier and the Golden Jubilee of Madurai Jesuit Province , we have taken up a new parish at Inigo Nagar a Sub-Urban area near Xaveriana for our Socio-Pastoral neighborhood ministry in 2003 as a sign that we are still at the service of the people and with the local church.

 

Vision in the Jubilee Year:

And in the school ministry as jubilee venture with Ignatian vision of education we launch into imparting a total humanistic education to our students through various innovative programmes such as –

* Providing supplementary education to weak students 
* Improving Computer Academy
* Allotting scholarships for Dalit students
* Organizing the parents-teacher, alumni association etc.
* Appointing a school counselor
* Improving catechism, moral and human right classes
* Planning annual All-India educational Tour programme
* Implementing teacher development project
* Arranging summer courses for skill development
* Promoting communal harmony by the celebration of festivals
* Motivating the students to be men of Magis in Sports and Games etc.
* Exposing the students to the media communication world
* Encouraging the students with incentives for a good performance in study and other activities
* Implementing the option for Dalits in admission and appointment
* Building a good rapport with the local hierarchy, clergy and other Religious.
* Starting of a ‘Community College’ and a ‘Poor Boys Hostel’

To conclude, as a team of Jesuits at Xaveriana in the jubilee year relying on God’s grace and support and dreaming big dreams with the hope to make them come true, We together march ahead…..

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