Welcome to Darjeeling Province
When in 1946, the English speaking Jesuits of Canada were asked to assume responsibility for the work of the Society in North Bengal, some might have been surprised at the timing of the request. For it was only seven years before, on March 12, 1939, that they had finally achieved the status of a province. It had taken them almost one hundred years to reach that point in their history, so long and arduous had been the task of reconstruction and growth after the restoration of the Society in Canada in 1842. And now, as they were planning needed apostolates in Canada, put on hold during the grim war years, 1939-1945, came this request for help from the other side of the world.
Further surprises would have greeted their startled eyes, were they capable of seeing into the future: to March 12, 1956, when their companions would have a major share in setting up a new region of the Society of Jesus, in Darjeeling; and further still, to 1997, when, with more than one hundred and thirty Jesuits, Darjeeling would be on the verge of becoming a province and thus accomplish what the ‘home’ province had taken almost twice that time to achieve. How this happened is the story of the Darjeeling Region as it grew from early 1956 to 1985, when a total of fifty-three Canadian Jesuits, building on the labours of the Belgian pioneers in Bengal, began the hand over to their Indian confreres.