Prabhu Jisu Residence, P.O. - Matigara, P.O. Box No. - 3, Siliguri, West Bengal, India - 734010
Darjeeling Jesuits have a great affection for their Province. There are several reasons. One definitely is the people whom we serve and another nature’s bounty, from snow-capped mountains to the lush green tea gardens of the Terai and Dooars which make Darjeeling a paradise. The temperature is a blessing, neither very cold in winter not too hot in summer. The people are even better, the smiling people of the hills and to the hard working and faithful people of the tea gardens.
Blessed with these bounties we have our own unique Jesuit history and the strategic importance of where we are. Bounded by Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet and Bangladesh, we enjoy a multiplicity of cultures, religions, languages, which become a kaleidoscope of God’s people we serve. The four dioceses we serve are also vibrant and equally challenging for the Jesuits, as we have to adapt and adopt so much variety. We have to be all things to all people.
Jesuits already set foot in Darjeeling Province in 1627 when two Portuguese Jesuits on their way to Tibet through Bhutan, lived there for almost a year. In I888, the Belgian Jesuits came to set up St Joseph’s School, North Point, Darjeeling, rated today as one of the best schools in India. In 1889 they set up St Mary’s Theologate at Kurseong, where so many Jesuits from all over India came to do theology and love Darjeeling. It was a sad day for Darjeeling when St Mary’s was shifted to Delhi in 1975 and became Vidya Jyoti.
The Independence of India in 1947 saw a new dawn not only for India but for Darjeeling with the coming of the Canadian Jesuits. A total of 53 Canadians came and worked here a while or for the rest of their lives. We still have two stalwarts around, Fr William Bourke and Fr Mike Parent in Nepal. The Canadian Jesuits started many of our apostolates as we see them today and we owe them and the Upper Canadian Province much gratitude.
The hard work of the Canadian and Belgian Jesuits saw the birth of Darjeeling as a Province in 1997 when we were about 160 Jesuits in the Province. Today our numbers are down to 130 Jesuits.