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Our Network > ST. PAUL’S CONVENT - DUDHANI

The first missionary who set out from Majlishpur to Santal Parganas was Fr. Benjamin Cauchi S.J. in January 1930. He started his missionary journey at the request of the Archbishop of Calcutta, Rt. Rev. Ferdinand Perier S.J. Fr. Cauchi landed up in Pakur for the first time and started visiting the families and neighboring places in order to locate a place to start the mission. Fr. Anthony Debono, the parish priest of Majlishpur, as well as the sisters of the community at Majlishpur used to visit these areas occasionally.

As soon as Fr. Cauchi started his work, he earnestly requested the Sisters of Charity at Krishnagar to visit the Christian families in Pakur, Rajmaha and the neighbouring villages. The sisters set out gladly and enthusiastically from Majlishpur. They had to travel long distances on foot or by bullock carts, had to sleep in the open, eat what they could get, bear up extreme heat and put up with the intense cold at night. But they were ready for any sacrifice that the glory of God might be enhanced.

The people were astonished when they saw the sisters for the first time which gradually turned into veneration and gratitude. The Archbishop realized the need for a permanent presence of the sisters in the region for the uplift of the people. He requested the superior general, Sr. Antoinette Sterni, for sisters to begin a mission permanently among the Santals. The Archbishop of Calcutta, Rt. Rev. Ferdinand Perier S.J. in the presence of the provincial Superior, Sr. Davidica Acquistapace, solemnly blessed the church, convent and the School on 31st March 1935. The Convent was named St. Paul’s Convent’ at the request of the Bishop after the patron saint of the church, much against the wish of the sisters who wanted it to be named ‘Little Flower Convent’.

With the arrival of the sisters, large number of children flocked for help, the orphans found tender loving hearts to care for them and homeless widows got a safe shelter and understanding hearts. An elementary school was begun in the month of May, to educate the children whose parents never had a chance of being educated. A boarding house also was begun immediately. Industrial school for weaving also started at the same time which attracted nearly 90 young girls.

The sisters went as far as Madhupur, Giridhi, Bhagalpur, Sahibganj, Torai, Guhiajori and Jiaror to serve the people. The school got permanent recognition from the Secondary Board of Bihar in 1962. A plot of land adjacent to the convent was bought for the construction of a High school building in 1963 and within two years the building was ready. The hall that was used as the parish church was converted into a dispensary. The craft centre opened on 18th May 1977 for the drop-outs. Sisters continued to visit different villages regularly, staying at length in different mission stations for the faith formation of the people.

The English medium school started in 1964 was upgraded to High School under ICSE Delhi Board in 2002 and obtained affiliation in 2012.

Since 1972, the sisters were going to Shikaripara, about 60 kms from Dudhani for villagel work. The mission among the santals for 75 years is a great achievement for St. Paul’s convent and yet there remain many more dreams to be realized.

Our Network > ST. RITA’S CONVENT - SHIKARIPARA

The Sisters at Dudhani, in their regular moffussil tours to the different villages, found Shikaripara, in the diocese of Dumka, Jharkhand, a developing mission. There had been a steady growth in the development of the local Santals which had called for more activities; the permanent presence of the sisters was a felt need of the place to build up the church and it was felt that a school would cater to the need of education.

Sr. Celine Ba and Sr. Francis Regis were regularly at shikaripara, in the early months of 1982, to take admission to classes I and II for St. Rita’s Middle school which was established by ‘Dumka Catholic Diocese’ and was entrusted to the Sisters of Charity with the primary aim of imparting sound, all- round education based on principles of Christian faith.

It was a glorious day for the community at Dudhani to witness its off-shoot being erected as a community on 24th June 1992. After having put up in the old mud house for nearly three years, the sisters converted part of the dispensary into a little convent in 1985 and continued to stay there facing all kinds of hassles for lack of facilities. The solemn entry into the newly built convent in 2000 could not be considered less than a Jubilee year gift. The middle School had received its initial recognition in 1993. To crown it all, the school received the Minority Status in 2008.

Besides catering for education, the sisters take care of people and prepare them for a meaningful Christian living. The SCC programme and the women’s uplift projects in different villages, the various pious associations in the hostel and parish and the regular value education sessions in the school, help deepen the faith and spiritual growth of the children and adults of Shikaripara. Two students of St. Rita’s have already responded to religious vocation to our congregation.

There was a gradual awakening among the local people for an English medium school among the local people for their children and responding to the need of the time, Holy child English Medium School was started in 2005. The school began to flourish with more demands for admissions and the classes are being upgraded year after year. The sisters are experiencing joy of having reaching out to the most needy with love.