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Province History

Brief History of CMI St. Xavier’s Province, Rajkot

At the invitation of the Gujarat Jesuit Province and the Diocese of Ahmedabad, Fr. Theobald Pothanikat CMI, the then Prior General sent a team of six priests to Gujarat in 1972. They were Fr. Damascene Manamel of Chanda Region, Fr. Jospeh Vempala and Fr. Modest Purathayil of St. Joseph’s Province, Fr. Sebastian Vadakumchery of Sacred Heart Province, Fr. Clarus Thazhath of Devmatha Province, and Fr. Mathew Panthiruvelil of St. Thomas Vice-Province. Four of them began learning Gujarati staying at the Jesuit Provincialate at Ahmedabad, while the other two joined the B.Ed. course at Vallabh Vidyanagar. After a year they started helping the Jesuits in the different mission stations in Saurashtra.

On July 16, 1974 the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the CMI’s officially took over the civil districts of Jamnagar, Kutch, Junagadh and Surendranagar from the Society of Jesus at a simple function, held at St. Xavier’s School, Jamnagar. Fr. J. Aizpun S.J. the Jesuit Provincial, Fr. J. Arana S.J., the administrator of Ahmedabad Diocese, Fr. Antony CMI Vicar General, and Fr. J. Liguori CMI, the General Mission Secretary were present on the occasion. On the same day the Jesuits handed over St. Xavier’s School, Jamnagar to the CMI’s. there were twelve priests working in the region at that time.

The CMI General Council by its Act No. 284/75 of June 2, 1975 instituted the CMI mission of Saurashtra and Fr. Modest Purathayil was appointed the Mission Superior by the Prior General. Besides, St. Xavier’s Jamnagar was declared a CMI house, endowed with the rights and privileges of a canonical house. St. Mary’s School, Rajkot was handed over to the CMIs on June 20, 1977. After the Diocese of Rajkot came into being on February 25, 1977, the CMI General chapter by a decision in April 1978 entrusted the entire mission territory of Saurashtra and Kutch to the Sacred Heart Province.

On June 21, 1981 this territory was raised to a region. On August 29, 1981 the first regional meeting of the CMIs working in Rajkot mission was held and Fr. Mathew Bassus was elected the first Regional Superior. On November 7, 1981 the Region was inaugurated and christened St. Xavier’s Region. Fr. John Naduvathussery (1984-87), Fr. Savion Pattara (1987-90) and Fr. Paul Kannarkatt (1990-94) were appointed Regional Superiors successively.

The Prior General (Fr. Thomas Mampra) was the consent of his council declared (Act No. G.C. 125/93 dated 13-10-1993) St. Xavier’s Region a Vice-Province with effect from December 3, 1993 – feast of St. Francis Xavier. Fr. John Naduvathussery was elected the first Vice- Provincial by the Vice-Provincial Synaxis presided over by Fr. Mathias Mundadan, Provincial of S.H. Province, Kalamassery on April 6, 1994.

The inauguration of the Vice-Province was held on 29-08-1994 in the presence of many dignitaries and well-wishers. Import among them were the following: Archbishop Abraham Kattumana, Pontifical Delegate to the Syro-Malabar Church, Bishop Gregory Karotemprel of Rajkot Diocese, Bishop Stanislaus Fernandes of Ahmedabad, bishop Gratian Mundadan of Bijnor, Fr. Sebastian Poonoly CMI, vicar General of CMI Congregation, Fr. Mathias Mundadan CMI, Provincial of Kalamassery, Fr. Jose Chnaganasery S.J, Provincial of Gujarat Jesuit Province and Fr. Mathew Bassus Manjakunnel CMI, Provincial of Muvattupuzha.

The newly built Vice-Provincial House was blessed by Fr. Thomas Mampra, Prior General, on 12-03-1996. Fr. Savio Pattara was elected Provincial in 1996, Fr. John Marius Manickanamparambil in 1999, Fr. Paul Kannarkatt in 2002, Fr. Paul Vithayathil in 2005, and Fr. Jose Chittooparambil in 2008. Upon the nomination of Fr. Jose Chittooparambil as the Bishop of Rajkot in 2010, Fr. Thomas Kolamkuzhiyil, the Vicar-Provincial assumed the Provincialship, and was re-elected Fr. Peter Kochalumkal as Provincial in 2014. Fr. Thomas Kolamkuzhiyil was again elected provincial in 2017 and Fr. James Thayil was elected Provincial in 2020.

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