Sunday, September 27, 2009

1. Introduction [ RC Diocese of Salem ]

Chapter - I
Scope and Objectives of the Study:
The dissertation on “ Roman Catholic Diocese Of Salem – A Study” is an attempt to trace the origin, growth, the various services, the multifarious activities of the diocese and its impact on the social and institutional structure of the society. The spread of Christianity and the selfless services of missionaries made an indelible mark and a tremendous impact on the Tamil society. The traditional Tamil society was a caste-ridden society. The economic disparity, rigid caste system and the denial of educational opportunities to the large section of the people attracted the attention of the missionaries to serve for the sake of the downtrodden and the neglected groups. The early Christian missionaries committed themselves in spreading the gospel as their primary mission work. Besides this, they concentrated more on the protection of human rights, promotion of universal education and strived hard for the uplift of the subaltern group including the women.
Religion plays a predominant role in the life of man. It helps the human beings to lead their daily lives in harmony with themselves and with others and to lead a grace filled life of peace and happiness. Man finds perfect happiness in the Supreme Being, namely God who is the object of all religions of the world. The manifestation of ultimate reality can be seen in ‘History’ as well as in Nature. Keshav Chandra Sen, one of the exponents of spiritual interpretation of history says, “The universe exhibits on all sides marks of design and beauty, adaptation and method. Each object shows God’s handiwork. But God is not manifested in matter alone. There is another revelation. There is God in history. He who created and upholds this vast universe also governs and destines the affairs of nation”.
The impact of Jesus Christ (4 BC – 30 AD) who was born 2000 years ago, on human history is so obvious and enormous. He is the founder of the most influential religion namely Christianity and the Christian church. His disciples spread the gospel in every nook and corner of the world. In the beginning of 17th century Southern Kongunadu a part of Salem District under Madurai Nayakkars accepted Christianity.
One can definitely proclaim on the basic of corroborating evidences that Christianity stepped in to Salem in 1623 due to the tireless efforts of the celebrated Jesuit missionary Fr.Robert De Nobili [1606 -1656] He baptized Ramachandra Naik, the Chieftain of Sendamangalam and also converted an old soldier into Christian faith. This incident marks an epoch making event in the history of spread of Christianity in Salem. Since then this region has seen the presence of many missionaries both of Society of Jesus and of the Paris Foreign Mission as well as of the Diocesan Clergy.
The Diocese of Salem was established on 26th May, 1930 by Pope Pius X1 canonically under the guidance and the painstaking efforts of Missionaries of Paris Foreign Mission Society. The Diocese of Salem was erected initially with 11parishes to cater to the needs of Catholic Community. The legacy and the mission of the missionaries is continued by the Indian brethren. They have built-up solidly on the foundation the missionaries laid, so that the Diocese today can boast of progress in a variety of fields- in the creation of new parishes and churches, institutional expansions and in areas of social apostolate and inter religious dialogue. The Christian community of Salem, though a small minority, has made significant contribution in the spiritual, educational, social and humanitarian fields of national life.
This small community started growing steadily from year to year under the pastoral care and untiring labours of the missionaries and later under the able guidance of Rev. Bishops Henry Prunier (1930 – 1949), V.S. Selvanathar (1949-1974), Michael B.Duraisamy (1974-1999) and S.Singaroyan (2000-).
Few scholars have worked on the various aspects of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salem. Rev.Fr.L.Depigny highlighted the spread of Christianity in Salem region in his work “ The Short History of Spread of Gospel in Salem District”. Rev. Fr. M.S. Joseph attempted to trace the origin of the Diocese with available source materials provided by Fr. L. Depigny in his work “ A Short History Of Salem Diocese.” Mrs. M.Sarojini made an attempt to give a clear account of missionaries and their services in Salem District in her dissertation “Role of Catholic Missionaries in Salem District.” Another scholar Sahaya Mary has traced the History of Salem District with special reference to Infant Jesus Cathedral in her dissertation work entitled “Infant Jesus Cathedral”.
This dissertation on “The Roman Catholic Diocese of Salem - A Study” tries to trace the origin of the diocese and to study its development, structure, administration, and its various forms of ministries namely pastoral, educational, economical and social rehabilitation rendered to the people of Attur, Namakkal and Salem Districts. This dissertation covers overall aspects of the diocese taking into account its vision, mission, challenges and tremendous achievements from 1930 the year in which the Diocese was established upto till date. Since Christianity stepped into this diocese as far back as 1623, an attempt is also made to trace the history of Christianity in this region since 1623. The Diocese of Salem has been holding the pride of place in the region of Tamilnadu. Its laudable services to the people in various spheres in general and its contributions to the growth of Christianity in these parts in particular have amply evidenced from what has been enumerated in the following chapters. However, a detailed study of this multifarious service minded body was found wanting. This dissertation is hoped to fulfill that want.

Sources of Information
Both the primary and the secondary sources have been used for the completion of this study. Of the primary sources used for the study are the “Annual Reports” of various commissions and committees such as Dialogue and Ecumenism, Laity, Family, SC, ST, BC Commissions, Social Service, Education, Youth and Social Communication. The Diocesan New Letters throw more light on the various activities of the Diocese throughout the year. The Reports of Salem Social Service Society highlight the great strides it has made in reaching to the poor and socially backward masses through its various development programmes. The registers and files maintained at Health Care Centres furnish ample facts about massive programmes launched to give relief to the various diseases. The Annual Reports of Leprosy Relief Rural Centre at Settypatty, St. Mary Magdelene Polio Centre at Mathiampatty, St.Mary’s General Hospital at Arisipalayam and other hospitals and dispensaries run by the religious congregations of Salem Diocese provide the vital informations about relief measures taken by the Diocese to ensure medical aid to those downtrodden who suffer from various ailments. The code of cannon law and the documents of Vatican II explain the way of life of the clergy and religious, their powers and function and also their administrative procedures involving the diocese. Newspaper form yet another primary source utilized for the study.
The Catholic Directory of Salem Diocese narrates the various activities of the diocese. The Annual Report of ITI, Schools and other educational institutions explain the several steps initiated by the diocese to give all round development to children, women and youth. The facts and figures found in the primary sources are supported by the secondary sources. They run in volumes and furnish additional information. The souvenirs, school handbooks, calendars, pamphlets, journals, brochure of Epiphany Centre and the Gazetteers form the important secondary sources.
Various types of techniques have been adopted for collecting and analyzing the sources. Apart from gathering data for the study from the various records, interviews were conducted periodically using questionnaire with Directors of various commissions, committees and church officials, heads of various social and religious and educational institutions and the beneficiaries of various educational and social welfare programmes of the Diocese. The interview schedule was prepared and the data analyzed for interpretation. This method helped the researcher to collect required information pertaining to the activities of the diocese.

This dissertation is classified into 7 chapters. The first chapter describes briefly the aims and objectives of the study undertaken, methodology adopted and the details of chapters. The second chapter deals with the spread of Christianity in Salem. The third chapter enumerates the origin, development and administration of the Salem Diocese.
The various religious services of the diocese and the participation of laity in the developmental activities of the diocese are discussed in the fourth chapter. The fifth chapter throws light on the educational services of the diocese. The sixth chapter gives an account of developmental and animational activities of Salem Social Service Society and rehabilitation programmes and medical service and health care centres run by the religious communities for the betterment of the downtrodden.
In the last chapter an attempt is made to analyze the vision, mission, challenges and achievements of the diocese and its impact upon the people with special reference to the findings derived out of the study.

2. Spread of Christianity in Salem [ RC Diocese of Salem ]

Chapter - II
1. Historical Background:
(a) Location:
The Salem district is situated between 110 and 12055 of north latitude and 77028 and 78050 of the east longitude. It is bounded on the north by Dharmapuri district, on the south by Tiruchirapalli, west by Erode and east by South Arcot district. The city of Salem is believed to have been established by Cheraman Peruman, Kongu Chera thus giving rightly the epithet “Cherlam” meaning the place of Chera. Sieving through the etymological interpretations and conflicting claims regarding the origin of the word Salem, one is confounded with an array of meanings of the word – land of Cheras, land of mountains, land of weavers etc., The term Salem could have been also derived from the word Jerusalem.
(b) People:
According to the 2001 censes the population of Salem was 50,40,157. The bulk of the population is Hindus. The next largest religious group is the Muslims. The Christians come third. According to the statistics taken in the year 2004 the Catholic population in the district is 84,072 . The rest of the population consists of a few Zorostrians, Jains, Sikhs, Buddhists and others.
Indian society suffers from inequality with regards to the distribution of economic resources. In Salem district still a large section of the people depend on agriculture, the primary occupation. About 45% of the total areas of the district is under cultivation. The majority of them are under the clutches of the moneylenders. The major part of the secondary employment in the district is contributed by small and cottage industries, which are generally, underpaid occupations. The non-agricultural class consists of persons who derive their principal means of livelihood from primary industries - mining, quarrying, processing, textiles, manufacturing of leather, metals and chemicals, tertiary occupations and commerce, transport and communications, health, education and public administration. Hence as elsewhere about 20% of the rich exploit 80% of the people and half of them even remain below the poverty line. They are powerless, marginalized and dehumanized by the rich. The real cause of poverty is inequality, injustice, illiteracy and oppression.
The Hindu social organization is composed of several castes. Each caste consists of several sub castes. The sub caste itself is divided into a number of smaller exogamous groups. Some important castes to which people of Salem district belong are the
Brahmins: The Brahmins in the district are heterogeneous in character. There are many sects and sub-sects among them, such as Telugu Brahmins, Kannada Brahmins and Tulu Brahmins.
Non Brahmins: The major communities in Salem are the Non-Brahmins.The Velars, Vanniyars, Agamudayars, Udaiyars, Reddiars, Kammalars, Komatiars, Janappars, Kavarais, Chettiars, Kammalars, Devangars, Sourashitas, Idaiyars, Kurumbars, Nadars, Sembadavars, Vettuvars, Kusavars, Pallars, Oddars, and Pariyars Communities are important. With spread of literacy and social awakening among the masses, the rigidity of caste barriers is gradually disappearing, Even inter-caste marriages are common.
Tamil is the major language spoken by them. The other languages spoken in this region are Telugu, Kannada, Urdu, Hindi, Malayalam, Marathi, Sourastra, Gujarati, English and Sindhi. It is a polyglot district. The influence of other languages is traceable in the Tamil spoken in this district.

(c) Political Background :
Salem District was never an independent political entity. In early times the north of it was ruled by the Pallavas while the south was included in the Kongu kingdom. In the 9th century the Chola kings annexed the whole and subsequently, it passed under the Hoysalas. In the 14th century the Hindu kings of Vijaya Nagar Empire conquered it, where their sway was acknowledged till the beginning of the 17th century when the district came under the Nayak rulers of Madurai. The rise of the Wodeyar rulers of Mysore was a turning point in the history of Salem region. The whole of Salem came under the Mysore rule during the time of Chikka Deva Raja [1673 –1704 A.D]. In the 1761, Haider Ali became the ruler of Mysore. The whole district fell to the East India Company at the end of the Third Mysore War in 1792 A.D. Subsequently it became an administrative division of the British territories in the Madras Presidency. It came into existence first as the district of Baramahal and Salem. The district capital was first located at Dharmapuri. In 1860 the head quarters was shifted to Salem. The district was divided into two districts namely Salem and Dharmapuri in 1965. The district of Namakkal was bifurcated from Salem in 1997 A.D. Some of the eminent leaders like Salem Ramaswami Mudaliar, Sri. C. Rajagopalachari, Dr.VaradhaRajulu Naidu, Sri. E.V.Ramaswami Naicker and Dr. P. Subbarayan played a major role in the political and cultural transformations. Their participation in the political movements in the 20th century and other activities brought the Salem district into the lime light.
(2) Spread of Christianity in Salem:
Jesus Christ is the hinge on which the doors of history swing. The centuries are measured from his birth. He faced a humble birth and a bloody death to bring salvation to mankind. After the resurrection, his apostles spread his teachings. The apostles collected all the doctrines of Jesus Christ and called them gospel . They went about in different directions administering the sacraments in the cause of spreading Christianity. St.Paul and St.Peter were the early reputed apostles. St. Peter spread Christianity in Rome where he also established a church and became the first Bishop. The credit of popularizing Christianity in Syria, Jerusalem, Palestine and Greece goes to St.Paul.
St.Thomas Didymas, one of the disciples of Jesus Christ, came to India and introduced Christianity in Malabar Coast in Kerala and Mylapore (Chennai) in Tamilnadu. He came to India at the invitation of king Gundophorus, an Indo-Parthian king who ruled over Kabul to spread gospel. He carried out his evangelical work in Kerala with much vigour. He converted the upper class Hindu families in Cranganore. Palayur Chayal, Nivanam and Quilon. He consecrated priets from some of these families and built seven Churches in Kerala taking his short span of stay and then he came to the Tamil country to continue his preaching. Incurring the wrath of the Brahmin priests by his conversion work, St. Thomas was martyred near a Hindu shrine on the mount near Mylapore, Chennai in about 72 A.D. The Martyrdom of St. Thomas at Mylapore led to the rapid spread of Christianity in South India. In recognition to the historical importance, Mylapore was erected as a first diocese in Tamilnadu on 9th January 1606 A.D. by Pope Paul V. It was elevated to an Archdiocese on 1st September, 1886. Thus South India offered hospitality to the Christians from the earliest decades of the Christian era.
Observing on the significance of the St. Thomas Mission, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the first President of India said, “Remember St.Thomas came to India when many countries in Europe had not yet become Christian and so these Indians who trace their Christianity of him have a longer history and higher ancestry than that of many of the European countries and it is really matter of pride to us that it so happened”. For a long time there was little contact between the Christians of India and their co-religionists in Europe. Christian travellers in the middle ages occasionally complained of paucity of Christians in South India. Friar Jordanus (1321 – 30 A.D) wrote enthusiastically of the great scope that India offered for missionary activity in the cause of Christianity.
The next stage in the preaching of Christianity in India began with the coming of Portuguese on the western coast of India in about 1498. A.D. They occupied a few trading posts. Soon all the Portuguese trading posts along the Indian coast from Bombay to Tuticorin were made as the Catholic Christian Centres. In 1531, Goa was created a Bishopric.
In the beginning, the Christian centres in Tamilnadu were controlled by Goa Bishopric. The Popes repeatedly urged the Portuguese Kings to make it their duty to send missionaries to the newly discovered areas for evangelization.
In response to the call of the Popes, the Portuguese kings sent a number of secular and religious priests to India. In the 17th century, a new department known as Propaganda Fide was established in order to send the Franciscans, the Jesuits, the Dominicans, Theatines and Augustinians missionaries to India for evangelization. Due to the indefatigable zeal of these missionaries, Christianity spread in Konkan, Kanara, Malabar coasts and later their sway was extended to Tuticorin, Kanyakumari, Kongu and Bara Mahal and Madurai regions. The sincere and strenuous efforts of these missionaries contributed enormously for the rapid change of social, economic and cultural conditions of Tamilnadu. The beginning of the Counter Reformation and the foundation of the Society of Jesus formed a brilliant chapter in the history of the Roman Catholic Church. The Jesuit priests involved actively in spreading the Gospel to many parts of Tamilnadu. Fr.Francis Xavier was the pioneer among the Jesuits who visited Tamilnadu. After his arrival at Goa in 1542 A.D, he continued his evangelical works in the coastal regions of Tuticorin and Kanayakumari.
(a) Works of Madura Mission:
The foundation of Madura mission had a tremendous effect on the social history of Salem. Robert De Nobili (1577-1656), an eminent and dedicated Jesuit was the first missionary who visited Salem to spread Christianity and founded the Catholic Church there. He entered the Jesuit order in 1595 and came to India in 1604. He reached Madurai in 1606 when it was ruled by Tirumalai Nayak. Fr. Nobili adopted the mode of life of Hindu sanyasis in order to attract higher caste Hindus to Christianity. By his adoptive method he converted many Hindu high caste to the Christian faith. As a result of his novel way of conversion, Christianity was accepted in the southern parts of Tamilnadu by low caste and high caste people. After founding a well-known Jesuit mission at Madurai in 1606 A.D., he decided to spread the gospel in the neighbouring regions.
He established congregations wherever conversion took place in large numbers. In 1623, he toured through many parts of Tamil Country. During the course of the tour he visited Truchirapalli, Senthamangalam and Salem. In June 1623 A.D he arrived at Senthamangalam, the capital of Ramachandra Nayak, the Vassal of Thirumala Nayak of Madurai. Ramachandra Nayak offered him a site to build a church and a presbytery but after consulting God in prayer, Robert De Nobili declined the offer.
At Salem Nobili met Tirumangala Nayak, the elder brother of Ramachandra Nayak and also the dethroned ruler of Senthamangalam. Fr. Nobili followed Tirumangala, a small town in Dharampuri and baptized him there along with his family members on 25th December, 1625.
On July 31st 1626. Fr.Nobili received the visit of a Pandaram hailed from the sect of Saivism and a man belonged to valluvar caste. The latter one was impressed by De Nobili’s Tamil book, “Sign of True Religion” and got himself baptized with the name “Mukthi Udayan” ( Blissful one). His conversion had a tremendous impact on the evangelical service rendered by Fr. Nobili in Salem region. Very soon Maramangalam became an important Christian centre with 40 neophytes. As this centre was then well established he could leave for other places to continue to preach the gospel. So he invited Fr. Martins and put him in charge of Salem, Maramangalam and Senthamangalam which numbered between 100 and 150 Christians . In 1627 he left for Tiruchirapalli. The little congregations he established grew from strength to strength. Due to the efforts of Fr. De Nobili and Fr. Antonio Vico, a church was built at Maramangalam in 1628 and another one at Salem. Subsequently the Christian Mission centre was established in various places in Salem region. Fr. Nobili also established a mission centre at koilur in Dharamapuri. By 1665 A.D., there were a large number of Catholics at kongupatti, Ilupuli, Anaikarapalayam, Omalur, Sankagiri, Anthiyur, Mathiyampatti and Ilanagar.
(b) Attempts of Mysore Jesuit Mission in spreading Christianity:
The foundation of the Mysore Jesuit Mission by Fr. Leonardo Cinnami in 1650 formed a turning point in the history of spread of Christianity in South India. The geographical adjacent of Salem to the Mysore kingdom and the urge to spread Christianity led the Jesuit missionaries of Mysore mission to concentrate in Salem region.
In the beginning the missionaries belonging to Mysore Mission continued their evangelical work in and around Salem along with the collaboration of the Madura Mission. Since 1687 the Mysore Mission had alone involved in the missionary activities of Salem . Fr.Vincent Durake, Fr. Rodriques, Fr.Cinnami, Fr.De Paiva, Fr.Cunha and Fr.Franciso Dos Reys were important Mysore missionaries who laboured tirelessly for the spread of Christianity in Annaikaraipalyam, Kakeveri, Senthamangalam, Koviloor and various other mission stations of Mysore missionaries.
Fr. Cinnami started a mission centre at Jumpuli Kottai (Sampalli) between 1650 and 1660 A.D. He permitted Royan the catechist to construct a church at Novalpatti. This was the first church erected by Mysore mission in Salem. He also established a mission centre at Dharmapuri in about 1661. St.John De. Britto, a renowned Jesuit missionary reached Kolai on 30th July, 1674 after passing through Vanniputhar (Bhavani), Sampalli, Martalli and kaveripuram. Cretineau Joly makes an affirmation that it was John de Britto who opened to the Jesuits the road into Mysore.
Since the missionaries of Mysore showed keen interest in the development of kannada speaking Christians, the Tamils of these regions went to Idappadi for their Easter service. According to the census taken in 1674 A.D., after 24 years the Mysore missions was started, there were 300 Christians at Capinagati and 400 Christians at Sampalli.
Annaikaraipalayam in Salem District was the most important mission centre of the Mysore Mission. In 1676 Fr. Vincent Durake built a presbytery there. This Church was destroyed by a fire accident in 1678. Fr. Rodriques took charge of Annaikarapalayam and rebuilt the Church. By 1679 there were 7 mission stations functioning under Annaikarapalayam, Omalur, Manali, Elanagar, Mathiyampatti, Senthamangalam and Salem. About the year 1680 A.D. Fr. Manoel De Souza took charge of Kakaveri Mission Centre. Later Fr. De Paiva ministered this region from 1690 to 1693 A.D. He baptized nearly 4,100 people in 1696. Due to the request of Fr. Paiva, the provincial at Goa sent two missionaries named Fr. Alvaro Rodriques and Manoel Leis to Kakaveri. About the year 1702, Fr. Franciso Dos Roys built a presbytery at Vellaiyanpet near Dharmapuri. Later on it came to be known as Koviloor. The Congonti Mission Centre was developed under the spiritual leadership of Fr.Mannel De Cunha. He rebuilt a church at Congonti, which was pulled down in a raid by the Muslims. He also incurred the displeasure of the Dazars and Brahmins of Congonit. Fr.De Chuna was put to death by Dazars on Ist of June, 1711 A.D . He was the first Jesuit martyr of Mysore mission in Salem. In the middle of eighteenth century, the Mysore mission reached its zenith.
The Mysore Jesuit Mission had 11 missionary residences in Salem of which two centres were found in the kongu region where Tamil was spoken and the remaining 5 were found in the North where kannada language was spoken . There were about 6 priests looking after various mission stations in and around Salem. The missionaries were assisted by the well-trained catechists. A few of them were Brahmin converts and some of them belonged to other communities.
The Indianization of Christian rites and the incorporation of Hindu customs were subjected to pontifical disapproval at different periods. Ultimately on 13th September 1744, Pope Benedict XII issued the bull of Omvims Sollcitu dirum declaring Jesuit Missions Proceedings to be impious and unlawful.
The suppression of the Society of Jesus and the decline of the missionary activities of the Mysore Mission had a drastic impact on the Christianity in Salem region. The Suppression of Society of Jesus by the Portuguese Government in 1760 A.D. was a true disaster for Christianity in general and the Jesuit Mysore Mission in particular. Hence the Jesuit Missionaries of Mysore joined the other religious orders. Some of them returned to their native lands. At the time of suppression of the Society of Jesus by the Pope, the Mysore Mission had 40 missionaries.
C) Missionary Activities of the Paris Society of Foreign Mission :
In 1776 the Mission of Mysore was entrusted to the priests of the Paris Society of Foreign Missions with Pondicherry as its headquarters in India. The mission worked hard in various mission stations of Salem, Madurai and Mysore under Msgr. De Tabraca, the Supervisor of Paris Mission. They started a seminary at Pondicherry in order to train the priests to spread the gospel to the areas entrusted to them. Their primary aim was to start the local church with the help of the natives. But before Paris missionaries initiated their reconstruction work, persecution of Tippu Sultan caused a serious blow to the Christianity in Salem.
Tippu Sultan hated first and foremost the English and next to the English he hated the Christian Missionaries. His persecution began in 1784 and continued till 1787. He ordered the Koviloor church near Dharmapuri to be destroyed. Missionaries were expelled. Mission work was in a mess. He suppressed the missionaries and Christian communities established at various mission stations. He gave them a choice between “ Honour of Islam or Death” . The Christian community at Capinagati vanished. However, the settlements at Idappadi, Kakaveri and Kadgathur remained unaffected during the persecution.
With regard to the untold sufferings met by the Christians in Tamil country in general and Salem in particular, F.R. Richards in his famous Salem Gazetteers writes, “ A misfortune felt as irreparable to the present day, for the mission of India founded at the price of so many privations being deprived of their missionaries. Many Christian communities were lost and it was not till the beginning of 19th century that the work could be seriously taken on hand.”
Fr. Jean Antoine Dubois, the renowned Paris Missionary was responsible for the re-establishment of Christian religion in Salem. He came to Salem in 1792 to accomplish his mission work and he remained in Salem till 1799. It is Fr. Dubois who was responsible for strengthening the Catholic Church in Salem founded by Fr. De Nobili. Mgr.Champenois, Vicar Apostolic, Pondicherry entrusted to him the responsibility of the re-establishment of Christian religion and administration of Tirupattur, Krishnagiri, Idappadi, Salem, Kakaveri, Nammakkal, and Kalangaud.
Fr. Dubois profited by the influence he was having with the English officials to get help for the numerous works and also for the construction of new churches. He built a church and Chathram in Idapadi and Dharmapuri. The British Government gave him an annual grant of forty two rupees for the Kovilloor church near Dharmapuri and Tirupattur. Among other benefits which he conferred upon his flock may deserve special mention here. His zeal in establishing agricultural colonies and also introducing vaccination to eradicate small box, in which inspite of the extraordinary tenacity of the people, he succeded in his mission. During 1803 – 1804 a total of 25, 432 natives of Salem were vaccinated. In memory of his noble service, the natives still remember him by the title Doddhaswamiyaru. M. Launay in his book,“Historic Des Mission De L’ Inde” said that in some parts especially at Karumattampatty, he is considered as the prince’s son and the noblest of Europeans. According to the account of Fr. Dubois there were 4000 Christians in Salem region.
The History of the Catholic Mission of 19th century witnessed a steady progress. Pope Gregory XVI established the Vicariate Apostolic of the coast of coramandal in 1838 A.D. Rev. Frico Alias Susainathar, an apostolic priest came to India. Soon he became the parish priest of Salem. He visited the mission stations of Salem and wrote a brief account of Salem district in 1838. In 1850 Pope Pius IX divided the mission fields in Tamilnadu into three Apostolic Vicariates of Pondicherry, Mysore and Coimbatore. Thus Salem with its mission fields was brought under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the province of Pondicherry and Cuddalore.

Foreign Mission Society took upon themselves the heavy responsibility of rendering missionary services in these areas. Thus the painstaking efforts taken by the Madura Mission, Mysore Jesuit Mission and the Paris Society of Foreign Mission were responsible for the spread of Christian religion and the establishment of churches during the early days and the consolidation of Christian community till the creation of the Diocese of Salem. During the early days the missionaries faced a series of problems especially from Tippu Sultan, the ruler of Mysore. Due to the tireless and sincere efforts of the dedicated missionaries the church establishment was strengthened mainly for serving the cause of the local people.

3. Origin, Development and Administration of the Diocese [ RC Diocese of Salem ]

1. Orign of the Diocese:
According to Everyman’s Encyclopedia the term ‘Diocese’ means a district under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction and care of a bishop. The word in its present ecclesiastical signification was not in common use till about the 9th century. Paroikia [parish] being the more usual term up to the time. For a longtime the term was primarily used in the civil administration of the Roman Empire. Constantine [ 306 – 337 A.D ], the great Roman Emperor divided his empire into 13 ecclesiastical and political divisions. The ecclesiastical district was brought under a patriarch, while the political district under a practorian prefect. Later district dwindled to mean single metropolitanate or province and finally merely the sphere of jurisdiction of any one bishop. In the Catholic Church, Dioceses are erected by the Pope in Consortium of Bishops.
During the later part of the 19th century the expansion of the church activities in India invited the attention of the Pope in Rome to organize the administration of the churches. Pope Leo XIII established the Indian Hierarchy in 1886. Since then the church in India has grown into a number of ecclesiastical provinces, each under an Archbishop who has one or more suffragan bishops within his jurisdiction . In 1899 Pope Leo XIII created the diocese of Kumbakonam by the dismemberment from the Archdiocese of Pondicherry. Thus the parishes in Salem region with about 45,000 Catholics were divided among the Diocese of Kumbakonam and Mysore for thirty years from 1899 to 1930.
On 26th May, 1930 the Diocese of Salem comprising the civil districts of Salem and Dharmapuri was erected by Pope Pius XI canonically. It was created by merging 6 parishes from the jurisdiction of Pondicherry, three parishes from Kumbakonam and one parish from Mysore diocese in 1943. Two parishes in Mettur Taluk which were originally under the jurisdiction of Mysore Diocese were also added to the Diocese of Salem.
2. Development of Diocese Under the Various Bishops
(a) Rev. Dr. Henry Prunier [1930-1949]
He was the first Bishop of Salem and was appointed on September 14, 1930. He was entrusted with 12 parishes and twenty-six priests. Under his able guidance, the diocese witnessed a remarkable progress. The two taluks of Namakkal and Trichengodu in the south which had never heard of the gospel were evangelized. By 1949, when Bishop Prunier handed over the administration to the Indian Clergy, Christianity had spread over as many as fifty villages in Salem Diocese. To continue the mission of diocese, he increased the number of Indian clergy enormously. As the diocese did not have enough priests and postulants, he invited some priests from Kerala to do their ministry in Salem diocese. In order to train the priests he started St. Xavier’s Minor Seminary at Srirangapalayam.
He appointed Fr. Florance as the Rector of the seminary. He started many schools and hostels to cater to the needs of Salemites. He established St. Theresa’s Technical Institute for the young students to get training in technical education. In 1947, due to his severe illness, he resigned his post. However, he continued his service as an Apostolic Administrator for a couple of years. On 1st May, 1949, Rev.Dr.V.S. Selvanathar who was appointed by Pope Pius XII succeeded him as the second Bishop of Salem.
(b) Bishop V.S. Selvanthar [1949-1974]
He was the first Indian Bishop of Salem diocese. His contribution to the development of education in Salem district is praiseworthy. He started many schools and hostels. Since the diocese did not have sufficient number of priests, he sought the help of sisters to administer the newly started educational institutions. A Leprosy Relief Rural Centre was started as a unit of Salem diocese at Settipatti in a small rented house in 1955. In the same year the Christian Seva Sangam was established. He also setup a centre for social work to take care of socially backward people in the diocese in 1968. Bishop Selvanather was elevated as the Archbishop of Pondicherry and Cuddalore
(c) Rapid Development of Diocese under Bishop Dr. Michael Bosco Duraisamy [1974 – 1999].
On 10th June, 1974 Rev.Dr. Michael Duraisamy was consecrated as the third Bishop of Salem Diocese by Cardinal Krol He took keen interest in developing the Salem diocese. Many priests went around the villages to spread the Gospel. For the sake of efficient administration, parishes were grouped together to form seven vicariates. They are
(1) Salem
(2) Namakkal
(3) Mettur
(4) Attur
(5) Dharmapuri
(6) Arur and
(7) Hosur.
In order to conduct pastoral programmes of the diocese, he built Epiphany Centre in 1977 A.D. He took an active part in fostering inter-religionus understanding among the people of Salem . Due to his farsighted planning and strenuous efforts, the diocese of Salem witnessed a double increase in the number of parishes and priests and educational institutions. He made the diocese grow economically strong and self-reliant in several fields.
He also started three hospitals, eleven dispensaries, two leprosy centres, three asylums for the mentally retarded, one home for the aged, and thirteen homes for the children and three centres for tailoring . Thus the Salem diocese witnessed tremendous growth in various fields till it was bifurcated in 1997. Since the diocese grew in strength, Bishop Michael Duraisamy initiated the move for the creation of Dharmapuri Diocese detaching the civil district of Dharmapuri from the Diocese of Salem. In order to fulfill the pastoral needs of the growing catholic population, the Dharmapuri Diocese was erected by the Holy See Pope John Paul II on Friday, April 25th 1997. His Eminence Simon Cardinal Lourdusamy installed the new Bishop of Dharmapuri in the Sacred Heart Cathedral at Dharmapuri at 5:00 p.m. in the presence of the clergy, religious and the laity. The creation of new Diocese of Dharmapuri, which was carved out of Salem Diocese was a monumental sign of the rapid development of Salem Diocese. Bishop. Rev. Dr. Singaroyan was consecrated as the fourth bishop of Salem on 26th October, 2000 as a gift of Jubilee 2000. During this short span of time the Diocese has developed by leaps and bounds in many spheres especially in the spiritual aspect of the life of the people. The no. of parishes has increased from 38 to 43. He is an able administrator. As a benevolent shepherd of the flock of Salem Diocese, he has taken consistent efforts to fulfill the pastoral needs of the people by conducting retreats, seminars, mission preaching and many other awareness programmes. He is called the People’s Bishop due to his intimate rapport with the faithful by making frequent visits to all the parishes of the diocese.
3. Structure and Administration of the Diocese of Salem :
Canon law 369 states that a diocese is a portion of the people of God entrusted to a Bishop to be guided by him with the assistance of his clergy so that, loyal to its pastor and formed by him in to one community in the Holy spirit through the Gospel and the Eucharist, it constitutes one particular church [diocese] in which the one holy catholic and apostolic church of the Christ is truly present and active. Universal Church is a communion of different particular churches. The Pope who is the head of the college of Bishops maintains the unity of the Church Communion.
a) The Office of the Pope:
The Pope is the head of the Universal Catholic Church. He is the Bishop of Rome, the Vicar of Jesus Christ, the successor of St. Peter, Prince of the apostles and the Supreme Pontiff who has the primacy of Jurisdiction over the universal church and the particular church
The Catholic Church is the largest organization in the world. Her hierarchy is the orderly disposition of the ranks and orders of the clergy to provide spiritual care for all the members of the Universal Church
Lord Macaulay in his famous essay on the Popes, said 175 years ago that there was no instrument of human policy so worthy of study as the church of Rome. The churches are controlled throughout the entire world through the hierarchy.
Its head is the Supreme Pontiff [Pope] who by divine law exercises supreme jurisdiction over the churches from the moment of his acceptance of the Papacy. The Bishops under him belong to this hierarchy by divine law where as the various other officials belong to it by ecclesiastical institution.
He is the successor of St. Peter. The famous dictum “ Where Peter is, there the church is” is not utopia, but the truth is inspired by divine light. He is often referred to as the Apostle to the Gentiles. No other man played so large a role in the propagation of Christianity as that of Peter. The Pope is the sovereign Head of Vatican city, which stretches over an area of 4,40,000 square metres. As an absolute sovereign, he holds in his hands the legislative, Judicial and administrative powers. Apart from these powers, as a spiritual head, he controls the entire catholic churches in the world. Thus the Salem diocese and the churches under its jurisdiction are functioning as per his directions given through his representatives.
For the practical governing of the church and the administration of its routine affairs, the Pope has a number of congregations, tribunals and offices in Vatican City and in Rome. Most of them have a Cardinal in charge. The highest ranking congregation is the Holy office. It is charged with matters of faith and morals. The Consistory prepares the appointment of Bishops and the establishment of diocese. The Cardinals form a group of corporation which is called a college. This is the senate of the church. Various nations of the catholic world have representation in this senate.
b) Bishops and Archbishops :
As the diocese forms a greater part of hierarchy of Catholic Church, it is worthwhile to study further about its administration with special reference to the Universal Church. Bishop is the term that in the early apostolic church was closely allied with the word elder. In apostolic succession a diocese is presided over by a Bishop who is its visible principle and foundation of unity, having proper, ordinary and immediate power.
The Archbishops are metropolitan Prelates in charge of an ecclesiastical province consisting of several dioceses called suffrangans. In his own arch- diocese he has the full powers of a Bishop, his jurisdiction over his suffragans is limited and defined by canon law. Since 1886, the Church in India has grown into a number of ecclesiasticcal provinces, each under an Archbishop who has one or more suffrangan Bishops within his Jurisdiction. At present there are three Archdioceses and sixteen dioceses in Tamilnadu. Salem is one among the dioceses of Tamilnadu.
c) Qualification of Bishop :
Canon law 378 enumerates the qualifications necessary for a candidate to become a Bishop of the diocese. It is required that he must be outstanding for his solid faith, good morals, zeal for souls, wisdom, prudence and human virtues endowed with the other talents which make him fit to fulfill the office. He should possess a good deal of experience as the ordained priest for atleast five years. He should possess a doctorate in sacred scriptures. A Bishop promoted to a diocese can not exercise the office entrusted to him unless he has first taken canonical possession of the diocese.
d) Insignia of the Bishop :
The insignia of the Bishop are the ring, the pectoral cross, the pastoral staff, the vestments, the mitre and the throne.27 These are necessary for the bishop while he celebrates mass and administers various sacraments in cathedral and other churches that are under his jurisdiction.
e) Functions of Bishop in the Diocese :
The degree on the pastrol office of the Bishops in the church is one of the important decrees which restores the true image of the Bishop in his diocese. The diocese is the basic cell in the church and centres on the Bishop surrounded by his priests and his people28. The Bishop is the guardian of the word of God. 29 Following are the functions performed by the Bishop of Salem Diocese.
i) Bishop as Paster :
The canon laws 383 to 394 explain the important functions to be performed by the Bishop in a diocese. He is concerned with all the Christian faithful who are committed to his care regardless of age, condition or nationality. He attends to Presbyters with special concerns and listens to them as their assistants and advisers. He protects their rights and sees to it that they correctly fulfill the obligations proper to their state30.
ii) Fostering of vocations:
As much as possible the diocese bishop is fostering vocations to the different ministries and to the consecrated life.
iii) Bishop as Sanctifier:
The bishop’s duty of sanctifier is carried out in the day-today life of the diocese by the opportunities provided by the eucharist sacrifice and the reception of the sacraments. He presides frequently over the celebration of the eucharist in the cathedral church or in another church of his diocese especially on Holy days of obligation and other solemnities31. He represents his diocese in all its jurisdiction affairs.
iv) Pastoral Visitation :
It is an efficient means and canonically proved a way of relating himself to the religious apostolic activities carried out in the diocese of Salem. As far as the diocese of Salem is concerned, the bishop visits parishes under his jurisdiction at least once a year. He comes into contact with the priests, religious and faithful entrusted to him during his visit. The bishop has the obligation to make the pastoral visitation of his entire diocese every five-years. He has the authority to visit churches, schools and other religious and charitable works carried out in his diocese by the religious belonging to various congregations. His pastoral visitation gives him an opportunity to praise, inspire and comfort those who labour for the gospel and social change. He also promotes common discipline of the whole church. 32
f) Bishop Presides over Diocesan Synod:
There are two legislators in the church. The Pope is the legislator for the universal church. The Bishops as the leaders of particular churches, have legislative powers in their respective dioceses. The Diocese of Salem got its Diocesan Synod, which consists of selected priests and other Christian faithful of the diocese. The members of the Synod offer assistance to the Diocesan Bishop for the good of the entire diocesan community according to the norms of the Canons.33
Following are to be called the Diocesan Synod as its members34 and are obliged to participate in it
1. The co-adjustor Bishop and the auxillary bishops.
2. The Vicar General, the Episcopal Vicars and the Judicial Vicar.
3. The Canons of the Cathedral Church.
4. The members of the presbyteral.
5. Lay members of the Christian faithful and members of institutes of consecrated life.
6. The Rector of Diocesan Major Seminary.
7. Vicars Forane
8. Some supervisors of the Religious Institutes.
The method of conducting the Synod is left completely in the hands of the Bishop and the synodal members. The decisions arrived at the Synod are called “acts” or “Constitutions” or “Statues”35. They are to be signed by the Bishop and can be published only with his authority36. Thus Diocesan Synod resembles Legislative body of a welfare state which enacts acts for well being of its people.
g) The Diocesan Curia:
Curia is the administrative body of the diocese. The Bishop is the head of the Curia. Canon laws 469-494 define the diocesan curia, the mode of appointment coordinator of diocesan administration and the formalities for jurisdiction documents. The Diocesan Curia consists of those institutions and persons who assist the bishop in the governance of the entire diocese. All those who participate in the over-all administration of the diocese curia are considered its members. The administrative members look after various departments such as liturgy, charity, social concerns, and temporalities and the other facts of ecclesiastical life promoted at the diocesan level. The decisions taken in the curia will come in to effect after getting the signature of the Bishop and Chancellor or the notary of Curia. 37
h) Vicar General :
The Vicar General is the most important office of the diocesan curia. His office is executive in nature. A priest is appointed by the Bishop as vicar general to assist him in the governance of the entire diocese. He possesses executive authority in all aspects of diocesan administration. He exercises it on behalf of the Bishop. The Bishop has complete discretion in removing the priest from the post of vicar general according to his judgement.
i) Chancellor :
In every Diocesan Curia, a chancellor is appointed in order to gather, arrange and safeguard Curial acts in the archives of Curia. The Chancellor also acts as principal notary of the Bishop. As the Ecclesiastical Notary he has to certify the legitimate documents. The Ecclesiastical Notary often functions as a public notary so that certain church documents may be easily certified in a manner acceptable in civil law.
j) Diocesan Administrative Tribunal:
Any person or a group of persons in the diocese who come into conflict with a parish priest or diocesan administration or administrative body other than the bishop may submit petitions to the Administrative Tribunal to resolve the disputes. The tribunal of the diocese of Salem has its sittings regularly to hear and try the cases of nullity.38 The Judicial Vicar is available in the Tribunal office, Bishop’s House, Maravanenri, Salem-7.39 The Notary is available in the Tribunal office, Bishop’s House to guide the people to write petitions and to solve their problems.40
k) Archives :
The archives seem to have been developed even during the early stage of the church history. During the first three centuries, Bishop’s preserved baptismal records called disptychs in their residences. Diocesan Archives seem to have been formally instituted by Charles Borromeo in 1565.
The diocesan archives are generally classified into (i) General archives (ii) Historical archives. These archives are attached with the Bishop’s house.
(i) General Archives : An organizational chart of the diocese and its various departments and agencies are brought under the category of General Archives. All diocesan and parochial documents are protected with the utmost care. There is an inventory or catalogue for the documents contained in the archives with a brief synopsis of the content of each one. The Bishop and Chancellor have the keys. The permission is restricted to the general archives. Permission to use the archives can be obtained either from the Bishop or both from the Moderator of Curia and the Chancellor. There are also secret archives in the Bishop’s house in which secret documents are protected most securely. The synodal acts and documents of the archives and of the cathedral and other churches in the diocese are diligently preserved in the section of secret archives.
(ii) Historical Archives: There are also historical archives in the diocese in which the documents having historical values are preserved. The records and the diaries of the missionaries preserved here are consulted for research purpose. The diocese of Salem has well maintained general and secrete historical archives. Historical archives has not yet been setup in the diocese.
l) Presbyterian Council:
The presbyter council plays a vital role in the administration of the diocese. The priests of 43 parishes of the diocese of Salem constitute one priesthood with their Bishop and strive to lend their consistent effort, support and co-operation to the pastoral work of the whole diocese. They constitute the Bishop’s senate or council such as cathedral chapter, the board of consulters or other committees established according to the circumstances or nature of various localities.
m) Diocesan Financial Council :
The canon Laws 492 to 494 deal with the structure of the financial administration. In each diocese a financial council is established by the Bishop over which he himself or his delegates preside. Its members are appointed by the Bishop. Their term of office is five years. Each year the financial council prepares a budget of income and expenditure foreseen for the governance of the entire diocese. The financial council includes the vicar general, the chancellor, and expert in canon law, three lay people who are expert in accounts and civil law and the representatives of the diocesan pastoral council and priests senate.41
The constitution of a finance council in every diocese is now obligatory. Apart from drafting the annual budget, the finance council undertakes internal audits. It includes evaluating the already audited annual statements of accounts of the diocese and all the diocesan institutions such as parishes, schools, home for children, health and social service centres etc., and submit the observation to the diocesan Bishop. This internal auditing done by the finance council promotes better economy efficiency and above all accountability. In order to look after financial administration of the diocese, a financial administrator can be appointed by the Bishop after consulting the college of consulters and the diocesan financial council. The diocesan financial council provides a model for parish financial council operating in different parishes in Salem Diocese.
n) Diocesan Pastoral Council :
It consists of Christian faithful who are in full communion with the Catholic Church, clerics and the members of institutes of consecrated life. It is meant to be representative of the whole people of God of the particular Church.42
The Pastoral Council is convened at least once a year. The members of the Parish Pastoral Council make representation to the Diocesan Pastoral Council.43 The Pastoral Council is a body of consultation designed to enlighten the Bishop, so that his decisions on the diocesan Pastoral activity may always be made in the light of opinions and points of view given by the Pastoral Council enable the Bishop to make effective plans for his pastoral works in the Diocese. It is the great concern of the pastoral council to advise the bishop in the areas of his governance especially teaching, sanctifying and general administration.44
Following are the areas in which the Diocesan Pastoral Council takes an active part.
a. Meaningful celebration of novenas, feasts etc., in the parishes.
b. Sunday catechism in the parish centres and substations.
c. Spreading the Bible and evangelization programmes.
d. Family and youth apostolate
e. Dialogue and partnership with Hindus, Muslims rationalists etc.,
f. Participation of the laity in the mission of the church.
g. Addressing national problems like fundamentalism and religious fanaticism.
h. Pastoral care to the demarginalised groups like the drug addicts, drunkards, lapsed in faith and socially displaced persons, and
i. Programmes for the widows, orphans and mentally handicapped. The church is facing many challenges in the modern times. Hence it needs healthy dialogue and proper pastoral planning to meet the present day challenges. Contributions of diocesan pastoral council in this regard cannot be underestimated.
o) Commissions and Committees:
In the exercise of his responsibilities for the diocese of Salem, the Bishop is assisted by the various commissions and committees. The most important of them are
1. Diocesan Pastoral Council
2. Priests’ Senate
3. Bible Commission
4. Catechism
5. Education advisers
6. Evangelization
7. Lay apostolate
8. Justice and peace
9. Liturgy
10. Press
11. Publication
12. Seminary
13. Social Communication
14. Social Service
15. Vocation
16. Workers
17. Youth and
18. S.C and S.T Commission
A priest is appointed as the director of each commission. The commission’s day-to-day work is discharged under the guidance of the directors. They meet periodically and carry out their routine programmes in consultation with the bishop. The reports on the programmes and accomplishments of these commissions and committees are published in the diocesan newsletters periodically. These commissions and committees render yeoman service under the supervision of the Bishop with regard to the spread of good news to the faithful and perform welfare activities to various social groups.
p) Parishes and Vicariates:
The Salem diocese is divided in to ecclesiastical parts known as parishes. Parish is the basic unit of the church administration. At present there are 43 parishes in Salem diocese. In order to foster pastoral care, several neighboring parishes are joined together in to special groups called vicariates. Vicariate forane is in charge of vicariate. There are five vicariates in Salem Diocese namely
1. Attur Vicariate
2. Nammakal Vicariate
3. Thiruchengode Vicariate
4. Mettur Vicariate
5. Salem Vicariate

The number of parishes belonging to each vicariate is given below
Vicariates No. Of parishes
1.Salem 10
2.Attur vicariate 8
3. Nammakal vicariate 10
4.Thiruchengodu vicariate 9
5. Mettur vicariate 6
The parish priests are appointed by the bishop to look after the parishes in the diocese. Very often a parish priest has one or more assistant younger priests to assist him in his routine duties of the parish. His pastoral duties, apart from administration of sacraments and preaching include catechizing the children, supervising the parochial school, taking up the censes of the parish etc.,45
q) Parish Fund:
Each family in the parish has to contribute annually some amount of money known as ‘Talai Kattuvari’ towards the maintenance of the Diocese. In the case of a widow less amount of money is collected from her. Collection of money is also made in connection with special occasions such as Parish Church Feast, Good Friday, Sunday, one Sunday of lent and collection for hunger and disease .The amount collected by the respective parishes should be sent to the procurator by the end of April every year.
r) Religious order:
The priests are trained in the seminaries. The Bishop can entrust a parish to a clerical religious institute or to a clerical society of apostolic life with the consent of the superior for instance, the Udayapatti Parish is entrusted to M.S.F congregation. The M.S.F Fathers carry out the pastoral work in Udayapatti parish under the guidance of the Bishop of Salem Diocese.46 The majority of the Bishops, pastors, and assisted come from the ranks of secular clergy. They are called so because they live in the ‘world’ rather than in monasteries. The secular clergy are assisted by the men and women of various religious orders to perform specialized works of education charity and spiritual activities in the diocese. Thus in addition to zealous work of the diocesan priests, the religious priests also share the responsibility of apostolic work and various services under the guidance of the bishop.
s) Catholic Bishop Conference of India:
The catholic Bishop conference of India plays an important role in the development of Dioceses. It was constituted in Madras in 1944. Every Catholic Bishop is a member of the conference. The C.B.C.I acts through a standing committee, which is its executive, and a smaller working committee dealing with day to day administration.
The C.B.C.I has brought about a sense of close unity among the heads of the numerous dioceses and has enabled them to adopt common policies in their administration . Michael Duraisamy [1974 –1999] former bishop of Salem was the chairman of the C.B.C.I Commission for Ecumenism and Dialogue, Communication and Evangelization.
Thus the Diocese is the union of members of the church and hierarchical authority as a means to serve the men and women of the Diocese of Salem. The Diocese of Salem functions under a well-organized administrative system. Though the Bishop enjoys all the powers, he exercises them through the different officials like the Vicar General, Judicial Vicar, Priests’ Senate and Episcopal Vicar. They are his collaborators in the administration of the diocese. Vatican Council II states, “Priests and laymen who are attached to the diocesan administration should be mindful that they are collaborating in the pastoral work of the bishop.” In the church organisation, the parish forms the basic administrative unit and the faithful are the main collaborators in carrying out the pastoral work of the bishop and the mission of the Diocese.

4. Religious Services [ RC Diocese of Salem ]

Chapter – IV
The Religious Services of the Salem Diocese are the foremost among the various service-oriented activities rendered through the ages. The Bishop, the Clergy, the men and women Religious Orders and the Lay faithful are involved actively in promoting the religious services of the diocese. Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity, during his life on the earth, gathered around him a special band of followers called the “Apostles” and gave them a mission to carry on His divine work to various parts of the world. Since the Bishop who is the head of the Diocese is unable to look after the entire religious functions of the Diocese, the responsibility is shared among the Diocesan Council, Diocesan Parish Priests- men and women belonging to various religious orders and the laity. The laity take an active part in all the religious activities of the Diocese.
1. Religious Services of the Diocesan Priests:
In discharging pastoral duties, the first place is held by the diocesan priests for they have fully dedicated themselves to the services of parishes entrusted to them. They are not only co-operators with the Bishop for rendering pastoral work but also play the role of block development officers in their respective parishes in the diocese.
(A) Sacramental Services:
The discharging sacramental duty is the most important religious service of the priest serving in a particular parish. It is through the following sacraments that the priests bring about the encounter of the individual with God.
i) Baptism
II) Eucharist
III) Confirmation
IV) Penance
V) Matrimony
VI) Anointing of the Sick
VII) Holy Orders
It is through the priests that these spiritual tasks are taken place in the whole diocese.
i) Baptism:
Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life. When a person is baptized, he is incorporated into the church and its mission. Baptism ordinarily takes place in the Parish Church. It is performed by the parish priest. After the baptism the priest records the details in a book. He enters the names of the sponsors [the godfather and godmother] date, place of birth, time and place of baptism. At the end of the year he sends a copy of this record to the Bishop’s office where it is kept in a vault.
The baptismal record serves as a base of reference for the entire life of the person. A few years later when he is given confirmation, notation of the confirmation will be made on the baptismal record. If a person is later married, particulars of his marriage will be noted on the same record. If a person is ordained, that fact will also be noted on the baptismal record. It gives all the essential facts of the status of a person belonging to a particular church. These records are used to prepare the census of the diocese once in 10 years.
ii) Confirmation:
This is the sacrament by which the baptized attain adulthood in the church. The respective parish priests are in charge of preparing the youth for receiving the confirmation. The confirmation is normally administered by the Bishop. This serves to bring out the community idea for it marks the meeting of the baptized and the Bishop who is the head of the local church.
iii) Eucharist :
This coming together of the faithful to celebrate Eucharist [Mass] goes right back to the beginning of Christianity. It is a community affair in which laity’s participation is must. It is especially in the Eucharist that the Bishop and his priests exercise their role of sanctifying. The ordained priest is the representative of the church in offering the mass on various occasions.
iv) Penance:
By the sacrament of penance, the sinners are reconciled to God and His church.
v) Anointing of the Sick :
By the blessed oil the sick are given solace and especially by the celebration of mass, the priests offer the sacrifice of Christ.
vi) Marriage:
Christian marriage is considered both as a sacred contract and a sacrament. The priest in the church administers the marriage contract between bride and bridegroom. Two witnesses are required to sign the marriage contract. The particulars of the wedding are noted in the baptismal records.
vii) Holy orders:
The church needs priests to teach the gospel to the lay faithful and to do sacramental duties as agents of Christ. The parish priest usually selects the youth for priesthood formation. The Bishop through the sacrament of Holy order ordains them as priests. The ordination of priests is held at the cathedral church .
(B) Services Through Epiphany Centre :
The Second Vatican Council says, “ By divine favour especially in modern times human genius has produced from natural material astonishing inventions in the field of technology. The press, cinema, radio, television and similar media are classified as instruments of social communication.” The Catholic Church has been commissioned by Christ to bring salvation to every man and is consequently bound to proclaim the gospel. Hence the church judges it a part of her duty to preach the news of redemption with the aid of the instruments of social communication.
Social communication, infact tends to make the world shrink to one big family where all big events are shared and where thoughts and feelings of different members are known to each other. It is therefore essential that catholic news, thought and culture be brought to the form of world and communications so as to make Christ present to the world to put him within the reach of the masses.
To attain this goal, Bishop Michael Duraisamy (1974 – 1999) who was the Chairman of CBCI Commission for Dialogue and Social Communication started a separate commission for social communications in Salem Diocese. He established Epiphany centre in 1977 in the premises of Infant Jesus Cathedral, Salem to facilitate seminars, retreats, pastoral programmes, the activities of various diocesan commissions, programmes of the pious organisations and to promote fine arts and cultural activities.
The centre functions under the guidance of a diocesan priest. The Biblical playlets, folk songs, folk dances, street plays and Christian films are well prepared at this centre using latest equipments for carrying out evangelical work in and around Salem. The centre has prepared 500 programmes so far
It is also a place for prayer and meditation, cultural activities and inter-religious dialogue. A reading room is available for the use of public. Further, eight track sound recording studio and an auditorium with the capacity 1500 seats are available there. This center has accomplished nearly three decades of noteworthy service in the field of Christian communication and social uplift of the people of this region.
The important activities of Epiphany Centre are
1. Leadership training to the laity
2. Preparation of Audio Visual Aids
3. Seminars on spirituality and effective teaching techniques
4. Fostering Inter Religious Dialogue
5. Dance school for boys and girls
6. Instrumental and percussion music school
7. Conducting Bible exhibition and competition at diocese level. The Surroundings of Epiphany centre are maintained with scenic beauty in order to create a conducive atmosphere for practising deep meditation.
(C) St. Xavier’s Minor Seminary:
The word of God to man is a vocation - a calling forth to go out of himself to transcend beyond to God. Christian life is founded on this very possibility of being able to be called by God to himself and man’s ability by God’s grace to be metania (within God.) .
The Church takes the major responsibility of training the young men to be ordained them as Priests. St. Xavier’s Minor Seminary located at Arisipalayam was founded in 1931 mainly to prepare the young men for priesthood. This formation centre develops the seed for the vocation. There about 32 candidates undergoing priestly training at present at this centre.
Vocation camp is organized every year at St. Xavier’s Minor Seminary for the young men of the Diocese who are ready to offer themselves for the service of God. Those who participate in this camp will get admission either in to +2 course or the initiation [Latin] course. Those students who show appreciable interest in spiritual activities seek admission in the apostolic school through their respective parish priests.
(D) Pilgrim Centres :
The people of Salem diocese are encouraged to go on pilgrimage to a shrine anywhere and renew themselves spiritually. In the diocese of Salem the following places are officially designated as pilgrim centres in view of Jubilee 2000 [Christu Jayanthi].
1. Infant Jesus Cathedral, Arisipalayam, Salem
2. Our Lady of Assumption, Mettur Dam
3. Shrine of St. Mary, Mathiampatty
4. Our Lady’s Grotto ,Agraharam
5. Sacred Heart Church, Yercaud
A plenary indulgence is granted on a visit to any one of these shrines mentioned above, if one prays for the intentions of the Holy Father [Pope].
(E) Services of Ecumenical And Dialogue Commission:
Integration of India depends on inter-religious harmony because it is a land with multi religious faith and cultural groups. India has welcomed the streams of people of diverse religions, cultures and languages. The various kingdoms that came up in the north and the south of the country have enriched our country with their distinct religions and culture. The great personalities like Gandhiji, Tagore and Arbinodo Ghosh have stressed the need for inter-religious harmony, tolerance, mutual respect and common brotherhood under the common destiny of humanity.
Gandhiji said, “ the different religions are like the different branches of a single tree each distinct from the other though having the same source”. In the long run the success or failure of India to keep its unity and integrity will greatly depend on its ability to ensure wide spread participation in decision making genuine pluralism and minority protection.
Pope John Paul II remarked, “One should discuss without the fumes of pride, without obstinacy of arrogance, without a spirit of contradiction or envy, but with holy humility, with peace with Christian unity. In 1966, the Second Vatican Council’s Decree “Nostra Aetate transformed the Catholic Church’s attitude of people of other religions. A secretariat for non-christians was established at Rome. It is now called the Pontifical Council for Inter – Religious Dialogue.
Inter Religious Dialogue:
An Ecumenical Commission is functioning in Salem Diocese to foster Inter Religious Understanding among the people of this region.
1. To cultivate a profound attitudinal change among the Christians.
2. To facilitate issue-based services like functional literacy for upholding human dignity and transcending all religious barriers.
3. To direct special attention to areas prone to religious and cultural disharmony, riots etc., and try to solve them through dialogue and reconciliation.
4. To mobilize the youth power of all religions.
5. To organize prayer and para liturgical services open to all religions and people.
6. To arrange the celebrations of national and religious festivals such as Diwali, Milad-ul-Nabi and Bakrid and
7. To organize a diocese care group to mobilize the people to strengthen the relations with the people of other religions.
Dialogue teams at Diocesan and parish level celebrate Diwali season every year by way of personal greeting and house visits to Hindu friends.The Pope’s Diwali message from Vatican is shared with the public. The Tamil version of the Pope’s message is prepared by dialogue team and is made available to the cross section of the society. In the Inter faith Dialogue meetings, which are organized frequently in a religious spirit and the special invitees belonging to various religions highlight the significance of their religious principles. As a result of arranging the inter-religious dialogue the unity, solidarity and the understanding among the various religious communities have been strengthened to a great extent in the areas, which come under the jurisdiction of the Salem Diocese.

2. Services of Religious Men and Women Congregations:
The men and women in the church who take vows of chastity, poverty and obedience and vow to lead a community life are called the religious. In the first two centuries celibacy was not a condition of bishops, priests or deacons. It became law only in 305 A.D. when the Synod of Elvira in Spain made celibacy obligatory for bishops, priests and deacons.
History witnesses the outstanding services rendered by the religious congregations in the spread of the faith and the formation of new churches from the ancient monastic institutions to the medieval orders up to the more recent congregations. The majority of the Bishops, pastors and assistants come from the ranks of the secular clergy who live in the world rather than monasteries. The secular clergy are assisted to perform multifarious ministries by many religious orders of both men and women. The Bishop of the diocese fosters various forms of apostolate [service] in his diocese and urges the religious to take up various ministries according to the needs of place and time.
A great majority of religious congregations in Salem Diocese engage in religious social, medical, educational and cultural services. According to the statistics of the year 2005, the total number of the religious congregations of both men and women is 38 and the total number of religious houses is 90 in the Diocese of Salem. Following are some of the religious orders of priests, brothers and sisters rendering various services in the diocese of Salem.
1. Religious Orders of Priests:
i) Carmelites
ii) Vincent Pallotine
iii) Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales [MSFS]
iv) Congregation of Holy Cross
2. Religious Orders of Brothers And Sisters:
i) Missionaries of Charity Sisters and Brothers
ii) Congregation of Brothers of Holy Cross
iii) Monfort Brothers of St. Gabriel
iv) Franciscan Servants of Mary
v) Salesian Missionaries of Mary Immaculate.
vi) Sisters of the Cross of Chavanod
vii) Congregation of Immaculate Conception.
viii) Franciscan Sisters of Our Lady of Bon Secours.
ix) Congregation of the Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo
x) The Good Shepherd Congregation
xi) Congregation of Sisters of St. Joseph of Chambery.
xii) Missionaries of Charity Sisters
xiii) Congregation of Sisters of St. Aloysius.
xiv) Daughters of Mary Help of Christians.
xv) Congregations of Sisters of Carmel
xvi) Congregation of Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny
xvii) Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ
xviii) Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph.
xix) Congregation of Sisters of St. Teresa’s Carmel.
These religious strive with intensity and in a modality of freedom humility, self-denial and mercy, with constant practice of prayer, penance and renewal. It is worthwhile to see the multifarious services of a few religious congregations in Salem diocese.
i) Carmelites:
Teresa was a Spanish saint of 16th century. She was a binding force in founding Carmelite convents, two of the foundations being laid specially for men. Carmelite priests run a spiritual development centre at Yercaud, Salem to share their spiritual experiences with the faithful and other visitors. Bishop Selvanather started a house for Carmelite Sisters at Yercaud on October 3, 1967. There are about 17 nuns rendering various religious services in Salem diocese.
ii) Vincent Pallotine Congregation:
Vincent Pallotine [1795-1850] founded the Society of the Catholic A postolate in 1850 in Rome. The main aim of establishing this society is to involve clergy, religious and especially the faithful in the noble task of evangelization of the world. Having Italy as the head quarters, Palatine priests, brothers and sisters carry on their service in more than 30 countries in the world. Pallotines have their mission stations in 5 districts in Tamilnadu. In Salem Diocese the Steel Plant Parish is looked after by the Pallotines.
iii) Missionaries Of St. Francis De Sales:
This congregation came into existence in 1838 in France. The missionaries came to India and established mission centres in Andrapradesh and other parts of Central India. The M.S.F.S. priests administer Uddayapatty parish in Salem Diocese. This congregation has a minor seminary centre at Uddyapatty, Salem. A good number of priests are missionaries in villages doing social services and proclaiming the message of Christ to the people.
iv) Congregation of Holy Cross:
Fr.Basil Antony Moreau founded it in 1837. The Holycross Priests and brothers came to Salem diocese in 1960 to involve in pastoral social and educational ministries. At present there are more than 200 Holy Cross Priests and Brothers in different parts of India. They have a novitiate centre in Yercaud and a house for aspirants at Uddayapatty.
vi) Salesian Missionaries Of Mary Immaculate:
The Salesian Missionaries of Marry Immaculate made their entry in to the diocese of Salem as early as 1931 during the period of the first Bishop Henry Prunier [1930-1949]. The sisters have an option for the poor specially the woman from socially and economically lower strata of the society. At present there are four communities working in Salem. Diocese - one at Attur, another at Yercaud and two at Salem. The SMMI Sisters have been known as catechist missionaries. They continue their tradition of going to the interior villages to meet the Christian children in order to teach them catechism and prepare them for the reception of sacraments during holidays.
vii) Congregation of Immaculate Conception:
The head quarters of this congregation is at Madurai. The main objective of these sisters is to change the life styles of the poor and the downtrodden through service, simplicity and love. The Sisters have 3 convents and one among them is a polio clinic centre at Mathiampatty.
viii) Congregation Of The sisters of St. Charles Borromeo :
These sisters have their convent at Yercaud. They are actively involved in Christian education of children and youth and evangelization through social services
ix) Sisters Of Cross Of Chavanad:
These Sisters engage in pastoral work, empowering women, education and family apostolate. They have two houses in the diocese of Salem- one in Namakkal and the other in Yercaud. They also have a retreat centre at Yercaud.
Most pastors and parish priests belong to the diocesan or secular clergy. Priests of religious orders are more apt to devote themselves to work of education, preaching and social service to the mission or to specialsed areas of the ministry. But often they too are called upon to take care of parishes and to assist diocesan priests in their pastoral work. Men and women religious for their personal religious life they remain in their communities subject to their religious superiors but their pastoral work is performed under the authority of the Bishop, who is the chief shepherd of the flock in each diocese. Thus all the people of a diocese, the clergy, men and women religious groups and the lay faithful are laborers in the vineyard of the Lord. Every one of them is possessing charisms and ministries, diverse yet complimentary work in the same vineyard of the Lord.
3. Participation of Laity in The Developmental Activities of the Diocese :
The Second Vatican Council defines the laity as “ all the faithful except those in holy orders and those in the state of the religious life specially approved by the church. The principal duty of laymen and lay women is to witness to Christ by their lives and their words, in family within their social circle and their working environment. The word layman is derived from the term “laos” which means people ie., the church community, body of Christ. A parish is essentially a religious grouping of Catholics in a locality. The lay apostolates participate in the mission of Christ and the church. The lay people fall in line with architects of Diocese namely Bishop, Clergy and Religious in contributing to the growth and development of the diocese.
a) The Diocesan Laity Commission: Seminars and Symposiums are arranged by the laity commission to create awareness among the faithful about the role of lay people in taking active part in liturgical service and parish participatory structures. The Commission also helps youth movements and other associations to involve in the catholic action programmes [Social welfare activities] and for the growth of diocese. It offers not only laity formation course for several parishes but also helps parish priests to conduct the parish council election.
b) Laity Sunday Celebration:
In the diocese of Salem, Laity Sunday is celebrated after the feast of St. Thomas Moore, the patron saint of laity in the month of June every year. Posters and leaflets are sent to all the parishes to highlight the duty of laity towards the development of church and the society.
C) Catholic Action:
It means the participation of the laity in the apostolate of the hierarchy. It implies in the laity leading of a true catholic life, the promotion of faith in all possible ways and the rendering of social service under the guidance of the clergy. All the catholics in the diocese have a definite responsibility to take part in catholic action. They have also a duty of charity and justice towards their neighbours. In order to perform the above said duties various youth movements, associations and pious organisations have come into existence in Salem Diocese.
They are
1. Society of St. Vincent De Paul
2. Legion of Mary
3. Sodalities of Our Lady
4. Diocesan Health Association
5. Salem Catholic Union
6. Y.C.S/Y.S.M
7. Diocesan Catechetical Association.
8. Christian Seva Sangam etc.,
i) Vincent De Paul Society:
Vincent De Paul started this society in 1660 in France. In India this society was setup on May 25, 1863. This society was started in 1968 in Salem Diocese by Bishop Selvanather. The society comprises of lay people as members. Several parishes in the Salem Diocese run this society. The Members of this society adopt poor families and do all kinds of charitable works with the help of funds raised from the parishners. The society has three particular councils in the diocese [ Salem, Krishnagiri and Vellandivalasu.]39
ii) Legion Of Mary :
This association aiming at rending social service was started in the diocese in 1954. This is one of the best movements in the parishes that encourages the committed lay people to realise their mission as Christians under the leadership of Mary.40 The legionaries visit the families and assist them to solve their problems. They also create awareness among the lay people about illiteracy, poverty, female infanticide etc.,
iii) Catholic Union of Salem:
This union was started in 14th August 1955 with the sole aim of social, economic and spiritual development of the lay faithful of the diocese. Several number of branches are found in different parishes of the diocese. The union strives for the betterment of the poor, marginalized, diseased and the victims of natural calamities. They render selfless service to the people irrespective of caste, creed and religion.
Other important lay apostolate associations such as Christian worker movements, Prison Ministry, Little way Association, P.M.V, Nurses Guild, Pontificial Mission Society, Sodalities Of Our Lady, Diocesan Health Associations and Small Christian Community operate in the diocese to help the people to realize their commitment towards the diocese and society.
iv) Role of Catechists:
Catechesis has been from apostolic times an essential ministry in the church.41 The images associated with catechism and catechists are products of catechetical fundamentalism, which equates faith formation with Christian belief. Catechesis deals greatly with Christ and his mystery of salvation.42 The Catechists present the word of God to the People especially through their catechetical instructions and assisting the parish priests, in his day to day church administration. They are lay apostles of God in the world. Lay people are yet commissioned to teach and be witnesses to deal with sacred things beside priests.43 They render evangelical service in the parishes to extend God’s kingdom with their pastors. They deepen and widen the faith relationship between the people and God. 44
Hence the layman is consecrated to the ordinary task of human living. But this living must be done according to the way Christ has shown.45 The laity are called in a special way to make the church present, operative and develop through their involvement in the church mission and its participatory structures.
Thus the Bishop and clergy involve in all the religious activities of the diocese. The ordained pastors perform their routine religious services in the different parts of the diocese such as saying masses, preaching sermons, baptizing and administering the other sacraments, giving instructions, visiting the sick, taking up a census and teaching in the parish school. Pastors give their people the intellectual good of sound doctrine, the spiritual nourishment of the sacraments and love and concern of a father. For this is the reason why the priest is called “Father”. Sometimes because of his position, age or achievements he is given an honorary title of Monsignor- a dignity conferred by the Pope. The religious of both men and women assist the Bishop and Clergy by engaging various ministries to fulfill the mission of the church. The laity take an active part in sacramental and other religious and social welfare activities of the church through various organisations at parish and diocese level.

5. Educational Services of the Diocese [ RC Diocese of Salem ]

In the modern period education has become a powerful instrument not only of personal realization but also of national development. It is the prime force of the welfare of a nation and of mankind in general. The destiny of India is now being shaped in her classroom. In the era of science and technology, it is the education that determines the level of prosperity, welfare and security of the people. It is considered as an important component of human development. Hence the Decree of Vatican Council II read “The church has a great role to play in the progress and development of education since she is concerned with the whole of man’s life.” According to Swami Vivekananda “Education is the manifestation of perfection in man.” Education guides the human beings to seek the truth and live a life of purity.
Prior to the advent of the missionaries, the universal system of education was not practiced. In the caste-ridden society, the opportunity for education was provided only to upper caste and rich people. The lower caste and poor people were denied the educational opportunity.
The Christian missionaries made consistent efforts to uplift the social and economic condition of the people through education besides they strived hard for liberating the downtrodden and reducing the social inequality by imparting education to the rural masses. The diocesan priests, the religious brothers and sisters in the diocese of Salem made strenuous efforts for imparting value-based education in this region. The efforts of the British to introduce western education in India and the support extended by the British government in India favoured Christian missionaries to continue their service.1They were convinced that the best service they could render a nation was the dedication of their lives to the training of its youth with high ideals.
(A) Efforts of the British Government to Improve Education:
The British made their educational effort in 1813 when the British parliament sanctioned a lakh of rupees per year for promoting education.2 In 1822, an educational enquiry revealed that the few schools that existed in Salem were nothing but Sanskrit and Tamil Veda patasalas.3 Due to the introduction of English education in India by Lord William Bentinck, the British started schools for imparting elementary and higher education in Salem region from 1856. The first elementary school was opened at Salem in 1856 under the auspices of Sri A.J Arbuthnot.4 Thus English education became means of social transmission of culture from one generation to another.5 One of the educational institutions that marked a turning point in Catholic education in Tamilnadu was St. Joesph college founded at Nagapatinam in 1844 and moved to Trichy in 1882.6 The Sisters of Cluny came to Salem in 1896. The Sacred Heart School at Yercaud was founded in early 1900. Monfort School at Yercaud was opened in 1917 in Salem District.
Today there are a great number of schools run by the diocesan priests, religious brothers and sisters in the Diocese of Salem. The quality of education imparted in these intuitions is of relatively high. It is a matter of great rejoicing that Catholic Educational Institutions have made great strides in Salem District since the creation of the Catholic Diocese in 1930.
(B) Vision of the Ministry of Education :
The Catholic Educational Intuitions play a significant role in the progress of education in Salem through the efforts of the service-minded Christian missionaries. Tamilnadu Catholic Educational Association formulates the vision of their ministry in the field of education.
1. In order to build up God’s kingdom on earth, Catholic education should first and foremost be faith inspired
2. Education has to be clear and sound. It has to lead to a harmonious development of physical, mental, spiritual and psychological aspects of the students.
3. To impart wholesome, secular and religious education to the children and women of neglected sections of the society.
4. Catholic Mission is a common mission entrusted by God to the whole academic community, lay and religious and therefore called to be active partners in this mission7.
Education imparted in the catholic institutions in the Diocese is not merely an individual activity but a collective activity of the church. The clergy, religious and the laity engage in the educational ministry.
(C) Types of Educational Institution
The Catholic Institutions, which involve in active educational ministry in Salem, can be classified in to 3 divisions namely
a. Elementary and secondary education
b. Higher education
c. Vocational educational.
(D) Elementary Education :
These Educational centres run by diocesan priests, religious brothers and sisters aim at safeguarding the right of every person to formal education a right enshrined in our Constitution but denied in practice to millions of Indian citizens. They take a strong stand in favour of universal, free and formal education at the elementary level.8 Hence the diocese concentrates more on the progress of lementary and middle school education. They are running more than 50 such schools and thereby they have made free and compulsory education a reality9.
The preferential option of the catholic schools is for the poor in the field of education. They serve the poor, particularly in the backward and rural areas of the diocese. The purpose of running primary schools is to impart basic education to the children in order to eradicate illiteracy and child labour and to raise their standard of living. Admission is given to all irrespective of caste or creed.10 Special attention is given to the poor. They encourage the poor children to concentrate on education and to grow in every aspect of their life. They are also given education in health, values and moral.11
Pre-primary education takes the form of crèches and kinder garten attached to the village primary schools. These primary classes free the older children, particularly girls to pursue their formal education without the need to look after their toddler brothers and sisters. At middle school level, there are associations like Junior Red Cross and Guide. Children are encouraged to save money through Sanjayeeka Scheme. Through the clubs and associations, unity, solidarity and service mindedness is promoted among the young children.12
Article 45 of the Indian Constitution seeks to provide free and compulsory education up to the age of 14. Our country spends [3.9%] more than China [2.71% of Gross Domestic Product] and Srilanka [3.5%] on education.13 In spite of it we had 48% of illiterates in our country in 1991.14 The target of universalization of primary education for our children can be made possible if every citizen takes it up as his onerous duty to spread literacy in our country.
(E). Higher Education:
Since the products of Catholic Schools and other institutions of learning are the future citizens into whose hands the responsibility of deciding the nation’s destiny is entrusted. The highly advanced nations in technology are planning for universalization of higher education. As a matter of fact, Catholic Higher Education Schools in Salem maintain high standard and value-based education.15 They strive hard to impart qualitative education to the students studying at higher secondary school level. The Diocese runs one renowned Mat. Hr. Sec. School by name St. John’s Mat. Hr. Sec. School located at Fairlands, Salem. The religious of Salem Diocese run 10 English schools and 6 Mat. Hr. Sec. Schools.16
It is worthwhile to study about the origin and development of two age old and reputed Diocesan Higher Secondary Schools namely,
1. The Little Flower Hr. Sec. School, Salem. 7.
2. St. Paul’s Hr. Sec. School, Maravaneri, Salem-7.
Little flower Hr. Sec. School, the unique citadel of great learning in Salem was started on 2nd June 1930; as an elementary school by the first Bishop of Salem diocese Henry Prunier with a strength of 70 boys with Fr. R.H.Mischotte as the Head Master.17 Since 1950, the Diocese has been directly managing the school for the intellectual, moral and spiritual formation of the young generation of students of Salem. It is one of the outstanding schools for the boys in the state. It has rendered about 75 years of remarkable educational service to the society .Fr. Leo Depigney ,a great veteran missionary priest and also competent engineer built the ‘H’ Shaped High School building to replace the temporary structures of Fr. Mischotte.18 The achievements of this school are multidimensional. More than 50 students have dedicated to serve God and community as priests; a gallery of old boys are serving the country in a variety of high professionals, to name a few Mr.V.Subramanian [Class of 1940], Manager, Southern Railway, Mr. Natarajan, [Justice], M.R.R. Srinivasan I.P.S., Superintendent of Police, Mr. A.C Ashokan, [Cine Artist] and there are thousands and upon thousands who serve the country in vital professions.19 St. Paul’s Hr. Sec. School, Salem-7 is another renowned school run by the diocese in Salem. Bishop Henry Prunier started this school in 1939 with two teachers and 52 boys with the sole aim of imparting education to the weaker section of the society. 20 This institution was upgraded into High School in 1965 and Higher Secondary School in 1979 respectively. This institution owes its existence to the dedicated, committed and service-minded Diocesan priests.
Along with Diocesan schools, other Higher Secondary and Matriculation Hr. Sec. Schools run by the religious Sisters and Brothers have captured a prominent place in the map of top educational institutions in Tamilnadu. They run as many as 77 Schools in the Diocese of Salem. These institutions provide ample opportunities to develop the talents of the students. School Band, Guides, Bulbuls, Bharathanatyam Class, Interact Club with community service scheme attached, Science Club, Quiz Club, Scouts, N.C.C, Y.S.M and Y.C.S, and different Clubs and Associations which carry out various curricular and extra-curricular activities throughout the year. In these schools special certificates are awarded annually to those who distinguish themselves in studies, games, sports, co-curricular activities, leadership training, social service, speech contest, singing, etc., 21 All the above said activities are conducted routinely in all the Catholic Schools of the Diocese.
Most of the schools in the Diocese perform extremely well in the 10th and 12th public exams even by securing cent present results. Many students obtain very high marks with several students getting state rank in various subjects. Matriculation schools functioning in the diocese create a healthy competition to produce remarkable results in the public exams. In a case study to analyse the performance of the Catholic Schools in the public exams, it is found that they produce invariably very good results every year. To mention the laudable performance of a few schools, in the year 1999, about 37 students of Holy Angels Mat. Hr. Sec. School which is run by Sisters of the Franciscan Servants of Mary, got admission in the professional course on merit, of 37 students 16 got medicine and 21 engineering seats.22 Jayarani Hr. Secondary School bagged the State Rank in the S.S.L.C Examination held in the year 2002.
Holy Cross Mat. Hr. Sec. School is yet another catholic school in the Diocese of Salem rendering yeoman services in the field of education for about 40 years to the society by providing qualitative education. Besides securing good results every year, this institution concentrates more on all round development of the pupils. District level competitions are held in cultural programmes, games, sports, quiz and science exhibition. Utmost care is taken to provide ample opportunities to the rural school students of the district to take an active part in these contests in order to bring out their hidden talents. Because of its academic excellence and all-round development, the Sun T.V has placed this school in fourth place in the state in the ranking test conducted by Neilson & Group in the year 200423. Many institutions in the Diocese have completed more than 50 years of their service for the noble cause of education. Few such age old and pioneer schools are Little Flower Hr. Sec. School, St.Paul’s Hr.Sec.School, St.Mary’s Hr. Sec. School, Arisipalayam, St. Mary’s Girls Hr.Sec.School, Mettur Dam, St.Joesph’s Teacher Training School, Phagalpatti, St. Theresa’s Industerial School, Salem-7, Nirmala Higher Secondary School, Kolathur, St.Joseph’s School, Yercaud, St. Monfort Anglo-Indian School, Yercaud, St. Joesph’s Girls Hr.Sec.School, Suramangalam and St. Joesph Mat.Hr.Sec. School,Linemedu, Salem.
F. Vocational Education :
The Hunter Commission in the 80’s of the last century spoke of the necessity and importance of vocationalizing our education and harness the varied talents of youth to national productivity and provide education and employment for them. A strong effort was made by the diocese to establish a vocational education. Accordingly in 1931, St. Theresa’s Industrial School was founded by Fr.Mischotte to provide vocational training to the poor boys. He started this institute in a thatched shed with 8 poor boys as a school of wood working trade with the recognition of the Government.24 This is one of the oldest vocational institutions in Tamilnadu.
By 1945 new buildings were constructed and two more vocational courses namely “Smithy and Bricks Laying” were introduced. Subsequently these courses were discontinued and instead of them, Motor Mechanic Trade was started in 1957. In 1969, one more course ‘Turner’ was added. The Department Of Employment And Training Industrial School Certificates are issued to successful trainees at the end of their final exams. The poor helpless orphan boys are provided with boarding and lodging facilities free of cost. The products turned out of carpentry and engineering sections are sold out and income derived out of this is spent for the noble cause of feeding the inmates and general maintainence.25 Hence it is one of the self-help model vocation centres which remains a roll model for other institutions.
G. Teacher Training Institute:
The teacher assumes an important role in shaping the younger generation. In order to train the teachers with extraordinary qualities of mind and heart to mould the students community, the first Bishop of Salem, Bishop Rev. Henry Prunier established St. Mary’s Teacher Training Institute within the premises of St.Mary’s High school, Arisipalayam in 1947.26 This institution was shifted to St. Joesph Girls Hr.Sec. School, Suramangalam in 1979. Now it is functioning at Phagalpatti under the administration of Gonzague Sisters in the name of St.Joseph’s Teacher Training Institute at Pagalpatti. This institute promotes service mindedness in students and enlightens them to the spiritual way of life and to develop leadership qualities among the women. The curriculum taught in this centre is Tamil, English, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Physical Education etc. Its extra curricular activities include making and using of model and charts, training in handicrafts, catechism, value education, literary talks, practice of dramas, debates, group games, competition and study are arranged.27 Through this institute all round development is given to the teachers. This centre admits students from other religions and creed and train them to serve for the cause of education.
H. Teacher’s Day Celebration :
It is celebrated on 5th September every year in memory of Dr. Radha Krishnan, former President of India. at Epiphany Centre. The Bishop presents the report on the educational achievements of the catholic schools in the Diocese. More than 2500 teachers from (127) various schools take active part in the one day seminar arranged exclusively for the teachers. Resource persons in the field of education are invited to address the teachers on the importance of Teacher’s role in the society and the need for utilizing latest techniques and on the teacher’s nation building mission. Schools which produce centum results and obtain distinction in various subjects in 10th and 12th public exams are honored with shields and prizes. Teachers who retire in the religious and diocesan are also honoured on that day28.
Education is the prime force for the welfare of the nation and of mankind in general. It exerts ever mounting influence on the social progress of this modern age. Hence the Diocesan priests, religious men and women take active part in social transformation through providing life oriented and value based education. They have been taking utmost care to impart education to the children of socially weaker sections even before the introduction of reservation system. The quality of education maintained in these institutions is relatively of very high standard. Thus the educational service done by the Diocese of Salem is praiseworthy.