St. Joseph’s is Born

In the early 1800’s the Catholic community felt that there was an urgent need of setting up an institution for the educational and spiritual development of the Catholic youth in Calcutta. Hence, under the aegis of " The Committee of Catholic Charity Schools" a Free School was established in the church compound of Our Lady of the Rosary, Moorgihatta, and by March, 1836, there were more than 200 boys in attendance. In 1839, Mr. Cooper rented the premises at 68, Bow Bazar Street to the Committee of Catholic Charity Schoois and two schools were immediately set up there. The boys occupied the ground floor and the girls used the first floor. Bishop Patrick Carew, the Archbishop of Calcutta in 1841, requested the Superior General of the Irish Congregation, Br. Michael Paul Riordan, to send young brothers who would come to Calcutta and carry on the work of the Congregation of Christian Brothers, namely educating the poor masses. Br. Riordan could not spare any Christian Brothers at that time. Hence, two cousins, Francis Fitzpatrick and Alphonsus Tolan were trained in the Christian Brothers Novitiate in Ireland, before being sent to Calcutta on February 15th, 1848. They were known as "The Calcutta Brothers" and were filled with the spirit of Edmund Rice. On their arrival in Calcutta, Brother Francis Fitzpatrick took charge of the Orphanage at Moorgihatta and Brother Alphonsus Tolan took charge of the school in Bow Bazar. The orphanage, under the charge of the Calcutta Brothers came to be known as The Catholic Male Orphanage. The Calcutta Brothers opened "St. George's Free Schooi" in 1848 but it was known differently then. The premises at 68, Bo'w Bazar housed the St. Xavier's Chapel and St. Xavier's Free School. The Brolhers taught the boys whiie the giris' free school was conducted by the Loreto Sisters. Under the guidance of Dr. Walter Steins a fine three storied building, the present St. George's, was ready for occupation by the end of 1812.It was named "St. Joseph's Boarding and Day School".

Br, Vincent Casey, Br, Fabian Kenneally, Br, Edward Aherne and Br. Ambrose Flynn set sail from Liverpool on the 'Clan Drummond' and landed in Calcutta on 5th Jan. 1890, Br Casey became the Provincial and took charge of the community in Calcutta. He took a lot of pains to provide better amenities for the brothers, inculcate a sense of discipline among the members of the community and the students, both at Bow Bazar and at the orphanage. The Provincial with Br. Stanislaus determined that a large college and residence for the community must be erected at 69 and 70 Bow Bazar St. The corner stone for St. Joseph's College was laid on 4th August, 1894, This was the first fine building erected by the brothers after their arrival in India. It housed the community, the boarders and provided full class room accommodation. There was also a special wing for the Provincial, and from 1895 to 1980, St. Joseph's College was the headquarters for the government of the Indian Province. As soon as the ground floor was completed, the whole of the pay school was transferred there while the first and the second floors were stiil being constructed. Archbishop Goethals blessed the building on its completion in 1895. The students of the free school were housed in the premises across the lane. As a result of the earthquake in 1897, the lower storey of Cooper's house which had served as St. Xavier's Chapel was badly damaged. Before the new church could be built, the ground floor of St. Joseph's did duty as a chapel. Work on building the present church began on 19th January 1898 and Archbishop Goethals blessed and laid the foundation stone on 12th April. Today these buildings stand tall and proud. St. Joseph's College, though no longer the Provincial Headquarter, turns out students who are instilled with an awareness of their dignity as children of God and enables them to take their place in society as useful members of the community.

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