With great pageantry, the festivities marking the establishment of the St. André Province in India took place on January 18 and 19. The establishment of a new province, which prior had been the Vicariate of India, was decreed by the Congregation’s 2022 General Chapter. As a province of only brothers, it takes its name from the Congregation’s first canonized saint, Br. André Bessette.
The celebrations began the evening of January 18 with a memorial prayer service in honor of the deceased brothers of the province at the community cemetery. Afterward, the community and invited guests gathered for the blessing of the new Blessed Basile Moreau statue in front of the new St. André Formation House on the campus of Notre Dame of Holy Cross School in Salem. Fr. Emmanuel Kallarackal, C.S.C., First Assistant and Vicar General, and Br. PJ Santosh, Superior of the new St. André Province, presided at the blessing.
The following day, Br. Paul Bednarczyk, C.S.C., Superior General, and Fr. Emmanuel met in general session with all members of the province.
Later in the evening, the Mass of Inauguration, which gathered over 1,000 priests, religious, colleagues, friends, and students, was held in the beautifully decorated auditorium at Notre Dame of Holy Cross School. Fr. Kallarackal presided in both English and Tamil.
Br. Bednarczyk preached and officiated at the installation of the new Provincial Superior, Br. Santosh, and his Council. Then the Superior General read the proclamation of the new province’s canonical establishment.
Immediately following the Mass, the honored guests were regaled with the customary shawls, garlands, and gifts, before the cultural program, which featured traditional music and dance by the students of Notre Dame of Holy Cross Schools, as well as an original play presented by the brother aspirants on the charism of St. André Bessette.
Afterward, all of the invited guests enjoyed a traditional Tamil meal on the school grounds.
The other jurisdictions of the congregation in India were well represented at the festivities, including Fr. Simon Fernandes, C.S.C., Superior of the North East India Province; Fr. Lawrence D’Almeida, C.S.C., representing Fr. Roque D’Costa, C.S.C., Superior of the South India Province; and Fr. Gaspar Selvaraj, C.S.C., Superior of the new Province of Tamil Nadu.
The wider congregation was also present, including Fr. George Kamal Rozario, C.S.C., Superior of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Province; Br. Subal Rozario, C.S.C., Superior of the St. Joseph Province; Br. Kenneth Haders, C.S.C., Superior of the Midwest Province; and Fr. John Britto, C.S.C., of the United States Province.
In addition to St. André Province, the 2022 General Chapter decreed the establishment of three other provinces, all of which came into existence on January 1, 2023: Province of East Africa, Province of West Africa, and Province of Tamil Nadu.
“Those who have gone before us crossed borders of every sort in order to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in word and deed. Thanks to their dedication, our Congregation has taken root and expanded in various parts of the world,” stated the 2022 General Chapter in its preamble to the decrees establishing the new province. “We recognize their missionary zeal as we establish new provinces and approve of structures that promise to enhance our efforts to read the signs of the times and be faithful to our mission.”