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Education Apostolate: Empowering for Change

“We the Ranchi Jesuit educators commit ourselves to the service of faith, promotion of justice, formation of our students as persons of competence, conscience and compassion in collaboration with staff and parents and networking with other educators to bring about transformation of society.”
From the very beginning of our Mission, education has been one of the important apostolates of the Province. Through education we have been able to see a significant transformation in the socio-economic and political life of people in Jharkhand.
At present, Ranchi Province (including Assam Mission) has: -
Primary and Middle Schools in Parishes/Mission Centres – 24
Village Primary Schools – 28
High Schools (Vernacular) - 22
Inter Colleges and Plus Two – 07
English Medium Primary Schools – 06
English Medium Senior Secondary School – 01
Total 88
Ever since the inception of Ranchi Mission, the focus has been on having a network of schools for the total upliftment of the tribals of Chotanagpur. I have often heard senior Jesuits saying that wherever the wild beasts could not go and make their shelter, Jesuit missionaries made their ways and pitched their tents. I have also heard people quoting Bishop Oscar Sevrin – “ I would choose Schools rather than Churches if I have to choose one.” He knew the importance of education in Chotanagpur.
About 136 of our Ranchi Jesuits are fully engaged in the educational ministry in Chotanagpur, and Assam. They are regularly in direct contact with 41534=00 students coming from the primary to the plus two grades - a remarkable gathering of ethnic, cultural, religious, and economic diversity. These are the youth whose lives we touch and shape, by giving proper direction in thier life.
The Society of Jesus is called to work in the context of poverty, inequality and illiteracy so to change the face of Jharkhand and Assam. The Spirit of God has been inviting the Society to heal the little planet of Jharkhand. Besides being very vigilant about the current affairs of the real world around us, we also need to be attentive to the Spirit that continually speaks to us in various ways. This will enable us to respond positively and create new hearts.
In Chotanagpur, all our Jesuit educational institutions are under tremendous pressure - in terms of the intake of students. There is a greater demand for our educational institutions in rural as well as urban areas. Today, everyone's aim is to live a decent life, support one’s families, and live in peace and security. Generally, students want to get ready and be equipped with professional skills so as to compete in the job market to obtain lucrative jobs. Success is their only goal in life. If they are enterprising, they will transform the fabric of life wherever they will be: as entrepreneurs, high-tech professionals, policy makers, white-collar workers, etc.
These are the young men and women we seek to serve the youth whom the Lord of the vineyard has placed in our hands. We educate them, give them degrees and equip them with skills. Education, by definition, is a transformative process. Hence anything less, is less than education. Since education changes the human person, it is a spiritual activity. Our Mission of Education looks beyond degrees and diplomas, beyond food, clothing, shelter, success, name and fame in the world. Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach rightly says, “The real measure of our Jesuit universities lies in who our students become.” I think, that is the point we need to ponder upon.
We want to see our institutions as ‘missionary’ from within. In spite of the cliché of the ivory tower we are basically 'missionaries' at heart, committed to integral evangelization as our first priority while serving as educationists in the meanwhile. We are concerned about 'fullness of life' of the people. We share our life and time, we help them see visions for a better world that is inspired by our mutual solidarity. We may not be very qualified missionaries or educationists; but obedience in the Society makes us do almost anything and do it well, even if not brilliantly. Besides being missionaries and educationists, we are also prophets of liberation in this part of Chotanagpur to bring our students the Good News of salvation. We are able to do this because we are the heralds of Christ, the Risen Lord, and we participate in his life, mission and victory.
Therefore, our mission is to provide the education that forms young men and women of solid character, fine competence, and clear conscience (the three C's); that frees persons from social conditioning, that nurtures an encounter with God as a personal event, a free response to the call to faith and generates encounter with people of other faith and traditions in view of making a new society.