St. Aloysius Minor Seminary Ranchi
The Ranchi Apostolic School, also known as St Aloysius Minor Seminary, was founded in 1903 by Fr Sylvain Grosjean, SJ, the then the Rector of Manresa House, Ranchi. He appointed Fr. Scharlacken, SJ and tasked him to groom the bright young boys so that they would become Jesuit and Diocesan priests. The Apostolic School started functioning with 22 boys since April 1903 on the campus of St. John’s School. In 1905 new building, known as the red-roofed bungalow, was constructed. With the establishment of St Xavier’s College Ranchi in 1944, the Apostolic School boys were sent to the College for their Intermediate Studies. About this time number of candidates increased phenomenally from 65 to 114. The Apostolic School celebrated its Golden Jubilee on 8th and 9th April 1953. Later, in the year 2003 St Aloysius Minor Seminary celebrated its Centenary. In 2012, candidates were sent to St. John’s Inter-College for their studies instead of St. Xavier’s College.
In its 112 years of existence, St Aloysius’ Minor Seminary has made enormous contribution to the local Church. It has produced many priests and religious (priests and brothers) who now work in India and abroad. Notable among the alumni of the Apostolic School are the Prelates of Ranchi – Bishop Nicholas Kujur, SJ, Archbishop Pius Kerketta, SJ, His Eminence Telesphore P. Cardinal Toppo and Bishop Philip Ekka S.J (Raipur Diocese), Archbishop Emeritus Pascal Topno S.J (Bhopal Archdiocese), Bishop Michael Minj S.J (Gumla Diocese), Bishop Emeritus Charles Soreng S.J (Hazaribag Diocese), Bishop Felix Toppo S.J (Jamshedpur Diocese) Bishop Gabriel Kujur S.J (Daltonganj Diocese), Bishop Patras Minj S.J (Ambikapur Diocese), Bishop Stephen Tiru (Khunti Diocese), Emiritus Bishop Joseph Minj (Simdega Diocese), Bishop Vincent Barwa (Simdega Diocese), and Bishop James Toppo S.J (Jalpaiguri Diocese). Those who opted out of priestly or religious life became illustrious laypersons and continue to serve the society in diverse ways. In fact, one may find many of them in the government offices.
At present Fr Frederick Kujur SJ (Director) and Sch Amit Lakra SJ (Asst Director) take care of 101 selected candidates with a vision to prepare them for the Society of Jesus. The candidates hail from the indigenous communities of Jharkhand. They pursue their Intermediate studies at St. John’s Inter College, Ranchi. During their stay for two years candidates are accompanied in their integral growth suitable to this stage. Special care is taken for their spiritual and intellectual formation without neglecting character formation.
Apostolic School, Gumla
It was started in June 1955. It all began with 47 students in the first batch, fourteen of whom were ordained after their prolonged formation. So far this Apostolic School has gifted more than 350 priests who are serving the Chotanagpur Church and beyond. Like in the Minor Seminary, here too, a present all the 157 students come from the indigenous tribes. They do their studies at St Ignatius’ High School Gumla. Fr Praful Ekka, SJ (Director), Fr John Lakra SJ (Spiritual Guide) and Sch. Rohit Kujur SJ (Asst. Director) look after the overall formation of the students on a spacious but eco-friendly campus. Boys are motivated to study well. They are given umpteen opportunities to develop their hobbies and talents – games, music, dramatics, dancing, language, horticulture and other interests. Resident staffs regularly teach extra classes throughout the year.
As mentioned earlier, the students come from three major tribes – Oraon, Munda, Kharia. Therefore, the Apostolic School instils confidence in their culture, tribal identity, language and customs and life in general. Sunday Masses are held in Oraon language, which majority of the students speak. Similarly, tribal dance seminar is arranged twice a year. As a result, the students are very much at home in their culture; they have won many prizes in all the dance competitions in the vicinity. On many occasions their performances were highly appreciated.
Life for the Apostolics is not just dance and games; they students are encouraged to inculcate the taste and habit of prayer. They actively take part in choir and liturgy. During the day they visit the Blessed Sacrament twice. Every day they recite rosary in honour of Our Lady. Monthly confessions and recollections are regularly arranged. Every year annual retreat is arranged. Fr Solomon and his team conduct Jivan Pravesh seminar for Class X students.
Intellectual formation is an important aspect of the life of the Apostolic School boys. They are taught languages, especially English, religion, social sciences, natural sciences, mathematics in the school. Quiz, drama, elocution and debates are also arranged regularly. Character formation is another important area which is well taken care of. Boys are well-accompanied and helped by the staff to grow in emotional maturity. They are given responsible tasks according to their abilities. They are encouraged and guided, and also corrected. Discipline is maintained in all aspects of life. This has yielded a good result in boosting personal and social image among the students and they benefit a lot from all these activities.
Apostolic School Samtoli
It was founded in 1969 by Fr. Paul Terrens SJ with similar goals as those of the Apostolic School, Gumla. The purpose was to groom and nurture vocations from High School onward from the Simdega belt of southern Jharkhand. At present Fr. Isaac Tete, SJ, is the Director and Sch. James Peter Balmuchu, SJ is the Assistant Director while Fr. Albert Dungdung, SJ, serves as Spiritual Director. Of the 152 boys at the Apostolic School, 76 (50%) are Oraons, 42 (28%) are Kharias, 32 (21%) Mundas, and 2 (1%) are from other tribes. Again, of the 152 students 118 (78%) come from Simdega diocese, 22 (14%) from Gumla, 03 (2%) from Ranchi, 04 (3%) from Daltonganj and 05 (3%) from Khunti diocese.
As far as formation of the boys is concerned, they are accompanied and mentored by the staff for their holistic growth and the school conducts activities and programs for their integral formation. While promoting vocations for the Society of Jesus remains the prime purpose but the choice is left to the students so that they could become good leaders in the church in different capacities. Therefore, the Apostolic trained students have become prominent lay leaders in the church and the civil society.
After their High School education, the students join St. Aloysius Minor Seminary, Ranchi for their Intermediate studies. After two year of their studies, selected candidates join Jeevan Deep pre-novitiate Khunti or sent to some other Pre-Novitiates.
Jeevan Deep Pre-Novitiate, Khunti
Jeevan Deep Pre-Novitiate Khunti was started in 1993 and closed in 2011 but re-started on 1st June 2014 with 39 Pre-Novices. Fr Ferdinand Kullu SJ serves as the Director Sch. Jyoti Paul Baxla, SJ functions as his assistant. The primary goal of pre-novitiate formation is to enable the aspirant to discern his vocation well in a conducive atmosphere. Besides Khunti based Pre-Novitiate our Pre-Novices are also housed and trained in Daltonganj, Bhopal and Siliguri. Our Pre-Novices come from the dioceses of Gumla, Khunti, Simdega, Dibrugarh, Rourkela, Port Blair and Tezpur. It is a positive development in recent times that we are getting some candidates from Assam and the Andamans. However, we notice that these are mostly from different tribal groups (Oraon, Munda, Kharia). We also notice that 51.28% come from non-Apostolic School background. Close accompaniment by the staff is given to each candidate. Besides, candidates also learn English and Hindi well. They are assisted to develop the habit of prayer and reflection. They are given ample opportunities for their holistic growth. Thus stress is given on spiritual formation and language skills.
Formation in the Novitiate is special. It is known as the school of heart. The actual Jesuit formation begins at this stage. The primary goal of a novice is discernment of vocation and interior formation. Besides learning and living the Jesuit way of life, the following main activities are in our schedule: the apostolic experiments in villages, Long Retreat, teaching weekly catechism classes to the school children, hospital experiments, and Sunday ministry in the Mass centres and regular engaging in humble tasks in the House. These are meant to help the novices to reflect on and discern on what happens within their hearts, the interior movements the Holy Spirit tells them individually about their ability to live this Jesuit vocation. Besides, there has been an attempt to foster affectivity, the joy of discovering St. Ignatius and the heroes of the Society through classes, reading the sources of the Society and regular individual meeting with the Novice Director.
At the moment, 27 Novices (17 in the first year and 10 are in the second year) are getting their formation at Ashirvad Namkum. 5 (3 in the second year and 2 in the first year) novices are at St Stanislaus’ College Sitagarha. Thus total number of novices is 32. At present Fr Raymond Kerketta, SJ is the Novice Director and Fr. Binod Toppo, SJ is his assistant (Socius). Ashirvad Novitiate was shifted from ATC to Jharna-Ashirvad in 2008.