The northern region of the Jesuit Madurai Province in Tamilnadu State, India was officially created as the Jesuit Chennai Mission in June 2007 in order to strengthen and enhance the mission, initiated in 1990s, of empowering the marginalized, especially the rural poor and the Dalits(Who are considered and treated as untouchable in the society).The goal is meaningful liberation with human dignity and economic stability(through education and employment) and paving the way for social equality so that the oppressed could become the decision making leaders of the society they live in.
To achieve this goal, during the 15 years of its existence the new mission has developed the two pronged approach of building peoples movement to ensure their freedom and dignity and building people’s institutions to develop their capabilities and human resources.
Inauguration of Jesuit Chennai Mission
As a follow up action after the presentation of the envisaged Master Plan for the Chennai Mission in the Province Assembly in December 2006, Fr. Provincial along with a group of Jesuits representing various sectors had a planning session on June 13th 2007 at Loyola College so as to make their meeting with the Archbishop of Pondy and the Bishop of Vellore Diocese effective and fruitful.
On June 13th evening, the group led by Fr. Provincial met the Archbishop of Pondy. The Archbishop extended a warm welcome to the group and he was very happy to hear from Fr. Provincial that the Jesuits would start a College with job oriented courses in Villupuram District and gave us his permission and blessings.
On June 14th evening, Fr. Provincial along with the same group met the Bishop of Vellore Diocese. The group had a high tea with the Bishop followed by discussion regarding the starting of the approved college in the Vettavalam Area.
Chennai Mission’s first Superior, Rev. Fr. Victor, assumed his office on 15th June 2007 in a well attended Eucharistic Celebration presided over by Rev. Fr. Provincial at Loyola College Church, Chennai. Arul Kadal theologians under the able guidance of Frs. I. Raj and Maria Arul Raja took care of the liturgy with the theme “With heart full of courage To go beyond the Margins”. The scholastics from Berchmans Illam & Loyola Community added solemnity by singing during the mass.
After the mass, a short felicitation function in honor of the new Mission Superior took place. Sch. Ignacy was the M.C for the function. The new Mission Superior was honoured with a shawl by Rev. Fr. Provincial and the Rev. Fr. Boniface Jeyaraj, the out going Mission Animator, was also honoured with a shawl for all his yeoman services rendered to the development of Chennai Mission by Fr. K. Amal, the new Rector of Loyola College. The entire celebration came to an end with the delicious dinner hosted by Loyola College Community in the Loyola Residence garden under the personal supervision of Rev. Bro. Sadhanandam, the Minister of Loyola Community and his team.
Prior to the Eucharistic Celebration, the Jesuit Chennai Mission Office was opened in the Loyola College Campus. Rev. Fr. Provincial blessed and opened the Mission Office. After opening of the office, a short function took place in the Mission Office hall. Rev. Fr. Boniface Jeyaraj welcomed all those who had assembled in the hall. After that, Fr. Maria Joe, the Director of the Mission Office, briefly shared about the planned activities in the Office. Then followed the felicitations by Rev. Fr. K. Amal, Rector of Loyola College, Rev. Fr. Packinanthan, Secretary for TN SC/ST & BC Commission and Rev. Fr. Provincial.
The symbolic inauguration of the few schemes took place after the felicitations. The schemes were, Sponsorship Scheme for educating the rural dalit children, Sponsorship for educating the poor dalit youth at Loyola College and Employment for the trained dropout youth from the mission area. The meeting came to an end with the vote of thanks proposed by Rev. Fr. Victor, the new Mission Superior.