I J Saldanha Shet, Mangalore
"Our ideal is the well-rounded person,
intellectually competent, open to growth,
religious, loving and committed to doing
justice in generosity to all peoples".
- Superior General.Society of Jesus. (SJ). Rome.”
Recent news reports that probably South Indian Dravidians migrated to Australia more than 4000 years ago, much earlier to Europeans, is not so surprising, Claim scientists; reconstructing genetic trails of human migration to Australia. The migration could be 4200 years old or 141 generations ago. It brings about a vision thinking of what I saw a quarter of a century ago down under - it proves a promising potential and may be worth a closer look for those who really care.
Very likely deeper connections, history, the commonality of the Commonwealth and underlying nature exist and need attention. Nothing is a chance, all a divine design! Readers may recall Mangalore Today’s exclusive article a "Mangalore" in Victoria, Australia (October 2010). Is it a coincidence that St Aloysius twin colleges in Mangalore and Sydney were conceived about the same time 1879! "Honouring the past brings understanding, it also brings Peace and a vision for the future". Both the ’St Aloysius’ Colleges are the result of the campaigns of the Society of Jesus (SJ) that have a common origin in Education here and in other Continents too, cited as among over 1000 institutions connected to the Jesuits worldwide. Strangely, almost none in Mangalore seems aware of the Oz twin and life! In India the Jesuit saga is traced to 1542 when St.Francis Xavier was placed at the head of the College of St.Paul in Goa. From there on it has been a consistent story of progress. The arrival of the Jesuits in Mangalore on 31 December, 1878 is full of splendour. Calcutta welcomed the Jesuits in 1814 and the College of St Francis Xavier was established, in 1858 Bombay got it’s land mark Jesuit St Xaviers College and so on. Some of the complimentary Jesuit Colleges in South India are St.Joseph’s Nagapatinam (1844), St.Joseph’s Bangalore (1858), St Joseph’s Thiruchirapalli (1883), Loyola College Chennai/Madras (1925) the list can get long.
Sydney siders and Mangaloreans seem to have embedded in their DNA and culture through these twin institutions: One opposite Sydney’s famed land mark "Opera House" alongside the scenic river and ’Harbour Bridge’ and Mangalore’s inseparable heart on ’Bavuta Gudda’ Hill with a breath taking view of the azure Arabian Sea, fast disappearing though with huge concrete jungles coming up. Let us take a look at some captivating details first of our Aussie Twin down under and then our own on this great sub-continent and recognise some significant facts and may the twain be warmer with each other in the future:
St. Aloysius’ College, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia:
A solid composite reputed School for boys, located at Milsons Point, a suburb on the lower North Shore of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Founded in 1879 by Jesuit Fr Joseph Dalton, at St Kilda House, Woolloomooloo, St Aloysius’ is conducted by the Society of Jesus as part of a worldwide network of schools. The College has an academically selective enrolment policy and currently caters for near 1,400 students from Years 3 to 12 (8 to 18 years). St Aloysius’ is affiliated with the Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia (AHISA), the Junior School Heads Association of Australia (JSHAA), and is the oldest of the six schools which make up the Combined Associated Schools (CAS). The motto is noteworthy:"Ad Majora Natus" the Latin translates to:"Born for Greater Things"
Following the 1877 closure of Lyndhurst Catholic College, Dr Roger Bede Vaughan, the second Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, found himself without a college for boys in the growing Sydney community; Fr Joseph Dalton was sent to Sydney by the Superior, Fr Cahill in answer to an urgent appeal. Towards the end of 1878 Dr Dalton with Fr Kennedy scouted for land for a city day school. After much effort a property known as "St Kilda House" on the corner of Cathedral Street and Palmer Street in Woolloomooloo was rented. The property had been built in 1844 by Charles Scott, part of a grant made to John Palmer, purser on the First Fleet ship HMS Sirius, it was a Georgian style mansion with fifteen rooms. The building has since been demolished. St Kilda House was blessed by the Archbishop and its first 45 pupils admitted on 3 February 1879. By the end of 1879 enrolments had increased.
In September 1883, the College moved to "Auburn Villa" in Bourke Street, Darlinghurst, purchased from the Iredale family. The name "Auburn Villa" was changed to St Aloysius, the patron of youth, and a new wing was built shortly after, later demolished to make way for St Margaret’s Maternity Hospital. Student numbers grew considerably towards the end of the 19th century. In letters to the Jesuit Superior, Rectors constantly pleaded for more staff, telling of their constant financial struggle to exist.
Milsons Point: Across Sydney Harbour, the Society of Jesus had control of the St Mary’s Parish, North Sydney. A small, stone church in Jeffrey Street, Kirribilli built in 1863 by Congregation-alists, Wesleyans and Anglicans had fallen into disuse due to lack of a congregation. This church was purchased by the Jesuits in 1880 to serve the district of Kirribilli and Milsons Point, but the priests at North Sydney were finding it difficult to attend to their large parish. His Eminence, Cardinal Moran, then Archbishop of Sydney, urged the Jesuits to move the College from Bourke Street to a site near the church in order to give regular service to the Catholics of the area. In 1902, a small, about three quarters of an acre, the building, with crenellated tower and lace iron balconies, was set in picturesque surroundings and featured an uninterrupted view of the Harbour. St Aloysius’ College officially commenced classes here on 2 February 1903, with less than 50 students.
Before long enrolments again increased, in 1907/1908 a three-storied red brick building later known as the "Junior School" came up. In 1913/1914 a new wing was constructed on the eastern side, in 1916 a property opposite the College, known as "Wyalla", became the "Senior School". In the early 1920s, a site for much needed playing fields acquired was however it was sold in 1939 to provide finance for a garden which forms the current College Sports Ground.
The war years of the 1940s brought a significant drop in numbers, and the College was forced to pile sand bags to prevent blasts from anticipated Japanese bombs, and strong fortifications were constructed to prevent roofs collapsing. Following the war, the number of pupils increased more rapidly, by the late fifties it was clear that a major decision on the College’s future was no longer avoidable. An invitation came from Archbishop Eris O’Brien to move the College to Canberra, however after much debate this offer was turned down; One possible option was to stay at Milsons Point and to re-develop the site. The representative of the Jesuit General, Fr John McMahon, who was then visiting Australia, and the Provincial Superior, Fr Jeremiah Hogan, favoured this option as being in the best interests of the Catholic community and of the College.
In 1961, with the help of Mr G J Dusseldorp, the co-operation of the Commonwealth Bank and the support of Fr Hogan, the College began the task of rebuilding. The limitations of the site and the fact that existing buildings could not be demolished beforehand, restricted the Rector, Fr John Casey, in his plan and the architect, Mr Robert Metcalfe, in his design. In approximately ten years, with the support of the College community, four stages of building were completed.
Circular Quay: To celebrate its centenary in 1979, the College began the fifth and final building stage. This building, housing administration, entrance gates, canteen, library, study room, community rooms, and classrooms, was opened in 1981. Despite the completion of this stage, there was still insufficient room to house the College. In 1991 a decision was reached to purchase the Milsons Point Primary School and to develop a Junior School Campus. Construction of the Junior School Campus commenced in 1992, and in 1993 it was blessed and opened. At the commencement of the school year in 1997, the Senior School, accommodating Years 11 and 12 was opened and blessed by the Governor-General of Australia, Sir William Deane, the provincial of the Society of Jesus, Fr Daven Day SJ and the Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney, Right Rev David Cremin DD. After its Scripture-like wanderings, St Aloysius’ College has come to rest facing Sydney’s towering skyline, in the shadow of the Harbour Bridge. Its brother schools include Saint Ignatius’ College, River view and Loyola College, Mount Druitt in Sydney, Saint Ignatius’ College, Adelaide in Athelstone and Xavier College in Melbourne.
A Look at a few Alumni in Sydney : Vincent John ’Jack’ Flynn – LLB, The University of Sydney; First Catholic Rhodes Scholar in NSW . Dr Walter Burfitt CBE – Surgeon and co-founder of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons; Founder of the Medical Benevolent Association of New South Wales. Tony Abbott MP – the Australian Leader of the Opposition, a Member of the Australian House of Representatives, representing Warringah for the Liberal Party, and a former minister in the Howard government. Cecil Healy – a winner of individual silver and team gold medals in swimming at the 1912 Olympic Games.
Let us take a similar look at the other twin’s life:
St. Aloysius College, Mangalore
The British rule post Captivity of the Konkani Catholics of Mangalore, from the early 1800’s created a deeper need for education in keeping with standards of Europe to bring progress to local communities. Hardly any formal School existed, the Catholics felt a compelling need for Schools and Colleges and resulted in many petitions to the Holy See and particularly the request was to bring in the Jesuit Missionaries. Fortunately the well to do landed Mangalore Catholics were of one mind and donations were generous given the circumstances of the times. In April 1879 the first idea was tabled and a forward momentum commenced. In December 1879 Fr.Willy SJ who had charge of the matter brought out a prospectus that proposed the launching of Classes in January 1880, St.Aloysius Mangalore was born. A few classes were opened with 150 students some of them from different religions/cultures of Canara; in the bungalow at Kodialbail lent by Mrs Mary Coelho, it was a good start. The matriculation was added in 1881 and the following year intermediate, BA degree and so on affiliated to the popular Madras University for South Kanara was part of the British Madras Presidency of the times. The Motto:"Lucet et Ardet" translated:"It shines and it burns".
It must be noted that Konkani Catholics of Canara originate from Saraswat stock, and were given predominantly Portuguese family names; their ancient names are traceable in most cases. Fr.J Moore’s 1904 "History of the Diocese of Mangalore" compiled from local journals gives a glimpse of the glory of the early days. The main site was conditionally donated by Mr Lawrence Lobo Prabhu, who died January 1883 and is buried in the College Chapel as he desired, marked by a Latin mural tablet. An impressive two storied building was erected based on the model of the ’Oratory’ of St Philip Neri. Rome and was partially opened in February 1885. There was steady progress and expansions; now has an area of about 40 acres, an annexe has been established to house the AIMIT a few miles out of the city. St Aloysius Institute of Management & Information Technology(AIMIT), is offering the two years MBA programme affiliated to Mangalore University and approved by the Centre.
This great institution today provides a wide spectrum of courses from KG (Kinder Garten) to PG (Post Graduation) and more. This institution has so efficiently served all people of the region and beyond that one can find its past pupils almost anywhere in the world, including Australia (see Box)! It is stunning to note the number of prominent achievers among the Alumnus Aloysians. Many have returned as Jesuits, Faculty, Resource persons or as supporters to this ancient grand old institution too. Many have won accolades in various exams of the Indian Government and Universities and excelled in different fields the world over.
The St. Aloysius College (Autonomous) is NAAC accredited with GRADE ’A’ ;The College is also declared as "College With Potential For Excellence" is managed by the Mangalore Jesuit Educational Society which is registered under the Societies Registration Act, and admits students without discriminating against any religion, caste or creed and seeks to establish a collegial environment in which those of diverse cultural backgrounds and religious beliefs can participate in the community in a spirit of co-operation and mutual respect. This institution was just proceeded by St Agnes College for women a first in the region of the 1870s established by the Apostolic Carmel. In the 20th Century Mangalore was perhaps the hub of education which flourished with a great many institutions coming up and professional education in particular. Women of this place are fortunate to be well educated. Now, the scenario is upbeat.
Aloysius College is now ’Autonomous’ and likely to get the status of a University soon. The College offers Graduate and Post-Graduate Diploma and Ph.D. programmes in a wide variety of subjects in Humanities, Sciences, Commerce and Management. The College also teaches Pre-University Courses in Science, Commerce and Arts. In 1989 it was thrown open to the fair sex which was considered revolutionary for the College, it has proved a highly constructive initiative. Will St.Agnes College and other women’s colleges of Mangalore take the cue?
College has Science block, the Computer Centre, Auditorium, Hostels, the Xavier Block-science & Research, the Gonzaga Block and the cafeteria and more. The world famous chapel, with frescoes by Br. Moscheni sj, with painted scenes from the scriptures and lives of Jesuit saints all over on the ceiling, pillars and walls done between 1899-1901; the Chapel is part of the College and is now safeguarded by the Archaeological Survey of India. It is visited by people from far and near and is a great attraction of the area. The ’Aloysium’ (Red Building) is an interesting museum of local historic material collected/donated by its famed residents from time to time.
A few of the Famous alumni: Mangalore: K K Venugopal, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India. Aravinda Adiga, Winner of the Man Booker Prize. 2008 (who migrated to Australia soon after his Schooling). Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty, Cardiac Surgeon and Philanthropist. Fr. Cecil Saldanha S.J., Biologist and Research Scholar. Dr.L P Fernandes. Co-Founder Fr Muller’s Hospital Mangalore.(see Box). George Fernandes, Trade Unionist and Former Union Defence Minister. V.J.P. Saldanha, Konkani language litterateur, dramatist, novelist, and poet. Mangaldas Shetty, President &CEO, ELIND Computers Pvt Ltd. Maxwell Pereira IPS, former Joint Police Commissioner, Delhi.. Stephen Vadakkan, Mathematician
These two great Aloysian Institutions have sailed towards their grand haven of Education like ships in the dark; their twin lives draw together for greater things and give a shine to many more lives in the times to come - the twain shall meet. Ahoy Sydney and Mangalore!
TWO GRAND ALOYSIANS
IN SYDNEY: Mr. Alfred Coffey ( 1872-1950)
A Sydney Aloysian - Artist, Teacher, Benefactor! Irish born, he arrived in Australia with his parents when he was 4 years old and became St Aloysius’ (Woolloomooloo) early student. He won several prizes in many subjects at the School between 1882 and 1886 competing with famous names of the land. Though a potential scholar, he chose a career in art and associated with reputed institutes. He became the first in the new faculty of Architecture at University of Sydney. A great well wisher of Aloysius College he donated prizes for sports and occasions. Many of his art works were presented as prizes and can still be seen at the College and elsewhere. ’Alf’ travelled to far off lands several times and always painted scenes to the admiration of many. His obituary appears in the ’Aloysian’ of 1950. He is remembered by the College and many Sydney siders.
IN MANGALORE: Dr. Lawrence P Fernandes (1870-1946):
An outstanding Mangalorean son-of-the-soil, who was a pillar of support in founding the Jesuit Fr. Muller’s Hospital, today a leading historic medical speciality institution and College of the region. First established in 1890 by Fr Augustus Muller SJ a German Homoeopath. Lawrence, the son of Nicholas Fernandes an official of the local Law Courts, was an early student of the newly started St Aloysius College; after obtaining the BA degree, he directly went on to work for the Hospital. Gauging his potential and dedication Fr Muller himself sent him to Grant Medical College Bombay where he obtained a tertiary Medical degree and licence. Immediately returning to the Hospital in Mangalore he plunged into working for it’s well being becoming it’s Chief Medical Officer in 1902.That he held this position till his death in 1946 (Fr Muller passed away in 1909) is pointer to his magnanimity. The 45 years of his service at the hospital saw it expand to a major institution. He received several awards including the prestigious British Civil decoration "Kaise-I-Hind", Papal Honour "Pro-Ecclesia et Pontifice" Silver Jubilee and Coronation Medals. He was an early President of the Catholic Co-op Society, Vice Chairman of the Mangalore Municipality, vice-President of the Catholic Association of South Kanara (CASK) for a long time. He was Captain of the "Ex-Aloysius Cricket Team" and Secretary of the Cricket Club. In 1905 on a tour of Europe he was given an audience with Pope Pius X at the Vatican and presented with a letter of honour. Scholarships and Prizes have been donated in his name. As an early alumnus of St Aloysius College, Mangalore, he was an exemplary citizen.
ALOYSIAN from MANGALORE in SYDNEY:
Martin Lobo, a simple bright lad who finished his High School at St Aloysius Mangalore in 1970. Earning prized degrees in North India he chose to sharpen his teaching skills at St.Xavier’s in the Steel city of Bokaro. Fate destined that he embark into the unknown in 1979, when he moved on a selective stint to Sydney Australia. After preliminary preparations he joined St Aloysius Junior School in 1980. In 1997 the unexpected came to be; though he was the only one with Indian roots, his services and achievements in the School were recognised and he is since then the Vice-Principal, ’Head of the Junior School’ which is a very responsible and prestigious position. His peers say that he has been consistent not only in his positive contributions. Mr Lobo says he joined this great Institution just when it had competed it’s centenary (100 years) and he never forgot the connection and nostalgia of his alma mater - Aloysius Mangalore. He adds, "My wife Ophelia, also of Mangalore roots, has fitted in and made life good for me and my daughter here".
St Aloysius College, Sydney he says has been a home away from home since 30 plus years ago and he has grown and grown wiser, along with it. He says that the College prides it self in delivering a holistic competent education and formation of the whole person with strong focus on multi faceted human growth. "Mine has been a privileged association in Sydney and I am immensely honoured to have fulfilled various roles and positions of responsibility now including heading of the Junior and Middle Schools. The community at this School has embraced me, a then stranger and foreigner just as much as I have developed a fondness for members of this august institution. Fellow Indian friends here and abroad often ask me if I have experienced discrimination at the work place (where the community is predominantly Anglo-Saxon) where obviously I am the only non-white among a staff of about 140. My ’Indianness’ has never been a barrier! If I may say so; on the other hand, Indians tend to discriminate their fellow Indians far more on grounds of religion, place of origin,caste and so on".
Principal Lobo goes on to add "Your motherland is simply irreplaceable and I do miss my birthplace Mangalore and the simplicity of life in those old times". He says Some things change and some remain the same. During my last visit home in December 2011, I took my daughter Jessica on a sentimental tour of Mangalore and one place that brought a choking sensation in me, was my alma-mater, St.Aloysius High school. It was simply nostalgic and more so when I noticed that the desks used in Stds 7 to 10 at this School more than 35 years ago were still in use! For all the mindless rapid changes and modernisation in Mangalore; it is still unique. The sights, the smells, Komals, the Taj and Moti Mahals, Udupi eateries, temples that fascinate my daughter, the tile factories, the old Bundar fish yards and the many languages sung by the people are all still around. Despite the crowding in some areas and the traffic nightmares and dirt, Mangalore is still a lovely place especially when you get out of town and smell the fresh air. I love my present home Sydney, but I still do miss the place that started off my life and always will admire the simplicity and purity that it offers.
Daughter JESSICA LOBO ( who was born and brought up in Sydney and has completed a double degree in Law and International Studies at Macquarie University Sydney and did a stint to polish her Italian in Italy and is now aspiring to enter the Australian Civil services may be) - Comments: Well, Dad is a difficult man to describe. But 3 words describe him the best ’MAN OF ACTION’. He is always on the go! always putting his needs after the needs of others and is always ready to help. He is spirited and outgoing! As a teacher/leader he is resourceful and open-to new ideas with his colleagues, with the kids he is very encouraging and praises students a lot. Dad speaks to people as if they are his equals whether it would be you, me, one of his students or the prime minister himself!!