UNDER THE ARCHES OF TEN DECADES: 1863-1963
by Master J.V. Neeff
From the St.Stanislaus Institution Centenary Souvenir
After a series of protracted negotiations spread over a period of more than four decades and necessitated by conditions prevalent at the time among various conflicting elements, the then Vicar Apostolic of Bombay, the Rt. Rev. Dr. Anastasius Hartmann, acquired by purchase a plot of land and proceeded to raise on it, not exactly a church, but a two-storeyed building, the ground floor of which was to be used as a church.
The blessing of the foundation stone was done by Bishop Hartmann himself on the 12th April 1852. On 11th September 1853, the Church of St. Peter was consecrated by the same Dr. Hartmann and thus the first Propaganda Chapel of Salsette Island was inaugurated. Fr. Pascoal de Mello, a secular priest and native of Bandra, was appointed the first Vicar of the Church and was succeeded in 1856 by Fr. Anthony Pereira S.J., a native of Goa.
The upper floor of the building was at first used as the priest's residence and a parish school, bearing the name of St. Aloysius. In 1855, the Seminary, which in 1853 had been transferred to Surat, was brought down to Bandra and lodged in this upper floor. As a result of this, the Seminary and the parish school were fused into one. The amalgamated institution is described in the Madras Directory of 1857, as follows: "There is a Seminary and College, under the direction of the Fathers of the Society of Jesus. The Marathi, Portuguese, English and Latin languages are taught; also Arithmetic, Geography, History and Music, Rhetoric, Philosophy, Theology (Dogmatic and Moral) and Canon Law. The students are about 85 including 15 seminarists."
The Origin of St. Stanislaus:
The Orphanage of the Bombay Archdiocese (European and native combined) had its beginnings in 1852, when Bishop Hartmann was Vicar Apostolic. It was first located at Parel under the care of some Carmelite Fathers. In 1855 the Capuchins succeeded the Carmelites at Parel and in 1857 the Orphanage was transferred to Nesbit Lane, Byculla.
On the 25th November 1857, Fr. Joseph Willy, S.J., was appointed its Superior. But on 13th August 1859, a separation took place. The European orphans were sent to Mazagon; the Indian orphans remained at Byculla, whence they went every day to school at Mazagon. Fr. Willy remained behind with the native orphans as their Superior and Chaplain of St. Anne's. In October 1859, Fr. Willy was sent to Karachi and Fr. Esseiva was appointed to fill the gap until Fr. Joseph Weber took charge of the Orphanage in February 1860. During the three years of his stewardship, the number of native orphans rose from 33 to 140. About the end of May 1863, the Seminary was transferred from Bandra to Cavel and its place was occupied by the Boy's Native Orphanage which was shifted from Byculla on the 8th June 1863. Such was the beginning of St. Stanislau's Orphanage in Bandra.
When the boys from Byculla arrived at Bandra, there was only one solitary house to welcome them the old St. Peter's Church, a large square building, partly two-storeyed, half church, half residence. Above the Chapel was a hall 100 x 75 feet used as study hall, refectory and class rooms with a couple of residential rooms for the Fathers; above this, directly under the roof, was the dormitory. Prior to the arrival of the orphans there was already a parish school, as we have seen, which had been started in 1852 and was merged with the Seminary that was transferred back from Surat. This school continued to function as a kind of Apostolic School for youngsters, after the senior students had moved to Cavel in May 1863. The boys of St. Aloysius and the orphans from Byculla who formed the nucleus of St. Stanislaus were now taught together. In 1868 the parish school was amalgamated and absorbed into St. Stanislaus School and Orphanage.
It may be mentioned here that Fr. Weber died six months after the transfer of the Orphanage to Bandra at the early age of 33, whereupon Fr. Conrad Grueder S.J.; was appointed first Superior of St. Stanislaus Orphanage, Bandra, at the age of 29. During more than seven years until his premature death on 9th August 1870, Fr. Grueder was a real Father to his charges. One of the great anxieties of the Superior in those days was finding suitable employment for grown-up orphans, who were not very gifted. Fr. Grueder's ideal from the very beginning was to teach them a suitable trade. For that purpose, soon after his appointment, he erected a long, straggling building along Hill Road, to be used as a workshop. Someboys were taught weaving, others printing, lithography, etc. After Fr. Grueder's death this Industrial Department of St. Stanislaus gradually ceased to function, partly owing to lack of interest on the part of both management and students and partly because of more and more space being needed for the expanding academic school.
Development during the first 50 years: Territorial:
At various times down to 1855 new plots were added to the original grounds and new buildings were erected. In 1867 a second storey was added to the old building. About the same time the Industrial workshop was erected. In 1873 an outlying wing was added for use as the Boy's Refectory and Infirmary. In 1888 a separate kitchen was built. In 1904 the back wing or Red Building parallel to a part of Waroda Road, was erected to provide class-rooms and a dormitory for paying boarders. In 1913 the de Mello House, facing Waroda Road was purchased and converted into an Infirmary. At the same time the Bombilwadi plot was bought in order to extend the playing ground eastwards.
As regards educational development the School was at first only Primary; but with the arrival of the Orphans it expanded to the IV Standard. By degrees it became permanently a Middle School. The total number of pupils (orphans, boarders and day-scholars) in 1913 was about 600. The name of the Orphanage was changed into that of St. Stanislaus Institution on the 2nd March 1887.
The first public examination in 1886: In October of that year St. Stanislaus Orphanage counted 151 boys on the rolls: 142 boarders and 9 day-scholars. The result of the examination was not quite glorious. There were at the time eight boys in the highest class, the IV Standard. The lower standards did somewhat better. However, the School was registered and a small grant was awarded which steadily increased with the gradual improvement of the School. In 1904 five lady-teachers were engaged on the staff for the training of the younger boys. This met with general approval and their number was subsequently increased.
Golden Jubilee November 1913:
The Golden Jubilee of the School was celebrated under the Superiorship of Rev. Fr. George Waldmann, with Fr. Anthony Rauch as Headmaster. The celebration was announced at the Prize Distribution in November 1912 and a collection was immediately started for a Golden Jubilee Scholarship. In 1913, the Scholarship was founded when a sum of Rs.2,000/- had been collected. In the same year the VI Standard was added and boys were sent up for the Government Drawing examinations. It was in order to commemorate the event further that the fairly extensive Bombilwadi plot was acquired at a cost of Rs.18,700/- as well as the de Mello House, as already mentioned. The celebrations were held in November through three successive days.
The Second Lap:
The strength of the School from 747 in 1912 dropped to 574 in 1914, due to two reasons: firstly, boys who showed less aptitude for studies were sent to parochial schools in accordance with a departmental directive which enforced an enhancement in the fees which adversely affected the poorer class of such backward boys; secondly, the outbreak of the First World War caused a depletion in the ranks of the German Fathers on the School staff, which necessitated the closure of some divisions in certain standards.
Fr. Rauch left Bandra in December 1915 and was soon replaced by Fr. Herbert Parker of the Maryland Province U.S.A., as Headmaster. Fr. Waldmann continued as Superior.
We reproduce below a few extracts from the Notes by Fr. Parker published in the Woodstock Letters: Of all our Schools in the Mission, we are the best off here as regards the teaching staff, we have a community of ten: five Jesuit Fathers, two Brothers and three secular priests. Our Superior is a Swiss, 76 years of age. For 75 years of his life he considered himself a German, but he had the matter looked into, and discovered that he was a Swiss by birth Our School is a primary and secondary school taking boys up to, and through, the sixth standard The boys are not much given to tricks, like American boys, and deep-laid schemes are quite unheard of. Their bare legs are very convenient for the use of the cane. There is a good spirit between the boys and the teacher. The good work done by Fr. Parker is eulogised by the then Inspector of Schools, O.H.T. Dudley, Esq., in his Report for 1916: The reading and recitation and sum work was, on the whole, excellent and the oral answering was remarkably good.
The Second Lap:Enter the Spanish Jesuits:
With the death of Fr. Waldmann on October 17, 1921, and the departure of Fr. Parker on November 29, the jurisdiction of the German Jesuits in the School officially ceased
Fr. Michael Marti arrived from the Philippines with a small band of Spanish Fathers to take up the work in Bandra. On January 3, 1922, Fr. Marti was appointed Superior of the School and Parish Priest of St. Peter's.
Before long, in the School year 1924-25 the VII Standard was added. In 1925-26 St. Stanislaus Institution attained the status of a High School. In March 1926, the School sent up its first batch of seven candidates for the Matriculation Examination.
A new building, running from north to south adjacent to the Church and facing Bombilwadi, was erected; soon after, another pile was added parallel to the old Infirmary, providing accommodation for several classrooms, a hall, dormitory and Father's residence. A good Science Laboratory was equipped in 1923 and a Scout Troop was formed under a trained Master, Mr. Gregory Pereira.
In Fr. S. Llorca, the Headmaster, Fr. Marti had an indefatigable collaborator who brought the School into the limelight with a number of dramas, operettas, and oratorios which he staged from time to time. The boys, likewise, secured an enviable reputation in inter-school pageants and physical contests organized annually by the Bandra Municipality in those days. Fr. Llorca laboured with the utmost zeal to nurture the High School in its infancy until his transfer as Manager of the Examiner Press in 1934. He served in this capacity only for a year and succumbed to the Great Reaper on 18th December 1935.
Fr. Soler filled the post of Superior for two years on Fr. Marti's transfer to St. Anne's Mazagon, in April 1930. During his brief tenure, Fr. Soler devoted himself to the paternal care of the boarders, the spiritual ministrations of his parishioners, and the amenities of the church which he equipped with electric installation and fans.
A Man of Vision:
On 6th January 1932, Rev. Fr. Joseph Casasayas was appointed Superior of the School and Parish Priest of St. Peter's. In 1938 by a decree of the Most Rev. Fr. General, he became the first Rector of St. Stanislaus. With an eye to giving the School a new look and providing for the growing needs of the future, Fr. Casasayas launched on an ambitious scheme of building activity.
The new church and the magnificent school hall above it are lasting monuments of his glorious administration. Likewise, he built the long shed which serves for drill and games in the rainy season; erected on it two storeys, at intervals, as exigencies demanded; rebuilt the lavatories in a more remote section of the ground; demolished the old kitchen which was an obstruction on the playground; added a new storey to the Red Building and extended the building touching the church.
Next he built bathing and washing rooms for the boarders and gave the School the distinction of being the first to possess a Swimming Pool. Fr. Casasayas also distinguished himself as a pioneer in other spheres. He revived the School Orchestra and Band which the German Fathers had started but which, in course of time, had become defunct. To him goes the credit of having started the School Magazine in 1934, the Teachers Provident Fund, the Literary Circle and the Ex-Student's Association in 1936 and finally acquiring a villa at Lonavla where the Fathers and the boys spend their May and October vacations regularly. In spite of his multifarious activities, Fr. Casasayas kept an eye on teachers and students alike and maintained a very high standard of efficiency. During his Rectorate, the number of students on he rolls rose form 691 to 1081.
Diamond Jubilee December 1939:
It rightly fell to the lot of Fr. Casasayas to inaugurate the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations with a three-day programme in December 1939. The celebration had been delayed by a year, pending the completion of the hall and the church. On Saturday, 2nd December, sports were held on the School grounds at 4 p.m. to which the members of the Old Boys Association and their families were invited. The invitation was also extended to several ex-students not enrolled as members.
A long and varied list of items that were eagerly contested helped to bring back to the Old Boys the School spirit so characteristic of this Institution. On Sunday, 3rd December, at 8.30 a.m., a Mass was sung in honour of St. Stanislaus. Breakfast followed at 10 with the Fifth Annual Meeting. Mr. Justice K.B. Wassoodew, an old Boy, was our Guest of Honour. Mr. Wassoodew in his speech expressed his loyal and affectionate sentiments for the old Fathers as well as those present and attributed whatever success they had achieved in life to the noble example and teachings of their old teachers. In a clarion call to all the Old Boys he exhorted them to be closely knit to their Alma Mater. Mr. Leo Rodrigues, Administrator General of Bombay, raised the Toast of the School and waxed eloquent on his privilege and the glory of the School. The Toast to the Guest of Honour was raised by Dr. P.A. Dias, whose speech frequently evoked loud and lusty applause. The third function that concluded the celebration was a Variety Entertainment on 10th December in the new hall opened on that occasion by His Grace Dr. Thomas Roberts, S.J., Archbishop of Bombay.
The Third Lap Onward to the Centenary:
On the day following the Ex-Student's Variety Entertainment, on the 11th December 1939, Fr. J.J. Serrano succeeded to the Rectorship. He continued his predecessor's policy of expansionism and acquired ''Green Villa", a bungalow adjoining the School on the western side, with a fairly large garden all around it.
The old residence was demolished, the trees were cut down and the land was annexed to the playground. This acquisition gave the boys almost a full-size hockey field for all their important fixtures. During his short term of three years, Fr. Serrano had shown himself a very genial character, eager to follow in the footsteps of the former Rectors who worked for the greater glory of the School.
Ideas and Indefatigable Energy:
Fr. Serrano was followed by Fr. F. Ribot in October 1942. The latter had no difficulty in finding his stride, as he was endowed with extraordinary administrative skill and organizing ability. The School needed no improvement externally, but its interior set-up was to be stepped up. Accordingly, Fr. Ribot devoted himself relentlessly to various pursuits to enhance its reputation. From 1942-1950, there were numerous new features introduced in the life of the School: Exhibitions, an annual Vocation Week, The Daily Assembly before sessions, etc. There was an improvement in the Matriculation results and University Awards began to be annexed by our pupils. We also made a mark in the Inter-Schools Elocution Contests.
Fr. Ribot's ''Magnum Opus" was the staging of the Pageant of the Mass which was an unparalleled success in the realm of religious drama. In short, Fr. Ribot was endowed with rare tact and indomitable energy which brought him resounding success and stupendous results from whatever he put his hands to. The School made great strides of progress and carved for itself a unique place in every sphere of activity: intellectual, spiritual and physical.
A Literary Figure:
In 1950, Fr. D. Donnelly assumed charge of the School. A complete change was made in the lay-out of the Fathers rooms. Various devices were introduced to improve the acoustics of the hall, the water tower was demolished and a better plan of water storage wad devised. He also built the Masters Quarters adjoining St. Sebastian's School.
With his infinite capacity for work, Fr. Donnelly found time for dramatic pursuits. He wrote several religious plays and directed and produced them himself. Almost every year he staged a play for the edification of his people. His great hobby was writing and whatever he wrote was both literary and instructive. By his extreme kindness and implicit trust in every boy, Fr. Donnelly made himself very lovable.
First Indian Rector:
The honour of being the first Indian Rector of the School went to Rev. Fr. Salvador Marquis, who was appointed on 12th March 1956. After a short term of office he was transferred to Nasik. Fr. Marquis was a great lover of children and introduced many features in the parish to keep them together under the vigilant eye of their pastors. To him goes the credit of reshaping of the School Crest according to the Rules of Heraldry.
Division of Authority:
Fr. Peter Garcia who had been Procurator of the House for more than a decade was nominated Rector and Fr. A. Casale was appointed Principal. In September 1962, Fr. Garcia was transferred to the Seminary and Fr. F. Barjau now fills the post of Rector. The present strength of the School is a little over 2000 students.
As Principal, Fr. Casale in vigorously engaged in toning up the discipline of the School, stepping up the study of Hindi and Marathi and closely supervising almost every pupil under his care. As we do not wish to sing the praises of those who are still in office, we shall conclude this account by affirming that the Jesuit Fathers have toiled over the years with a singleness of purpose worthy of the illustrious Founder of their Order "St. Ignatius Loyola" to place St. Stanislaus High School on a very high pedestal.
Today the School leads in Inter-School Football and Hockey and is almost at the top in Athletics. The numerous activities open to the students in the sphere of Scouting, Hiking, Elocution, the Sodality and the paternal counseling and vocation guidance given to those in the top classes ought to stand the young Stanislaites in very good stead to face the future with courage and confidence in themselves.
On this occasion of its Centenary, St. Stanislaus looks back with satisfaction and pride on the thousands of pupils who have passed through its portals and who fill in far-flung places and in different spheres assignments varying in degree of importance, no doubt, but all of them hall-marked with the spirit of St. Stanislaus, Natus ad majora Long may this spirit thrive among the students of this School!
Long live St. Stanislaus High School! Long live the Jesuits!
Master J.V. Neeff was student and then a distinguished teacher for 44 years at St. Stanislaus High School