A Short History of Gorakhpur - Nepal Mission

The Little Flower Province had the privilege of engaging itself in Missionary activities in Gorakhpur and Varansi areas since 1970. Very Rev. Fr Basilius Panat, the Founder of the Little Flower Congregation, was very keen to launch out into the deep and to work for the spreading of the Kingdom of God especially in North India. He himself with the then the Superior General Very Rev Fr Seraphin Parambi undertook extensive and tedious journeys to North India in the years 1969 and 1970 to find out the possibilities of taking up Mission areas for the Congregation.

At the invitation of Rt. Rev. Msgr. Jerome Malenfant OFM Cap., the Prefect Apostolic of Gorakhpur-Banares to work in the three districts of Deoria, Gorakhpur and Basti in U.P., Father Basilius along with Father Seraphin, visited Banares and Gorakhpur and made the final decision to take up the missionary challenge. In April 1970 two CST Fathers Robert Kalaran and Boniface Manayathumary were sent to Gorakhpur. In the month of August 1970, Rt. Rev. Patrick D'Souza became the first Bishop of the newly erected Diocese of Varanasi (The former Prefecture of Gorakhpur Banares).He also welcomed the CST Fathers to work in Gorakhpur. In the year 1974 a contract was signed between the Bishop of Varanasi and the Superior General of the Little Flower Congregation. Thus began the Little Flower Mission, Gorakhpur which later became the Little Flower Province Gorakhpur later spreading to Nepal.

In the meantime several priests of the Congregation were sent to work in this Mission. Fr.Albert Vettukallumpurath joined Fr Robert and Boniface in the year 1973. Initially Fathers Robert Kalaran and Boniface Manayathumary worked at St. Joseph's Parish Church as assistant Priests. After some time Fr Boniface was transferred to Dumrikhas Mission and Fr Robert was transferred to Jamwaon Mission. In the month of April, 1975 Fathers Theophane Kilianthara, George Jacob Poothakuzhy, Sebastian Thundathil, Joseph Kochuputhenpura, Thomas Cherussery, and Thomas Plathottam reached Gorakhpur to work in the Mission. Fr Thomas Plathottam was appointed in Azamgarh Mission. Fr Theophane Kilianthara was appointed assistant Parish Priest and the Principal of St. Joseph's School Gorakhpur together with Fr George Jacob Poothakuzhy. Father Sebastian Thundathil was in Captaingunj. Fr Thomas Cherussery in Dumrikhas. Fr Joseph Kochuputhenpura in Nautenwa.

In the year 1976 Fathers Cherian Puthussery, Augustine Thekkel, John Mundackal(Sr) Joseph Orikalayil, Michael Chirayath and Mathew Aruthottiyil arrived in the Gorakhpur Mission.

These Fathers were given an initiation to the local language and the culture at the Nautenwa Ashram, Varanasi by Fr Iswar Prasad I.M.S for three months. Thereafter they were appointed in different places. Fr Cherian Puthussery has worked as assistant Parish Priest in Bhirabanti Mission. Fr Michael was appointed in Jamwaon and Fr John Mundackal and Fr Mathew Aruthotty in St. Joseph's Parish, Gorakhpur. Fathers Augustine Thekkel and Joseph Orikalayil were in Deoria Mission.

In the year 1975 Fr. Antony Fernadez now Bishop of Bareilly from Nautenwa and in 1976 Lawrence Mendonca from Gorakhpur, went back to Varanasi. In 1977 Fr Ivan Joseph from Dumarikhas and Stanislaus D'souza from Deoria followed suit. John Maria Vinney OFM Cap, the veteran Canadian Missionary remained in Captiangunj. In the meantime Fr Theophane was appointed the Mission Superior of CST Fathers in Gorakhpur

Nichlaul was the first Mission Station started by the CST Fathers. Fr John Vianney had already made initial contacts in Nichlaul area. Fr Sebastian Thundathil began to stay in Nichlaul in July 1976 and later Fr. Thomas Plathottam joined him. A piece of land was donated to the Varanasi Mission by Mr. Anirudh Singh with the expert advice of Mr. PP Singh his nephew. Mr. P.P Singh was very keen to have a Mission School established in his area so that there may be some real progress made in that underdeveloped area

In spite of the limited means and financial constraints, the Fathers launched out various programmes. They were keen to open different Mission Stations to expand the work of the Congregation.

The initial work of bifurcating St. Joseph's Parish into two was started by Rt. Rev. Patrick D'souza, Bishop of Varanasi. St. Anthony's parish was established in 1978. Fr George Kulampally was appointed the first Parish Priest. Fr Mathew Aruthotty and Fr Mathew Kulakkadanthadathil were his assistants. The Fathers had a very hard time to get a piece of land for the Church. The purchase of the present plot where St. Antony's Church and Little Flower School are situated is the fruit of the hard labour of Fr Mathew Kulakkadanthadathil. Frs. Michael Chirayath, Cherian Puthussery and Theophane Kilianthara gave their whole-hearted support to him.
Little Flower High School in the St. Antony's Church Campus is the total life work of the CST Fathers in God's providence. For this Fr Kulakkadanthadathil and Cherian Puthussery had to run from pillar to post. The School was started in a tin shed in 1984. The founder Principal was Fr Mathew Kulakkadanthadathil. Fr John Kadaliyil took up the post of the principal in the year 1985 and remained there for a long tenure of 17 years. It was Fr. Theophane who suggested having the school named after Little Flower the first of its kind in the area.

The first CST Priests who worked in Basti were Frs. Francis Thekkumkattil and George Adichilamackal. Both of them stayed there almost one year and moved to Dumariagunj. In the year 1978 the CST Fathers showed their real calibre during the flood relief service in Dumariagunj.

St. Basil School was started on January 2nd in 1984 by Fr. Sebastian Thundathil in a rented building. After the establishment of the Diocese of Gorakhpur some land was purchased for the Priest house in Katra, Basti, the Civil Court area. Later Bishop Rt. Rev. Dominic Kokkat handed over the station of Basti to the Congregation.

The Holy See was well pleased with the growth of the Church in the territory entrusted to us, and as a result, albeit its initial hurdles, the Diocese of Varanasi was bifurcated and the Syro- Malabar Eparchy of Gorakhpur was erected on 11th August 1984 appointing Fr Dominic Kokkat CST as its first Bishop.

Considering the growth of the mission, the IX Ordinary General Synaxis, 1991 of our Congregation decided to raise the Gorakhpur-Nepal Mission as a Region and it was erected as Little Flower Region on 10th June 1994.

Accepting the invitation of Msgr. Anthony Sharma S.J., the then Ecclesiastical Superior of Nepal and responding to the request of the local people of Narayangarh the Congregation started its mission in Nepal on January 17, 1994 and Fr. Francis Thekkumkattil was appointed and entrusted with the responsibility to start a school and do the initial work.

Recognizing the missionary activities and heralding the further growth of the mission, as per the decision of the X Ordinary General Synaxis the Little Flower Region was raised to the status of a Vice Province and later on March 5th 2003 the Little Flower Vice Province was raised to a Province in the Little Flower Congregation.