A Brief History of the Province of North East India
Landing at Silchar airport the six missionaries found themselves in a totally alien soil. They were earlier sent off affectionately by the Brothers at Yercaud much in the same way as mothers in olden days sent off their beloved sons to the battlefield. Good wishes and prayers in full measure accompanied the six men who were chosen to implant Montfortian foundations in the far off land of Mizoram. The affectionate and warm welcome they received from His Lordship Bishop Denzil D’ Souza who had invited them to lend a helping hand in his diocese, was indeed quite reassuring.
The warm welcome that the missionaries received at the Bishop’s House on the outskirts of the town soon melted away their initial trepidation. After the lunch and some rest they proceed to Kolasib in Mizoram. After an exhausting journey that lasted about five hours, along NH 54 serving as the only artery that connects Mizoram with the rest of the country, meandering along the picturesque hills and valleys, they reached Kolasib to spend the night there.
The Mizoram Saga:
Rt. Rev. Bishop Denzil D’ Souza who began his episcopate at Silchar in 1969, riding a bicycle, had to bear the brunt of it all with a few volunteer priests. Sensing that he required additional hands to man the educational institutions left by the Canadian Holy Cross missionaries, he had approached Rev. Bro. Antony Francisco, then Provincial Superior of the Montfort Brothers, to bail him out of the bad times. He in turn looked towards Region of North India to accept the appeal of Bishop Denzil. When due to shortage of personnel they declined the offer, Bro. Anselm, who was at that time the Regional Superior at Yercaud bravely accepted to send zealous missionaries to the northeast India. Bro. Anslem hand picked six young men under the leadership of Bro.P.J.Abraham to carry the torch to the northeast. The others who were found worthy of the mission were Bro. Devassy Madavana, Bro. C. J. George, Bro. K. V. Mathew, Bro. K. U. Mathew and Bro. P. K. Cyriac. Young and energetic, they accepted this challenge with a rare sense of fervour and eagerness.
The new missionaries were taken straight to the Parish House where they stayed with the priests for a couple of years before they moved to the new house built for them further up the hill. On the same day, 4th June 1975, they were entrusted with the responsibility of St. Paul’s High School and St. Joseph’s Press.
On the following day, three of them with Bro. Devassy Madavana in the lead, proceeded back to Kolasib, with Bishop Denzil to take over the administration of St. John’s High School. The beginning was tough. The pioneers however held on. Through all the difficulties Brothers like Devassy and Abraham succeeded in making great impression on the people, winning their admiration through their piety, simple life and hard work.
In 1978, the Brothers were entrusted with another school at Chhingchhip, about 80 kms further south of Aizawl. A small village with strong Catholic presence, this village boast of many religious from among them. To the Brothers this place has a special significance. In the yard in front of the Brothers house is the tomb of Bro. Alex Thomas who was killed in a road accident. He was 34 years old and was the Local Superior and Principal. His death coming only a week after the death of Bro. Antony of Padua, who pioneered the mission at Chabua, the first outside Mizoram, was indeed shocking.