“We have not wings, we cannot soar; but, we have feet to scale and climb, by slow degrees, by more and more, the cloudy summits of our time.” - H. W. Longfellow
The pioneers of the St. Joseph’s Indian Institutions in Bangalore were men of great vision and calibre. Their dreams too began to take shape on the summit of a hill – St. John’s Hill where the St. Francis Xavier’s Cathedral now stands. In 1841, Bishop Bonnaud had the dream of starting an educational institution on that hill. The whole area was a little wood replete with trees. It was called a ‘Garden’. A plot of land was purchased for Rs. 1000/- and in 1854, Fr. Bouteloup had a house constructed at a cost Rs. 3000/- and the house was named St. Joseph’s Seminary. It had an orphanage and a residential school. People laughed at the idea because the place was uninhabited and a school in a little wood far from human settlements would serve no purpose. Time proved the French priests of the Paris Mission (MEP) right.
Bangalore then came under the Madras Presidency. The Madras University was established in 1858. Fr. Charbonnaux who was in-charge of the school made this entry in his diary; “We decided to open a school for European boys. As knowledge of English is necessary to our Indian pupils and that of Canarese to the European boy we determined to build a wing and a kitchen adjoining the Seminary.” This was the beginning of St. Joseph’s College.
Thus in 1937, all the institutions managed by the MEP Fathers in Bangalore – the European High School and boarding house, the Indian High School and St. Louis Boarding House and St. Joseph’s College along with the extensive playgrounds at New Fields, Lal Bagh Road and South Parade (M.G. Road) were thus transferred to Jesuit Management. Today these are managed by the Bangalore Jesuit Educational Society which comes under the Karnataka Jesuit Educational Society
It was during the tenure of Fr Valerian Farias S.J. that the next great move in the history of St. Joseph’s Indian High School took place. At this time Rev. Fr. General of the Society of Jesus gave the use of the New Fields to St. Joseph’s Indian High School. The Indian High School in return was asked to hand over the play grounds on M. G. Road as well as the grounds and the building of St. Louis Boarding House on the Brigade Road. By 1972, the St. Joseph’s Indian High School together with the St. Louis Boarding House shifted to the New Field Grounds. Rev. Fr. Charles Andrade, S. J., was instrumental in the extension and the completion of the new High School building, the residence of the Jesuit Fathers and Brothers and the St. Louis Boarding House as it is today.
Soon, great encouragement was given to the field of sports during the time of Fr. Sunith Prabhu, S.J. It was then that the school was adopted by The Sports Authority of India (SAI) and was the first school in Karnataka State to enjoy the benefits offered by the SAI. The Swimming Pool and the Gymnasium were built at this time. Coaches from the SAI have been training our students since then. In 1979 when the school celebrated its Platinum Jubilee, the St. Joseph’s Auditorium was built during the time when Fr. Sunith Prabhu, S.J. was the Principal. The SAI Hostel for the students was built during the time of Fr. Lawrence Pinto, S.J.
The School completed its glorious hundred years during the academic year 2003-2004. The Centenary celebration was not a moment for the management and the staff to rest. It was during the Centenary Celebrations that yet another great dream was placed before the students, the parents and the alumni – a new building to house the High School and the PU College. Thanks to the effort of Fr. Melwin Pinto, S.J., the support of so many benefactors like Mrs. Vijayalakshmi Ekanandan and the parents of the students at the school then, the new building was inaugurated on 4th December 2006 by His Grace, the Most Rev. Bernard Moras, Archbishop of Bangalore in the presence of Fr. Vijay Prabhu, S.J., the Provincial of the Jesuits of Karnataka, Mrs. Vijayalakshmi Ekanandan our great benefactress and Brig. Clement Samuel, an alumnus of our school and a large gathering of students, parents and well-wishers.
In 2007 came yet another development on the campus – the appearance of the St. Joseph’s Indian Community College with Fr. Francis Guntipilly, S.J. as its Director. This College conducts courses for the rural unemployed youth and helps them to get employment. This institution has been known over the years for the concern it has shown towards its students from the poorer and weaker sections of society. The Community College is another venture to express our social concern.
St. Joseph’s Indian Institution is still growing and moving into the future. As long as there are the young to be taught and formed, the work will be unfinished. To conclude in the words of the great artist Pablo Picasso:
“To finish a work? To finish a picture? What nonsense! To finish it means to be through with it, to kill it, to rid it of its soul, to give it its final blow, the coup de grace for the painter as well as the picture.”
So with ‘Faith and Toil’ the St. Joseph’s Indian Institution keeps moving on.