Home>Who we are>Our Story>Early days in Hazaribag
The young Jesuit missionaries set off for Hazaribag, a province in the northeast region of India, when Belgian Jesuits had earlier started a provincial parish. While they came with grand aims, The Australian Jesuits started with modest means. Their first school educated a handful of children from Kolkata and the children of mine workers in Bihar state.
“Arriving in India with two friends I felt good, but when I realised the villages had no electricity, mud houses, and the children didn’t attend school, the learning was huge.”
– Fr Bob Slattery SJ
They then began their long-term commitment to work with the most disadvantaged individuals – Dalit and Indigenous people, in particular women and children. Over time, inspired by the idea of magis and supported by donations from family and friends at home, the Australian Jesuits set about serving the local community by addressing basic needs and building communities – from providing legal aid, advocacy for workers’ rights and sharing Mass in many remote villages. Since these early beginnings the Australian Jesuits have continued to serve and empower the communities in Hazaribag. Over the years, more than 25,000 students have been educated in schools run by the Jesuits, and 12 parishes have assisted 694 villages across the province with social services. The Jesuit mission to Hazaribag established a true core of service, compassion and empowerment within their community development work. This remains a core element of our identity and continues to inform the work that we support today.