School History

In March 1994 four priests from the Krishnagar Diocese, making a retreat in New Delhi met some JM Sisters of Shimla who invited them over. The Father accepted their invitation. Among them was Fr. Samuel Sirkar uncle of then Bishop of Krishnagar Lucas Sirkar SDB, DD. Impressed by the kindness of the hospitality of the Sisters, they invited them to open a Convent in the Diocese of Krishnagar where an English Medium Catholic School was a dire need of the people. It could be a fertile ground for vocations too.

They wrote to Provincial Superior Sr. Raphael Reis who was overjoyed as it was in Chandernagore, Bengal that the JM pioneer Sisters spent some weeks before moving on to Agra. On receiving an invitation from the Parish Priest Fr. TJ Abraham of Catholic Church, Ranaghat, Nadia District, she followed it up with two Sisters visiting the place. Jesus and Mary accepted to work in the Parish of our Lady of Guadalupe where they were already two Congregations with Social Work as their main Apostolate. They also ran a Primary School, one in English and the other in Bengali.

Ranaghat is about three hours by road from Calcutta. The site offered for the Convent and the School was away from the road. The Church had a Home for the Boys with large grounds and a Community Centre Chetana in an adjacent property. The Boys’ Home was given to the JMs for the School. It needed to be adapted for Classrooms. The Boys moved to their new Home, on the other side of the road where the Sisters were meant to be.

The Parish originally run by the Salesian Priests was handed over to the Diocese. There were 250 Catholic families living in the “Don Bosco Para” with the men folk earning their living overseas and they were not so well off families left behind. The Parish Priest Fr. TJ Abraham led the parishioners in prayer for JM Sisters to come to their Parish. They did arrive to cater to the educational needs of the poor Catholic children! In addition to overcoming the language problem, the Sisters had to walk for two km. on the highway in order to participate in the Sunday Eucharist at the Church.

The pioneers were: Sr. Rosina Chako, Sr. Antoinette Fernandes and Sr. Archana Sandhu. On 19th July 1996, they boarded the train for Howrah, Calcutta from where they proceeded to Ranaghat by jeep. Their temporary residence in the upper storey of Chetana was blessed on 31 July 1996 and the Agreement signed. About 400 families and local dignitaries were present. The next day the School opened with 150 children for Nursery, KG and Class I. They were held in the lower storey in Chetana. The School was affiliated to the ICSE Board like the other Schools around Calcutta. Sr. Antoinette was the Head Mistress. With her charming ways, she befriended the people, the Sisters and the Don Bosco Fathers, especially Fr. Luciano Colossi SDB who helped the JMs in many ways.

The Sisters planted coconut trees and other shady trees all around their property. Crotons and flowering plants besides vegetable and fruit bearing trees beautified the place. Soon the Convent was ready. Sr. Charles Jacob replaced Sr. Rosina.

Sr. Antoinette easily picked up Bengali and readily communicated with children and parents. Sr. Celestine Quadros was transferred to Ranaghat. Her knowledge of Bengali was a help particularly with the Primary children and their parents. The School, annually upgraded, needed more rooms. A three-storey building was built perpendicular to and adjoining the Junior Block with rooms for the senior classes laboratories and library. Over the entrance are placed a plaque of Jesus and Mary (similar to that in the Provincial House Chapel in Poona).

In September 2000, continual rains flooded Ranaghat and other areas in west Bengal. Though water entered the Convent grounds, the school and Convent buildings were safe. People took shelter in the new School building while the Sister joined in the relief work. A nurse by profession Sr. Charles was able to use her skills. The only means of conveying drinking water, food stuff and medicine was in rowing boats to places ten feet deep in water!

The unavailability of good English speaking teachers was a handicap taken in their stride; so was that of a High School Geography teacher overcome by transporting the Students to classes in another ICSC school! As the school reached Class X for the Board Examination class, it needed a Hall for a Home Centre. A roof over the terrace of the Primary Block met this need.

The first batch of 50 students appeared for the ICSC Board Examination in 2006. Permanent affiliation was obtained in 2013 and it was upgraded to a junior College with Class XII(ISC) having all three streams: Humanities, Commerce and Science. The School has obtained good results at the Board Examinations.

In spite of its limited resources, Ranaghat has a Feeding Programme for 150 needy students and 20 street Children who have been admitted to the School.

A Shrine, Christo Mandir has been built in Krishnagar adorned with Statues and scenes of Christianity in India. Among the Saints Claudine Thevenet has a prominent place- all due to the initiative of Sr. Antoinette who has left Ranaghat after 18 years, fulfilling her Mission of making Jesus and Mary known and loved in the region.

May the people of Don Bosco Para prosper!