The Birth of Sacred Heart Convent School
Written by: Ronald D'Costa, Jamshedpur. Orginally published in Jamshedpur Plus, Times of India, of Sept 23, 2019.
World War II had ended in the early 1940s. This was followed by severe depression all over the world including India and certainly in Jamshedpur. It took time for the country to start rising again. Yet, Jamshedpur grew. By 1945 it had the RD Tata School, KMPM School and a school for English speaking Anglo-Indians started and run by Mrs Rosemeyer, in Sakchi. A few years later this school shifted to Bistupur and went on to become the present St Mary's English School. Many students were privileged to have studied in Mrs Rosemeyer's school. However, there were many families that wanted a better education for their girls, which was not really available in Jamshedpur. So they sent their children to St. Joseph's Convent in Cuttack. My aunt Ulrick went there in the mid 1930s and so did many others around that time. Other popular schools were St Helen's, Kurseong, and Loreto Convent in Asansol. All these were actually hostels and parents had to be able to afford to cool their children there. In this situation, many families felt the need for a good missionary school in Jamshedpu.
In 1944, a group of five Goans and Mangaloreans — socially active citizens of Jamshedpur who realized that their children, especially the girls, would have to leave the city to study —got together to look at the possibility of producing a school that would provide the education they wanted for their children. This group consisted of: 1. Joaquim Dias — Superintendent of Plate Mill, TISCO; 2. Eddie Gomes — Manager, Electrical, TISCO; 3. G F L Rebello — Manager and expert in the Rolling Mill, TISCO; 4. T B Domingo — Administrator, Town Office; 5. John P D'Costa — A1 civil and fabrication contractor. All had daughters and, in fact, Dias had already sent his twin girls to St Helen's, Kurseong.
The next step was to decide which missionary group should be invited to start their school in Jamshedpur. Initially it was suggested to approach the Sisters of Loreto from Ireland who had prestigious institutions in Calcutta. As the cry for independence was coming loud and clear, it was unanimously agreed to invite the Apostolic Carmel order from Mangalore. An added advantage was that G F L Rebello's sister-in-law, Sr. Theodosia, was the Superior General of the Congregation. The Carmelite sisters accepted this proposition and made history by agreeing to stay at the Boulevard Hotel when they first set foot in our city. Having identified a place to start the institution, the sisters asked for at least 25 students to begin with.
This loyal band of five went from house to house requesting that the family send their four year old daughters to the proposed school. The families that agreed requested that the children be picked up and dropped off. Once again, the band of five rose to the occasion — and the first phase of this epic journey began. The school shifted through several places including 5, Beldih Triangle, CNR Club (Chhotanagpur Rifles Club), Dhatkidih High School and Dalma Villa. The CNR Club was finally given to Loyola School. Lady Roshan Ghandy intervened in this search for a permanent site and encouraged Sir J J Ghandy to allot a large plot directly opposite their bungalow. Sir J J Ghandy laid the foundation stone for the current site on 7th May, 1949. Unfortunately Lady Roshan Ghandy fell sick just before the inauguration. On January 12, 1952 — the, day of the inauguration—the preparations were already in place. Eddie Gomes, the electrical engineer, produced a simple mechanism that could electrically move the curtain hiding the marble plaque. The switch operating the motor was set up in Lady Ghandy's bedroom. At the auspicious time she pressed the switch. The signal was conveyed to the device set up at the entrance of the school, the motor started and it pulled the curtains apart declaring the school open. Architecturally the elevation has an open, welcoming look. Two arms extend from the middle as if to say "Welcome" to all who enter!
Thanks to the group of five, girls like Rita, Ratna, Rita Mukherjee, Adele Domingo, Zabita Saldanha, Philomena Gomes, Celine D'Costa and many others never had to leave town to attend school. In 1968, Bishop Lawrence T Picachy recognized the contribution of this group of five and recommended to the Holy Father, Pope Paul VI, that they be recognized for their service to the citizens of Jamshedpur. On the October 22, 1968, Pope Paul VI bestowed the Papal Order of St Gregory (Knighthood) on T B Domingo and John Peter D'Costa. The Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice was conferred upon Eddie Gomes, G F L Rebello and Joaquim Dias.
The country recognized her services to the people. She received the Award of Honour for outstanding persons' in South Kanara, and the Kaiser-i-Hind silver medal in 1946. She was awarded the Padme Shree in 1971. In 1990 the Women's Association of Patna honoured her with a citation and token gift to express their gratitude to her.