Birth of Pune Jesuit Province from Poona Mission (1854-)
St. Ignatius of Loyola together with his other founding companions Francis Xavier, Alfonso Salmeron, Diego Lainez, Nicolas Bobadilla, Peter Faber, Simon Rodrigues calling themselves Friends in the Lord or companions of Jesus founded the Society of Jesus on September 27, 1540, through the bull Regimini militantis ecclesiae confirmed by Pope Paul III. Ignatius, being moved with an experience of being placed under the banner of the Cross, engaged the Society in the service of the Church for the greater glory of God, with a special vow of obedience to the Sovereign Pontiff for missioning them across the world. Since the inception the Society of Jesus engaged herself in evangelization and apostolic ministries, and today, her members, fondly called Jesuits, are working in 188 countries on six continents.
On 27th February 1854 Rt. Rev. Anastasius Hartmann, OFM Cap, Administrator Apostolic of Bombay, bifurcated Bombay Vicariat into: North: Bombay, entrusted to the Capuchins; South: Poona, entrusted to the Jesuits, dependent on the Mother Province of Germany as Poona Mission. Later on 19th March 1962 the Goa section of the Province of Portugal was joined to Belgaum-Poona Vice-Province, to form the Goa-Pune Vice-Province.
After the bifurcation of the then Goa-Poona Province, the Pune Jesuit Province was constituted in July, 1992, by a decree of reorganization from Rome, whereby the Districts of Pune, Beed, Ahmednagar, Solapur, Sangli and the northern division of Kolhapur were affected as an integral part of the Pune jesuit Province. Officially the Pune jesuit Province came into existence since August 15, 1992, having its head office initially on the premises of St. Joseph’s Technical Institute, Pune. The Pune Jesuits engaging themselves in several apostolates and works are werving in four Dioceses, namesly, Dioceses of poona, nashik, Aurangabad and Sindhudurg, as Pope Paul VI had so beautifully expressed it: “Wherever in the Church, even in the most difficult and extreme fields, at the cross roads of ideologies, in the social trences, there has been and there is confrontation between the burning exigencies of man and the perennial message of the Gospel, here also there have been, and there are, Jesuits.”
The presence of Jesuits in the Diocese of Poona began with its creation as a Vicariate Apostolic by dismemberment from Bombay on March 8, 1854, as the Poona Vicariate was entrusted to the Society of Jesus. Rt. Rev. Bernard Beider-Linden, SJ was appointed as its first Bishop. In the Diocese of Poona, in the pastoral apostolate, Jesuits are engaged in five parishes and two centers with a Priest In-charge; and in the field of education with three full-fledged Schools, an evening Commerce College up to Poste graduate, an evening School and NOS, a newly started St. Xavier School at Vitthalwadi in Pune, and an Industrial Training Institute offereing skilled based government-regognized courses the Jesuits are catering to the people. It has as Interreligious dialogue center situated in the heart of Pune City promoting peace and harmony for well-being of everyone. Jesuits in Pune cater to the spiritual needs of the faithful through its two retreat centers, namely, one placed in the Provincilate Sanjeevan Ashram, and the other on the premises of Loyolas High School, Pashan.
Social Centre of the Pune Jesuit Province, which is based in Ahmednagar District, is known for its watershed development and human right activites promoting and encouraging people to look after the environment and nature has extended its social services in the District of Satara and Kolhapur. Nandanvan, another Trust of the Pune Jesuit Province meant for social works is working in Satara District with watershed programs. To cater to the street children, especially children on railway platforms, and then to bring them in the main stream of society with moral and educational support, the Province has a home-cum-shelter in Daund. The Pune jesuit Province is very much engaged in the Diocese of Poona with its spiritual, pastoral, educational, social and interreligious dialogue ministries. Responding to the call of Christ, and getting encouraged by the words of Pope Benedict XVI: “The Church needs you, relies on you and continues to turn to you with trust, particularly to reach those physical and spiritual places which others do not reach or have difficulty in reaching,” the Pune Jesuits are offering their services in the aforementioned four dioceses, and are enjoying good cooperation and support from the respective dioceses. Today Pune Jesuit Province has thirteen Parishes, eleven Schools, one Night College, two Technical Schools, three Social Institutes, three Retreat Centers, one Dialogue Centre, one Catechetical Centre, one house of Formation, and the Provincilate.