Church Park, Chennai
History, Life & Mission of Church Park Community, South India Province
“IF I COULD OF ANY SERVICE IN SAVING SOULS IN ANY PART OF THE GLOBE, I WOULD WILLINGLY DO ALL IN MY POWER” Nano Nagle
Nano’s desire to reach out to any part of the world came true when our Sisters arrived in George Town, Madras, South India on 13th January in 1842. Presentation presence and ministry began in Church Park on September 8th 1909, the foundation stone of a new Convent and school building was laid by Archbishop Dr Colgan.
In 1910 Sacred Heart private school was opened by Rev Mother Xavier Murphy, who, having organised it on satisfactory lines returned to George Town, leaving Rev Mother Berchmans in charge. The well placed residents of the locality took advantage of this school for the education of their children.
In 1917, this private school, having grown quite large the recognition of the Madras Government was sought and obtained and the school was placed under the Code of Regulations for European Schools. This continued until 1932 when the management sought permission from the Director of Public Instruction to have the School recognized under the Madras Educational Rules. Students presented for the Cambridge Examination were very successful and they easily gained admission into various University Colleges of Madras.
At the first General Chapter held in January 1925, this Convent was chosen as the “Mother House” of the amalgamated Houses of the Presentation Sisters in South India and it became therefore the official residence of the Superior General.
On the division of the Dioceses of Madras in 1928, Church Park came under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Mylapore.
The beautiful Convent Chapel was erected in 1935, the foundation stone being laid by Mgr. Franco, Administrator of the Diocese, on the feast of the Sacred Heart during the incumbency of Rev. Mother Michael Lawlor.
In January 1940 the Novitiate was transferred to Church Park from Kodaikanal, and a new three storeyed building was erected to accommodate the Novices.
Subsequently around 1942 the Management opened classes to prepare students for the SSLC and Matriculation Examinations. This school having come under various Educational Boards, continues today as the Sacred Heart Matriculation Higher Secondary School.
In 1919 the Church Park Training School that was started in 1912 in George Town was shifted to Church Park, Candidates were presented for the Teachers’ Examination of the Madras Educational Department.
In 1931 in addition to this, a group of students successfully attempted the Bombay Froebel Kindergarten Teachers Examination. This continued until December 1973. The Church Park Anglo-Indian Teachers Training School continues in Church Park offering candidates for the Diploma of Teacher Education. On average 40 trained teachers who pass through its portals every year are to be found in schools in Tamil Nadu and proudly acknowledge Church Park Training School as their Alma Mater.
The extensive campus of Church Park also housed St Ursula’s Anglo-Indian Higher Secondary School. This School earlier had an orphanage attached to it. It had been founded in George Town by Rev. Dr. Carew and was placed under the careful supervision of the widow of an English Officer, Colonel Smith, which was subsequently handed over to the Presentation Sisters. This orphanage came under the Code of Regulations for European Schools and under the name of St Ursula’s Middle school. Due to the outbreak of World War II and the bombing of the Madras Harbor, the Orphanage was temporarily transferred to Theni. When the war ceased the children returned to Madras, but their building was demolished and was replaced by the Catholic Centre. Hence the School and Orphanage was accommodated in Church Park. St. Ursula’s owes a great debt of gratitude to stalwarts like Mother Basil, Sr Joan and Sr Elaine who were the pioneers of Ursuline education. Today St Ursula’s Anglo-Indian Higher Secondary School has grown in strength and continues as a day school catering to the diverse needs of the students.
In 1916 the Presentation Sisters from Church Park began their service in St. William’s Middle School, Royapettah. Two Sisters from Church Park attended the school regularly. The School has been upgraded to a High School and continues to cater to the educational needs of the locality and to the Social and Religious activities of the Parish.
In 1980, inspired by the vision and dream of Nano Nagle to “Spend yourselves for the poor” the Sisters of Church Park reached out to the less privileged children of the locality education through the medium of Tamil. The school that started with 36 students, now has more than 400 students.
The Presentation Social Service Centre began functioning in December 1981 with the help of a few of the parents of the Sacred Heart Matriculation School. The Centre employed a Teacher, who gave six differently-abled women training in tailoring. The Centre continues to be a production unit by stitching uniforms for the Presentation Schools in the city.
Responding to the call of CG1991 to form Communities among the poor, three of the Sisters from the Church Park Community moved into a rented house in Royapettah slum area on an experimental basis. The Pastoral and Social and Educational ministry continued effectively for about 20 years. Their presence amongst the poorest of the poor was greatly appreciated in the Archdiocese and the Province. During their presence and ministry at Royapettah, in 1998 Arpanam Trust was registered to further help the poor and marginalized people of the area and beyond.
The Nano Nagle Community College was started in 2002. It is recognised by the Tamil Nadu Open University. It offers opportunities for young girls who are school dropouts, deserted women, widows and students who have no financial support to pursue higher education.
In the Nano Nagle Community College, students learn Diploma in General Duty Assistance, Diploma in Fashion Designing, Diploma in Desktop Publishing and Life coping Skills. Private courses like M S Word, Tamil and English typewriting, Coral draw and a Beautician Course. These courses provide livelihood opportunities and effect behavioural changes. Hundred percent job placements in various companies are assured.
Presentation Convent, Church Park continues to embody the charism of its Founder, Venerable Nano Nagle, and be at the service of the wider society, particularly the marginalised and vulnerable.
Every second Saturday of the month special care is shown to the people who are kept poor.
Every Christmas, gifts and food are given to the poor in honour of Nano’s practice during her time at Christmas.
Some New Initiatives:
On 25th December 2017 the Presentation Sisters at Church Park began a new initiative to provide food for the poor of the area every evening. This was part of the celebration of the 300th Birth Anniversary of Venerable Nano Nagle.
In recent times, the Presentation Sisters are involved in the service of the evicted people from the city riverside slums to Perumbakkam in the suburban area of Chennai. After negotiating with the Government authorities, a bus was arranged for children to commute to and from school.
Skill training, job oriented programs and awareness programs are being conducted for the women at the replacement area. Twenty-seven self help women’s groups were formed and empowerment programs are planned with them.
Prison Ministry India: Four Sisters from Church Park community are involvement in the Prison Ministry in the Archdiocese. The Sisters visit the prisoners regularly comforting them, being present to them and plan and support for the education of the children and other needs of the prisoners’ families.
We gratefully remember all our Sisters and everyone associated with our community and mission and we believe that “This work will flourish even after our time …” as we are only stewards of God’s mission.
Tribal day celebration, Rees
Herbal medicine prepared by the Tribal women, Rees
Certificate distribution of Tailoring course to Tribal Kathkari women in Rees
Womens day celebration for the Tribal women from 15 Kathkari villages, Rees
“To provide a holistic, comprehensive and quality health care to the sick with a preferential option for the people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS”
“To be effective instruments of offering quality, holistic, palliative institutional care aiming at psychosocial and spiritual support to PLWHA, which is community based, resulting in acceptance by and rehabilitation in the community”.
• To give quality care to people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS to assure them of an improved life.
• To give compassionate care to people in the last stage of HIV/AIDS
• To give psychosocial and spiritual support to PLWHA.
• To help prevention of the occurrence of HIV/AIDS through counselling and awareness programmes.
• To train health-care persons in the management of HIV/AIDS.
• To network with NGO/GO for the prevention of HIV/AIDS and rehabilitation of PLWHA.
• To facilitate support and loving care by family members through counselling to family members.
• To offer care and support to the children infected/affected by HIV/AIDS through medical and educational assistance.
• To offer spiritual solace to persons at the point of death, especially in conformity with their religious convictions.
• To encourage all the eligible people to take ART and have regular follow up.
• To give awareness and treatment to the adolescent boys and girls who are addicted to drugs and substance abuse.
• Safeguarding and protection of children and their rights.
Emissaries of Nano’s Crusade
Children Day Competition
On the 8th and 9th of November, our school students were at the peak of joy as competitions were planned out for them to celebrate children’s day. The Aloysian spotlight for this occasion was dedicated to Venerable Nano our founder, as we wanted to replenish the history of Nano back into the thoughts of students. All the competitions starting with std I to XII were based on the ideology of Nano. A few to mention were “Speech on Nano”, picture puzzle, quiz on the life history of Nano, creative lantern making, poster making on the sayings of Nano, Mosaic pictures of Nano, songs of Nano, poetry on Nano, designing Tercentenary Emblem, T- Shirt designing on the out reach of Nano. As Nano brought light into the dark alleys of the Irish people, recreating the greatness present in history for students, electrified the joy of participation in each child. Thus the events conducted on both the days turned out to form collections which could form repositories for further reference Nano’s life thus nourished our students with a feeling almost like having the nectar of immortality, connecting them closely to the lofty ideals of Nano’s outlook.
Presentation Convent, Perambur, Chennai, India,
St Joseph’s Anglo Indian Higher Secondary School, Perambur
Children of St Joseph’s Anglo Indian Higher Secondary School, Perambur exhibit the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word and a listening ear to the auspice at Jevodhaya, a rehabilitation centre for cancer patients in Chennai.
The children were happy to share with their parents the topic they had chosen for their 2019 Project Our Body Each child took turns in describing the different parts of their bodies
Use Jute bags and reduce plastic bags is a call to save nature. Awareness given by our students to the children of St. Teresa Primary School, Perambur.
“Let’s go green together”. Students of Std. IV participated in tree planting activity to educate all the students of the school to be stewards in preserving nature.
The children were happy to share with their parents the topic they had chosen for their 2019 Project
Pongal January 2019 What a delight for the children of St. John’s to be able to see a bullock cart in the campus on the feast of Pongal (Harvest Festival) They were very happy to be taken for a free ride
Joy multiplies when it is shared among the less fortunate. The children of St. Joseph’s joyfully shared goodies during the season of Christmas with the students of Dominic Savio Primary School, Perambur.
Sr Amali Sebastian with women’s group – giving awareness on Water and Sanitation
Sr Arul Kala Royappan giving awareness on health to Self Help Group women.
Sr Arul Kala Royappan treating the patient at Nagle Health Centre, Morai
Sr Arul Kala Royappan giving home based treatment
- Irradiation of poverty
- Zero Hunger
St Columban’s A.I.H. Sec School chose SDG goals 1 and 2 as part of our curricular activities. The purpose of it was to create awareness and the feeling of empathy for the less privileged people around us, among the students and parents. The following activities were done in the school.
Special assemblies were prepared by the Students during the year where children portrayed the present reality of the poor around us through skits, street plays and other activities and the need to reach out.
Student of Std IX and X visited Kanakamma Chatram village and they spent time with the Irulas Tribal children , played games, sang songs and created awareness on good health and cleanliness. They distributed provision, bed sheets and toiletries.
As part of the Christmas Celebrations students of Std XII organised a medical camp with the PTA (Parent Teacher Association) in Kanakamma Chatram, for the students of our Nagle Nursery and Primary school and for the people of the surrounding villages.
Students of Stds VIII, XI and XII with the staff and management held a rally, holding placards and shouting slogans on;
❖ Health Awareness
❖ Importance of Education
❖ the need to eradicate poverty
❖ Food for all and Cleanliness
By participating in this rally our students were:
❖ Sensitised about the prevailing reality around the school
❖ made to realise their role in eradicating poverty
❖ they felt empowered to bring about a change
❖ They felt grateful for all that they enjoy in life