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Saturday, February 19, 2011

St Joseph's Convent , Champion Reefs, KGF -- Rock Burst of 23rd Jan 1592 - The School Building was razed to the ground

I'm reproducing below an account from THE HISTORY OF ST JOSEPH'S CONVENT IN CHAMPION REEFS KGF, about the Rock Burst of 23rd Jan 1952 which completely destroyed the Church and School.

In the early 1950s, Fr Alexander D'Sa was the Parish Priest of St Mary's Church in Champion Reefs; Fr Gracian was the assistant and Fr Joseph Rajappa was the Head Master of St Mary's (Parish) Boys' High School. Early in the morning on the 23rd of January 1952, Fr Rajappa (late Bishop Rajappa of Kurnool), had just completed Holy Mass in the Church and all the people had gone out. The Sisters were still in the Chapel praying the Divine Office, when there was a loud sound. The buildings came crumbling down. A Rock Burst! All the Sisters were trapped under the debris.Fortunately, the Sisters' cook, a young girl, with ready presence of mind, kicked opens the door from the outside. The Sisters crawled out. Sr Vincentia being very tall, had to be literally dragged out. In the process her right wrist was dislocated. Sr
Teresa of the Trinity looked up and a tile fell on her nose and cut it. Sr Eugene Marie had a cut on her head. The Church, the presbytery, the Convent and the Schools -all collapsed to the ground. One can imagine the plight of the poor missionaries- Sisters and Fathers! Mother Anne, the Superior, was away in France. On her return journey, she heard this shocking news in Colombo, Ceylon (Sri Lanka). She could not rush faster than she did, due to the mode of travel in those days! Our Sisters were dazed; but strong in their faith, they stood firm before the ruined buildings. They knew our 'Heavenly Father, who feeds the birds of the air and the lilies of the field' would also carry them through.

Mr. Morgan, The Chief Medical Officer of the Government Hospital, took the Sisters to the Hospital premises, vacated one of the wards to accommodate them for the day. He provided them with food the whole day. That evening he arranged for their stay at the bungalow of the General Manager of the Mines, Mr. Arthur Taylor, who was away in England on a holiday and half of his house was vacant. It was spacious enough for a family but too small for a convent and a school, with 1,700 children. The garage, workers' quarters were all used. Some of the Sisters were accommodated there. Our Sisters of Robertsonpet, Coromandel and Marikuppam came to their rescue in accommodating the rest of them. Parishioners and well- wishers flocked to the Church premises to offer comfort and help in this distressing situation. Classes were held under the trees too. Good Fr Stan Aranjo, the Parish Priest of Robertsonpet and our Sisters of Robertsonpet, accommodated the children in their school. They put themselves out to help, by organising the shift system for this purpose. There was this heroic sacrifice on the part of everyone who was involved in this hour of need. Considering the need of the Sisters, Mr. Arthur Taylor agreed to sell the bungalow to the Sisters for Rs 1,00,000/-. The Church and the Sisters could not afford this amount. So our Superiors in Cantaous, approached our Sisters in South America, Peru and Venezuela who provided the money required. The house was purchased.The Sisters sat on the steps of their own beautiful house and had their first supper,
grateful to their benefactresses and recalling the experience of our first Holy Foundresses. Looking around at the beautiful garden and the lawns, they experienced a joy as if they were in a dream! But it was not a dream; it was true! This was their house! "All things work out well for those who believe." They could walk around freely and have place enough to accommodate all the people who would come in and whom they would serve, thanks to all their generous benefactors! Mother Beatrix and some of her co-Foundresses must have been the main instruments from heaven above, interceding for this happy turn of events! The Mines were still under the British even after five years of Independence! The mining people were still using the premises. Fr. A. D'Sa, parish priest came to the rescue of the Sisters whenever there was a problem. The Sisters accommodated the European children on the verandah of the house. The Indian School classes were held under the trees and in the domestic workers' quarters, till they were able to put up classrooms gradually. Those for whom place was not sufficient, the Parish school of Robertsonpet continued to accommodate. Communion in action!

Tha Original Bungalow still continues to be the Nun's Living Quarters till today!!!

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