St. Patrick's Orphanage & School (St. Patrick's Boys Home)

As remembered by Mrs. Birdie Hayes .....

Standing at the junction of Residency and Brigade Roads was a double storeyed building of grey stone, with pillared arches, wide verandahs, large airy class rooms and spacious grounds. It is the Centuary old Institution of St. Patrick's School and Orphanage a far cry from 1850, when the land on which it now stood (till recently) as tradition tells us, was a stable yard for elephants and camels.

Entering its portals, one is met by sturdy youngsters with smiling faces, and sees happy children gathered around their teachers in the classrooms and hears gales of laughter and lusty yells from games fields. All very contrary to our conception of Orphanages and the fate of inmates in institutions of this kind.

History tells us that before 1892 some seventy orphans were housed in small buildings erected on this land, and in that year when Rev. Anthony Mary Tabard started the building, which when completed, two years later, was the Rev. Fathers' pride and joy, for the orphans had a very special place in his heart. A small School, too, existed at this time, and the Rev. Joachim Mascarenhas was in charge of both the School and Orphanage. He was ably assisted by a venerable old gentleman whom many 'old-timers' still remember as a stern, but loved school master.

For many a long year, the Orphanage was solely dependent on the generosity of the Parishioners of St. Patrick's Cathedral as it was then known, with a special stress on the various military units who were then stationed in Bangalore, and for whom St. Patrick's was the Garrison Church, and it was only after the turn of the century, when Mr. Yates, became the Inspector of Schools, that he, seeing the good work done by the Institution, raised the number of boarders to a hundred and one, and got a grant for them.

In 1925, the Rev. Fr. Tabard, and Rev. Fr. Leon Vanpeene, a veteran educationist, who had for many years been the Principal of St. Joseph's E.H. School, took over the reins of the School and Orphanage. It was now the next important event in the history of the School occoured - The Warden having retired, and Miss. Gray of happy memory, who used to watch over the food, health was not good, so Fr. Vanpeene brought in the Brothers off St. Francis, of Mount Poinsur, Borivil to take charge of St. Patrick's Orphanage. Along came Brother Michael and two others followed by a succession of others who watched over the boys morally, physically and intellectually - strict disciplinarians but kindly mentorrs, they lived and worked with the boys and each had a sincere interest in the destitute children, and helped them, not only during their school days, but also found jobs for many.

In the same year, 1928, Mr. Yates suggested that a woman's influence would be better for these under-privileged children, and as the Head Master had just retired, he was replaced by a Head Mistress - the 'Iron Hand in the Velvet Glove' - with her came a band of lady teachers to deal with the growing numbers on roll. Most of these teachers are now scattered to the four corners off the Globe, but their years of loyal service, and their unstinted efforts to improve the circumstances of the boys under their care, is still recalled by old boys visiting the school.

Now came the problem of accommodation for the new school with its rapidly increasing numbers, so Fr. Vanpeene started on the North Building, which when ready and till 1969, housed class-rooms upstairs, and the dining hall and Carpentry and Type-writing classes below. The outbreak of the war next gave an impetus to boys leaving school. They joined the Forces and proved their worth. The Carpentry class turned out knitting-needles in thousands to meet the needs of India's war effort. The Teachers did their bit to swell the War Funds and St. Patrick's became a School to be reckoned with.

In scholastic work too, things were up-graded and Inspector Thompson insisted that the boys sat for the Bangalore Lower Secondary Examination, and when the years went by with 'cent-per-cent' passes yearly - 'Dea Gratias' - the school began to attain a status amouung the schools of Bangalore. But still it remained a Middle School!! The path to a High School held many problems, chiefly monetary. Most of the day scholars were either free, or semi-free students, and funds were inadequate and now was needed more accommodation - equipment - teachers and what not for the High School. So stagnation!!!

When Fr. Vanpeene fell ill and was replaced by Rev. Fr. Alexander D'Sa, he too felt the need of the High School but he was baulked and all his attempts came to naught. And, then came another blow - the Brothers of St. Francis decided to pull out of St. Patrick's and run an Industrial School of their own, to meet the needs of teenagers after their school careers.

Just at this time too, Rev. Fr. D'Sa was taken to server as Chaplain of St. Martha's Hospital, to solace the sick and dying, and undoubtedly his 'metier' and he was replaced by Fr. William D'Mello (now Bishop of Karwar) as Parish Priest of St. Patrick's and Rev. Fr. Eslyn Drummond was brought back from America to take over the School and Orphanage. A period of change, to ultramod methods of education ensued and was good not only for Teachers and Pupils but even for Parents who were forced to come forward and participate in the welfare of their children's school life. Looking around, Fr. Drummond was struck by the waste of all the good work being done in St. Patrick's School, and 'set the ball rolling' for the High School - but Alas! Fr. Drummond had to return to the U.S.A. and once again the school was back where it had started.

Now Msgr. W. D'Mello found he had to cope with his Parish and the School and Orphanage as well, and it was at this period that he decided on swinging over from the Anglo-Indian Department, a switch over was made inn October 1968, and boys from Std. VI were prepared for the Middle School Examination in March 1969. This merger was a strain on the Teachers who gallantly did the two years work in one, and brought the ultimate goal of St. Patrick's - Recognition for a High School.

The twenty seven boys who sat for the Middle School Examination formed the nucleus of the new VII Standard, and back came boys who had passed the VII Standard in December 1968, and many new-comers as well, to swell the numbers. But this great achievement is not the only one which marks the Chaplainer of Msgr. D'Mello. By the Grace of God and with the help from well wishers, he has built many new class rooms and a much needed 'hall' which have changed the face of the Western side completely and providing the necessary space for 800 pupils now on the roll (Year - 1989).

On the North side, a 'wizard' Kitchen had sprung up - to take the place of the temporary structure that was in use, since the Old Priests Quarters were demolished, for the old kitchen was inconveniently situated there. The new one is electrically equipped but has a coal oven as well in case off a power cut. It opens into a very large Refectory - bright and airy and kept spotless by the boys. Above these extensions are new Quarters for the Priest and Brothers in Charge.

The Rev. Fr. C.M. Philip the Principal (1989) the new Principal took over in June coming from the Catholic Centre and with a vast experience of University work. He is made great strides in setting the new High School on a firm footing. He was ably assisted by another veteran Professor, the Rev. Brother Bonaventure, who combines the work of Teachers with that of guardian of the Orphanage.

Before ending, a word of thanks goes out to the long line of Assistant Parish Priests to whom the Orphans owe a debt of gratitude. To then goes all the credit of the 'unhonoured and unsung' - for so carefully watching over the preparation for First Holy Communion and Confirmation - the instruction of the Altar Boys in the liturgy and the presiding over the conference of the various Sodalities - All of which is the most important part of our Catholic Education.

An extract taken from the 'Bangalore Civil and Military Station Administration Report, 1885-86'

Ecclesiastical - At St. Patrick's Cathedral the Middle School is kept up chiefly for the education of the orphan boys. On an average there were 65 European and Eurasian orphan boys in this charitiable institution. The school staff consisted of 5 teachers, and is attended by 115 European and Eurasian lads and a few local (native) boys.

Today, the St. Patrick's Home or Orphanage has been demolished to build a 'Grand School', and as per 'The Patrician', the Orphan boys are being re-located away from the school. There are around 25 to 30 boys looked after in the Home, which is being housed in the Skip Bungalow just next to the St. Joseph's Commerce College on Brigade Road. It is prayed that the ground on which the Orphanage stood should not be converted into a Commercial Building at the expense of the unfortunate boys. It could be converted into a basketball court for the school, or a 'Hall' for the School as there was a promise to have a Hall named in the memory of Fr. A.M. Tabard who originally built the Orphanage and School, but this was just eye-wash, it is still hoped that the boys are not sent away from their rightful own place.

e-mail: Ronnie 1 (or) Ronnie 2

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Thought for the Day:" Blessed are you poor, For yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, For you shall be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, For you shall laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, And when they exclude you, And revile you, and cast out your name as evil, For the Son of Man's sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven, Fon in the manner their fathers did to the prophets. But woe to you who are rich, For you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full, For you shall hunger. Woe to you who laugh now, For you shall mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, For so did they fathers to the false prophets." Holy Bible: Luke 6:20-26