Fr. (Dr.) J. Felix Raj, S.J.
St. Xavier's College, Kolkata
ST. XAVIER'S KOLKATA - SEEMAR MAJHE ASHIM TUMI
One hundred and fifty years of service to the nation particularly to Bengal.
Both St. Xavier's school and college must be proud of their contribution to the
cause of education and culture in India. These twin institutions have produced
many great educationists and students who earned credit for their Alma Mater.
A word about the earlier St. Xavier's which had its founding in June, 1835 -
Jesuits from England under the leadership of Fr. Francis chadwick SJ had started
the St. Xavier's college at Murgyhatta in the house of one Fathullah Apcar. In
its brief career of twelve years, the college changed addresses thrice to
accommodate increasing number of students attracted by the high standards it
set. In January 1836, the college was transferred to 3, Park Street for a rent
of Rs. 250 per month. Then again in January 1841, it was moved to 22, Chowringee,
were now stands the Indian Museum.
Due to some constrained relationship between Mgr. Patrick Carew, the new Vicar
Apostolic of Bengal and the Jesuits, the English Jesuits returned home in
October 1846, and St. Xavier's had no staff. We remember those Jesuits who had
planted the seed of education in the soil of kolkata.
The Belgian Jesuits came in November 1859, under the leadership of Fr. H.
Depelchin (Rector : 1860 - 1871), the Founding Father of St. Xavier's. They
shifted St. Xavier's from 22, Chowringhee to the Sans Souchi Theatre on 16th
January, 1860 which became the honest home of learned professors and zealous
It was Fr. O'Neill (Rector : 1904 - 1913) who gave the college it's crest and
the motto : Nihil Ultra, a motto, significant and suggestive of a noble ideal,
of an unconquerable hope that should urge the Xaverian always to aim high.
"Nothing is perfect as long as anything remains to be done".
As a Jesuit college, St. Xavier's makes its own contribution towards the
transformation of the present day social condition so that principles of social
justice, equality of opportunity, genuine freedom and respect for religious and
moral values, enshrined in the Constitution of India, may prevail, and the
possibility of living a fully human existence may be open before all.
St. Xavier's has all these 150 years remained steadfast and persevered in the
midst of troubles and tribulations. Now with all the richness of the past, it
faces the future with the same spirit - "Nihil Ultra" (Nothing Beyond). I wish
and pray that the 150th year of Xavier's be a period of renewal, introspection
and meaningful celebration.
Fr. P.C. Mathew, S.J.
St. Xavier's College, Kolkata
Minutes, hours, days, months, years, centuries, millennia ... so the humans
encapsulate the time continuum differently. Encapsulated or otherwise, time as
an indefinite continuum has no meaning or solidity without a reference point in
terms of humans or human activities.
For Xaverians, 1860 is a reference point in the continuum of time. The year
marks the commencement of an inspiration - Nihil Ultra - taking time and space
dimensions, and it was christened "St. Xavier's College", 'Collegium maximum
Sancti Francisci Xaverii'. The year 2009 marks the sesqui-centenary ; the post
centenary golden jubilee year of the enfleshment of that inspiration. Even as we
enter the post-centenary golden jubilee year, it is only fitting that we recall
the memory of the great personalities who passed through the portals of this
institution bearing the imprint of excellence, who made themselves icons of
As the high priest of this temple of learning I shall enter its inner
sanctuary to offer our incense of humble tribute to the great icons adorning the
Pantheon. There are first the visionary builders, Father Depelchin and his team
of 1860 ; Fathers Lafont, Schepers, Joris, Vestraeten, Bonhome, and Joe D'souza
down to the present times ; Ramananda Chatterjee, the Father of Indian
Journalism to the present- day Sarkar brothers ; Norman Pritchard, the first
Indian Olympic medallist (silver) to our own Sourav Ganguly, a world icon in the
field of cricket ; Utpal Dutta and Anil Chatterjee, the matinee idols of yore to
Prosenjit Chatterjee, the screen hero of contemporary times ; Sir J C Bose to
Ananda Mohan Chakravorty, the 1974 best US scientist awardee ; Suhrawardy, Gani
khan Choudhury to Jyoti Basu the politician par excellence, and Shri Hamid
Ansari, Vice President of India ; R N Mukerjee, the first industrialist, and
Aditya Birla to Vijay Mallya, L N Mittal, B M Khaitan, Sanjiv Goenka, Sanjay
Buddhia of our times .... the list of Xaverian icons in different fields is
never-ending. Yes, St. Xavier's as an educational institution of quality has
weathered many storms in its march through history, never wavering from its
objective of producing men and women in the true spirit of Nihil Ultra.
Ultimately what is St. Xavier's? Not just an edifice of mortar and cement,
but a living legacy to be continuously enriched and perpetuated and made real by
the staff and students, through ordinary humans, continuously searching for what
is beyond the ordinary ... a paradigm of human values that point to a reality
beyond ... an ideal to live for without counting the cost ....A beacon of hope
in an apparently hopeless and chaotic world ....a challenge to live life
differently responding to the ever changing realities, setting goals to soar
high ... Standing at the threshold of its 150 years, St. Xavier's, staff and
students should set new goals to take this autonomous institution under Calcutta
University to newer heights ... To become a centre of higher learning and of
quality research to contribute to the emerging knowledge society. Nihil Ultra
... Seemar Majhe Asheem Tumi'. St. Xavier's.
While paying our tributes to the temple of learning, I will be failing in my
duty if I forget to record my gratitude and the gratitude of the whole college
to Prof. Panchali Sen and her team for taking the trouble of bringing in the
shortest of time 'Xaverian 2008-2009'. And what a quality volume that truly
reflects the different dimensions of Nihil ultra through the interviews of true
icons of Xaverians in whom the spirit of Nihil Ultra shines !