Bishop Chacko Thottumarickal SVD was born on January 7, 1949 to Joseph and Aleykutty at Kalloorkad village in Kothamangalam Diocese in Ernakulam district of Kerala. He has three brothers and two sisters. After completing the schooling in his home village, he joined the Society of the Divine Word (SVD) at Changanacherry on June 15, 1964 and did the pre-degree course from St. Berchmans’s College. In July 1966, he came to the juniorate in Palda in Indore district of Madhya Pradesh. After the novitiate he took his first vow on April 27, 1969. He studied Philosophy at Pontifical Atheneum, Pune (1969-71), Maharashtra. He studied at Gujarati College Indore and obtained B.Sc. from the University of Indore (1971-74), presently known Devi Ahilya Vishwavidyalaya. During regency, he taught two years (1974-76) at St. Stephen’s High School, Dohad, Gujarat. He did Theology at the Pontifical Atheneum Pune (1976-79). He took his final vow in Pune on June 13, 1977. He was ordained Priest on May 11, 1979 at his home village Kalloorkad, Kerala, by Bishop George Punnakottil of Kothamangalam diocese. His first seven years (1979-87) of priestly ministry was in Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh. He did further studies leading to a Masters in Communication at the University of Leicester, UK and a diploma in Printing and Publishing from the London College of Printing(1987-89). He served as Manager of Sat Prachar Press at Indore from 1989 to 2006. He was elected Provincial Superior of Society of the Divine Word, Central India Province, in Indore twice (1996-2002). He was appointed Bishop of the new diocese of Jhabua on 25 March, 2002 and ordained Bishop on June 7, 2002 at Meghnagar, by late Bishop George Anathil SVD of Indore. He was transferred to Indore Diocese following the retirement of Bishop George Anathil on 24 October, 2008 and was installed as third bishop of the diocese on December 7, 2008.
BISHOP GEORGE MARIAN ANATHIL SVD, was born at Athirampuzha, Kottayam, Kerala on June 28, 1932 as the fifth child of Late Mr. Devasia Joseph and Mariam Joseph. He had one brother and four sisters. Listening to the call of God, he joined the SVD minor seminary in 1951. After the novitiate he took his first vows in 1953. He had his seminary studies of philosophy and theology at the Pontifical Atheneum, Pune where he obtained his doctorate in theology. He was ordained priest on 2nd October, 1959. He worked at Divine Word Seminary, Pune as a formator from 1960 to 1965. Then he returned to Indore and joined as a teacher and later as the prefect at the Catholic Ashram, Palda. In 1969, he proceeded to Rome and USA for further studies. He returned to India in 1971 and was appointed as the Rector of Palda Seminary. During the time of his Rectorship, he served as the Vicar General of the diocese for a short term. He was consecrated as the second bishop of Indore on 29th June, 1973. To foster various apostolates in the diocese, he brought many religious congregations with different charisms. Bishop Anathil introduced inculturation in the liturgy. To realize the vision and mission of the diocese as the communion of communities, he initiated forming of small Christian and human communities based on Gospel values. His vision was to make the diocese a self reliant, self supporting and self propagating community. In order to have faster development and better administration, he initiated the process for the establishment of Khandwa and Jhabua dioceses from the original territory of Indore diocese. Promotion of the local vocations and evangelization were his priorities. He established a minor seminary for the diocese and was one of the founding fathers of the M.P. Regional Seminary. He served as the Chairman of the CBCI Commission and FABC Office for Social Communications. Though hard working and used to undertake a lot of travelling, he maintained good health till his spinal operation on 7th March, 2007. After the operation he could not recover and was almost bedridden for the last two years of his life. He retired on 24th October, 2008 and entrusted the responsibility to his successor and dedicated more time in prayer and reading. On 2nd May 2009, at about 9.30 PM, he left for his heavenly abode following a cardiac respiratory arrest.
Francis was born on 30 July, 1908 as the son of Henrikus and Maria Faeshen from Tegelen, in the Nederlands. His grandfather was the founder of the “De Globe” iron foundry at Tegelen, which was taken over in 1910 by his father, who suffered an early death in 1918. His first years of studies were spent in Ueden. Ever since his first year of studies in 1920 at St. Willibrord’s, Msgr. Simons was an outstanding student. After his Novitiate which he made under the deceased Fr. Ariaens, and the completion of philosophical studies, he was sent to the Gregoriana at Rome. Among his classmates was Fr. Valentin Zimmermann, with whom he was raised to the holy priesthood by the Vicar General of Rome, Francis Cardinal Marchetti, in the chapel of the Germanicum, on the Feast of Christ the King, October 30, 1932. He made his doctorate in theology in the summer of 1934 (His thesis was entitled: Indagatio critica in opinionem S. Thomae Aquinatis de natura intima transsubstantiationis) and sailed away in the fall of the same year to India. He gathered his initial mission experiences in the Harda and Mhow stations. When all German confreres were sent to internment camps during the II World War, he was named Administrator of the Prefecture at the age of 31. He stayed in this position till 1948 when he was named Vicar Delegate and at the same time parish priest of Indore. He was appointed bishop of Indore on 15 May, 1952. He was consecrated on August 6, 1952 in the church of St. Martin at Tegelen, where he was baptized 44 years ago, as the first Bishop of lndore. His coat of arms, as designed and executed by Fr. Buttgens SVD, bears the motto: “Jesum oportet crescere.”. During his tenure he established many new stations. With his foresight he purchased land in many places, especially cities, like Bhopal, Ujjain, Dewas, Hoshangabad, etc. which later became centers of major missions in the region. On the 2nd of October 1959 Msgr. Francis Simons ordained the first three Indian SVD priests in the Mission House chapel: Fathers George Anathil, James Arackal and Joseph Puthumana. He took part in the II Vatican Council, where his interventions attracted much attention. He took steps to divide the large area of the diocese forming the diocese of Bhopal in 1964 and the diocese of Ujjain in 1968. His book “Infallibility and Evidence” and an article in the review “Cross Currents” met with opposition from official quarters. He was convinced that through his opinions he was advocating the good of the Church. He resigned his post on June 21, 1971 to return to the Nederlands where he continued to read and study. He was in Deurne till he retired in 1999 in Teteringen’s Zuiderhout old folks’ home. On Jan. 28, 2002 the Lord called him out of the shadows into His wonderful light.
Herman was born on 24 April, 1905 in Werne, Germany. He entered the Society of the Divine Word in Driburg in 1920. He did his Novitiate and Philosophical studies in Sanktaugustin, Germany. He was sent to Techny, USA for his Theological studies and was ordained priest on 22 May 1932. He was appointed to Indore in the same year. During World War II, when the German missionaries were interned, he and other missionaries spent their time translating Christian books – ritual, missal, scripture – into Hindi. He was appointed as Prefect Apostolic of Indore on 20 March 1948. He continued to serve in that responsibility till he was appointed Bishop of Sambalpur in 1951. He was ordained Bishop on 29 July 1951. Bishop Westermann fostered the training of local priests and religious. He resigned in 1974 and returned to Germany. He lived in a rented house in Munster. His health was indifferent but he helped with confirmations as far as he could. In 1982, he celebrated his Golden Jubilee as a priest at St.Arnold’s. He died in a Munster hospital on 23 October 1985. He was buried at St.Arnold’s five days later. Even during his eleven year retirement he had worked hard to support his former Indian missions. He was a simple, humble and undemanding man, not set on making an impression. In conversation he was friendly and factual. By not trying to impress he won the sympathy and affection of others both in Europe and India.
Peter Janser was born at Mittelbexbach, Palatinate, Saar District, on November 9th, 1878, the eldest of nine children. He later entered the Mission House at Steyl, Holland. Twelve years later, having finished his one year novitiate and the requisite studies, he was ordained a priest in the Society of the Divine Word on February 9th, 1902, at St. Gabriel’s, near Vienna. With this date began a missionary career characterized by a variety of places, kinds of work, and offices. During part of that first year after his ordination, the young Father Janser taught Latin classes in the preparatory Mission House at St. Wendel’s. In October of the same year he was appointed Secretary and Assistant Procurator of the General Procure of the Society at the Mother House in Steyl. 1904 found him also the Assistant Prefect of the students at the Mother House. But within a year Father Janser was sent to the new foundation of the Society in America, at that time St. Joseph’s Technical School at Shermerville, now Techny. With this appointment a new and eventually most important phase of his missionary career was to begin. He arrived in the United States in September of 1905. After spending several months in the study of English, he was appointed Assistant Prefect of the Industrial School, and one year later Assistant to the Superior of the institution. Father Janser brought with him a considerable part of the enthusiasm for the Foreign Mission work that had taken hold of the soul of the Catholic population of Germany. Steeped in his own enthusiasm, Father Janser soon realized how little the Church in the United States had been affected by this new and over-flowing zeal so prominent in Europe. Though there was practically nothing to substantiate his hopes and plans to make the United States mission-minded, he sensed, almost with the sense of a diviner, the possibilities of this sleeping giant if only it could be roused and put to work for the salvation of people in other countries. Because of this conviction Father Janser determined to give America eventually its first Mission Seminary. In numerous articles in the press, in lectures and speeches in parishes and meetings, in personal interviews with ecclesiastics and influential lay people, he tried to loosen the soil into which he eventually could drop the seed of the mission idea. In 1911 Maryknoll opened its first American Mission House. In 1912 Father Janser opened the second Mission House of the Society of the Divine Word, this time in Girard, near Erie, Pennsylvania. He was at that time also made Rector of the new foundation. Four years later, after it had taken root and was able to support itself, Father Janser was recalled from Girard and for several years was Procurator for both house and province. In 1919 he received his appointment as Provincial of the American Province. Starting new foundations became his metier. In 1924 he was ordered to Shanghai to organize a general procure for the far-flung mission districts of the Society in China. After six years of fruitful work in Shanghai, he was, then ordered to proceed to England, there to organize the beginning which the Society intended to make for eventual expansion into the British Empire. In 1932 he was appointed superior of the newly organized mission work in India. On 11 July 1935 he was appointed Prefect Apostolic of Indore, an office which he held through the following ten troublesome years. Finally in November, 1945, weakened health compelled him to return to Europe. He petitioned the authorities to relieve him of his office and work, but it was only in 1947 that superiors eventually granted his petition to be allowed to resign. Since then his health, at least for longer periods of time, was never again satisfactory. For years he specialized in giving retreats, especially to religious communities. In 1952 he had celebrated his golden jubilee; and to crown his joy, this year on April 26th he was able to take part in the golden jubilee celebration of the first Mission House which he had founded. On this day, as he looked back over the fruit of his work — more than 400 missionary priests ordained, four Bishops who were former students of his foundations, and instead of the one, at first doubtful, undertaking, eleven S.V.D. Mission Houses or seminaries in the United States — he must have realized that he had fulfilled a great mission in his faithful life’s work. Msgr. Peter Janser died rather suddenly at St. Therese’s Hospital, Waukegan, Illinois, on Monday, May 4th, 1959, after suffering for some time from a lingering illness.