Hanumanthampatty 625 533
Uthamapalayam – via, Theni Dt.
Hanumanthanpatty is one of the ancient parishes of the archdiocese which was established a century ago. It was a sub-station of Uthamapalayam. In 1883 Fr. Berthieu built the first presbytery in Hanumanthanpatty and in 1889 it was detached from Silukkuvarpatty and made a separate parish. Then Rayappanpatti, Sindalachrery, Theni, Periyakulam and Chinnamanur were part of Hanumanthanpatty parish.
The first parish priest was Fr. F.X. Pancro S.J, in 1881. He took initial efforts to build the Holy Ghost Church. During 1882 to 1889, Fr. Bertheiu served as the parish priest. He designed the central part of the church. Fr. John Tiessel, S.J. was the parish priest from 1889 to 1892. The priests who followed him were: Francis Andrey, S.J. (1892-95), Fr. Joseph Pages, S.J. (1895-96), Fr. Antony Didedric, S.J. (1896-1901), Fr. Peter Sekredine S.J. (1901-13) who started building the church at Rayappanpatti. The first Indian priest to work here was Fr. Santhappar, S.J. He served here from 1921 to 1922. Fr. Othiran S.J. served from 1922 to 1926. Sinthalacheri parish was formed in 1924. Fr. Quini who worked as parish priest from 1926 to 1931 tried to construct churches at Thevaram, Kombai and gudalur. The next parish priest was Fr. Piccard, S.J. others who followed him were: Fr. Appavu S.J first Tamil priest (1940-47, Fr. Hagen S.J. (1947-59), Fr. Susai Michael Raj (1959), Fr. V.M. Irudayam (1959-66). Fr. P.C.Chacko (1969-73) Fr. De Cruz (1973-76).
Building the church in Hanumanthampatty was begun at the end of the last century and built up little by little by different French missionaries till it was completed with the tower by Fr. P.C. Chacko (1969-73) from the donations he personally collected in Malaysia. When Fr. De Cruz was parish priest (1973-1976), Fr. G. Packiaraj S.J. the first son of the soil was ordained.
The parish was then entrusted to the Carmelites (whose earlier member Fr. Pierre Paul had been refused entrance to Hanumanthampatty in 1682). During the period of the Carmelites the presbytery in its present shape was completed. The compound wall was put up. The elementary school became middle school; the poor were provided with houses and protection of their land through M.M.S.S.S. A piece of land was bought and a church was built in Aankadar at the cost of Rs.40, 000. The cemetery in Kambam was recovered from the illegal possession of a Hindu high caste person and it was protected with a compound wall. The sub-station at Uthamapalayam got a new church in 1979. The top storey of St. Joseph’s Middle School, run by Sisters of St. Anne, was constructed. The basement structure to house the present Perianayaki Middle School later to be made a High School was blessed by the Carmelite General who came from Rome.
Fr. Thomas John ocd bought five acres of land near the water tank to build a Carmel Ashram. When he could not succeed, the land was sold to people around at a nominal rate and thus emerged ‘Thomas Colony’.
Vincent de Paul Society was started in Cumbum, Uthamapalayam and Hanumanthampatty. The sub-stations get Masses on all Sundays and novena of our Lady of Perpetual Succour on Wednesdays and Fridays. Fr. Vimi Charli got the towers completed and Fr. Peter Sahaya Raj renovated the church.
Fr. Vimi Charli was proud to speak of the young men of the place who served in Colleges and Schools as teachers, of the Sisters who visited houses, helped the rectification of marriages and of the tailoring institute for girls.
History – Another version:
4. Holy Spirit Church, Hanumanthanpatty
Uthamapalayam Via, Theni Dt. – 625 533.
Hanumanthanpatty is one of the oldest centres of the Jesuit apostolate in Madurai Mission. Situated amidst salubrious surroundings and blessed with a very healthy climate all through the year, this parish has been the favourite mission in this part of the country. It has the reputation of being called ‘the poor man’s Kodaikanal’ or ‘the chinna Kodaikanal’. The French Fathers found this place ideally located for their mission and it served as an effective link between Tamil Nadu and Kerala. In few years the parish is completing 125th year of its existence. Though economically not so prosperous, the parishioners are very strong in faith.
Pope Gregory XVI entrusted the Madurai Mission to the Jesuit Fathers in 1846 and made it an apostolic vicariate. In 1886 the mission was constituted into a diocese with its headquarters at Tiruchirappalli. Bishop Canoz SJ became its first bishop. The Madurai diocese was bifurcated in 1938 and later, it became an archdiocese. Long before the creation of the Madurai diocese and its mission, Hanumanthanpatty assumed a significant place in the map of the mission in what was called in those days ‘the Cumbum Valley’.
The creation of the mission centre at Hanumanthanpatty goes back to the very beginning of the foundations laid for the mission. The missionaries bought an estate in Kerala. Between the mission centre at Tiruchirappalli and the estate in Kerala, Hanumanthanpatty became centrally situated to serve the needs of the estate. Fr. Pages SJ who was looking after the estate bought a ten acre plot at Hanumanthanpatty and built a bungalow. With a very big hall upstairs this bungalow became the centre for those looking after the estate. Its climate being very conducive to the European missionaries, this parish served as a fitting halting place as they combed the entire area for their evangelical work.
The local poet of this parish sings that his people are the spiritual children of St. Francis Xavier. Their origin seems to go back to Kottar. It is said that the people brought sand from Kottar to build their church. There has also been a tradition to name the first born child, male or female, after the saint. Though the parish feast is that of the Holy Spirit, the people till today celebrate the feast of St. Francis Xavier in December with the ‘sapparam’. Their devotion to the saint is indeed remarkable.
From the beginning of the mission till 1774 this place was attached to the Malayadipatty parish. From 1838 it became part of the Mettupatty parish. Later it came under Panjampatty and finally under Silukkuvarpatty. About a hundred years ago the church at Hanumanthanpatty was built and later separated from Silukkuvarpatty to form an independent parish. And then Hanumanthanpatty became the mother parish for Rayappanpatti, Sindalacherry, Periyakulam and Theni. Even after the separation of so many parishes, Hanumanthanpatty has still a number of mission substations and Sunday masses are celebrated in six different places. This parish is on the main road from Theni to Kumuli. The Christian community accounts for one fourth of the population.
The first parish priest of Hanumanthanpatty was Fr. F.X. Bangrow SJ. He worked for only one year in 1881-82. It was he who began the construction of the main church at the parish centre. There was then a church at Idaikattur dedicated to God the Father and another at Panjampatty dedicated to God the Son. The Fathers naturally thought of God the Holy Spirit and started building a church of the Holy Spirit in this parish. The people are grateful to the missionaries for having given them a unique church dedicated to the Holy Spirit. The annual celebration of this titular feast is a very good source of spiritual nourishment to them.
The second parish priest was Fr. Berthier SJ. He served there for seven years from 1882. Contributions from the Mission and from the people made it possible to have a good church at the centre. Of course it would take years to complete the construction of the church. But services could conveniently be held in their new church. This century old church has even today the original splendour at the altar. The artistic work at the altar is quite conspicuously seen along with a beautiful dove-like statue of the Holy Spirit at the centre. Old is gold. And there you see at the altar the grandeur of the old missionary enthusiasm.
Fr. J.B. Dessal SJ arrived at this centre as the third parish priest from 1896. He was succeeded by Fr. A. Diederich SJ from 1896 to 1901. At this time Fr. Pages SJ was in charge of the Kerala estate. He was also assisting the parish priest. Missionary work became more active during this period and the Good News was taken to different corners from the centre.
Next came Fr. Segretain SJ who served in this parish from 1901 to 1912. It was during this period that efforts were made to develop Rayappanpatti as one of the big substations of the parish. His main concern was to build a church there. The church seen today at Rayappanpatti, dedicated to Our Lady of Snows, is a living monument to the ceaseless efforts of Fr. Segretain SJ.
The first Indian parish priest of Hanumanthanpatty was Fr. Santhappar SJ. He held the mantle for only one year in 1921. He was succeeded by Fr. Audran SJ from 1922 to 1926. Even today the parishioners remember him with affection. In spite of his occasional eccentric manners, he was noted for his kindness and piety. During this time Fr. Manuel of the Madurai Archdiocese assisted him for some time.
It was during the time of Fr. Audran SJ that strong foundations were laid for the faith at Sindalacherry, Theni and Periyakulam, all of them to become later independent parishes. Further development was clearly visible during the time of Fr. Keuney SJ from 1926 to 1931. The people still speak nostalgically of this good missionary. It was he who made inroads into many centres like Thevaram, Kombai and Gudalur. Churches were planned to be built in all these centres. Missionary endeavours in many such remote places became a distinct possibility and every effort was made to expedite conversion work.
Fr. Picard SJ became the next parish priest from 1934 to 1940 and he was succeeded by Fr. Appavoo SJ form 1940 to 1947. As elsewhere here also the caste problems persisted. There are two different castes in this parish centre. Bishop Leonard during his pastoral visit noticed the separation of caste not only inside the church but also in the order of receiving communion. The bishop openly condemned and disapproved of the practice. There was then some disturbance inside the church after the Mass. His Lordship came out of the sacristy after the Mass and personally pushed the people outside the church and closed the main entrance of the church. He further ordered that the main door be always kept closed and that all, irrespective of caste, should enter the church through the side doors. This happened in 1936 and the main entrance was opened only in 1945. The parishioners consider this closure of the main gate of the church as a kind of ‘curse’ on them and they attribute their unsatisfactory economic and social conditions to this. They seem to have made reparations and are planning to do more. However, today the caste problem is not very acute as before. During the time of Fr. Picard SJ and Fr. Appavoo SJ the parish saw rapid development in the missionary work.
The grand finale to this Jesuit undertaking in this part of the mission was seen in Fr. J. Hagen SJ the last Jesuit parish priest to work here, from 1947 to 1959. He began his mission in the parish by hoisting the national flag on Independence Day and continued his missionary work for twelve long years to complete the great Jesuit enterprise. His heart was as big as his figure and he won the affection and love of his flock in spite of his rough manners.
The golden years of the Jesuit work in this parish came to an end in 1959. Since then the Madurai Archdiocese took up the work up to 1976. The priests who worked during this period were. Frs. Susaimichaelraj (1959), Fr. V.M. Irudayam (1959 to 1966), Fr. Antony Simo (1966 to 1969), Fr. P.C. Chacko (1969 to 1973), Fr. D’ Cruz (1973 to 1976). This period of seventeen years saw a remarkable progress in the parish. They followed the footsteps of the Jesuit missionaries with the same zeal and enthusiasm. One great event of importance is the completion of the incomplete towers of the church and the renovation of the whole church building. The efforts of Fr. P.C. Chacko are commendable. With determination he gave a new shape to the church. Earlier the altar too got a new shape in accordance with the post Vatican trends. The parish school complex too received some facelift.
The third phase began in 1976 when the Carmelites (OCD) came to serve in this parish. Probably that was the first time that the Carmelite Fathers came to do mission work in this part of the land. A number of priests of their Order have worked here from 1976, Fr. Stephen Mary, Fr. Samuel, Fr. Zacharias, Fr. Gerard, Fr. Alex, Fr. Thomas John, Fr. Silvester and Fr. Peter Susairaj, Fr. Emmanuel, Fr. Rock. They have given a new shape to the presbytery, making it conducive to their monastic atmosphere. Their crowning achievement is the construction of a new church at Uthamapalayam. This has been a long felt need and got materialised during this period.
In the beginning people working in the estate settled there. There were only a very few families. Though they were poor, they were god fearing. Following the example of Hanumanthanpatty, people of Pudupatti and Kombai embraced Christianity. In Pudupatti the small chapel got collapsed in the year 1955. Later, they erected a thatched shed for chapel. In the year, 2006 it was rebuilt as a new one. Now, altogether there are 120 families living there.
Initially, the whole area was full of thick forests and fields. Since, it primarily depended on the occasional rain; it was known as â€œKaduâ€ or â€œVanamâ€ Later, it was called as Cumbum. Only after the commissioning of Mullai-Periyar dam, the growth in agriculture shot up. Most of the people were Estate workers and agricultural labourers. When Fr. Y. Arockiam was the parish priest, he could win a legal case against a Hindu who tried to grab the property in the main road. Now, it has housed a bank and a shopping complex. And, it was he who designed and built a nice chapel in Cumbum.
They have migrated for Sambalthattu of Nagarkoil to Gudalur, for about 100 years ago. Earlier there were 100 families. Now, many have given up their faith and a few have gone to other denominations. Though people, in lower camp, Kakilchickaiyanpatti and Angurpalayam are very few in number, they are stanch in their faith.
The Kurusadi of Our Lady of Bon Voyage nearby Kumuli, draws many more people as pilgrims. People take out a holy pilgrimage during the lent.
A good number of acres of land as well as shopping complex are beneficial in making the parish a self-sustainable one.
Today’s life situation:
With all its tradition and services of the old missionary and the present priests, still there is a big scope for various apostolate. There is plenty before us to continue in the tradition of yester years.
Vincent de Paul Society was started in Cumbum, Uthamapalayam and Hanumanthanpatty. The sub-stations get Masses on all Sundays and novena of our Lady of Perpetual Succour on Wednesdays and Fridays. Fr. Vimi Charli renovated the church during his time and the Sisters who visited houses, helped the rectification of marriages and in running the tailoring institute for girls. Later, Fr. Peter Sahaya Raj got the church towers completed and renovated the church.
Hanumanthanpatty had a few Catholic poets, Mr. Anthonymuthu (1863-1920) and Mr. Andrews. This parish enjoys the services of St. Anne’s Sisters of Trichy and the Seva Missionary Sisters. Moreover, this parish is being nourished by the activities of St. Vincent de Paul Society, Society of Our Lady of Dolour’s and Immaculate Conception of Mary’s Society.
The following are the substations of this parish: St. Antony’s Church(Kakilchickaiyanpatti), St. Lourdes Church(C. Pudupatty), Annai Velankanni Church (Cumbum), St. Joseph’s Church(Gudalore), Lower Camp and Angurpalayam.
Succession of Parish priests:
Carmeliltes From 1976-84
Fr. Stephen Mary
Fr. Thomas John.
Fr. Sebastian Mundacheri
Fr. Peter Soosairaj.
The Diocesan Priests From 1985 onwards
Fr. Valentine Joseph
Fr. Vimi Charli
Fr. Y. Arockiam
Fr. James Paulraj
Fr. Peter Sahayraj
Fr. A. Antony Samy 2013-
Hanumanthampatty had a Catholic poet, Mr. Anthonymuthu (1863-1920) the grandfather of Fr. G. Packiaraj S.J. who published his poems. This book ‘Santhamar Sinthukkavithaikal’ contains religious themes like ‘Thiru Iratchaniya Sinthu’, social themes like ‘Plague Sinthu’, ‘Puthukkal Sinthu’ and even dialogical themes like ‘Sarama Kavikal’ which shows his attachment to a Muslim, Angoor Nainar Ravuthar of Kambam. His devotional hymns are still sung in the village. His poems show his tender devotion to Our Lady. It is refreshing to know that the poetic muse lives on in that family of Mr. Antonimuthu. His son Mr. Asirvatham has written hymns on God, Christ, Mary etc., in the classical tunes used by non-Christians. Mr. Andrews was another poet who wrote ‘Villuppattu’ on Christian themes, poems on the way of the cross etc. His manuscript poems on the scientific Basis of Christian faith (Kristhuvil Meignanat Thoondal) and his ‘Narpavai Narpathu’ a close adaptation of Tiruppavai and Tiruvembavai, the Tamil literature of Hindus sung in Margali (December), deserve study and encouragement.
Substations with Chapels:
St. Antony’s Church, Kokkilsikkayanpatty; St. Lourdes Church, C. Pudupatty; Annai Velankanni Church, Cumbum; St. Joseph’s Church, Gudalore
Substations without Chapels:
Lower Camp, Angoorpalayam
St. Vincent De Paul Society; Society of Our Lady of Dolours; Immaculate Conception of Mary’s Society
Religious in the Parish:
- Society of St. Anne’s, Trichy
- Seva Missionary Sisters, Chennai, Ph. 04554 / 222381
Institutions under the Parish Priest:
St. Joseph’s Middle School
St. Theresa’s R. C. Primary School
Institutions under the Religious:
St. Mary’s Convent, English Medium School Cumbum. Ph. 04554 / 222381
Substations with chapels:
- a) St. Antony’s Church, Kokkilsikkayanpatty
b) St. Lourdes Church, C. Pudupatty,
c) Annai Velankanni Church, Cumbum,
e) St. Joseph’s Church, Gudalore
- a) St. Vincent De Paul Society
b) Society of Our Lady of Dolours
c) Immaculate conception of Mary’s Society
Religious in the Parish:
- a) Society of St. Anne’s, Trichy
b) Seva Missionary Sisters, Chennai, Tel: 04554 / 222381
Institutions under the Parish Priest:
- a) St. Joseph’s Middle School,
b) St. Theresa’s R. C. Primary School
Institutions under the Religious:
St. Mary’s Convent, English Medium School Cumbum. Tel: 04554 / 222381