the Jamshedpur Interviews

"The human voice is more personal and more revealing than anything else about us. So much of what we know about others we learn by hearing them speak. Listen to the voices of those who tell this story. You’ll begin to know them and understand how India changed them." —Tom Guidera III


I designed the CD brochure and label for artist Tom Guidera's remarkable journey. Guidera's vision was to capture a human story in sound.

He writes, "The inspiration for this project came during my first journey to India in 1979. I was shown a simple, retrospective booklet commemorating the Jamshedpur Province’s 25th anniversary. I thought to myself, The 50th is not far off—and what a wonderful story this is. I must come back and learn to tell it! But I wondered how I would ever do it justice, it’s such an enormous tale and growing every day.


"Then one afternoon, also during that first trip, Fr. Gus Welch told me this story: 'The roads here in Bihar are bad. Anyone who travels knows it well. The fathers at St. Xavier’s High School, Lupungutu, had been invited to a dinner at the parish house in Chakradarpur, approximately thirty miles away. It was raining. Fr. Nash, who has had his share of misadventures on the roads, pulled the school’s only automobile, an old, Indian-built Ambassador, around to the gate. The men piled in, two more in the front, four in the back. It was just getting dark as they set out. Conditions were perilous. Everyone was very quiet. About ten minutes into the trip, Fr. Nash turned and said, ‘Perhaps we should say a few prayers.’ From the back seat came this: ‘What do you think we’ve been doing?’


"As Fr. Welch spoke (he’s got dozens and dozens of stories just as charming), I began to see how the whole, big, wonderful story could be told. On my second trip in 1996, I carried a tape recorder with me and cajoled anyone and everyone to sit and tell their stories. Some of the sessions lasted half an hour, some spread over an entire week. From them I wove a larger story of fifty years in the Jamshedpur Missions. I wove more with the sound of their voices than with the facts they related. The human voice is music and nothing sings out a story as purely as the voices of those who keep it in their hearts."


 

In 1947, Pope Pius XII called on the Jesuits of the Maryland Province to begin a new mission in a large area in northeastern India based around the industrial city of Jamshedpur. (The Jesuits are an order of Catholic priests and brothers founded in 1540.) A total of sixty-three American Jesuits answered the call.

They left the United States knowing they would spend their lives in India. Most were in their twenties when they arrived.

 

 

 

Their purpose was, and is, to console suffering, minister to the sick, elevate the poor, educate the illiterate, improve the lot of the common people, and exemplify charity among the privileged and powerful.

With Indian Jesuits and Sisters from many orders, the assistance of Indian doctors, teachers, and administrators, and the support of individuals and foundations around the world, they have established schools, clinics, hospitals, churches, and social institutions all over their mission area.

 

The lives of thousands and thousands of people are enriched every day. And the work goes on.
The Jamshedpur Mission is now the Jamshedpur Province and, as the Maryland Province did in 1948, they have begun to send men to missions in other parts of India and other countries.

Many of the original sixty-three Jesuits have died, some have been assigned to other work. Eight Maryland Jesuits still work in India today.