Extracts from the Annals of
Goethals Memorial School

The school opened on February 20th 1907, with 111 boys and the following staff: Br. S.O'Brien (Director), Br.F. Kenneally (Provincial) Acting Prefect of Discipline, Br. P. Hyde (Teacher Class II), Br. A. Ryan (Teacher Class VIII), Br. P. Studdent; (Teacher Class VI), Br. L. Acton; (Teacher Class IV), Mr. D. Quantin; (Teacher Class V), Mr. L. Carmola; (Teacher Class IV) and Mr. R. Brass, (Teacher Inf. Class).

On Tuesday, April 30th, the Goethals Memorial Orphanage, Kurseong was waiting in anticipation for the arrival of His Honour, Sir Andrew Fraser....

Punctually at 11:15 a.m., His Honour's special train steamed into the "Goethals' Siding" where he was met by Rev. Br. O'Brien; the Principal of the school....

Sir Andrew and Lady Fraser with party, after the customary greetings commenced the short ascent to the school. Over the entrance to the school grounds was a beautiful archway with the words, "Welcome to the Goethals". The avenue to the school was tastefully decorated with banners, while the school flat was one blaze of flags, and over the central doorway was the well-known motto of the Irish in Gaelic letters, "Cead Mile Failte"; "A Hundred Thousand Welcomes"....

Br. O'Brien called for three cheers for Sir Andrew and Lady Fraser. Br. O'Brien presented a silver key to His Honour in a beautiful case engraved with the words, "To H.H. Sir A.H.L. Fraser, M.A., L.L.D.B.L., K.C.S.I., Lieutenant Governor of Bengal". On one side were the words Goethals Memorial Orphanage" and on the other side "Kurseong, 30th April 1907". His Honour then opened the central door and declared the school duly and officially opened.

Goethals Memorial School,
Kurseong, Darjeeling District,
West Bengal 734203
Office Reception & Fees : 9932552567
Academic : 9732035255
Boarding : 9830691119 ( WhatsApp Call )
Email ID : principalgoethals@gmail.com


Br. Freddy Martin Fernandes

Goethals School was built as a Memorial to Archbishop Count Paul Goethals who was the first Archbishop of the Diocese of Calcutta (1886 - 1901). Paul Goethals was born into an influential, political family and hence earned the title ‘Count’. He joined the Jesuit order in Belgium and rose to become Provincial Superior. However, because of his outstanding leadership qualities and knowledge of English he was chosen Apostolic Vicar of Calcutta in 1878 and eight years later was appointed Archbishop of Calcutta, a post he held for 23 years. He was a dynamic leader and opened several new parishes especially in tribal areas and laid great emphasis on education.

After many years, hard work and inclement weather took its toll on his health and he was ordered by his doctors to return to Belgium in the hope that his indifferent health might improve. However, it was soon obvious that he would not survive very long and when he realized this he was determined to return to Calcutta and die among the people for whom he had so long and zealously laboured. He returned to his diocese and lived for some months in his residence at Park Street until the Lord called him away on the 4 July, 1901, a day that is now celebrated as “Goethals Day”. He died at his residence, 12 Park Street, Calcutta. His funeral was the most imposing that had been seen in the Capital of British India for years, attended as it was on the route to the Cathedral, by crowds of all classes and creed, Catholic and Protestant, Mussalman and Hindoo alike. Dr. Paul Count Goethals was succeeded by Most Rev. Dr Meulmann, S.J.

The Hon’ble Mr. James Woodroffe, the then Advocate General of the High Court, an Irishman and a convert, called on Archbishop Dr. Meulmann, S.J. soon after his consecration and told him that he wished to have a memorial erected to the late Archbishop Goethals and requested him to call a meeting of the principal Catholics in Calcutta to devise what shape that memorial might take. Archbishop Meulmann agreed to Mr. Woodroffe’s proposal and the first meeting was called comprising all religious and lay Principals. It was agreed that the nature of the memorial should depend on the amount of money collected; but first of all a marble tablet was to be erected in the Cathedral in Moorghihatta with a record of the life and works of Archbishop Goethals. Woodroffe was ready to put down Rs.5000. Collectors were appointed but very little money was coming in except what was collected by Woodroffe himself. At a subsequent meeting Woodroffe expressed the wish to get all the boys out of Catholic Male Orphanage, Moorgihatta and bring them into healthier surroundings. It was at this stage the Christian Brothers, who managed the Orphanage, were consulted to see what they were prepared to do. Br Fabian Kenneally was prepared to back the project if the memorial selected were a school situated in a Hill Station. The Brothers had only one Hill Station in Nainital and that was not sufficient for their increasing numbers. Br Stanislaus O'Brien representing the Provincial attended the next meeting of the organizing committee and it was agreed that he, with Mr. Woodroffe, were to be the sole collectors. Both did very well among the gentry and merchants of Calcutta and a large sum of money was collected.

The Maharajah of Burdwan, agreed to hand over a large strip adjoining the St Mary’s Scholasticate property for the purpose of the Goethals Memorial School. The Government also agreed to lease an area adjoining the Maharajah's strip. The lease was for twenty-five years renewable at the same rate as long as it would be required for a school. Thus, abundance of land was secured for the new venture. In September, 1903, Brother Stanislaus O'Brien was sent to Kurseong for the building and equipping of the new establishment, and he became its first Superior/Principal. The tenants on both the Government land and the Maharajah's had to be compensated. There was no trouble with the Government tenants as they were called together and paid off, the Government sending a man from Darjeeling to assist. It was different with the tenants of the Maharajah's property. These held out a long time until the Superior invoked the assistance of a local lawyer named Bishambur of the town of Kurseong. Bishambur got them all out except the head-tenant, a lady whose name and titles were Hurka Maya Jemadarini Mondolini. This lady was the only tenant of the Maharajah, the others were her sub-tenants, and she held a vast stretch of the Maharajah's land on these slopes of the Himalayas. The Jemadars are usually employed as sweepers, but this lady, though she belonged to this caste, had become wealthy. Mondol means a landlord and the word are rendered feminine by the termination - 'ini'. After a long struggle, Bishambur got her to go and take up her abode lower down on the slope on the other side of the main road to Darjeeling (below Goethals Siding). Of course she had to get a considerable compensation for the disturbance. Mount Carmel Novitiate stands on the ground she occupied for her own dwelling. The flat lower down on which Goethals was built had been occupied by a previous mondol. Br Stanislaus O'Brien was thus enabled to clear the site and make preparations for the erection of the building. The Archbishop came, blessed the site and turned the first sod. He also loaned us Br John Molitor, S.J., the builder of St. Francis Xavier's Church in Bow Bazar for the building of Goethals Memorial.

The building now went ahead in right earnest. Sir Andrew Fraser the Lieutenant Governor of Bengal, gave us a building grant of 60,000 Rupees and promised another 60000 which was not forthcoming. When Sir Andrew's term was up he invited Brother Stanislaus to his residence in Darjeeling and showed him his private file in which he had recorded for his successor that the first 60,000 Rupees available should be given for Goethals school. Sir Edward Baker his successor, refused to give this further sum. He thought that too much had been given already. Later on in the progress of the building Brother Gilbert Cooney and Brother S. O’Brien had an interview with Lord Michael, then Governor of Bengal, and induced him to give an additional 10,000 Rupees for the building. On account of the Government grant the plans had to be submitted to the engineers of the PWD. They came frequently to examine the work, give good advice and expressed themselves well pleased with all they saw. When the final stage was reached Br Molitor suggested a Mansard roof which would give full dormitory accommodation on the top storey. When the Government engineers were consulted they said they knew nothing of the Mansard style of roof but allowed it to go up. Later one of them said that it was a tricky roof but that the work was done well. So the work went on, but it was completed only at the end of 1906. (Years later, it was discovered that, on the instructions of Government, the site of the building had been moved 50 yards North of the site chosen by Br. Molitor. Thus inadvertently placed it over a fault-line and part of the building was tilting. Large buttresses were erected behind the boy’s dining room, which still serve their purpose today).

In the summer of that year all the Brothers in the plains with Br. Provincial came up to Kurseong to spend their holidays in the new establishment. The Provincial insisted on a house warming, so the whole community of St. Mary's priests and scholastics were invited as well as the priests of the Dacca Diocese and and those of Bettiah and Krishnagar who were on holidays in the region. All were greatly pleased with the new Catholic centre, and after a good tiffin returned happily to their homes. The following January the school opened with 100 boys. Later in that year, when Sir Andrew and Lady Fraser were going to Darjeeling for the summer months they came for the official opening. Leaving the special train on which they were travelling to their summer residence waiting for them at the Goethals siding, the party made its way up on foot.

Sir Andrew examined the whole building and in his speech at the opening ceremony expressed himself well pleased with all he saw. Very soon the school had 200 boarders and began to make its mark at the competitive examinations. A two years' engineering class was started for the purpose of obtaining entrance into the Sibpur Engineering School for Mining. Several of these boys eventually became managers of mines. Unfortunately this course was discontinued. For many years a successful farm was worked at Goethals which supplied the school with an abundance of milk, butter, vegetables, and eggs and to a large extent with meat. However, because of the depredations of some of the local community, the farm had to be given up and the land is now under trees. As the Hill Station of Kurseong is much nearer to Calcutta than that of Nainital, the Provincial, Brother Fabian Kenneally, determined to build a holiday house for the Brothers of the plains close to Goethals. A journey of one night in the train brings the travellers from Calcutta to Siliguri, at the foot of the hills below Kurseong, and a few hours climbing by motor or by train brings the wayfarer into the cooler atmosphere of the hills, nearly 6000 feet above sea-level at Goethals.

Hurka Maya's flat, a few hundred feet above the school was selected as the site of the vacation house which, when completed, gave accommodation for 36 Brothers and was fully utilized for many a mid-summer holiday by the communities from the houses in the plains. When Br Arsenius Ryan became Provincial (1914) he made it the Novitiate and called it Mount Carmel. On March 1st, 1915, the Novitiate was transferred from Asansol to Mt. Carmel. Br. P. Studdert was the first Novice Master at Mount Carmel, and he was succeeded by Br Baptist Holland in his second term as Novice Master. When through old age he had to relinquish the post he was followed by Brother Luke Aherne. Mount Carmel was closed in the '40's for want of young men willing to join the Brothers. However it was re-opened in 1959 by the then Provincial, Br. Maher and the first Novice Master was Br.D.O.Slattery with Br. R.D.Barrett as his Assistant. Many young boys from our schools across India joined the Brothers and though they lived in Mt. Carmel, attended classes in Goethals. Two of these, Gordon Gale and Vinod Thomas were ex-pupils of Goethals.

Through the years, many changes have taken place but the School still stands as a fine tribute and Memorial to Archbishop Count Paul Goethals.