Pune’s St Vincent’s High school celebrates 150 years of faith, learning and friendship
St Vincent’s High School is an indelible strand of the educational mosaic of Pune. This is as much for the years it has spent teaching students of the city, as it is for the unique manner of schooling that the Jesuit priests bring to a child’s way of lifepune Updated: Dec 13, 2017 16:12 IST
The Society of Jesus, an order of Catholic priests which lays claim to the current Pope - Pope Francis - as being one of their own, have been associated with the city of Pune for over 200 years.
One-hundred and fifty of those years has been in and through the school and junior college of St Vincent’s, among other realities
This year, 2017, Pune’s landmark and iconic St Vincent’s High School in Camp, marked its sesquicentennial year - 150 years of, in the words of Fr Andrew Fernandes, current provincial of the Jesuits in Pune, “Dedicated service to the city, state and nation, through an exemplary academic, sporting and spiritual record”.
The culmination of the celebrations was a mega-production entitled ‘Vincentian Magic’ which took place on the school grounds on December 9 and 10.
Vincentian Magic was a nostalgic evening for current and ex-students, teachers, employees, parents and priests, journeying down memory lane through a musical score engendered on stage with close to 1,000 singers, actors and dancers. The Jesuit ethos and values were celebrated with ‘tradition’ being the USP that shone through.
Tradition is something Father Kenneth Misquitta, an ex-principal of the school understands only too well.
“The current success is due to the sheer painstaking efforts undertaken by the senior Jesuits, their commitment for the cause of education. Quite a few Jesuits were fathers and teachers which resulted in the students imbibing the right qualities required for success. The teachers went beyond the call of duty which led to Vincent’s emerging as cradle of learning,” Fr Misquitta tells Hindustan Times.
“Students, over time, have demonstrated a great deal of loyalty and visit the institution during holidays with their wives and children reminiscing their time spent in the institution,” he adds.
Fr Misquitta’s advice for youth centres around disillusionment with society and the dichotomy it reflects. “Parents ask their children to be upright, but themselves are found lacking in the same. This divergence confuses the students. What they need is an example. We at St Vincent’s have succeeded in giving them a strong moral example by demonstrating values like sincerity honesty, being upright and truthful. Hard work is rewarded. We practice the policy of impartiality, wherein all of them feel one despite belonging to different creeds,” is Fr Misquitta’s view.
Father Andrew Fernandes, also a former principal of St. Vincent’s School says that St Vincent’s has set an example of bringing about the all-rounded development of the student.
The future of St Vincent’s lies in the hands of current school principal, Fr Francis Patekar. Given the history and tradition that built the school , Fr Patekar wears the burden with a certain sang froid resting in the knowledge that the Jesuit way will not fail.
He believes that setting new benchmarks of professional excellence and ensuring the school is the first choice for residents of Pune from all strata of society and all faiths, is the key. “ We believe in shaping the students to become good human beings who can contribute immensely to society,” he says.
‘Vincentables’ an Olympic plan to scale global heights
Having completed 150 years of excellence, St Vincent’s High School has gone from strength to strength in academics as well as sports, ensuring all-round development of students.
Vincentians, as the alumni of the school are known, maintain that it is a proud moment for them today. Vincentians are spread across the world and a series of gettogethers – termed the ‘Vincentables’ – have already been held in more than 31 cities across the world, including USA, Canada, Middle East, Australia and New Zealand, apart from India. All in the name of St Vincent’s High School’s sesquicentennial -150 - year of existence.
Vincentians are are connecting, talking about the good old days, rekindling fond memories, recalling teachers and revelling in pure nostalgia. Then they are giving back to the school. In most cases, without holding back.
One batch has built the school a swimming pool. Another, took up construction of a new basketball court. Some undertook beautification projects, others pitched in with repairs and equipment and another batch helped with the football field – the list goes on.
Now, a grander plan is now taking shape. Vincentians – over 10,000 of them – are joining hands to give the school a seriously ambitious and challenging gift. Enter the StVincent’s Sports Vision Committee (SVSV).
“We are going to create a complete, world-class sports infrastructure in the school. It is designed to propel St. Vincent’s into the top league of schools in India. This ambitious programme is going to be backed by a full-fledged sports education infrastructure headed by a sports director, trained coaches and a tailor-made curriculum,” is how Remus D’cruz, Vincentian and core team member on the planning committee explains it. “With the new infrastructure, the ambition is to have Vincentians represent the country at the highest international levels – the Olympics,” D’cruz adds. Who will fund the development? The ex-students of St Vincent’s. With a total project cost of ₹10 crore, the SVSV project is no small donation drive.
The Vincentian Old Boys Association (Voba) is the official ex-students’ body based in Pune. Voba plays an important role in ensuring the wide reach of the school, in terms of ex-students spread out across the world, is not lost for having a positive feedback for the school.
Through mentoring, support of the school system and scholarship programmes, the association also strives to enrich the experience of students currently enrolled in school. Anyone who attended St.Vincent’s High School for at least one year can be a member.