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The Pioneer: Academic, pioneer pens his memoir

July 08, 2011   12:19:04 AM

Parvinder Bhatia | Jamshedpur

Bringing young talent to the fore was his forte. Meet Father Hess, who embodies the true qualities of a wonderful human being — the integrity of a gentleman, the self sacrifice of a compassionate man and the discipline and quest for knowledge of a scientist.

The most revered educationalist, who sowed the seeds of several institutions like Loyola School, Jamshedpur and De Nobili School, Dhanbad, Father Hess has penned his memoir titled, 'Once Upon a Time'. The book will be launched at the TMDC auditorium on Thursday.

The book charts the journey of a boy born in 1919 in New Jersey, to a devout Catholic family. His father's business of manufacturing bulbs failed and they moved to Washington DC, which was the turning point for young George. Being intelligent, he won a scholarship in 1933 to Gonzaga College, a Jesuit school, and three years later, at the age of thirteen, was convinced that he wanted to become a Catholic priest. 

He came to India in 1952 at the age of 32 at a time when India had just become independent from colonial rule in 1947.

His first assignment was to set up Loyola School in Jamshedpur, which he took up in 1952 with 285 students. Loyola was given 3.5 acres of land which once housed the ChotaNagpur Regimental Club(CNR). Hindi classes were held in a small school bus while the CNR Club hall housed several classes at the same time. 

Under Fr Francis MacFarland's supervision, the construction of the new building began and by the time Fr Hess left in 1963, it housed 1500 students. Today Loyola School, Jamshedpur accommodates over 3000 students. 

Father Hess was the Principal of De Nobili School from 1963 to 1979.After leaving De Nobili School, Father Hess spent 17 years as the Principal of the Loyola College of Education in Jamshedpur from 1979 to 1996.

The author has taken pains to describe his method of running a school, planning new projects and dealing with difficult students and staff. He has also been quite candid about his conflict of interest with his superiors and about how he had to adjust to the need of his province.

One of his students Ronald DCosta, a Class of 1964 alumni Loyola School, Jamshedpur recalled that Father Hess is the shinning example of selfless dedication to promote education in India

He developed De Nobili School, Dhanbad, which was just a small family house on the grounds of the Central Fuel Research Institute with five rooms, to another Institution that rivaled Loyola School in the number of students, building and grounds. He stayed on for seventeen years and developed long standing relationships in that city. 

Hess moved to take over the Loyola B.Ed. College, Jamshedpur, when its founder, Fr. Ken Judge, had to return to the U.S. due to ill health. Under him, the college moved to vast 15-acre plot on the outskirts of Telco Colony.

After establishing the college in its new premises, Fr. Hess moved on to Bhubaneshwar to help in XIMB, teaching communication. He also negotiated the purchase of the land for Loyola School, Bhubaneshwar.