Jisu Jaher Tundi

“It is time for the film on the Life of Christ …… next step is to shape up the Pokhoria Zone Sonot Catholic Santhal Samaj (PZSCSS), and research the possibilities of a spot for a zonal chapel… Then there is the well – first step in our building programme.” That excerpt from a letter of Fr Walter Kongari of February 1981 gives a thumbnail history of the beginning of Tundi mission station.

There is almost a Biblical ring to the phrase “It is time”, i.e. “the fullness of time had come”. And there had been a “forerunner”, for up to 1981, Fr Norbert Kindo, soon after his ordination for Jamshedpur Diocese in 1969, was stationed up in the Coalfields. From his base at Nirmala, Govindpur, he traveled far and wide about the Santhal villages getting to know people and places.

By the time Fr Walter Kongari came to St Anthony’s Parish in Dhanbad as Parish Priest in late 1975, the ground had been softened up to some extent and a family or two had been baptized by Fr Norbert. Fr Kongari continued to work begun, and in late 1981 moved to Tundi to live right there and develop the PZSCSS, to put up a small chapel, and to make that well a reality.

Tundi is the farthest most place on the map of the Jamshedpur mission. Fr Kongari toured the beautiful countryside, and the people welcomed him and responded as willing listeners to his words of comfort, and expressed a desire for more. He showed them a film of the life of Jesus Christ. He built a provisional chapel and a grotto to Our Lady of Lourdes. In spite of threats and manifestations of protest from the opposition, he stood firm in his resolve. The outcome of it all, and of the spiritual and material works of beneficence, was the emergence of one rock like family.

In January 1981, Bishop Rodericks separated the Tundi Santhal mission from St Anthony’s Parish Church, Dhanbad, and entrusted the Tundi mission to the Society of Jesus for development. In February 1983, the Bishop made Tundi the first Jesuit Parish in Jamshedpur Diocese.

A bright new building became part of the Tundi scenery on 17 March 1988. Fr Provincial, P D Thomas, blessed the house built by Br Bonello.