Initial presence and attempts at the Implantation of the Order
The arrival of the Capuchins in India dates back to the year 1632 when a band of foreign Capuchin Missionaries landed in Pondicherry. Their intention was to extend their missionary thrust toTibet and Nepal; however it turned out that they continued their missionary ventures in the Vicariate of Agra and Patna. After slogging as missionaries for about two and half centuries, the idea of implanting the Order in India was considered as a possibility. Hence in 1880 a novitiate house was opened in Mussoorie. Just ten years later however this novitiate was closed down for want of vocations. A second attempt at beginning the Order in India was made on 26 February 1922, at the instance of the then General Minister of the Order,Br. JosephAnthony of Persiceto. He inaugurated the novitiate personally at Sardhana, which could be said as the cradle of the Capuchin Order in India for many years to come. Two Indian novices were vested on this occasion in the novitiate named after St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen. The Superiors Regular of Agra, Ajmer, Allahabad and Lahore were jointly responsible for the success of this venture. Vocations to the Order came from many dioceses of India but more from the South than the North. To overcome many of the initial teething troubles in the area of formation, the novitiate was later placed under the care of the Superior Regular of Ajmer and to continue the post-novitiate formation, a study house was started at St. Francis Monastery, Mussoorie. The early Capuchins were then sent to Europe to pursue their further studies with the French friars at Breust, Tours and Nantes. The first batch of 12 clerics had left India on 22 June 1927, Br. Marie Egide Uhlennuth of Ajmer leading them.
Movement towards South and Rapid growth
The absence of a strong, vibrant and populous Christian community in North India, even as the extreme weather conditions of the place called for a transfer of the novitiate from North to a more favourable location in the South. The Province of Paris was called upon to undertake this venture. The Capuchins were offered a little hill at Farangipet, called Monte Mariano, in the diocese of Mangalore and hence the decision to shift the novitiate was carried out in May 1930. Monte Mariano therefore can well be called the second cradle of the Capuchins in India. From then on the growth of the Capuchins was rapid and already in 1932 a study house was set up in Quilon and most of the students who had not yet finished their studies abroad were brought back to continue their studies there.
Naming of Br. Guido Le Floch as the General Commissary in 1933 marked the next phase of the growth of the Order in India. The influx of candidates was unabated and the Order grew from strength to strength. From 1948 to 1954, Br. Richard Brunner from Calvary Province of USAwas put in charge of the Indian Capuchin Mission. He was made Commissary Provincial in 1951. But already by 1954 the hands at the helms were changed and Br. Cyril Andrade became the first Indian to head the unit as Commissary Provincial. In 1956 theAgraArchdiocese was entrusted to the Order and Br. DominicAthaide was consecrated as the first Indian Capuchin Bishop of Agra. In 1957, Br. Cassian Timmins, a Canadian Missionary from Gorakhpur was appointed to guide the destiny of the Commissariat and he guided it during the next 6 years. The number of Capuchins by now had grown from 41 in 1933 to almost two hundred in 1960.
Formation of an Autonomous Indian Province
Br. Clement of Milwaukee, the General Minister, who had known the growth of the Capuchin jurisdiction in India already at the time of his first visit, during his second term as General Minister paid a second visit in 1962, expressly for the purpose of constituting the Indian unit into a full-pledged Capuchin Province. Br. John Berchmans Puthuparambil was appointed as its first Provincial Minister and he was re-elected as Provincial Minister at the first elective Provincial Chapter, held in 1966. Next in 1969 Br. Jacob Acharuparambil was elected as the Provincial Minister. He was also the last of Provincial Ministers of the united Indian Province as the jurisdiction had grown too big and as such stood in great need of a division, if only for the sake of sheer good administration. Meanwhile in December 1971, Br. Symphorian Keeprath was nominated Bishop of Jalandhar Diocese and a whole civil State of Punjab was thus entrusted to the care of the Capuchins in India.
Division of the Indian Province
Ever since the novitiate was shifted to Monte Mariano, the Province had seen nothing but steady and rapid growth, so much so, by the year 1967, just forty years after migrating to the South, it could count about 500 friars distributed among 40 houses in the five states of Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Besides they were working also in many other States of northern India as missionaries and even in some foreign countries like Indonesia, Philippines, and Tanzania as Formators. Some had reached as far as Malaysia with a view to implanting the Order. In these circumstances, the need of creating smaller jurisdictions for the sake of greater efficiency and a better implantation of the Order in the various regions in India became not only apparent but also urgent. The first discussion to this effect took place during the Provincial Chapter of 1969. The General Minister and his Definitory, having taken note of the situation sent Br. AloysiusWard to conduct an on the spot and a thorough study of the state of affairs prevailing in the Province during the visitation from November 1971 to February 1972. It was then followed up by the then General Minister, Br. Paschal Rywalski, himself.As a result at the end of March 1972, the General Minister and his Definitory took the important but necessary decision to dismember the Province into four units, namely Province of St. Joseph, Kerala, Province of HolyTrinity, Karnataka-Goa-Maharashtra (KGM), Province of Amala Annai, Tamil Nadu and theVice Province of St. Francis, Kerala.
The decree to this effect, signed on 9 May 1972, was promulgated at St. Joseph's Friary, Kotagiri, on 17 May by Br.Aloysius Ward, along with the names of the new Provincial Superiors and their Definitory.
Holy Trinity Province, K . G . M.
The new Province of KGM was carved out of the former Indian Province of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The three states of Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra were indicated as its geographical territory. Br. Remigius Sequeira was appointed as the first Provincial Minister of the new province with Br. Liguory Noronha as Provincial Vicar and the First Definitor. Brs. Pacificus Menezes, Irenaeus D'Souza andVincent Lobo were the second, third and fourth definitors respectively. The General Minister and his definitory also entrusted the Agra - Lucknow - Ranchi mission to the new province as a good number of its friars were working in the mission. On 17th May 1972, the new Provincial Minister and his definitory assumed charge and on that day the Province of Karnataka-Goa and Maharashtra officially came into existence. It had a strength of 100 friars. The first Chapter of the Province held at Monte de Guirim in 1973 decided to dedicate the Province to the Most HolyTrinity.
The second ordinary Chapter of the province, held in March 1975, re-elected Br. Remigius Sequeira as Provincial Minister. He had however a new team of definitors, namely Br. Vincent Lobo, first Definitor and Provincial Vicar, and Brs. Irenaeus D'Souza, Alphonse Malcolm Sequeira and Rudolf D'Souza. On the whole, this initial period was directly concerned with the recognition of the new identity and establishment of a stable provincial fraternity.
In March 1978, at the third ordinary Chapter, Br.Vincent Lobo became the Provincial Minister with a fresh team of Definitors, namely Brs. Liguory Noronha, Irenaeus D'Souza, Evarist Ferreira and Frederick Rodrigues. The fourth ordinary Chapter too held in April 1981, reelected him once again as Provincial Minister. The Definitors elected were: Brs. Cornelius Monteiro, Evarist Ferreira, Dinesh Mendonca and Crispin Lobo. During second term the major study houses of philosophy and theology were established at Bangalore and thus the entire formation programme began to function within the province itself.
Br. Liguory Noronha was elected as the Provincial Minister in the fifth ordinary Chapter, held in May 1984. Br. Terence D'Souza was elected as the First Definitor and the Vicar Provincial, Brs. Theodore Pereira, Remigius Sequeira, Garcia Coutinha as the second and the third and the fourth Definitor respectively. The Provincial Minister, Br. Liguory Noronha was re-elected in the sixth ordinary Chapter held in April 1987 but was provided with entirely a new team of definitors. Br. Patrick Crasta was the first Definitor and the ProvincialVicar. The other definitors were Brs. Dinesh John Mendonca, Oscar Colaco and Rudolf D'Souza. Responding positively to the call given by the General Minister and his definitory, the province accepted for the first time a mission abroad and four brothers entered Uganda in October 1988. The new administration had also to make some immediate provision to separate the two stages of philosophical and theological formation as the number of brothers in formation at Bangalore had substantially increased. Hence the study of theology was shifted to the newly acquired place at Mysore.
On 28 March 1990 during the seventh ordinary Chapter Br. Patrick Crasta was elected as Provincial Minister. Brs. Joel Pinto, Oscar Colaco, Baptist Braggs and Andrew Anil Sequeira were elected as the first, the second, the third and the fourth Definitor respectively. Heeding the urgent request, the province accepted to send a few brothers to assist the Capuchin mission of PapuaNewGuinea.
The eight ordinary Chapter elected on the 14 April 1993 Br. Andrew Anil Sequeira as the Provincial Minister. Br. Remigius Sequeira was the first Definitor and the Provincial Vicar with Brs. Simon Rico Fernandes, Canute D'Costa and Evarist Ferreira as Definitors. The General Chapter of the Order held in June - July 1994 at the International College, Rome, however retained Br. Andrew Anil Sequeira back in Rome as the General Definitor and hence Br. Remigius Sequeira who was the Provincial Vicar succeeded him by nomination, and Br. Rudolf D'Souza was co-opted as the fourth Definitor. While the Ugandan mission saw a further consolidation, the province realized a long cherished dream of having an independent house for provincial administration at Rajajinagar, Bangalore.
The ninth ordinary chapter was held from May the 1 , 1996 at which Br. Vincent G. Furtado was chosen as the Provincial Minister. Br. Patrick Crasta was elected as the first Definitor and the Provincial Vicar and Brs. Felix Ferrao, Francis Gonsalves andAndrew Rebello as the second, the third and the fourth Definitor respectively. The province took up the mission of North-East India, comprising the four states of Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura and Mizoram and also began a collaborative venture with the Capuchin province of New York to develop the custody of Japan.
Holy Trinity Province of Karnataka
On 8 December 1998 the General Definitory by its Decree Prot. No. 00999/98 constituted and declared established the Most Holy Trinity Province of Karnataka. By the same Decree the General Definitory appointed Br. Vincent Gabriel Furtado as the new Provincial Minister, Br. John Baptist Sequeira as the first Definitor and Provincial Vicar, Br. Patrick Crasta, Edwin Colaco and Rudolf D'Souza as the 2 , 3 , and 4 Definitors respectively. The inauguration of the new province took place at St. Fidelis Friary, Farangipet. The first Provincial Chapter of the new Province was held at Shanthi Sadhana, FISI, Bangalore from May 24 29, 1999. At this Chapter provincial Statutes were formulated and approved ad experimentum.
The year 2001 saw the celebration of the second ordinary Chapter of the province. It voted Br. Andrew Anil Sequeira once again as the provincial Minister. To assist him were elected Brs. Desmond Rebello, the provincial vicar, Edwin Colaco, John Baptist Sequeira and Paul Sequeira as the Definitors. The very first act of the new team was to launch the Capuchin presence in Sri Lanka with the express intention of the implantation of the Order and that of opening a novitiate house to form brothers hailing from Pakistan.
The year 2004 saw the celebration of the third ordinary Chapter of the province and elected Br. Antony Jossy Fernandes as the Provincial Minister. To assist him were elected Brs.Vincent Gabriel Furtado, the Provincial Vicar, Henry Alva, Desmond Rebello and Joachim D'Souza as the Definitors. During this triennium the Province took up ministerial collaboration with St. Mary's Province, New York and a new mission station in Manipur State.
The Fourth Provincial Chapter was celebrated at Kripalaya, Mysore from 16- 21, April 2007 during which Br. Vincent Gabriel Furtado was elected Provincial Minister, Br Andrew Anil Sequeira as the Vicar Provincial; Brs. Denis Viegas, Edwin Colaco and Peter Cyprian D'Souza were elected as the second, third and fourth definitors respectively. The Chapter decided to request the General Definitory to erect St. Bonaventure Vice Province of Maharashtra as a full fledged Province and to raise the mission of North East India to the status of a custody.