History



The priory Chapter of 1977, took a prophetic decision to implant the Sylvestrine monasticism in the State of Andhra Pradesh among other States of India non-Christian regions of India. Acordingly, a few monks were sent to the northern and central regions of India in order to undertake this mission. Thus, two monks reached the Diocese of Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh in 1982, to explore the possibility of a Sylvestro-Benedictine presence in the south-central region of India. Andhra Pradesh is a geographical region of the Republic of India, having its own administrative unit in the polity of India, culture, language and traditions. The seat of the State-administration is Hyderabad, the state-capital. This Region has a predominantly hindu population, though muslims are also considerably present. The Christians and Catholics are just a minority, spread over its length and breadth in small pockets with their own ethnic traditions and faith formation. Moreover, it is a flourishing mission with almost fourteen Catholic Dioceses in two Ecclesiastical Provinces.

Rt. Rev. Dr. Joseph Thumma, the then Bishop of the Diocese of Vijayawada, was extremely happy to receive the monks into his Diocese. He immediately entrusted them with some pastoral responsibilities of a mission station and this served the monks as a launching pad for the future monastic mission. Soon afterwards, an agreement was drawn up between the Bishop and the Conventual Prior, Fr. Paulinus Vadakkepattani, detailing the terms and conditions of the monks’ life and work in the Diocese. The pioneers did remarkable improvements on the given property and residence and devoted themselves zealously to the pastoral care of the mission entrusted to them by the Bishop. But regrettably, the direct experience of a few years, indicated that the location was not suited for a future monastery and subsequently, the monks decided to look out elsewhere to establish themselves. On the search again for various other possibilities, a plot of four acres of land belonging to the same Diocese was spotted at Jaccampudi near Vijayawada city, for establishing a monastery and at the request of the monks, the Bishop agreed to hand it over to them in 1986.

Moreover, in 1986 an initial inspection of the site was undertaken by Rev. Fr. Simon Tonini osb, the then Abbot General and Rev. Fr. Antonio Iacovone osb, General Secretary, together with other Indian monks in order to study its suitability for a foundation, who subsequently, in agreement with the Bishop, decided to finalize it as the future base for the first Silvestrine mission in the south-central region of India. 

EventuMonastery  'Navajeevan'ally, the Conventual Chapter of St. Joseph’s Priory in 1986, decided to establish the new monastery, recognizing it as a ‘Fondation’ according to the Constitutions, which meant that it was destined to become a full-fledged Priory later on, when the required conditions would be met with. It was also, at the same time, accorded some special faculties for its governance. The Foundation was replenished with another group of four monks from St. Joseph’s Priory, Makkiyad. In March 1987, the place was visited again by Rev. Fr. Simon Tonini, Abbot General, Rev. Fr. Andrea Pantaloni, the Conventual Prior of Italy and others, accompanied by the Bishop himself for a further verification of its scope for the future growth and expansion. On being given the green signal by the Superiors to go ahead, on 11 July 1987, the feast of St. Benedict, the official inauguration of the new Foundation took place at St. Peter’s Co-Cathedral, Vijayawada, in the presence of the Vicar General of the Diocese, the Conventual Prior of St. Joseph’s Priory, Makkiyad, and a few priests and religious of the Diocese. The Parish Priest kindly agreed to accommodate the monks in the parish house for a few months, till the monks built a residence of their own. Moreover, the Abbot General arranged a generous donation of $ 30.000 and the work on the monastery was earnestly begun. On 25 November, the monks could move into a ramshackle building put up on the site and organize a community life of their own. It took quite some time and strenuous efforts for the monks to obtain the necessary permits from the civil authorities to develop the land and begin the construction of the monastery. Braving the catastrophes of instant floods and cyclonic storms characteristic of the eastern sea coast of India, the monks remained steadfast in their purpose. 

In the meantime, a new name was proposed for the new foundation and thus it was christened ‘NAVAJEEVAN’. ‘NavaLogo of  Navajeevanjeevan’ means ‘new life’. It is a Sanskrit word combining ‘nav’ meaning ‘new’ and ‘Jeevan’ meaning ‘life’. It is common practice n India to give such names to religious houses and monasteries. The monastery ‘Navajeevan’, in accordance with its name, is intended to be a spring of new life of Jesus to all those live there and visit it. This life rebounds in the rhythm of ‘Ora et Labora’ of the Benedictine monastic tradition, echoing the simplicity of a Sylvestrine family.

On 19 March 1988, Bishop J. Thumma blessed the foundation stone of the monastery and the construction got underway in right earnest. On 11 July 1988, on the feast of St. Benedict, Patron of the new monastery, the first wing was blessed by the same Bishop in the presence of monks and well-wishers. Braving now the extreme heat that goes even up to 45-48° Celsius and now the tidal waves of the sea of Bengal Strait, the monks continued the works on the monastery without respite. A further donation of $ 60.000 of late Signora SELINI FERNANDA, was made available by Rev. Fr. Andrea Pantaloni and was transferred, after her sudden death, by her husband Signor Pensieri, to the ever depleting funds, which accelerated once again the construction of the monastery. 

A year having gone by, a crisis cropped up in this pioneering community, as some monks had to leave the Foundation for other destinations due to various reasons. Nevertheless, during the ensuing years, other monks were sent by St. Joseph’s Priory of Makkiyad, to strengthen the new Foundation and it community living. In 1993 ‘NavBishop J. Thummaajeevan’ Foundation was granted the faculty of electing its own Prior. 



The Benedictine presence in the Diocese of Vijayawada began attracting young men right from the start. Navajeevan began accepting candidates from the local catholic communities with their characteristic cultural heritages and traditions to be formed as monks with a view to truly implanting the Sylvestrine charism in the region. Thanks to God, the Foundation, as of now has among its membership, nine junior monks belonging to different cultural and linguistic groups of south-central India.

Eventually, measuring the growth already achieved and foreseeing faster growth, the community unanimously decided request the Conventual Chapter of St. Joseph’s Priory, Makkiyad, to raise this Foundation to a Conventual Priory. In the meantime, it so resulted that three more members of St.Joseph’s Conventual Priory of Makkiyad, upon being officially offered such an option, joined the proposed Priory, and this providentially fulfilled the constitutional requirement of membership for a Conventual Priory. Thus, the sufficiency of membership of the solemnly professed monks having been ensured, the Conventual Chapter of St. Joseph’s, Makkiyad, voted in favour of the request with 46/49 votes on 3 May 2001. 

Subsequently, the proposal was presented to the General Chapter held in 2001 as required by the Constitutions and it decided to raise the NVery Rev. A. Pantaloniavajeevan Foundation to a Conventual Priory with an almost unanimous decision. Thus, the Navajeevan Conventual Priory was formally erected on 5 September 2001 at 16.30 hrs at St. Sylvester’s Monastery, Fabriano, the Mother House of the Congregation and the venue of this General Chapter. The official inauguration was fixed for 21 March 2002, after almost fifteen years of its existence as a Foundation of St. Joseph’s Priory of Makkiyad.


The first elective Conventual Chapter was held from 16-18 March 2002 and was presided over by Very Rev. Fr. Andrea Pantaloni, Abbot General of the Congregation. Rev. Fr. James Mylackal osb was elected the first Conventual Prior. Further, Frs. Joseph Kulathinal and Dunstan Kurumbel were elected his Councillors and later on Frs Jose M.Parambukattil and Showraiah Guvvala were nominated Councillors by Fr. Prior.



 

Apostolic Blessing on the Occasion of the Inauguration of the New Priory