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Darjeeling Jesuits

St Peters Church

Fr Denis Truyen, S.J, an energetic and farsighted missionary, used to visit the Terai from 1921-31, travelling down  from St Mary’s College, Kurseong, where he taught theology. Father was transferred to Calcutta at the end of 1931, but not before he had arranged, through Gayaganga TE, to have a small chapel-school building erected at Girja Line.

 After the departure of Father Truyen from St Mary’s, Father Fischer took over the Terai touring program for one year, 1932.  In January 1933  Fr August Bossaers, S.J, the founder of the  mission, arrived in Gayaganga Tea Estate where  Mr Alex Robertson, the manager, offered Father the use of the assistant manager’s bungalow as his residence and chapel. By November 1934 Father moved over from the tea garden bungalow to “a queer building” in Gayaganga.

 In 1938 Archbishop Perier, S.J. blessed the church building as we find it today and named it after St Peter Canisius who is remembered  for his defence of the faith and for his famous catechism. Father Bossaers died of black water fever (kala-azar) in 1945. 

 In the years before the Church arrived in the Terai, it was the voluntary catechists who kept the flame of the faith alive, such as Dominic, Musa Marens, Athanase Beck, Philip Bara and Alois Lakra.  They literally bore the heat of the day in serving the scattered communities of the twenties and thirties. In recognition of their services, the last three catechists were awarded the Bene Merenti medal by Pope Pius XII.