DIOCESE OF VARANASI

Fullness in Truth

Francispur



Deanery Ballia
Patron Saint St. Francis of Assisi
Year of Establishment 1936
Parish Priest Fr. John Abraham
Asst. Parish Priest Fr. Brayn Barel
Priests of the Parish Fr. Manuel C. , Fr. Gyan Prakash , Fr. John Masih, Fr. Prem Chand
No. of Catholics 1655
Address St. Francis of Assisi Church Francispur Ashram Parsia P.O., Via Rasra Ballia Dt. U.P. 221 712 05491-225081
Religious Srs 13
About The first visit paid by the Catholic Missionary to the village of Parsia near Rasra was in November 1936, when there was not a single Catholic there. Hearing that there were many people in the district of Ballia inclined to join the Church, Fr. Francis Pillay, a diocesan priest of Allahabad, started visiting regularly some villages about three or four miles away from Rasra Railway Station. The work was not easy. It meant that he had to stay there in a small tent for half a week in the scorching sun during summer and in the biting cold during winter. Also the distance from Gorakhpur to Rasra implied many sacrifices. Practically the whole day was spent in traveling. The sacrifices made by Fr. Pillay bore fruits sooner than was expected. In April 1937 two Missionary brothers of St. Francis from Mount Poinsur were sent by the Bishop to help Fr. Francis Pillay who up to this date was aided in catechizing by one or two catechists. In June of the same year a house of mud (18 × 12 ft) was built and it was used as a chapel, dining room, dormitory and visiting room. This house had a verandah on two sides. With the coming of two brothers the work of evangelization was carried on more systematically and energetically. The ever increasing work at this centre on the one hand and the incompatibility of the parish work miles away with that of the mission demanded the appointment of another priest who could work exclusively in the mission. Hence in June 1937 Fr. Anthony Rodrigues, a diocesan priest of Allahabad who was working as assistant parish priest in the cathedral of Allahabad was transferred to Azamgarh from where he could work at Rasra. This placement was done because there was no house where he could stay at Rasra. While Fr. Francis Pillay was still allowed to visit Belthara Road, situated at the vicinity of Gorakhpur district. Soon after the arrival of Fr. Anthony Rodrigues, in 1937, at his new station, had the happiness of baptizing a small village of about 50 souls. The work was now pushed ahead more than ever and every month the number of converts swelled by twenties and forties. Apart from the troubles and difficulties which our zealous Missionaries could not avoid such as the distance from Gorakhpur, the fact that Fr. Anthony had to travel twice a week to and from Azamgarh the want of a rest house and food and also the fact that our Missionaries have often to teach at night sometimes as late as 10 o'clock because during the day the villagers are working in their fields. There was not very serious opposition on the part of the people of other faith, though sometimes even from the very beginning some one or another tried to prevent conversions by frightening Fr. Pillay's converts. A little more than a year later there came a mass opposition on the part of Arya Samajists. These held meetings in every village to counter a growing influence of Catholicism, making rosy promises and offering easy terms to our converts if these would return to Hinduism. When this ruse failed they exhorted the relatives and friends of the converts to outcaste the later and stop sharing with them their wells, seeds and even smoke, Hukka. These attempts too proved abortive. With regard to schools from the very beginning Fr. Pillay opened one or two small schools the catechists being the teachers. The brothers helped Fr. Anthony in this work. The Missionaries were also doctors and pleaders. In fact it is on account of the earnest and successful pleading on the part of Fr. Francis Pillay for the just causes of these oppressed villagers in the courts, that these poor people took to the missionaries and the religion in which they found the Truth and real depth of Love. By the year 1940 number of the Catholics at Francispur and in the surrounding villages was over 840. Thus Fr. Francis Pillay had initiated the Centre at Rasra in 1936, and many diocesan priests of Allahabad laboured here along with Franciscan Missionary Brothers. Msgr. Leo, V.G., blessed the earlier church in 1941. In 1947 it was given to the Canadian Capuchin Fathers. Many mission stations were started from this present parish. Among many missionaries who worked here, Fr. Francois Marie would always be remembered in connection with this parish. Sisters of the Queen of the Apostles (SRA) opened their house in 1947. Sisters saw a great need of hostel for girls. They also adopted some orphan children and made the hostel as their home and looked after these children till they were married and settled. The result of this, there are several daughters of Francispur boarding, who are already married and well settled. As church grew, number of catholics has grown much in Francispur parish. The church building would not accommodate more people. In 2006, Fr. Anthony Muttu built the new church. Bishop Patrick D'Souza blessed the Church. There are two boarding houses, one for boys from class III to V and the other for girls from class VI to X. In view of animating the people around Rasra Fr. Ivan Joseph began a centre, Centre for Rural Development (CRD). Later on Fr. Cyriac Kuruvilla purchased a piece of land at Rasra-Nagra road with a view to open an English medium school so that our Catholics in the village area could benefit. This school has grown having about 2200 children. The school is entrusted to UMI sisters. Hindi medium school began in the year 1939 and entrusted to SRA Sisters and later on it was handed over to Diocesan Priests. It is raised into an intermediate college in 2015.

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