R.S. Puram is the abbreviated form for “Rathina Sabababathy Puram”, named after its founder Mr. Rao Sahih CS. Rathin Sababathy Mudaliar, one of the most nìemorable Chairman of Coimbatore Municipality, v ho can be rightly called “The Father of Coimbatore”. The Siruvani drinking water scheme, which still today quenches the thirst of the need for protected water supply, was due to him. He also conceived and planned the suburb of R.S. Puram, a model for all the later city Housing development schemes. The Coimbatore municipality came into existence in 1866. In the beginning the members were nominated by the British Rulers. That is how our Very Rev. Fr. Rondy could be a member and even the Chairman of Coimbatore Municipality. The councilors chosen by Ballet Boxes was a later development. He was the Chairman of the Coimbatore municipality from 1926-1936, a period which saw Coimbatore, developing in Commerce, Industry, Engineering etc. Hence, he planned and developed this area, which otherwise was an area of thorny bushes, except for the two famous All India Institutions, the Agricultural College (now an Agricultural University), at that time one of the very few institutions of its kind in India and the Forest college (The only other forest College, during and long after the British rule, was at Dhera Dun in the Himalayas). The Architectural construction of both these Institutions, standout till today with the combination of European Sarsanic style). They both had a valuable and unique Museums, a rarity in those days!). The Agricultural college was started in 1906, In 191 2, another unique all India level institution, the Sugar-Cane Institute also came up at that time. The Pykara Hydro-Electricity Project in the Nilgirs, came up in 1932! Hence we can only admire his extra-ordinary foresight and vision. (cfr. Miss. T.K. Shakti Dcvi Kovai Nagara Varalaru p. 69 70).
When this new town extension came up, the Missionaries manaEed to obtain a piece of land at the intersection of th Thadaagm Road, Maruthamalai Road and Forest College Road in 1924. By cleverly exchanging a plot of land, measuring 62 cents, near Ram Nagar, Kattoor, with the Coimbatore Municipality, for this plot of 2 acres and 24 cents. Since there were very few Catholics, it was looked after by the Cathedral Parish. During the II World War, the War – refugees of Malta (All Catholics) were given shelter at the Forest College Campus ; hence Sunday Mass was said at the College. Fr. M. Savarimuthu (later Bishop) as Procurator was their Chaplain. With the help (manual labour) of the Maltese Evacuees, he constructed the Grotto in honour of Our Lady of Lourdes in 1943, which became a popular shrine, in 1948, a chapel was built in honour of St. John de Britto, and was attached to Kattoor, on 15-05-1941 an Elementary School (raised to Higher Elementary later), was started here by Bishop Uhagarasamy, and it is named after him. It was one of the largest Higher Elementary School in the state, later handed over to the Presentation Sisters.
In 1963, it was made a separate parish by Bishop Francis Savarimuthu and Fr. Pappu was the first Parish Priest. A presbytery was built in 1964 and it was later expanded, to form the quaint shape of wings as it is today, with the flooring of uneven surface, due to ‘economizing’ the cost, by building it with the local clay soil! Since the whole plot has the clay soil, even today it becomes dangerously slippery to the unwary! The foundation for the most architecturally modern church, (planed by the famousJesuit Architect, Fr. Stevensen S.J., of Bangalore and constructed by Fr. John Bosco with the help of Mr. Germanus, a famous contractor of Madurai). The foundation was blessed by Bishop Visuvasam, who was known to favour buildings of Grandeaur (the other notable churches of his time, are the churches of Pollachi and Udumalpet). To collect funds for tile church the Parish Priest undertook fund – raising tours of the United States. Whenever he had to be absent from the Parish, Fr. Sadanandam used to substitute him. It va completed by Fr. john Bosco, and was consecrated by Bishoj: Ambrose on 21 .5. 1983. For making room for the new church. the old Gratto “as shifted to a neighboring site. The society ci St. Paul started their house at Saibaba Colony on 20.7.1982 and started a Book-shop of Catholic literature in one of the shops of St. Joseph’s Industrial School, but after a few years, they had to close down both their book-stall (for lack of sufficient Patronage) and consequently their house also.
Unfortunately, the marvelous architectural creation of Fr. Stevanss, S.J. shortly after its blessing, started some defects on the novel church roofing. The Architect had planned the huge semi circular church, without any supporting pillars in the body of the church, the columns of the walls, supposed to bear the whole weight. This was to enable the people to have a un-hindered view of the Alter from anywhere inside the Church. But unfortunately, the consultant engineer of his, a Brahmin on whom he had placed his full confidence (as some missionaries of foreign origin won’t to do) on his technical competence, proved to be a misplaced trust as later the Technical experts of the P.S.G. College found out; and supported by other experts, that the basic fault was the iron bars used in its construction, by default of a few milli-meters, in the girth of the iron bars! A hard-learned lesson, how even minute mistakes can affect a magnificent edifice! And anyhow Fr. John Bosco, managed to rectify the small, but dangerous defect, by putting up supporting columns, which ofcourse, marred the original splendor!
Fr. I. Paul Antony, succeeded him and with his characteristic personal magnetism, built up the Parish as a family and attracted parishioners of various talents into a well-knit dynamic group, who began to play a very active supportive role in further developments of the Parish. The long felt-need for a Community Hall of the Parishioners was realized by him. The foundation stone was blessed on 4-11-1990, but unfortunately, before he could complete, he had a stroke and out of action for a few months. But he recovered sufficiently, to complete the community Hall, a standing monument for the cooperation of the committed lay people to their Pastor, and it was blessed by Bishop Ambrose. Later he retired from active parish ministry, due to his physical handicap. On 2.7.1990, a new school building was blessed byBishof 4mbrose and a new Convent house has also come up within the Church compound. The Higher Elementary School was raised to High School recently. The Silver Jubilee of the Parish was celebrated in 1988 and a bell-fry was constructed in memory of it. Rev. Fr. A. Siluvainathar, Fr. Patrick D’Rosario, Fr. Marianathar, Fr. Sadhanandam, Fr. Antony Lawrence, Fr. Dharmanathar and Fr. Jaya Paul, were the former Parish Priests!
Though the Parish is of recent origin, the demarcation of its territory, to say the least is a confusing and illogical one. For instance, Selvapuram which is at the southern end of the Parish, on the Coimbatore-Perur Road could be reached oniy through Kattoor and Cathedral Parish Areas, is closer to the Cathedral than to R.S. Puram! The vast, almost barren terrain upto Marudamalai is developing with an unimaginable swiftness, with the mushrooming of Housing-Colonies. Though a plot of 88 cents was acquired during the time of Fr. Sadhanandam, it was left utilized. The Diocese of Syro-Malabar Rite of Paighat Diocese, with the Congregation of Mary Immaculate (C.M.I.) had taken the lead and had their institutions in this fast developing area! Unless foresight and planning well-in-advance, the future growth of the city, in this space-age, even a delay of short duration could only end in the ioss of vantage sites for our Institutions besides the sky-rocketing price of the land, making them beyond our capacity.
Mass timings :
Weekdays : 6.3O p.m
Sundays : 6.30 & 8.30a.m, 1st & 3rd Sunday, 5.30 p.m In English
St. John De Britto Shrine,
R.S. Puram, Coimbatore – 641 002.
(Estd :1963 – Area : 25 Sq. miles)
For more information please visit: www.coimbatorediocese.org