An Inspiring Memory
Rt. Rev. Dr. Jerome M Fernandez
It was a long-cherished dream of Most Rev Stanley Roman, the Bishop of Quilon, to build up an institute of Higher Learning in the diocese of Quilon to perpetuate the memory of the most revered Bishop, the first indigenous Bishop of Quilon, Most Rev Dr Jerome M. Fernandez, Thuppasseril, who steered the diocese of Quilon for long 41 years with a clear vision and definite goal. From the very inception of his Pastoral Charity, Bishop Jerome was fully convinced that education alone is the right key to the integral development of his flock steeped in ignorance, squalor, and poverty. He therefore initiated primary schools, upgraded the existing ones, and opened new high schools. To establish a first grade College for the benefit of his flock was haunting him ever since he had stepped into the shoes of the Bishop of Quilon. Though remote preparations to have a well-qualified clergy to serve the dream-project started in the forties, the dream came true only in 1950 when he obtained the non-objection certificate to start a College at the Varuvayal compound overcoming all odds. Nothing could deter him from realizing his dream of establishing and maintaining an institution of higher learning. To acknowledge and appreciate his indomitable prowess to achieve what he considered right and just, Bishop Stanley Roman decided to name the second biggest institution of higher learning “Bishop Jerome Institute” as a lasting tribute to Most Rev Jerome Fernandez, a staunch champion and pioneer of higher learning in the diocese of Quilon.
Bishop Jerome displayed an insurmountable courage and clear far-sightedness during his long reign in establishing various other educational institutions like Karmela Rani Training College, Bharata Mata ITC, and Jyothi Niketan Women’s College for ameliorating the life of the community which indeed needed an overall growth to wrest a reputable space in the mainstream of the society. The health care of the society too received his special attention when he opened the Bishop Benziger Hospital as a fitting tribute to the great Carmelite Missionary of the 19th Century, who labored tirelessly to build up the vast diocese of Quilon and to promote Nursing Care in Travancore at the behest of late Maharaj Sree Moolam Thirunal of Travancore. A well-equipped nursing school was added to the Benziger Hospital later by him, to train nurses and health workers from the community to serve the public.
Bishop Jerome Fernandez was not only a champion of education but also a staunch defender of the rights of minorities. He fearlessly stood against attempts to nationalize educational institutions in the late 1940s and late 1950s, spearheading the battle against these moves. His unwavering commitment to preserving the autonomy and values of educational institutions has left a lasting impact on our society.
In the socio-economic arena, Bishop Jerome founded the Quilon Social Service Society in 1960, a silent force that has greatly been instrumental in improving the lives of people in the region. His selfless service and tireless efforts have uplifted countless individuals and brought about a positive change in the community.
A scholar of the BJI should be proud to acknowledge that a tall spiritual leader’s legacy has enriched and enlightened him to travel beyond the arches to seek and find newer worlds of science and technology. He should strive to emulate his dedication, determination and selfless spirit to achieve his goals in life.
Fatima College Road,
Kollam, Kerala – 691001