Darsi mission was started in January 1974 and it was a substation of Donakonda parish till September 1974. The same year it became a separate parish with eight substations. The late Fr. Benjamin, a diocesan priest, was the first parish priest from whom the Jesuits took up this parish in 1974 itself. Fr. Lourdusamy was the first Jesuit Parish Priest of Darsi.
Fr. Lourdusamy gave much importance to faith formation of the parishioners being the first parish priest and the pioneering missionary at Darsi. He built three small chapels. In June 1985, Fr. Francis Xavier Mani became the second parish priest. He too continued to give faith formation to strengthen their faith. He waged a real war against the landlords of Sangam village to safeguard the lands of the tribals. During the struggle Frs. S.A. Alphonse, M. Kulandai Raj and Fr. Arul Raja helped Fr. Mani. In 1991, Fr. Peter Daniel became the third Parish priest and Fr. M. Selvaraj became his assistant and later became Parish Priest. Fr. Peter Daniel spent his time and energy to uplift the poor people from every sphere of life. The Jesuit Pre- Novitiate was here for a few years during which several Jesuits and scholastics worked here. Frs. Peter Daniel and M. Selvaraj are remembered by our people for building two schools and hundreds of houses for Catholics and doing a lot of social work. During their time, Fr. A. X. J. Bosco, SJ, the former Provincial, had visited the parish several times and our faithful remember him for his love and concern. Fr. M. Sahayaraj took up the parish on August 1, 1996 and continued the uncompleted works of his predecessor. He built houses and laid roads in villages and he was popularly known for his herbal medicine. Then, came Frs. Navin Kumar and K. Prabhakar from the diocese and they took care of the parish and the boarding since no Jesuit parish Priest was available. They were appointed parish priests. Then Fr. L. Prasad worked for a year as parish priest. Fr. Arulanandam Elango succeeded him in May, 2002. He observed the reality and different situations of people for a period of 4 months and then started responding to their situation by providing spiritual and developmental needs. Besides providing weekly Eucharis in sub-stations, we have introduced Basic Christian Communities, Conducting family prayers, reciting rosary, and children camp, having Bible Courses and Youth Meetings. Moreover, we have responded to the health aspect of our people also.
According to the UN, AIDS is called the disease of the century.” Each day of the month in Prakasam district, at least 20 people are infected with a deadly virus for which there is no cure. Our children are worried and concerned that the terminator disease threatens to wipe out from the Darsi soil. A programme on HIV/AIDS awareness, performed mostly by children orphaned by the dreaded disease, is making waves in rural villages of Andhra Pradesh. After a much study and survey, the Catholic Mission of Darsi, launched this AIDS awareness campaign in September 2002 as a response to the alarming situation in Prakasam district, where every village has had an average of five AIDS cases.
The Catholic Mission has hit on the plan of making students powerful and effective teachers to villagers. A 16-member theatre group of boys and girls introduces the programmme by saying that there is no treatment for the illness and that prevention is the only cure. Their play goes on to explain facts about AIDS and the precautions that need to be taken. “People in this area commit suicide when they get to know they have contracted AIDS.
Late Most Rev. Bishop Balaswamy launched ATDS awareness campaign with a few more rehabilitation programmes in Darsi area in June 2003. The 75-minute cultural programme portrays a dramatic sequence about the social boycott of a little girl who has fallen victim to the disease. This is a moving scene of a playlet, titled ” Evariki Siksha” (Who is punished’) that makes people shed tears. The programme consists of two dramas, six songs and six dances. The entire programme is serious and message oriented. 65 programmes are given in traffic areas and villages that are on the main road and some interior villages. The AIDS programmes in Darsi consist of two nurses including a sister nurse and a couple of doctors, two counselors and a few more persons. We all worked under the supervision of Fr. Govindu Innaiah, the Chancellor and the AIDS Programme coordinator of the Diocese of Nellore. Four of our sub-stations do not have chapel for worship and it disturbs the faithful for Mass and prayers. To respond to this felt need, the Arch-diocese of Freiburg, Germany came forward to build a Church al Lourdu Giri, one of the sub-stations, through Bishop P.C. Balaswamy who was keenly interested in the Darsi mission.
November 3, 2003 is a red- letter day for the devotees of Darsi area, where a shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes is built at the foot of a hill at Lourdu Girl. It would certainly become a beautiful pilgi-image center, said many looking at the Church, the cave that is built at the foot of the hill and a big crucifix on the Top of the hill, some 1800 feet high. It should be noted that the Bishop had built in the past the main Church in the center and in four sub-stations with his personal effort besides building a presbytery which is in a dilapidated condition.
Now there are four Jesuits working in the Darsi Mission. Fr.Peter Danial is a director of the mission ably helped by Fr.Maria Joseph Maria Raj as parish priest corespondent of the school and the director of the boarding, Fr.B.Suresh kumar as principal and corespondent of junior college and hostel and Scholastic Gabriel raja as regent
St.Ignatius Church, Darsi
High School, Jr Coll & Boarding
Tel : Res:(08407)253494, Parish:253073
Jr coll : 253697