In 1906-1907 Lord Curzon the viceroy of India announced the new scheme of European education for the whole of India. His Lordship, Dr. Theotonius Emmanuel Rebeiro Vieira de Castro, then Bishop of Mylapore, decided to open a school separate from the San Thome High School for the benefit of Anglo-Indian children. Thus St. Bede's high school was born. The school was first situated in a rented building, the present School for the deaf and dumb on the Santhome High Road. The school opened with 55 pupils - 17 inmates of the San Thome Orphanage, who were studying in San Thome school were brought on the rolls of the new school. The school continued in this building till April, 1914. A new boarding - the St. Bede's boarding was started with just three inmates.
From the time the Salesians of Don Bosco arrived in India in 1906, Bishop Theotonius De Castro, bishop of Mylapore had repeatedly requested the Salesians to take over the San Thome orphanage. In January 1909, assisted by two newly arrived clerics, Fr. Tomatis took up the responsibility as director of San Thome Orphanage. The Salesians lost no time in reorganizing the boarding. Under their management the institution improved in every way, a chapel being one of the first improvements to be made. They provided the boys with new sets of clothes, better food, text books and note books and above all they gave special attention to the spiritual needs of the boys; none of them had yet received Holy Communion. After the reception of the Holy Eucharist a radical change was noticed in the boys. Slowly happiness and contentment radiated on their faces. Within a few years the strength rose to 105. Fr. Tomatis organized a brass band, a large stage was built, new toilet facilities were provided and a new kitchen was built and all within a period of six years. The performance of the orphans in the scholastic field also improved.
In November 1925 the orphanage suffered a great loss. Fr. Tomatis was suddenly rendered unconscious by a stroke and he died on November 25. It was a great blow to all who had known and loved him, in particular the boys. He was laid to rest in the Quibble Island cemetery in Santhome. The San Thome Orphanage grew from thirty-five boys in 1909 to 280 boys in 1928 when the Salesians handed the institution back to the Diocese of Mylapore.
In 1952 the two dioceses of Madras and Mylapore were amalgamated and St. Bede's came under the new Archdiocese of Madras-Mylapore. A Salesian, Archbishop Louis Mathias, known for his daring and foresight took over the leadership of the Archdiocese. When the new buildings were ready he combined the orphanage with the boarding, making a single viable institution. In 1956 the archbishop invited the Salesians of Don Bosco to take over this institution and a group of Salesians headed by Fr. Hugh Tuena as rector and Fr. John Mallon, as principal took over in January 1956.
St. Bede's Boarding St. Bede's Boarding is a Salesian Boarding. The boarding strives to give a Christian and secular education to the students of the Anglo-Indian Community hailing from the southern states of India. The boarding strives to make them responsible citizens and convinced Christians. The Boarding gives ample opportunities to the boarders to improve their talents and excel in their studies. The boarders are encouraged to share the responsibility for the organization of their daily life.
The Preventive System promoted by St. John Bosco is the system of education in the boarding. This system is based on reason, religion and loving kindness. Spiritual life of the boarders is strengthened by daily Mass, Daily Rosary, regular Confession and through various prayer moments. The brotherly and active presence of the educators, brothers and fathers at all times with them helps in the harmonious development of their own capabilities and to avoid all sorts of disturbance. The boarders are also given opportunities to improve their talents in sports, music, cultural, etc. The Boarding tries to give a holistic formation to the boarders through its various activities and programs.
1. League System: In order to foster leadership, team spirit and healthy competition in all curricular and co-curricular activities of the orphanage, the league system is followed. Every boarder is a member of one of the four league teams (Red, Blue, Green, Yellow) into which the orphanage is divided. Our boys are encouraged to spend lot of time in sports activities. During special league games the winning team is awarded with points. Points are awarded for excellence in studies, good conduct, cleanliness, work, games etc. The league system helps our boys to behave well and to work as a team under the guidance of the leader.
2. Programs: Throughout the year various programs are organized for our boys. During the month of July, Bible Day is organized. The importance of the Word of God is imparted through a Bible Quiz, and through various other related competitions. Our boys actively participate with enthusiasm as they come to understand the importance of the Word of God more effectively through these programs.
3. Competitions: Our boys are highly talented and hence, various competitions like singing, dance, skit competitions are conducted regularly during the year. Sunday evenings are a special treat to ones eyes, as all our boys are given an open stage to feel free and dance and spend their recreational time to develop and to bring out their various talents.
4. Band A Salesian house without music is like a body without a soul' said Don Bosco. St. Bede's orphanage has a long standing tradition of teaching music to our boys. We are proud to have one of the oldest brass bands. Every boarder in the orphanage gets chance to learn at least one musical instrument before he leaves the orphanage.