Servant of God Father Constant Lievens is known as the apostle and founder of the Church in Chotanagpur. He was born at Moorslede in the diocese of Bruges (Belgium) or April 10, 1856. He joined the Society of Jesus at Drongen on October 21, 1878. On October 22, 1880 he made his religious profession and set out for India, where he arrived in Calcutta on December 2, 1880.
He wan ordained a priest at Calcutta on January 14, 1883. Later he was sent to Ranchi in Chotanagpur where he arrived in 1885. Father Lievens founded his first mission station at Torpa in November 1885. He led a very austere and ascetic life. Aware of the vicious exploitation of tribals by Jagirdars, Zamindars, Thikedars and moneylenders, he studied the customary laws of the tribals and the laws of the British government. With the help of reliable and defense of the tribals in the courts. This led to an ever-increasing flow of people towards the Church.
He worked himself to death, instructing, building schools and chapels, preparing court cases etc. On August 27, 1888 he was appointed Director of the mission and shifted to Manresa House, Ranchi from where he organized and supervised the mission work. He ruined his health by his unflagging zeal and ceaseless labours. He contracted tuberculosis and on August 26, 1892 he left Ranchi for Belgium in the hope of recovering and of returning to his dear mission. But that was not to be. He died at Louvain on November 7, 1893. On his arrival at Ranchi there were only 56 Catholics in the area where he was destined to work. By the time he left, about seven and a half years later, thee were well over 70, 000. “The miracle of the Church of Chotanagpur” had begun. With the consent of the government of India, his mortal remains were brought back to “his people” on November 1, 1993 and after an extensive tour throughout his old mission field, re-interred in the Ranchi Cathedral on November 7, 1993.
The cause for his Beatification started in 1993, in the diocese of Bruges. The postulator is Rev. O. Denorme, who has prepared the required dossier about his life, virtues and labours. The diocesan commission was officially constituted and inaugurated on March 15, 2000. The people of Chotanagpur who consider him their “apostle and father in faith” have never forgot Father Lievens.
Vice Postulator for India,
Fr. F. Jonckheere sj, Manreasa House,
P.B. 2, Ranchi, Jharkhand – 834 001
Other Candidates For Canonization In India