St.Xavier’s school was established at Palayamkottai in 1880. Palayamkottai is the ‘Oxford of South India’ and St. Xavier’s finds a pride of place by her significant contribution. We must thank Rev. Fr. Louis Verdier S.J. and his effort to establish this marvelous Institution with the motto –Veritate Lumen et Vita (Light and Life through Truth).
As no Father could be sparred to run the infant institution, some lay teachers were enlisted for the purpose. The credit for efficiently handling the situation goes to Mr. C. Appasamy Pillai (1898-1906) under whose able and devoted leadership the institution kept growing both in strength and in popularity.
Rev.Fr. Adrian Caussanel S.J. a man of vision and inexhaustible energy coupled with unshakable trust in the Sacred Heart of Jesus had set his heart on getting the site assigned for the school purpose. But there were other powerful claimants to the land. Rev.Fr.Caussanel did not rest till he had won through every opposition.
In 1884 the first set was sent up for the matriculation examination. In 1898 the school was given permanent recognition by the Director of Public Instructions. In 1899 the Catholic Boarding house was established. In 1903 a hostel was started with 10 boys.
In 1906, Rev.Fr Casimier Saldanha, SJ (1906-1913) was the first priest to take over as headmaster from Mr.A.C.M. Appasamy Pillai. In 1907 the Branch Middle School was amalgamated into the High School. During this period, Jesuit Scholastics were introduced into the school for teaching and hostel works. In 1909 the last set of students appeared for the matriculation examination. The academic year coincided with the calendar year. But the school switched over to the S.S .L.C scheme from March-April 1910. Hence instead of closing in December it was extended to March- April. In 1910-11 academic years the first set appeared for S.S.L.C. examination.
Rev.Fr.Lebeau SJ (1913-1923) took over as the Manager and Headmaster of the School from 1913. He was an accomplished musician. He had trained his choir of picked singers to perfection, so that they could render with equal ease the customary repertoire of Tamil songs and some of the best and most popular English anthems. The Governor of the then Madras Presidency, Lord Willington and His Lady had come down on a visit to Palayamkottai. Fr. Lebeau called on their Excellency to pay his respect and to request them, if it were not too great an inconvenience to them, to make a brief call at St.Xavier’s where staff and students would be greatly honoured by their presence. Fr. Lebeau was one of the Board of Examiners set up for the evaluation of the S.S.L.C examination papers. In 1914-15 academic years, a Mathematics teacher was appointed as Honorary Magistrate. On January 28, 1916 the foundation stone of the school main building was blessed and laid by Rev. Dr. A Faisandier, SJ. On June 19, 1917 the new High school building was blessed and inaugurated for school use. On 31 October 1918 the Papal Delegate, the Most Rev. Peter Fumasoni Biondi SJ was accorded a warm welcome. On August 11, 1922 a newly built hostel was inaugurated. Now it is called Sacred Heart Hostel.
Rev. Fr.A.Gnanapragasam SJ (1923-1926) succeeded Fr.Lebeau SJ in 1923. He was an efficient administrator and deeply spiritual person. He emphasized the need of spiritual growth among the students. He was also the Rector of the campus when Fr Lebeau SJ took over as the first principal of the college.
Rev.Fr. Allard S.J. (1926-29) succeeded him. He was known for his efficient administration. He brought out some internal changes with regard to academic activities.
Rev.Fr.J.M.Gnanadickam S.J. (1929-30) succeeded Fr. Allard. He spent much of his time for the development of the school.
Rev.Fr. Gomaz S.J. (1930-1935) succeeded him. He was an eminent scholar and a well-known musician. During his tenure, he had a good rapport with the college and used to involve himself in the college functions. He rendered his services even to the college students. He was a music master.
In 1935, Rev.Fr. J.L. Miranda, SJ (1935-1940) assumes responsibility as Headmaster. He was an ideal Headmaster. He was indeed a man of action in spite of slender health. In fact he had no teaching work but he had in his finger tips the prescribed syllabuses of all the forms for all the subjects. He used to enter classes and whatever be the subject taught, observed the lesson and offered constructive and valuable suggestions. There were no coaching or tuition classes in those days. The scout movement was started during his period. He did not forget to impart good religious instructions to the catholic students.
In 1940 Rev.Fr. Ferdinand S.J (1940 -1947) took over as Headmaster. He was successful administrator. He introduced the publication of School Magazine. The Literary and Debating Society functioned efficiently and successfully.
When Fr.Ferdinand SJ became the superior of the Jesuit community, Rev.Fr. Arulanandan, S.J became the Headmaster. During his days, our country had her First Independence Day celebration.
Fr. Alapatt. S.J. was the next Headmaster. Hindi was introduced as curriculum. The N.C.C. was introduced during his period. Mid-day meals scheme was introduced for the poor.
Rev.Fr Doraiswami. S.J (1951-1955) took over as the Correspondent and Headmaster. He was a Christ-like figure. “Milk of human kindness” flowed from him. He started a Co-operative and Credit Society for the teachers.
Rev.Fr. A.Kulandaisami S.J (1955 -1957) succeeded him. He introduced the Engineering Course with a new vision.
Rev.Fr.Marianayagam.S.J (1957-1959) assumed charge as the Headmaster. He directed his attention towards the S.S.L.C results. From 1951 -1965 St. Xavier’s was at the peak of its glory. There was a galaxy of very good teachers in the school. During the visit of Governor Prakasam to Tiruneveli, St.Xavier’s was not on his programme schedule. Having heard the name and the fame of the school, he paid a lightening visit to St.Xavier’s and admired the atmosphere of discipline and silence when the students were attending classes. Even the teachers in spite of their learning and a wealth of experience were far from being sophisticated. Rev.Fr. J.P. Leonard, S.J. who worked here as a teacher was consecrated as Archbishop of Madurai. In 1952, Rev. Fr. R. Sundaram, an old boy of the school was appointed as Bishop of Tanjore. The most Rev.Dr. Peter Fernando D.D, the present Archbishop of Madurai was also an old student of St.Xavier’s. In 1954, Rt.Rev.Dr. Chellappa, an old boy of the school, became the Bishop of C.S.I. church in Madras. On 15th August 1959, the church dedicated to our Lady of Assumption in St. Xavier’s campus was consecrated by the Bishop of Kottar Rt.Rev.Dr.Agnisamy. S.J.
Rev.Fr. Arul Joseph S. J (1959-1962) was the successor of Rev. Fr. Marianayagam.S.J. He took active part in the whole affairs of Tirunelveli District Teachers’ Guild and assumed office as its president. He was very popular among the members of the teaching community. Later he became the principal of St. Xavier’s College of Education.
Rev. Fr. Maria Rathinam, S.J.(1962-1965) succeeded him. The payment of salary to the staff completely by the government was started from 1.04.1964. He enforced strict discipline in every sphere.
Rev. Fr. D. Arockiam, S.J (1965-1967) succeeded him. He was a man of few words, a silent worker, and an able administrator. He started free coaching for outstanding students.
Rev.Fr. J.M. Lourduraj, S.J (1967-1977) succeeded him and he held this office for a decade. He had a good rapport with the staff and students. With the commendable cooperation from the staff, he was able to maintain St. Xavier’s tradition of academic excellence and discipline. He had the charism of winning the hearts of students and the students keep in contact with him.
Rev.Fr. Lourdu John S.J (1977-1983) succeeded him. He also held the post of Rector. He was an able administrator and maintained strict discipline among the staff and students. The school was upgraded to the Higher Secondary School in 1978. The school centenary celebration was held in 1980 during his tenure. The Centenary block was built demolishing one of the tiled sheds. In his tenure, state first and second ranks in the S.S.L.C examination were secured by our students in 1982.
Rev. Fr. A.Felix Joseph, S.J. (1983-1988) succeeded him in 1983. While keeping up the academic standard, he gave importance to extra curricular activities which contributed to the development of the total personality of students. Activities such as “cultural week” started by him are still continued.
Rev.Fr. Joseph L. Pragasam. S.J (1988 -1994) succeeded him. He was a stickler for punctuality and duty. He had an enviable reputation of producing centum result in S.S.L.C examination. During his tenure, Rev.Fr. Irudayaraj SJ founded the Old Boys’ Association in 1990.
Rev. Fr. Alphonse William, S.J, (1994 -96) the Headmaster, introduced the Loyola study centre to the educationally backward students. He gave enormous importance to the welfare of the economically backward students. He was one of the founder members of LASAC movement. The then Assistant Headmaster Rev.Fr.Arul Jeevan started a charitable association namely STAAR to be run and maintained by the students themselves in 1996.
Rev.Fr. Albert Joseph S.J (1996 – 2000) succeeded him and made determined effort to the development of rural and refugee students. During his period, Saldanha Block (Xavier Hall) was built. The compound wall around the Verdier ground was materialized by his strenuous efforts. Moreover he updated the biological lab with modern equipments. He introduced computer education from VI std to XII std.
Rev. Fr. Ignatius Britto S.J (2000- 2006) succeeded him. During his tenure, the Post Centenary Silver Jubilee (125 years in the service of Education) was celebrated. He erected Rev. Fr.Aruppe block which is now the administrative block. Counselling for students was introduced in the school and the hostel. Fr.A.M. Sigamani S.J. was the first student counsellor.
Rev Fr. Y.S Yagoo, S.J. (2006 -2011) was his successor. He encouraged extra curricular activities, sports and games. He started state level tournaments for all major games namely Fr.Leveil Centenary Football tournament and Fr.Arruppe Centenary Hockey tournament. During Christmas season a team of staff headed by him visited every home of the members of the staff. He introduced Identity Cards for the Students. In 2010, he was awarded Dr. Radhakrishnan award by the Tamilnadu Government for the efficient service rendered by him.
Rev.Fr.M.A. Ignacy, SJ whose name reminds us of the founder of the Society of Jesus, succeeded him in June 2011, puts his heart and soul to impart quality education to the students. Loyola Study centre is getting a rebirth under his strenuous efforts and our school entrance is getting an elegant appearance with wide roads and beautiful gardens with a variety of plants.