About French Department
A brief history
In the year 1946, the first bishop of Mysore, Rt. Rev. Dr. René Feuga started St. Philomena’s College and the choice of the first Principal fell on Rev.Fr. C.A. Browne who himself was an eminent Professor of both English and French. He was assisted by a very great son of a baron from the University of Lille, Rev. Fr. Louis d’Hendecourt, the first Rector of the College. Fr. C.A. Browne was also the member of the Academic Council, the Syndicate, and the Board of Studies in English and French in the University of Mysore. Even after his superannuation in 1949, he was privileged to be the examiner in French, for a number of years at the M.A. Degree Examination of the University of Madras.
When Chevalier C.J. Varkey became the second principal from 1949 to 1951, a very learned French priest Fr. A. Fleury taught both English and French. He had done his M.A. (Cantab) in English at the University of Cambridge. He continued his service in the department, when Rev. Dr. J.B. Freeman became the third principal of the college from 1951 to 1952.
As the mantle of the principal’s post fell on the shoulders of Fr. Francis Audieu from 1952 to 1960, the department of French witnessed a steady progress in the number of students. There was even an Association of French to foster and bolster the academic and cultural activities of the students. It is worthwhile to note that one M. Gaston Berger, President of the International Institute of Philosophy in Paris addressed the members of the Association in 1959 and for the Valedictory Function held on Sunday 6th March 1960, the reputed French Prof. Maria Gabriel of Loyola College, Madras presided and a French engineer Mr. Gresset from France who was working then at Bharath Electronics in Bangalore made the presentation to the gathering. Both Fr. Audieu and Fr. Fleury continued to teach in the Department of French. After Fr. Audieu left for missions in Malaysia, Fr. N.T. Thomas became the Principal of the college from 1960 to 1066. Fr. Fleury continued his service until he himself became Principal from 1966 to 1971. During the period of the next three Principals, Fr. Frank D’Souza (1971-1977), Fr.Thomas Vazhapillay (1977-1979) and Fr.Ezhanikat (1979-1980) and Fr.Valerian D’Souza (1980-1992), Fr. J.B. Fraigneau, a very scholarly and erudite Frenchman taught French till he breathed his last in 1984. After his passing away, there was a dip and decline in the department from 1984 to 1992 as there were no proper resource to teach French.
But when the young and enthusiastic, Fr. Leslie Moras became Principal from 1992 onwards, he cleverly managed to get French bénévoles (volunteers) from Paris with a gentleman’s agreement with the founder association of the Missions Etrangères de Paris to take over the department. As a result, the French bénévoles from Paris came regularly to handle the classes. As they stopped coming from the academic year 2013, Prof. A. John Siluvai with his rich experience of teaching English and French for more than three decades has been entrusted with the task of steering the department.
Future Plan of Action :
As the importance of learning French in the present global scenario is becoming more and more patent among the students and the public, the department has plans to conduct summer course of 80 hours duration and issue certificates for the debutants. In fact, Dr. R.P. Kaushik, former ambassador to Turkistan and Chairman of the NACC peer committee, in his review talk was full of appreciation for the department of French and expressed his opinion that St. Philomena’s College should become the centre for learning French. It is in this perspective that the department has taken the first step to make the Mysoreans join the mainstream of 450 million francophone spread across Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Canada, North Africa, former colonies of Western and Central Africa, Haiti, French West Indies, New Caledonia, French Guiana, Tahiti, Lebanon, Syria, Laos, Cambodia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Comoro Island, Reunion, Seychelles, Mayotte, Djibouti…just to name a few in the world.