India. A new novitiate was opened on May 30, 2009 as the second inter-provincial novitiate of India in Sonada, West Bengal. Twelve novices from the three organisms of Bangalore (2), Chennai (7) and North East India (3) began their novitiate under the guidance of the master of novices, Fr. Michael Mariadass (Chennai Province), assisted by Fr. John Arackaparampil (North East India). This new Novitiate House is named “Dirnberger Niketan” in honor of late Rev. Fr. Franz Dirnberger CMF., the pioneer Claretian missionary from Germany who is considered ‘the Father of the Indian Claretians’. Fr. Dirnberger who was the first Novice Master in India greatly contributed to the growth of Claretians in India and Srilanka.
The novitiate house is situated at Sonada on the way to Darjeeling which is 7,000 feet above sea level in West Bengal. Rt. Rev. Stephen Lepcha, the Bishop of Darjeeling laid the foundation stone for the Novitiate House on September 5, 2007 on the death anniversary of the Blessed Theresa of Culcutta. It was on her way to Darjeeling from Culcutta that she received ‘a call within the call’. This house comes under the Independent Delegation of the Northeast India.