Social Communication

Right from his theology days, Fr. Joseph Portelli SJ began translating in Santali the catechism, prayer book, ritual, bible history, short lives of saints, etc, for use by the ever growing Catholic community. In 1946 he launched MARSALTABON, the monthly Santali magazine offering our faith-community information on the church , the world and the country and articles on faith and culture. MARSALTABON passed into the hands of Fr.J.B. Panepinto in 1956 when Fr.Portelli was appointed the first Regional Superior. Fr.Panepinto produced several translations in Santali, chief among them were the three volume lectionary, the New Testament, the Deutero-canonical Books of the Old Testament, a brief history of the Church, the Imitation of Christ, twenty or so plays, etc.

An important work in communication started at Talbaria Mission, later Mariampahar, in 1974 when the Assistant Pastor, Fr.George Muscat SJ began teaching the Santali language to seminarians, Fathers and Sisters, non-Santals working among Santals. It was a month-long crush course which Fr.Muscat faithfully and zealously carried out for about twenty-five years, in the hot months of May-June, teaching the language and culture of the santals. He evolved his own method of teaching the santali language to beginners, and eventaually brought out a book entitled "Santali, a New Approach". He published other books like Dinam Din Sonot Hor and Cetem Mena ? The Region established the Santali Book Depot in 1976 at CTC, Torai, which became a meeting place for santa catechists hailing from all over the country. Towards the end of the century, the Santali Book Depot was shifted to Jisu Jaher, Dudhani, Dumka , where it was more easily accessible.

In 1970 Fr.Joe Gauci Sacco SJ, parish priest of Chilimpur, began making commentaries in santali to accompany biblical and religious slides for catechesis. He showed these in villages. In 1972 Fr.Gauci was transferred to Torai as parish-priest and in 1974 he was appointed the Region's JESCOM Coordinator. When later on biblical and religious themes became available in Super-8 films, Fr.Gauci carried out his catechesis with the help of Super-8 films, giving a running commentary in santali. He and his catechist, used to carry the needed equipment on his motorcycle. In 1978, he and his helper, Fr.Anthony Micallef acquired a mobile van which could carry more equipment for showing biblical and catechetical material in the villages.

1978 became a land mark in the annals of both Dumka Diocese and the Santal Region. They jointly started 'Sademarsal', a recording audio-visual centre on the grounds of the diocesan SDC at Dudhani, Dumka. Fr.A.Micallef SJ was incharge. A number of Audio tapes in santali were recorded as also biblical and catechetical flannel-graphs, health and social uplift charts, silk-screen printing of the OT & NT pictures. 'Sademarsal' eventually became the sole responsibility of the diocese. Transition to more advanced media equipment was fast: Video-films, CDs and DVDs. Fr.Gauci converted a number of Video films into CDs and made them available to those who asked for them. When in 2003, Fr.Gauci was relieved of pastoral duties, he could concentrate fully on the media apostolate, assistant at Vinay Press, typing, proof-reading, producing CDs, etc. Among catechetical materials, Fr.Gauci produced slides with commentary on the Sacraments.


The Santal Region started a printing press at Tinpahar in January 1979 with the aim of facilitating the printing of religious Santali literature in Santal Parganas. Br. Benjamin Sarupurti SJ was appointed director of the 'Chapasal Press'. In January 1981 the printing press was shifted from Mundli to Sahibganj and renamed Vinay Press. 'Marsaltabon', the santali monthly printed at Catholic Press Ranchi, made its debut from Vinay Press in June 1982. Biblical and devotional books in Santali began making their appearance from Vinay Press, among others, Nawa Niam , Koejon Puthi, Nawa Rar , Book of Blessings, Santali Ritual, Kuli Ror-Ruar, Santali Grammar, Kurus Hor, Athwar Dewa Sewa, Bancao reak Itihas etc.

In May 2010 Fr.Vernard Antony was assigned to pioneer a Social Communications Centre with Fr.Dominic Marandi , editor of Marsaltabon as co-worker. The old JOHAR building, close to the curia was, was given them for the purpose. The centre is still in search of a name. Fr.Vernard is fully occupied in the art of producing Audio and Video CDs and printed materials like calendars. The centre produces audio-visual materials for the different apostolates of the Province like education, social uplift, vocation promotion, etc., and for the diocese and other religious. Fr.Vernard also conducts Orientation programmes for students and teachers in various schools. While earlier 'Faith Formation' was given priority in the Communication ministry, today the ministry prepares tools for social, education, pastoral and formation ministries in the province.