Bishop Francis Simons SVD
Francis was born on 30 July, 1908 as the son of Henrikus and Maria Faeshen from Tegelen, in the Nederlands. His grandfather was the founder of the "De Globe" iron foundry at Tegelen, which was taken over in 1910 by his father, who suffered an early death in 1918. His first years of studies were spent in Ueden. Ever since his first year of studies in 1920 at St. Willibrord's, Msgr. Simons was an outstanding student. After his Novitiate which he made under the deceased Fr. Ariaens, and the completion of philosophical studies, he was sent to the Gregoriana at Rome. Among his classmates was Fr. Valentin Zimmermann, with whom he was raised to the holy priesthood by the Vicar General of Rome, Francis Cardinal Marchetti, in the chapel of the Germanicum, on the Feast of Christ the King, October 30, 1932. He made his doctorate in theology in the summer of 1934 (His thesis was entitled: Indagatio critica in opinionem S. Thomae Aquinatis de natura intima transsubstantiationis) and sailed away in the fall of the same year to India.
He gathered his initial mission experiences in the Harda and Mhow stations. When all German confreres were sent to internment camps during the II World War, he was named Administrator of the Prefecture at the age of 31. He stayed in this position till 1948 when he was named Vicar Delegate and at the same time parish priest of Indore. He was appointed bishop of Indore on 15 May, 1952. He was consecrated on August 6, 1952 in the church of St. Martin at Tegelen, where he was baptized 44 years ago, as the first Bishop of lndore. His coat of arms, as designed and executed by Fr. Buttgens SVD, bears the motto: "Jesum oportet crescere.". During his tenure he established many new stations. With his foresight he purchased land in many places, especially cities, like Bhopal, Ujjain, Dewas, Hoshangabad, etc. which later became centers of major missions in the region.
On the 2nd of October 1959 Msgr. Francis Simons ordained the first three Indian SVD priests in the Mission House chapel: Fathers George Anathil, James Arackal and Joseph Puthumana. He took part in the II Vatican Council, where his interventions attracted much attention. He took steps to divide the large area of the diocese forming the diocese of Bhopal in 1964 and the diocese of Ujjain in 1968.
His book “Infallibility and Evidence” and an article in the review “Cross Currents” met with opposition from official quarters. He was convinced that through his opinions he was advocating the good of the Church. He resigned his post on June 21, 1971 to return to the Nederlands where he continued to read and study. He was in Deurne till he retired in 1999 in Teteringen's Zuiderhout old folks’ home. On Jan. 28, 2002 the Lord called him out of the shadows into His wonderful light.