Goethals Memorial School is a boarding school run by the Congregation of Christian Brothers in India. It is set in a forest 5 km (3 miles) from Kurseong between Siliguri and Darjeeling at an altitude of 1674 meters (5500 feet) above sea level. The school was founded in 1907, and is named after Jesuit Archbishop of Calcutta (now Kolkata), Paul Goethals. The land for the school was donated by the Maharaja of Bardhaman.
Goethals attracts students from West Bengal, Bihar, north-eastern Indian states, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. It follows the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education curriculum, and has classes from standard 3 to 10.
On the death of Paul Goethals, Archbishop of Calcutta, in July 1901 the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Calcutta commemorated his memory by the establishment of an educational institution for boys in Kurseong.
In February 1907 classes started in the building erected by the first Principal, Br. M.S.O. Brien (1907–1914). The number of boys in residence was 110. The official opening took place on 30 April 1907.
The first prospectus had in view the affiliation of the School to the Shibpur Engineering College, Calcutta. However, the Sub Overseer Course did not fit with the needs of the pupils and was dropped in favour of the Cambridge Locals. The Cambridge Exams continued until the 1970s when the school switched to the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education curriculum.
One of the last functions to be performed by Archbishop Paul Goethals, 1st Archbishop of Calcutta, was the blessing and laying of the foundation stone on 12 April of the St. Xavier's Chapel, Calcutta. Shortly after that he was ordered by his doctors to return to Belgium in the hope that his indifferent health might improve. However, it was soon obvious that he would not survive very long, and when he realized this he determined to return to Calcutta and die among the people for whom he had laboured. He returned to his diocese and lived for some months in his residence in 12 Park Street, Calcutta, until he died on 4 July 1901. He was succeeded by another Jesuit, Brice Meuleman.
The Honorable Sir John Woodroffe, Advocate General of the Calcutta High Court, an Irishman and a convert, called on Archbishop Brice Meuleman, soon after his consecration and told him that he wished to have a memorial erected to the late Archbishop Goethals. A marble tablet was to be erected in the Catholic Cathedral of Calcutta, in Moorghihatta, with a record of the life and works of Archbishop Goethals. At a meeting Woodroffe expressed the wish to get all the European boys out of Moorghihatta Orphanage and bring them into healthier surroundings. It was at this stage the Christian Brothers were consulted to see what they were prepared to do. Br Fabian Kenneally was prepared to back the project if the memorial selected were a school situated in a hill station. The Brothers had only one hill school, in Nainital, and that was not sufficient for their increasing numbers. Br Stanislaus O'Brien representing the Provincial attended the next meeting of the organizing committee and it was agreed that he with Mr. Woodroffe were to be the sole collectors. A large sum of money was collected.
The Maharajah of Burdwan, who had sold to the Jesuit Fathers the land on which St. Mary's Scholasticate stands at Kurseong, agreed to sell a large strip adjoining the Scholasticate grounds for the purpose of the Goethals Memorial School. The government also agreed to lease us an area adjoining the Maharajah's strip. In September, 1903, Brother Stanislaus O'Brien was sent to Kurseong for the building and equipping of the new establishment, and he became its first Superior.
In 1907 the school opened with 100 boys. Later in that year when Sir Andrew Fraser (civil servant) and Lady Fraser were going to Darjeeling for the summer months they came for the official opening. Sir Andrew examined the building and in his speech at the opening ceremony expressed himself well pleased with all he saw.
Very soon there were 200 boarders. A two years' engineering class started for the purpose of obtaining entrance into the Bengal Engineering and Science University, Shibpur for mining and several of the boys became managers of mines.
For many years a farm was worked at Goethals which supplied the school with milk, butter, vegetables, eggs and meat. However, because of the depredations of some of the local community, the farm had to be given up and the land is now under trees.
As the hill station of Kurseong is much nearer to Calcutta than that of Nainital, the Provincial, Brother Fabian Kenneally, built a holiday house for the Brothers of the plains close to the Goethals. A journey of one night in the train brings the travelers from Calcutta to the foot of the hills below Kurseong, and a few hours climbing by motor or by train brings the wayfarer into the cooler atmosphere of the hills, 6000 feet above sea-level at the Goethals. Hurka Maya's flat, a few hundred feet above the school was selected as the site of the vacation house which, when completed, gave accommodation for 36 Brothers and was used for many a mid-summer holiday by the communities from the houses in the plains.
When Br Arsenius Ryan became Provincial (1914) he made it the Novitiate and called it Mount Carmel. On 1 March 1915, the Novitiate was transferred from Asansol to Mt. Carmel. Br. Philip Studdert was the first Novice Master at Mount Carmel, and he was succeeded by Br Baptist Holland in his second term as Novice Master. When through old age he had to relinquish the post he was followed by Brother Luke Aherne. Mount Carmel was closed in the 1940s for want of young men willing to join the Brothers. It was re-opened in 1959.