It was the vision and missionary commitment of Fr. Franz Dirnberger from the Province of Germany, who chose to make India his home, that have gone into the sprouting and thriving of Claretian congregation in India. The Indian Claretians fondly refer to him as their grandpa. And Grandpa indeed, he is.
Inspired by Christ and Impelled by Love, and at the behest of His Excellency Bishop George Mamalassery of Tura Diocese, the Claretians first set foot on the North Eastern soil on June 22, 1984. In order to familiarize themselves with the Reality of the Northeast and the Mode of Missionary Response, the first group of Claretians worked with the diocesan priests of Tura for a period of 5 years, before taking up their own missions. During this period they learned the local language, customs, and needs of the people for an effective and contextualized mission and formation. The first house opened in the North East was the study house at Mawlai, Shillong, in 1986, for the contextualized formation of the Claretian scholastics.
The first Mission to be opened was the All Saints Mission at Rongara in 1989. Within six months came the next: St Claret Mission in Amapati. Both Rongara and Ampati are in the Diocese of Tura in Meghalaya. Then followed several missions: the Presentation Mission at Nonghyllam in 1992, the Mary Queen of Holy Rosary Mission at Dangar Balat in 1993, and the St Francis Xavier Mission in Mawsynram in 1993 were the first Claretian centers in the Diocese of Shillong.
In the Diocese of Guwahati in Assam was established the St Claret Mission and School in 1995, which was followed by the entry of Claretians into Arunachal Pradesh, a once-banned state for Missionaries, in 1998, and a Mission was established in 1999 at Boasimla under the Diocese of Tezpur. The year 2003 saw the opening of St Claret College in Ziro in Arunachal Pradesh at the request of the people and the Government. In the same year was opened another mission in the Archdiocese of Shillong, St Claret Mission at Phramer in Jaintia Hills. In 2004, at the invitation of the Bishop of the Diocese of Bongaigaon, the Claretians decided to take up a new center at Kochugaon.
In order to promote indigenous vocations, a Minor Seminary was established at Umsning in Meghalaya in 1998.
Claretians of the North East has distinguished themselves with their penchant for the most difficult missions. They especially seek out the border areas of the country that are often neglected by the government and other agencies, hard to reach, and harder to survive. Due to this trait, the priests of the North East area have fondly given them the sobriquet: the BSF – Border Security Fathers.