Francis Xavier Kroot, , the youngest of the eight children, five boys and three girls, was born on 7th December 1854, to Henry Kroot ,and Joanne Schrauwers. The Kroot family were one of the exemplary families of the town and parish of Zwolle in Southern Holland. After his primary school studies, Francis was sent to a Catholic boarding school at Roermond, Holland, where he studied music, calligraphy and languages such as French, German and Italian. While in Roermond his desire for the priesthood was born and he followed his brothers to the minor seminary at Culemborge and later to Mill Hill, London, for a missionary life.
After completing his studies in Philosophy and Theology at St. Josephs Seminary, Mill Hill London, he was ordained a priest on 8th June 1878, in Salford by the Founder and Superior General of the Mill Hill Society and was sent to Madras, India on 8th August of the same year.
Fr. Francis Kroot was filled with an overwhelming desire to live and work in the mission areas. When he was in Poonamalle he began to think of a congregation of Indian sisters. In one of his many letters he wrote: "Oh could I build a nice convent here! It has been my all absorbing thought, ever since I came here."
After 10 months he wrote: "Of late I have been making all kinds of plans about establishing a convent here of Indian nuns. If I were a Rothschild I would already have built some 20 convents in different parts of the country". In September 1882 Fr. Francis was transferred to Bellary to take up the military chaplaincy there. He encountered many spiritual, social and moral problems in his pastoral efforts. There was rampant immorality and prostitution in the locality where the women were given a very low status in society. He envisaged a missionary congregation, imbued with the spirit and zeal of St. Francis Xavier, ready to go out and evangelize as many people as possible. Weighing the sincerity of purpose and the zeal with which Fr Kroot worked the archbishop conceded to Fr Kroot's dream of a native congregation. He solicited funds for the foundation but before he could complete his plans for the foundation of the convent he was transferred to another mission station. He did not have the happiness of witnessing the first three fruits of his desire and the subsequent growth of the new congregation.
There came a time when Fr. Francis began to show signs of irreparable, deteriorating health. He was forced to leave India for better treatment. Though the initial treatment in France sparked hopes of recovery, gradually Fr. Francis began sinking, the Lord called him back to his heavenly home on 5th January 1900.
Fr. Jim Borst -Mill Hill Missionary - Came as missionary to India and worked in Kashmir!
The author of the book "From Holland with Love". Dutch Father Jim Borst MHM, in India since 1963, writes the story of Francis Xavier Kroot (1854-1900), a missionary in Madras, Bellary, Guntur and Nellore. He had been forgotten since he died in the South France in 1900, until he was dramatically rediscovered in 1986 and "returned" to India in 1988! Ninety percent of this book brings unpublished material from archives in London, Holland, Rome, Madras, Nellore, Bellary and Pune. The author says: "As I worked on this book, I became quite fascinated with this forgotten figure and the ecclesiastical scene of the time. That fascination is dished out to the readers all through the book." We miss Fr.Jim as he is called to his eternal home on 5-11-2018.