The Jesuits of Bangalore, Karnataka, India


frelias1.jpg (3046 bytes)FR ELIAS D'SOUZA SJ

Born:9.3.1919 Joined SJ:30.5.'37 Entered eternal life:5.8.99

Fr Elias D'Souza is no more! A saintly Jesuit, a luminary in academic pursuits, an amazingly able administrator, a man with a sharp mind and a golden heart, is gone from our midst. The clear voice that spoke fearlessly on behalf of the poor and the marginalized, and with tenderness to those who were suffering and afflicted, is now silent; the feet that trod on the rugged paths in and around Arsikere bringing solace and strength, comfort and encouragement to hundreds of Sisters and thousands of people now lie cold and stiff in death; he who was like a Guardian Angel to many a Parish Priest in the district will never be seen or heard again.

Soon he may be forgotten too! But the dent he has made in the lives of thousands of people will continue to bear eloquent witness to the goodness, generosity, self-sacrificing spirit, kind-heartedness, spiritual influence and emotional intelligence of this man of God, and to be a source of edification to his fellow Jesuits and a host of friends and admirers.

Early Life: Even as a young school boy Elias impressed as intellectually bright, sociable, kind and service-minded. In his later life he recorded steady growth of these and many other sterling qualities to a superlative degree. One of the proofs of his brilliance is the I Rank he scored in the Maths Honours Exam of the Madras University.

As a Jesuit,  he was known for his holiness of life and dedication to duty. Regularity at prayer and study, simplicity of life style, accountability, thorough knowledge of the Constitutions of the Society, extraordinary clarity and facility in classroom teaching, care and concern for others, and total commitment to day-to-day work - these and many other endowments characterised his life as a Jesuit. He was elected as a delegate of the Karnataka Province to the Procurator's Congregation in Rome in 1970. The report he submitted in his official capacity to Fr General was considered to be absolutely objective as well as flawless in content and form. At the Get-together of the senior Jesuits of Karnataka held in May this year, Fr Elias was called upon to give the key-note address. Choosing Modernity as the topic, he dwelt on the significant developments and changes that have put many aspects of Church law, liturgy, Theology, Apostolate, life style etc. in a new perspective. He explained clearly that the senior Jesuits can and ought to be aware of them and accept them in order to update themselves and be relevant in their ministry and to close the generation gap between them and the younger Jesuits. His absorbing talk which was interspersed with humorous anecdotes inspired and encouraged all to get into a fruitful reflection and sharing of experiences in a lively session which had a very positive direction.

Educator and Administrator: Fr Elias's outstanding qualities of head and heart had full play during his tenure as Principal of St Joseph's College, Bangalore and Warden and teacher at St Aloysius College, Mangalore for a number of years. Soft-spoken and exceptionally quiet, he was nevertheless a giant of an administrator. Unassuming, polite, smiling, very capable, devoted, diplomatic - one can go on adding adjectives of superlative excellence, when one thinks of him as a Principal. Staff and students alike approached him as they would a father figure with as much confidence and trust as reverential awe. "We worshipped him", said a retired old staff member in a spontaneous outburst at the sight of his body in the coffin. Fr Elias could assess the quality and work of the staff members quite accurately. He had a photographic memory. he took personal interest in and had intimate knowledge of practically every student in the college though it had a strength of than 2000. He introduced `on-the-spot admission' to applicants with very high marks thereby attracting and rewarding bright students. His concern for economically poor students was well known. He introduced a system to enable these students to pay their tuition fees in easy, monthly instalments. While he was extremely kind at heart, he was at the same time a good disciplinarian and had an uncanny eye for detail in every department of college administration. As the warden of the hostel, he would personally take care of the sick inmates, would visit them daily when they were hospitalized and ensure that they got proper medical care and good food.

Ministry after Retirement: On reaching the age of superannuation in the educational apostolate, he took up the healing ministry among the sick, offering them solace and comfort. For three years, he worked with utmost dedication at the St John's Medical College Hospital, Bangalore. He was then posted to Arsikere, where he exercised his pastoral zeal in an exemplary way. Here he was actively involved in a variety of spiritual service at several convents, schools, parishes and other institutions for 20 long years till his last illness and death. Frail in body, but endowed with an iron will he carried out this ministry entrusted to him by his Superiors, with genuine zeal, travelling always by bus and braving all kinds of inconveniences and hardships caused by his illness and the nature of his work. Fr Elias had excellent rapport with people of other faiths too. He frequently visited and interacted with the Swamijis of various Mutts existing in the region of his apostolate. These contacts had brought about a harmonious relationship among peoples of different faiths.

His Last Days: Only a few of his friends know that he suffered from continual headaches almost throughout his life. For many years he was the victim of low blood sugar and its consequenc es. He accepted it all as a matter of course.

His last illness was triggered off by a heart attack he suffered in early July 1999. This meant a big trial to himself, a great shock to the Sisters and fellow Jesuits, and a tremendous blow to his ministry. Weak and worn out, he suffered for a month from acute headaches and restlessness of body and mind. Because of his pathological condition he experienced increasingly severe and frequent bouts of pain and helpless ness. By degrees he grew weaker and weaker and was finally left with no stamina to face the ordeal.

Respecting his repeatedly expressed wish to be taken back to Arsikere - the field of his apostolate for 20 yearrs - he was shifted to the convent in Arsikere on 2 August. But on the 5th soon after daybreak "heaven's morning broke and earth's vain shadows fled". Mass over and before breakfast he felt the need of going to the toilet and there he got a massive attack, and while the good Sisters were attending on him in his room, he breathed his last at about 8.30 a.m.

His body was brought on the same day to St Joseph's College, Bangalore where a Requiem Mass was celebrated at 6.45 a.m. on Friday, feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. After Mass the body was taken to Mount St Joseph where the funeral serv ice took place with a concelebrated and well attended Mass, presided over by Archbishop Ignatius Pinto. Scores of Jesuits,

Priests and Sisters were present. Those who attended Fr Elias's funeral could not miss the celestial glow of peace and joy he had left behind on his lifeless countenance. It looked like a sign of his transfiguration.

Conclusion: The nature and circumstances of Fr Elias's suffer ing and death show that he was called by the Lord to crown his life with a share in his own agony in Gethsemani and on Calv ary. May the merits of Fr Elias's life, suffering and death hasten his perpetual peace and joy and the crown of eternal glory!


frjames.jpg (28K bytes)FR. JAMES COELHO SJ

Born:22.08.1913 Joined SJ:1933 Entered eternal life:22.01.2000

"Restless for Christ" is the title of a book that Fr James Coelho wrote, and that title in a way sums up his whole life. Small in stature but great in his mind and heart and tirelessly seeking what more he could do for Christ, Fr James lived a full life, and went back to his Creator on 22.01.2000 after taking ill and being hospitalized just for one day.

Born in Mangalore on 22.08.1913, he did his school and college education in St Aloysius College, Mangalore, and joined the Jesuit Order at the age of 20. After 15 years of training he was ordained a priest.

Fr James lived the life of a Jesuit priest ideally. His Superiors assigned him to the field of education where he held many important offices with distinction. He was the Principal of St Aloysius High School Mangalore from 1955 to 1957. His work in Bangalore comprised a series of offices: Minister of St Joseph's College, 1957-58, Principal of St Joseph's Indian High School while being the Rector of St Joseph's College from 1957-63.

He is best known by a large number of students of St Joseph's Indian High School for his kindness, affability and interest in all while maintaining excellent discipline. At that time the St Joseph's Boys High School held the pride of place whereas the Indian School was like the poor cousin without proper playgrounds and other facilities.Thanks to Fr James the Middle School Section of the IHS was shifted to the New Fields in a new building constructed for this purpose, and subsequently the whole school wasshifted to the New Fields. The M.G. Road grounds were transferred to the StJoseph's Boys High School.

On his retirement from teaching at the statutory age of 55, Fr James was appointed Director of Gonzaga House, Mangalore, the house of candidates from 1965-68. He was then appointed Manager of the St Aloysius College Middle School from 1968-73 where he was in the midst of the little children. He was then made the Director of Fatima Retreat House from 1973-81 during which time he added two new blocks for the accommodation of the retreatants and halls for dining, meetings and prayer.

Age was not a hurdle for he then worked in St Joseph's Seminary Mangalore form 1981-91 as the Minister of this enormous institution. In preparation for the transfer of the Seminary from the Jesuits to the diocesan clergy, Fr James was brought to the IHS community, Bangalore where he worked as Treasurer of the house, spiritual guide, minister and acting minister, and archivist of the Province.

He was a small man in stature, light as a sparrow but brimming with life and vitality. He was ever available to his Superiors to eb appointed anywhere and at any time. Superiors could place him in any position of responsibility because of his sound judgment of men and matters.

He kept himself abreastg of the developments in the world and in the Church by reading not only the daily newspapers but also the Catholic journals and weeklies and the various other weekly magazines. His favourite Catholic newspaper was the L'Osservatore Romano.

Fr James was specially beloved by the children of the Middle School. Large numbers of them would visit him every morning before class for his blessing, a kind word, a pat on the head. Old age did not prevent him from his spiritual ministry in the neighbourhood and in the religious houses around, specially to minister to the sick in the nearby hospital and in the families closeby.

His chief characteristic was availability, so much so, we could have truly said: `FrJames, availability is your name'!


A Group Photograph of some of the Senior Jesuits in Bangalore, taken at Ashivad, St. Mark's Road.

sjgroup.jpg (22369 bytes)

From Left to Right::
 

Fr. Cryil V. Silva, Br. Mariasoosai, Fr. Denis Coelho, Fr. Hilary Pereira, Fr. Alexis P. Menezes, Br. Anthony D'Souza, Fr. Lawrence A. Rasquinha,(Late) Fr. James Coelho, Fr. Stany Vas, Br. S. Vadaparam, Fr. Austin D'Souza, (Late) Fr. Elias D'Souza, Fr. A. Devasahayam, Br. Joseph Alvares, Fr. A.S. Rodrigues, and Fr. Maxim Rasquinha.


[The Provincial of Jesuits of Karnataka is Fr. Ronnie Prabhu s.j., Loyola Mundir, Lavelle Road, Bangalore 560025, India. Phone: 091 080 2214513 Fax: 091 80 2214648.]kjesprov@bgl.vsnl.net.in

Fr. Louis Mascarenhas. 11.04.1904 - 18.11.2000

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Thought for the Day:" Blessed are you poor, For yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, For you shall be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, For you shall laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, And when they exclude you, And revile you, and cast out your name as evil, For the Son of Man's sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven, Fon in the manner their fathers did to the prophets. But woe to you who are rich, For you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full, For you shall hunger. Woe to you who laugh now, For you shall mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, For so did they fathers to the false prophets." Holy Bible: Luke 6:20-26


 
 

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