Rev. Fr. JEROME D’ SOUZA, SJ Indian (1897 – 1977). Jerome was the second of four brothers and one sister who was the youngest. From his earliest years “Jerome was the most alert and intelligent (of the children), but also the most difficult to bring up,” as his sister Apostolic Carmelite would testify. In school Jerome was not studious, but very intelligent and from a very young age, a voracious reader. He had a strong aversion to strict discipline and was unpredictable in his ways and behavior, and ever ready for mischief and adventure. He was extraordinarily lively and friendly, and had a remarkable ability to make friends. Jerome showed an astounding flavor for languages. In his youth he could speak seven: Konkani, Marathi, Tulu, Hindi, Urdu, Kannada and English. Later on he learnt Tamil and number of European languages.
After Jerome finished his studies in the local school, he went to St. Aloysius College, Mangalore. From there he went to St. Joseph’s Tiruchirapalli, and finally to the presidency college, Chennai, where he finished his B.A Honors with a first class first. After his graduation he went back to St. Joseph’s as a lecturer. The example of the Fathers in the college stirred something within him, and after a discernment Retreat he joined the Novitiate of the Society of Jesus on May 28, 1921. The Novitiate was not an easy time for him. He struggled with temptations and depressions and used to accuse himself of the “deep rooted pride of my nature.” In 1926, after Jerome finished his Novitiate and philosophy, in 1928 he was sent to Belgium for his theological studies. He was ordained priest on August30, 1931.Jerome finished his 4th year theology and his Tertianship in France.
He was appointed to his old Alma Mater, St. Joseph’s College, Tiruchirappalli. After a little more than a year he was appointed its principal to his own surprise and to every one else’s. This period marks the beginning of Jerome’s contacts with political personalities like Sri C Rajagopalachari, Jawaharlal Nehru and many others, with whom he made friends. In April 1938; Jerome was named its Rector, the first Indian to be named. What helped him most in all this were his courage, optimism and total trust in God. He proved himself to be a man of remarkable learning, administrative capacity, and deep insight into human nature, large- hearted sympathy, bold vision and driving force. Since Loyola College, Chennai very badly needed a change in leadership Fr. Jerome was transferred to Chennai in the year 1942 and took over both Rector and principal again first Indian to be given such a responsibility.
Besides his many duties in Loyola, many other demands were made on him. Jerome became the member of the War Reconstruction committee, especially in the planning of the post war Education. In 1946 he was appointed by Madras University to form a part of the Decennial Inspection Commission. Jerome was made a Member of the Constituent Assembly which had to frame the Indian Constitution. This was the unique task for a Christian and a Jesuit. He worked from 1946 to 1949. As soon as the Constitution was framed he resigned immediately though the Assembly continued. In the second sitting of the assembly in January 1947, Jerome made an impassioned plea for balancing carefully the Rights of a Minority Community with the imperative need to build an integrated Nation. He played a key role in the discussion and final passing of Article 25 that guarantees a Fundamental Right, Freedom of Conscience and the Right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion.
He also made as important contribution to the whole question of Minority Rights. In 1949 Jerome was nominated by the Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, to be one of the five members of the Indian Delegation to the General Assembly of the United Nations. He attended four such sessions: the first in 1949, second in 1951-1952, the third in 1955 and the fourth in 1957. During this period in 1951 he established Xavier Board of Higher Education in India. In the same year 1951 Fr. General asked him to start a social institute in Pune to deal with the many social problems of India, and the new venture was launched with the name Indian Institute of Social Order which was later changed to Indian Social Institute (ISI).Jerome attended the session of the UNESCO to which the Government of India had appointed him as an Adviser.
The session lasted till December 1956. In January 1957 Jerome was elected by the 30th General Congregation of the society of Jesuit , General Assistance to Fr. General. This appointment lasted till 1968. His stay in Rome was very enriching and put him in contact with great personalities of the church. In a meeting of Jesuit Rectors and principals of Jesuit colleges held in Bandra he emphasized: “Balance between our educational and missionary work, diversifying educational work by increasing attention to technical training in industrial and agricultural fields, direct apostolate among workers.”
The Vatican made Jerome a Member of the Ecclesiastical Commission for the Permanent Committee of International Congresses; Consultor of the Sacred Congregation of the Propagation of the Faith; Member of the Pontifical Commission for Mission. These appointments involved a great deal of Meeting and Correspondence with the Pope, Bishops, Papal Nuncios and Religious superiors all over the world.
“Fr. Jerome D’ Souza SJ was a man of dignified bearing who even before he spoke a word, caused you to expect to hear words of wisdom, and you were never disappointed… His words always revealed an honest mind and a kind heart, although his whole personality would, on first meeting, cause one to stand in awe, yet upon deeper acquaintance, you discovered a youthful buoyancy and simplicity which charmed you ,caused you to love him as a brother. He retired to Loyola College, Chennai; gradually he grew worse until on August 12, 1977 at around 12 midnight, he rendered his soul to the Lord. In 1997, on the Centenary of his birth, the Indian Government issued a POSTAL STAMP in his honour showing his portrait.
Father Melchior M. Balaguer, SJ There will surely be a place for Father M. M. Balaguer in any comprehensive history of the Society of Jesus or the Catholic Church in Bombay and in India. And whatever may be said of him, no one will deny that he was a special sort of ways, and in some respects remarkably different from others. Father Balaguer joined St. Xavier’s College in 1937 as an urgently required reinforcement for all its academic and
administrative competence was losing touch with the mass of the students and had little influence on the Catholics, soon Balaguer’s special genius was discovered by Archbishop Roberts, who had himself arrived on the scene in 1937 and took him as his Vicar General to help in the daunting task of bringing Bombay well out of the Padroado age, and then beyond the colonial period.
The new VG displayed great qualities, had a sweeping vision and inexhaustible stamina, as well as the intelligence to plan on a large scale, and a tremendous will to see a project through to the end. Came Independence and with a year’s sabbatical during which he picked up a working knowledge of Hindi, Balaguer was appointed Principal of St. Xavier’s college in 1949. That was a job after his own heart, when the Nation was gripped by the fascinating dream of a new India as a sovereign democratic Republic; and he did not miss the many opportunities that were his for nine years. Former students remember him with awe and affection, recalling his many genial innovations – and his yearly feat of sitting uninterruptedly at his desk from early morning to late evening, day after weary day.
On leaving St. Xavier’s he was quite willing to occupy much smaller, even rather obscure, posts – to which he dutifully gave of his best, as always. Three mammoth national events were entrusted to him as Secretary-General of the Xavier Board of Higher education in India, he steered them through from timed speculation to a grand finale: the International Eucharistic Congress in 1964, which was graced by the visit of Pope Paul VI; and the Church in India Seminar in 1969, meant as a follow-up of the Second Vatican Council.
Finally, his services were sough t for Andhra, to set up a communications centre, and Secunderabad became his base for the last phase of his life, much of which was spent in directing retreats and advising on various committees.
And that is where his popularity as a public figure will rest: on his ability to share his bright and bold ideas and his boundless optimism, in a consultative capacity with no executive clout. That is also how Bombay Jesuits will long remember him, as an inspiring speaker at the conclusion of so many successive Province Days.
Theo Mathias, SJ In most cases, it is a cliché; but in case of Fr Theo Mathias, it is a true statement. With him comes to an end a band of men, gifted, hard-working, called upon to render service under most exacting circumstances who proved themselves worthy of the trust placed in them by the Society and the Church, and lived out the last years of their lives in relative seclusion and peacefully passed away. Fathers Jerome D’Souza, Ehrart, T.N. Sequeira, Lawrence Sundaram – are a few names and that too, just in Madurai province, who belonged to that illustrious group.
Born on 9 January 1919 at Salem, Tamil Naidu educated, first at Mountfort School in Yercaud, then at St Joseph’s Trichy, and having a degree in Physics, Theo entered the Society of Jesus on 11 June 1939 in Shembaganur. He thought that he owed his vocation to a special dispensation of the divine providence. In his letter to Fr Lawrence Sundaram , which Fr Sundaram included in his book, A Great Indian Jesuit, on Father Jerome D’Souza, Theo writes: “ Under God’s providence, Fr Jerome’s flexibility and humanity were to play a crucial role in my vocation to the Society of Jesus.” He goes on to narrate how to allay the fears of his mother, Father set up the “Blue House,” a mile from the College! It was small, liberal hostel accommodating only 12 inmates!
After his novitiate and philosophy in Shembaganur and regency at St Joseph’s, Trichy, he was sent to Enghien for theology. He was ordained a priest on 30 July 1950. After his Tertianship, he returned to India to begin what would be the most fruitful 50 years of his ministry. In July 1978 Fr Theophane Mathias joined XLRI as Director. He came with a remarkable background in education and public life. In the 1950s he had served as Vice Principal of Loyola College, Madras; then as Principal of Andhra Loyola (1954-59) then eight years (1966-74) as President of the Jesuit Educational Association (JEA), followed by twelve years as General Secretary of AIACHE (The All India Association for Christian Higher Education), based in Delhi. He had spent two sessions at the UN as a member of the team that represented the Indian government in that august body.”
When Theo took over XLRI as its Director, it was a most difficult time in the history of the Institute. With the vision and courage of a prophet, Father Theo had undertaken the expansion of the campus but he bequeathed to Theo a large debt that threatened to cripple the functioning of the Institute. By begging and borrowing from the local tradesmen, Theo managed to pay the salaries and keep the Institute afloat.
Jamshedpur Province found him another ministry in the US, Theo’s contact with the Christian Theological Seminary at Indianapolis opened for him another rich and fruitful ministry in the form of Christian dialogue. In 1983, Father Romuald D’Souza, XLRI’s new Director and a good friend of Theo, invited him to return to XLRI and be its Professor of Business Ethics and Communication. Theo accepted the offer and came back to XLRI in 1983 and stayed on until his death. In addition to his teaching, he took up also the editorship of the Institute’s Journal, Management and Labour Studies (MLS). The MLS appeared four times a year regularly for 25 long years! Since 1986, Theo spent all his time in conducting various programmes all over the country for various groups.
Since 2000, Theo began to focus his energies on spiritual pursuits. He began writing a book based on his retreats. When the book was published in 2005, he felt fulfilled. He bagen to write another book on the religious life and he thought he would not be able to complete than manuscript, but God gave him time to complete it. It has just been published by GSP, Anand.
The end came slowly but noticeably. his breathing began to be laboured. His attempt at coming down the steps cost him a lot of pain. In the afternoon of Wednesday, 6 July ’05, he had to be admitted to the Mercy Hospital. Word was received at 7.30 P.M., when the community was at evening prayer, that God had chosen to call his faithful son home.
A lying-in-state on 8 July ’05 at the Tome Jesuit Residence, Mass of the Resurrection at 3.30 P.M. and the laying-to-rest at 5.30 P.M. at the Jesuit cemetry at Jesu Bhavan in Mango formed the last rites of Father Theophane Mathias and the end of an era.
Mother Carmelita nèe Enid Mary Saldanha, the first born for her parents had strong religious principles and it was from them that Enid drew inspiration for the good values of life which soon blossomed into a vocation to the religious life through the Apostolic Carmel which attracted her. Mother Carmelita graduated through St. Agnes College in 1934 with English, French and History-Economics as her subjects. She was then sent to Tellicherry as a teacher. After her Final Profession she went to Lady Wellingdon College, Madras where she secured her L.T in 1940.– academically speaking a great achievement for those times. The years that followed saw her complete her M. A. at Presidency College, Madras in English Literature in 1943. The next two decades from 1943 – 1963 saw her teaching in the various Colleges of the Congregation – Patna Women’s College, Ranchi Women’s College, St Ann’s B. Ed. College, St Agnes College, Mangalore and Providence Women’s College, Calicut. She also served as Principal in these Institutions except the first. In most of the local communities where she lived she held the office of superior during this period.
At times she was the hostel warden as well. Sister Carmelita was the Principal of the B. Ed. College from 1949 – 1958. Her religious commitment and values were communicated to the students she taught. By her example and instruction, the B. Ed. Students realized the need to become well trained teachers who could be role models for their students. They became excellent teachers wherever they served. While engaged in higher education, our universities of Patna, Madras and Mysore selected her to be a member of some of the academic bodies. Thus she was a member of the Academic Council, a member of the Senate, a member of the Board of Examiners and a Member of the Board of studies of Madras University. In the 1960s while serving at St. Agnes College, she was a member of the Board of studies of Mysore University.
From 1960 – 1962 she was the Secretary of the Xavier Board of Higher Education in India. She was appointed Regional Superior of the Central Region in 1969 with its headquarters in Bandra, Mumbai. She accepted this office with its difficult task of organizing and administering a new Region with its many problems and challenges which faced with courage and determination. In May 1972, she was elected Superior General of the Apostolic Carmel Congregation for two consecutive terms till 1984. With her deep Carmelite spirit which formed the bedrock of all renewal programmes, the Apostolic Carmel Congregation forged ahead making a mark in the Church and society.
Sister Moira A.C.née Doris Saldanha was born in an affluent and cultured family of Mangalore. She and her siblings had a good Catholic upbringing. She studied at St. Ann’s and secured a First class in the SSLC Examination of 1939. Doris was a born leader with sunshine in her eyes and a smile. Vocal and instrumental music added to the family joys. Doris and her sisters learnt to play the piano. Doris went on to pass the Higher Local Examination conducted by the Trinity college of Music, London. Besides she secured a First Class in all the three parts in the Graduation Examination of 1943. The Lord called Doris to be in his service in the Apostolic Carmel. So strong was her love for her vocation that she promoted the same in her two younger Sisters. After her First Profession Sister Moira spent many years as a teacher in the High School, and as a lecturer in the College. She was sent to Patna to take the M.A. degree in English, and completed it in 1956.
In the course of time she served at St. Agnes Convent, School and College, Providence Convent and Carmel Hill College, Calicut. It was in the 1960s that Catholic Colleges in India came together on a common platform and exchanged views on matters of higher education. From December 1962 till September 1977 Sister Moira worked as the Secretary of the Xavier Board of Higher Education. At first she was the Secretary while in service in St. Agnes College and from 1970-1977 on a full time basis while at St. Mary’s Convent, Marjil, Mangalore. Thanks to her dedicated service, the Xavier Board was given a good foundation both academically and financially. ‘She was very good at secretarial work, efficient and very methodical. She made valuable contributions at Xavier Board and AIACHE meetings.
The next 22 years, from 1977 till 1997 were spent in Social Welfare activities. ‘She pioneered Carmel Centre of Continuing Education as its co-coordinator’ while she was at Carmel Convent, Ashanikethan, Mangalore. ‘She promoted skills for earning, in association with welfare agencies such as CEBEMO and SKIP,’ thus improving the lot of several economically backward girls in the vicinity. ‘It was her zeal to give of her best to the poor and the less fortunate that made her project a successful venture.’ She was well – read and kept abreast with current events in the Church, the country and the world. ‘She was a person of vision and ideals.’ She used her creative ability to celebrate important events in our Institute and the Province, with her compositions in verse and suitable items. ‘She respected others and gave them generous appreciation. Though she knew little Kannada and Konkani she promoted the use of these languages and encouraged signing in the vernacular.
On one of her visits to New Delhi in the 1970s she brought with her mini copies of the Bhagavad Gita with the English and Sanskrit versions printed. That was her way of promoting the use of Indian Scriptures as early as the 1970s. Her years as an active religious were clearly over towards the end of the twentieth century. In 1999 she became a member of the Prayer and Suffering apostolate edifying all who came in touch with her, by her solid piety, simple life, love of poverty and love for the common life. At this stage she suffered a great deal because of rheumatism and high blood pressure which gradually sapped her energy. ‘She suffered a partial stroke in 1992 and a more serious one in 2000, which left her paralyzed on one side for some time. She gradually accepted the cross making her life a song of thanksgiving till God called her home in 2006.
Sister Mary Hedwige A.C.née Juliana Judith Gonsalves was very intelligent, hard-working and devout from her very childhood. Sister Hedwige was a very fervent religious who spent a lot of time in prayer and in the apostolate of education. After her First Profession, she was sent to St. Teresa’s School Cannanore. Between 1947–1960, she was in Patna where she completed her undergraduate studies and did her Master’s in Political Science and Public Administration. In spite of being engaged in academic study, she was the Headmistress of Carmel School, Patna and after taking the M.A. degree, she served first as a lecturer and then, the Vice-Principal of Patna Women’s College, Patna. Sister Hedwige was a student at St. Ann’s College of Education in 1961, studying for her B.Ed. From 1962 till 1966 she worked as a Lecturer and Vice Principal of St. Agnes College. She was made Principal of St. Ann’s College of Education in 1966. A Principal with a vision, Sister Hedwige increased the in-take of students for the B. Ed. course, so that more students could get an opportunity to take the B. Ed. Degree.
Within a year or two after becoming the Principal, the classrooms were re-modeled to provide proper lecture halls for the B. Ed. Students. The credit for identifying CEBEMO, an NGO in Holland goes to Sister Hedwige, through which she got approved the extension of the new B. Ed. Block and nobly obtained grants for the construction and equipment of St. Ann’s Teacher Training Institute as well. Her remarkable response to obedience could be seen in 1969 when she was asked to do her M. Ed at the age of 50, through the Puna University. Here he burnt the midnight oil as she sat late into the night to complete her assignments. Her efforts were rewarded when she secured a first class in her final examination.
Sister Hedwige went back to St. Agnes College in 1972 as a Principal and remained there till her retirement in 1977. The secular world and the Catholic hierarchy recognized her learning potential, and utilized her knowledge and abilities by appointing/electing her to various bodies and prestigious organizations. Some of these bodies are: 1. Consultor: CBCI Commission for Justice, Peace and Development 2. : “ Commission for Catechetic 3. Vice President : All India Association for Christian Higher Education 4. Vice President: All India Women’s Conference 5. Member : Senate, Mysore University 6. Member: Board of Studies, Education, Mysore university 7. Member: Advisory Council, N.S,.S., Mysore University 8. Member: Tribunal for Malpractices, N.S.S. Scheme, Mysore University 9. Chairperson: Board of Examiners, Mysore University 10. Secretary: Xavier Board of Higher Education (1977 – 1987) Sister Hedwige was the Secretary, Xavier Board of Higher Education for ten years. As long as she held this post, it was clear to her that she wanted Catholic Colleges in India to form students who would uphold Catholic values and be persons deeply rooted in their faith and be persons of prayer.
She got involved in the Charismatic Movement and did all she could to place a high premium on Charismatic prayer. St. Agnes College, Mangalore became the venue of regular Charismatic prayer meetings for the college students. She was deeply concerned about ‘disharmony in our country due to religious fundamentalism, the twin threats of communalism and terrorism growing to menacing proportions and the rule of the gun overwhelming the rule of law’. Like-minded people had been warned, and she did this through her book “Religious Harmony”. Her zeal to enthuse the Catholic youth to live according to Gospel values, led her to form disciples for Jesus. Though physically weak, Sister Hedwige mustered the teenagers to counsel them, pray with them and for them, giving them time for relaxation and refreshment during meetings, following them up closely with the aim of directing their steps heavenwards. Those sessions lasted from December 2 – 15, at Milagres Church, Mangalore. When the programme ended, she developed a pain in her chest, which made her prepare for the inevitable. As Christmas 1989 was approaching, Sister Hedwige sensed that death was looming not far from her.
A few Sisters heard her say: “I will not be here for Christmas … I’ll spend Christmas in heaven”! And this became a reality on 23.12.1989. To quote from her book “Make Disciples” (1988) From God who is bliss All things are born; Through God who is bliss Do all living beings move; Unto God who is bliss Do they (after death) proceed and enter Sister Hedwige had used her long years in the apostolate of education and her years after retirement in prayer thus making God known and loved and the values of Christ cherished and lived.