21st APRIL IN MY LIFE!

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21st APRIL IN MY LIFE!

Panjim-Goa: After completing B.Sc. from Bhandarkars’ Arts, Science and Commerce College, Kundapura, Karnataka, I joined the Goa-Pune Province of the Society of Jesus (S.J.) on 28th June 1971 at Xavier training College, Desur, Belgavi, Karnataka. We were nine first-year novices in the novitiate belonging to Goa-Pune, Karnataka, and Jamshedpur Jesuit Provinces. Five left and now four of us are still Jesuits (Frs. Charles D’Souza and Gerard D’Souza of Kohima Region, Fr. Michael Tirkey of Jamshedpur Province and myself).

I was ordained as a priest on 21st April 1983 at 4.00 pm, together with two more Jesuits, namely, Fr. Denzil Lobo of Karnataka Province and Fr. Francis D’Souza of Darjeeling Province at St. Aloysius College Chapel, Mangaluru by Bishop Basil D’Souza. I took the final vows in the Society of Jesus on 22nd April 1995 on the Feast of Mary, Mother of the Society of Jesus at Stella Maris Chapel, Miramar. I thank God for his abundant blessings on me all these years. By His grace, I have contributed in many areas, especially in the field of Konknni and the establishment of Thomas Stephens Konknni Kendr (TSKK) and serving the 3 L (least, last, lost) students and their needy families.

In 1977 the Province Congregation of Goa-Pune Province asked the Superior General of Jesuits to permit them to start a Konknni language school (In the Jesuit terminology “school” stands for an institute of higher learning) to teach Konknni to Jesuits. My name was suggested for this task. I was a scholastic then and learning Marathi at Pune. Fr. Romuald D’Souza was the Provincial and he asked me to volunteer for this mission. I wanted to be a missionary and work in the mission stations. After much discussion, I suggested to him that we Jesuits were pioneers of Konknni in the 16th to 18th Century in Goa. Instead of merely setting up a “school” we must expand its scope as a Konknni research centre. He appreciated the idea and asked me to give him my reflections in writing.

With the help of Fr. Thomas Ambrose, S.J. I drafted and sent a letter to Fr. Romuald, proposing the name “Stephens Konknni Kendr” and its activities. He liked it and started to act upon it. He called the meeting of a few Jesuits including Frs. Vasco do Rego, Antonio Pereira, Moreno de Souza, Joaquim de Mello, George D’Sa, and me. Subsequently, Fr. Moreno suggested that we name the institute as “Thomas Stephens Konknni Kendr”. His suggestion was accepted. Fr. Vasco do Rego and myself worked to prepare the Memorandum of Association and Rules and Regulations of TSKK and register it as a society. I had a good collection of Konknni books which I got from my papa. I started to build up the library of TSKK. Fr. Moreno too contributed to this venture.

Meanwhile, Fr. Matthew Almeida, S.J. who was a schoolman volunteered for TSKK and went to the USA to do linguistics study. In 1985 he returned after completing his MS and PhD. He was appointed as the Executive director of TSKK in the month of August 1985. TSKK was functioning under his leadership in the premises of the library of Xavier Centre of Historical Research (XCHR), Porvorim, Goa. Due to unavoidable situations, TSKK was shifted to Loyola Hall, Miramar on 01 January 1986. I was doing M.Phil. in linguistics at Deccan College, Pune. Fr. Matthew found it hard to give a start to TSKK. Hence, at his request, I came down from Pune to Miramar and joined TSKK as a full-time staff on 15th May 1986. Side by side working for TSKK as a full-time staff, I completed my M.Phil. and PhD from the University of Pune. As the activities of TSKK were growing we felt the need for a larger space for TSKK.

In spite of searching for suitable land, we could not get it. Finally, together with Fr. Gregory Naik, the Provincial of Goa Province decided to build an independent building for TSKK at alto Porvorim next to XCHR. I took up the challenge and on 24th February 1996, the foundation stone of TSKK was blessed and laid by Fr. Gregory Naik at Alto Porvorim. Without exaggeration, I really worked hard and supervised the building work without taking a break including on Sundays. Mr Dean D’Cruz was the architect, Mr Sylvester D’Souza was the RCC engineer, SRS Builders were the contractors. As a team, we worked and created an aesthetic building for TSKK. It was really a joint achievement. Simultaneously, I built up a mini botanical garden for TSKK with local edible fruits (even those found on hills and forests) and local plants. This garden got the award from the Botanical Society of Goa under the category as the best maintained private garden. In the month of May 1998, TSKK was shifted to Porvorim from Miramar.

On 29th September 1998, it was blessed by Fr. Gregory Naik. I was an active member of TSKK from 1978 till 31st October 2012. I was one of the ten members who signed the Memorandum of Association and Rules and Regulations of TSKK to register it as a society under the Societies Registration Act XXI of 1860 at Panaji. I was not even a priest then. Out of the ten Jesuits who signed the memorandum on 02.09.1981 only three of us are alive (Frs. Leslie Francis, Braz Faleiro and myself). Now, though I am not an active residing member of TSKK, I continue to be its General Body member, Managing committee member and editor of TSKK Research Bulletin Sôd. I continue to work for Konknni residing at Loyola Hall, Miramar, Goa.

As I complete 38 years as a Jesuit priest, I am glad and proud that I played the role of Konknni research activist in the past. Simultaneously, I continued to work for 3L. However, I must humbly admit that due to various reasons, especially to maintain my peace of mind and relationship with colleagues, for the last few years, I have taken roles of “Three wise monkeys”, representing the principle “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”. By God’s grace, I continue to walk my talk to the best of my ability. I need your prayers and support to continue my mission.


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4 Comments

  1. How years have passed, Father good memories of your ordination, you have preserved your invitation too, I was so happy to read it. I remember you coming early in the morning and sitting for confession every Friday at Taleigao.
    God will bless you for all your hard work. A big Thank you, dear Father

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