76 Years as Jesuit & 63 Years as Jesuit Priest Fr Edwin D’Souza SJ (96) No More
- A Jesuit for All Seasons and Regions (06 November 1925 – 08 June 2022)
Goa: Fr Edwin D’Souza the senior-most Jesuit (96 years) of Goa Province left this world on 08th June 2022 morning at Xavier Residence, Alto Porvorim, Goa. He lived 76 years as a Jesuit and 63 years as a Jesuit Priest.
Fr Edwin was born in Kampala, Uganda on 06th November 1925 but was brought up in Moira, Goa. The people of Moira are known for their intellectual capabilities as well as their eccentricities. Folklore of Goa is replete with plenty of amusing anecdotes about the Moidekars characterising their daily life and work. Irrespective of what others said, he always spoke fondly about his ancestral house and surrounding in Moira. His early schooling was done in Mater Dei High School, Saligão and the last two years of his schooling were at Moira. This was followed by four years in the Rachel Seminary. He joined the Society of Jesus on 27th September 1945 at Vinayalaya, Mumbai. His Philosophy studies (1949-52) were at Sacred Heart College, Shembaganur.
After his Regency at Loyola, Margão (1952-54) and St. Paul’s, Belgavi (1954-55) he was sent to the Colegio Maximo, at Comillas, Spain for his Theology studies (1955-59). He had fond memories of his travels and his stay in Spain and was always more than willing to talk about his years in Spain, of course with a few phrases of Spanish here and there. He loved to talk in Spanish and he also showed his willingness to teach it to others. In general, he was linguistically gifted and was able to converse comfortably in Konknni, Marathi, Portuguese, Spanish, Latin and of course English.
Returning from Spain after his Theology and Ordination, as a young priest Fr. Edwin was sent to do Tertianship at Sitagarha (1960-61) and then he worked as a missionary in the Ahmednagar District of Maharashtra for 20 years from 1962-82. On 02nd February 1963 at Ahmednagar, he took his Final Vows. In Ahmednagar district, he was immersed in a completely new region, culture, and language. Yet, he learnt Marathi and went about his work with zeal and determination, without complaining.
He loved pastoral work and was self-sacrificing in his service in various mission stations of Ahmednagar District. His concern for the poor was exemplary. Later, he served as the Parish Priest (1983-86) of St. Xavier’s Church, Pune. During this time, he was also the Rector of St. Vincent’s, Pune and therefore, after the sudden death of the Provincial, he was called upon to lead the Goa-Pune Province as Provincial (1986-92).
As a Provincial, he was spiritual, approachable, friendly, methodical, just and fair in his dealings. He was balanced in his judgments, calm and patient with individuals and was an efficient facilitator. After his term as the Provincial, he served in the leadership role as the Superior at St. Britto’s, Mapusa, at St. Paul’s, Belgavi and at Pedro Arrupe Institute (PAI), Raia. He loved PAI, and Raia and always showed interest in its activities and programmes. During his sabbatical, he opted to attend short courses in Christology, new trends in Theology and Ignatian Spirituality. His desire to continue reading and be up to date with new ideas and trends in Theology always remained with him.
During his retirement years at PAI, Raia, Fr. Edwin delved deeper into the sources of Ignatian spirituality through extensive reading and regularly sharing his insights and reflections on Sunday Liturgy in the Bulletin of PAI. Whether as Rector of a variety of Jesuit Institutions, the District Superior of the Ahmednagar Mission, Parish Priest of St. Xavier’s in Pune or the Provincial of the Goa-Pune province he has served with charm, dedication and commitment. As Provincial or Superior, he displayed a humility that is hard to beat. He always took the advice of his consultors before he made decisions and steadfastly held on to them, despite the fact that he knew there would be adverse reactions to them.
And adverse reactions did get, yet he displayed the same calmness and humility and held no grudge. He took the reactions humbly and quietly, never blaming someone else for the mistakes, but taking them on himself. No doubt the Provincial-ship was the heaviest cross he had to carry, and he carried it with great endurance and patience. It reminds one of the words of St. Paul to Timothy, “Share in suffering as a soldier of Christ Jesus (2 Tim 2:3).” Truly Fr. Edwin has been that good soldier of Christ. His native wisdom of Moira and the rustic charm of rural Ahmednagar district never failed him in his long journey as a Jesuit.
Many admirable qualities and a simple, disciplined lifestyle enabled Fr Edwin to be an exemplary figure in the community in spite of his advanced age. He was a gentleman, kind, and considerate in all his dealings, a committed religious, faithful to all his spiritual obligations and a lovable community member. Among his many qualities, his obedience and his humility were outstanding. In the context of shifting rooms, he once mentioned “Father in this context and in any other matter you do not have to request me, it is sufficient to simply order me to do what is required”. This was not just an empty statement but he valued and practised obedience perfectly.
On many occasions, Jesuits were deeply touched by his humility in spite of his seniority and advanced age. Whenever he realised that his way of going about had caused some irritation or unease, he would return after a while and humbly seek forgiveness. His colleagues have great admiration for him precisely because of his ability to come and seek pardon.
His willingness to be of some help, even in his old age, was exemplary. In the community, he was concerned about everyone and always had a word of appreciation and gratitude for all. His ability to relate and mix with the old and the young made him an affable member of the community. He loved all and hated none. His regular and supportive presence at all community activities will be greatly missed. Jesuits and others who knew him will miss his serene smile and warm personality.