A Tribute to My Headmaster Fr Lawrence Pinto Sj-a Jesuit Priest of Poor Students & People
Mangaluru: It is said, “The best and the most beautiful things in the world, cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt within the heart”. These are my sentiments about Fr Lawrence Pinto Sj, my former Headmaster at St Aloysius High School, Mangaluru in the year 1975. The last time, me and few of my classmates of 1975 year met Fr Lawrence Pinto Sj was on 4 January 2020, after we all had a class reunion a day prior to meeting Fr Lawrence Pinto and Fr Denis Rasquinha Sj, (both who were Headmasters at St Aloysius High School) when they were residing at Fatima Retreat House, Mangaluiru. We all loved our school days at St Aloysius and we still cherish and have fond memories of those yester years. We still remember our strict and disciplined Headmaster in Higher Primary school-Fr Denis Coelho SJ, fondly known as “Shivaji” (because of his appearance) and in High school, Fr Denis Rasquinha SJ and Fr Lawrence Pinto SJ , whom we all loved very dearly.
Late Fr LAWRENCE PINTO SJ (1933-2021)
More than we were overjoyed to meet our mentors, the Jesuit duo were also extremely overwhelmed to see us and they happily interacted with us. Surprisingly, even at this Golden age, both Fr Rasquinha and Fr Pinto recognized us, and even remembered our names. A Popular teacher and former headmaster of St Aloysius High School, (SAHS) Mangalore Fr Lawrence Pinto SJ (88) died at Father Muller hospital in the city on Thursday, December 16. He had served in SAHS for 18 years, including 13 years as headmaster. He was also the headmaster of St Joseph’s Indian High School, Bangalore for three years where he retired. After his retirement he founded Loyola primary, high school and PUC in Mundgod, Uttara Kannada district. Later, he was also responsible for starting Loyola School, Sindagi, Bijapur. The funeral rites were held at Fatima Retreat House, Valencia, Mangalore on Friday December 17, at 4 p.m., where a large gathering of priests, nuns, former students, well-wishers, among others paid their final respect to a great soul.
Fr Lawrence’s primary ministry was education, but it was education with a difference. As our headmaster for three years, I have noticed him as a man of discipline but not one with an iron fist, and also strict. However, he was affectionate and polite with the students, and always helped those students coming from lower-class families.He had great love towards poor children. He always gave an opportunity to explain the mischief had or hadn’t created before taking a decision on the ways to punish, that too in a manner in which students learned not to commit the mistake again as well as learn a lesson from the punishment.
Fr Lawrence was simple, down-to-earth, and soft-spoken. Born on 20 April 1933 in Kinnigoly, he was the youngest of six children, hence very shy of meeting any strangers. He had only an elder sister with whom he used to go for daily mass. He joined the Society of Jesus congregation.on 1 July 1955; did his Novitiate at Christ hall, he did his philosophy in Shembag and his theology in Kurseong. He was ordained on 29.03.1967; and his final vows on15.08.1972. He was a Vocation Promoter at Gonzaga House-1968-70; Asst. Headmaster at St Aloysius High School, Mangaluru-1970-75; Headmaster at St Aloysius High School, Mangaluru- 1975-88; Headmaster at St Joseph’s Indian High School, Bengaluru-1988-91; Parish Priest at Mundgod- 1991-99; Manager & Correspondent at Loyola School, Mundgod-1991-05; Director at Vivek Pragathi, Haliyal- 2005-09; In charge at Sindagi Centre- 2009-12; Spiritual Ministry at Fatima Retreat House, Mangaluru- 2012-14; Spiritual Ministry in Mundgod- 2014-15; Spiritual Ministry at Loyola, Mangaluru- 2015-16; and Convalesce at Fatima Retreat House, Mangaluru- 2016-2021
Fr Jossie D’Mello SJ Socius Karnataka Jesuit Province, the PRO of Fr Dionysius Vas SJ the present provincial in his message says, “Fr Lawrence was simple, down-to-earth and soft-spoken. His primary ministry was education. However, it was an education with a difference. Working in the city institutions for several years, after his retirement, he moved to Mundgod to open a school for the poorest of the poor. His pioneering spirit, courage and enthusiasm was amply rewarded as this school grew from strength to strength becoming Loyola Institutions, a composite PU College welcoming children from all levels of Society. With the demise of Fr Lawrence, Karnataka Jesuit Province has lost a great lover of the poor, a pioneer in the field of education and a simple and compassionate human being. Our sincere condolences to the bereaved family members of Fr Lawrence Pinto and to the members of Fatima Retreat House, Mangaluru. Adieu, Fr Lawrence, till we meet again. United in prayers”.
Fr Lawrence looked serious but he had a loving heart that cared for people. He had a good rapport with his priest friends and companions. He was the uniting factor among his family members. He always played a twofold role as pastor and teacher. He would reach the school before everyone else after duly attending his religious and social service work. He was a man of team work . All these things made him so special. it is learnt that Fr Lawrence suffered a lot during the fag end of his life. But he never complained anything about his sickness or pain.He was patient and endured all sufferings till the end. He was appreciative of all the help given to him by the doctors and nursing staff of Fr Muller hospital.
Fr Lawrence Pinto’s funeral was held at Divine Mercy Church/Fatima Retreat House on 17 December, with mass concelebrated by Rev Dr Peter Paul Saldanha-the Bishop of Mangaluru Diocese, joined by Fr Dionysius Vas SJ-Provincial of Karnataka Jesuit Province; Fr Melwin Pinto SJ-Rector of St Aloysius Institutions, Mangaluru; Fr Maxim Misquith SJ-Superior and Director of Fatima Retreat House, Mangaluru; Fr Gerard Furtado Sj-Headmaster of st Aloysius High school, Mangaluru; Fr Cedric Prakash Sj- Social activist from Ahmedabad, Gujarath; Fr Francis Menezes Sj- the penegeryst; Fr Terence Farais Sj; Fr Norbert Fernandes Sj; Fr John Gomes Sj; Fr Alphonse Fernandes Sj; Fr Joseph Monteiro Sj; Fr Cyril D’mello Sj; Fr Pradeep Crasta Sj, among others.
In his homily Fr Gerard Furtado Sj said, “In the Gospel John ,we come across intimate relationship between God the Father and Jesus.people as the children of God have close relationship with God the Father This relationship helps in building trust and faith in God.Those who believe in Jesus become one with the salvation work of God the Father. Fr.Lawrence Pinto SJ through his preferential option for the poor in the field of Education and Social work has been able to build faith oriented relationship with God the Father”
Here are a few messages paying respect to Fr Lawrence Pinto Sj, of my classmates of batch 1975 at St Aloysius High School, Mangaluru :
” Fr Lawrence Pinto was a Good Teacher, Kind , Polite and Knew His Subject Well.. He Taught Us Science..Once It so happened in the Eight Standard , I didn’t finish his Class Work and it was a little late . I was worried \about missing the School Bus and started crying. He was adamant and even boxed my ears..
Later I reached home and told my Mother what happened, and she stared at me and said ” Madhu..Fr L Pinto is then a Good Teacher. He is keen that you learn the Subject “..What happened almost Fifty Years ago is still fresh in my Memory. He always called out Names twice.. Madhukar , Madhukar. He was well Mannered and Spoke Less..Will Miss You Sir..You Are Now At The Feet Of The Lord..Rest In Eternal Peace..Om Shanti”- Madhukar S Rao
Fr Lawrence Pinto Sj and Fr Denis Rasquinha Sj-both were our Headmasters at St Aloysius High School
“Fr Lawrence lived for the underprivileged and touched their lives in many impactful ways. He saw to it that the Siddhis, Kurbas, Adivasi, Lambani tribes get education. He built the Loyola institutions in a backward area and was loved by students, teachers and parents. We will truly miss our beloved Headmaster. His contribution to society was immense. Here’s a hidden tidbit-Fr Pinto was the God child of my grandmother, Late Winifred Colaco and on that count, I was one of his favourites. Fr Pinto used to give me red swordtail and guppy fish and that’s how I took a keen interest in fish rearing when I grew up. No doubt he was a great priest and a great human being. May His Soul Rest In Peace”–Dr Anand Pereira
Fr Lawrence had a bold, convincing voice. He was available to the pastoral and other needs of the people. Most of all, he was aware that his mission was educating youth and children, especially the poor. Fr Lawrence Pinto you have said goodbye to this world and we believe that you are now living in the company of God. And yet we trust that you will continue to live here on earth in our minds and hearts. Adieu! So we pray, “Eternal rest grant unto him oh Lord and let your perpetual light shine upon him and may the souls of the departed find rest and peace in you, Amen”.
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