Memorial Mass and Release of Memoirs of Fr. Stan Swamy SJ
Jamshedpur: On August 03, 2021, the Jesuit representatives from Central Zone Provinces (Hazaribagh, Jamshedpur, Ranchi, & Dumka) came together to commemorate the 30th day of Fr. Stan Swamy’s death. This coming together made a moving experience among one and all that brought the memory of Stan alive. The 30th-day memorial Liturgical Celebration was organized in Jesu Bhavan, the Jamshedpur Jesuit Novitiate, Mango, at 6.30 am. The Holy Eucharist was presided over by Archbishop Felix Toppo, SJ; and concelebrated by Bishop Telesphore Bilung, SVD, Fr Stany D’Souza, SJ (POSA), the Jesuit provincials of Jamshedpur, Ranchi and Hazaribagh, and Fr. Joe Xavier (Director, ISI, Bangalore).
Fr. Xavier Lakra, the former secretary of Bagaicha and who worked with Fr. Stan, in his homily described Fr. Stan’s death took place in one of the most unexpected circumstances. Imprisonments and death have become a life issue for all of us. In his death, he gave his life for the tribals, Dalits and the deprived margins of society. He used to seek blessings for these daily. He dedicated his life to the well-being of tribals, Dalits and the marginalised. Though Fr. Stan is no more with us, our faith is that he continues to live in spirit, in thoughts, and in legacies he has left behind. He was not known before death so much as he is known today and he lives in the hearts of thousands of people. His death is a wake-up call to all of us to live the values lived by Fr. Stan and work for truth and justice. After the Holy Eucharist, the ashes of Fr. Stan was interred at the Jesuit cemetery at Jesu Bhavan.
In the afternoon, the Central Zone Provinces organised a public program at XISS, Ranchi during which the memoirs of Fr. Stan Swamy was released. Fr. Joseph Marianus Kujur, SJ, the Director of XISS, who welcomed the gathering said: “The title of the memoirs is very apt because we all know that it is indeed true that Fr. Stan was never silent when he was alive. He is not silent even after his death. Through his writings, friends, associates and admirers, his voice is still reverberating everywhere. We hope to keep his spirit alive amongst us as we come together to release his memoirs.”
Fr. Stany D’Souza, SJ, POSA, who was on a visit to Jharkhand after taking over as the President of Jesuit Conference of South Asia said in his address delivered as the guest of honour: “There are two types of memories, one which happens and one which are made. We all stand here because Fr. Stan’s memory has touched us and moved us. His enemies want us to believe that he was against the law… but the truth is he believed in the court of law and died fighting for the poor and the marginalised.”
During the same program, Fr. P.M.Tony, the Director of Bagaicha, announced the scholarship of Rs 25,000 to be given in the name of Fr. Stan to the children of two tribal undertrial prisoners. Fr. Stan had been conferred the Mukandan C. Menon Award last year and since Father was in prison, it was received by Fr. Joe Xavier. Fr. Stan expressed the wish that the amount be distributed among the children of undertrial prisoners. Fr. PM Tony said that they had selected two deserving children — Kiran Barla, a seventh-grader at Rajkiya Madhya Vidyalaya at Lapung in Ranchi, and Sandhya Oraon, a sixth-grader at St Mary’s Girls Middle School, Kanke. The scholarships were handed over to them by Fr. Jerry Cutinha, the Provincial of Jamshedpur.
During this short program, a few eminent personalities, human rights and tribal activists and friends of Fr. Stan was invited to speak. Development economist and social activist Jean Drèze said in a video message: “Fr. Stan while leaving for prison, had said that he is going to pay the price for fighting for social justice. The right tribute would be to carry forward his movement for social justice.”
Mihir Desai, Fr. Stan’s legal counsel and senior advocate in Bombay High Court, pointed out: “He was penalised not for any crime he committed but for raising his voice for justice to Adivasis and the poor.” Fr. Jerry Cutinha, the Provincial of Jamshedpur expressed his thanks and gratefulness to the gathering and to all those who helped him in Taloja jail, Mumbai Jesuits led by Fr. Arun and Frazer and their team, Fr. Joe Xavier and his legal team, and for all friends and supporters of Fr. Stan for their continued support and solidarity.
Report submitted by: Fr. Gerald Ravi Dsouza, SJ