United in LOVE Family Members of Jesuit Priests Join in the ‘Jesuit Family Get-Together’

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“God freely created us so that we might know, love, and serve him in this life and be happy with him forever. God’s purpose in creating us is to draw forth from us a response of love and service here on earth, so that we may attain our goal of everlasting happiness with him in heaven. For those who love, nothing is too difficult, especially when it is done for the love of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Saint Ignatius of Loyola-the Founder of the Society of Jesus Congregation (Jesuits)

Mangaluru: The history of Karnataka province began when nine Jesuits from Europe landed in Mangaluru on 31 December 1878. The Catholics of Mangaluru had been requesting the Pope to send them Jesuits mainly for the education of their children. Acceding to their requests, Pope Leo XIII carved out Mangaluru and Calicut from the jurisdiction of Verapoly and Padroado in 1878 and directed the Fr General of the Society of Jesus (SJ) to take up the territory. The General entrusted the work to the Jesuits of the Venetian Province.

In the spirit of the first companions, the early Jesuits began their work on the solid foundations inherited from the Carmelites, foundations of deep faith and solid piety. In 1879 the pioneers started St. Joseph’s Seminary, Mangaluru for the formation of the diocesan clergy. It began with 10 students and Fr Maffei as its first superior. On 1880 January 12, St Aloysius College was opened in a rented house by Fr Mutti. On June 21 the foundation stone for the new building was laid with Fr Mutti as the architect and Fr. Joseph Willie as the first Rector and Principal. In 1885, the new College building was inaugurated and in 1887 SAC became a first grade College.

And 143 years later, Fr Melwin Pinto SJ is the present Rector of St Aloysius Institutions, Fr Praveen Martis SJ, is the Principal of St Aloysius College; Fr Melwyn Lobo SJ is the Principal of St Aloysius Gonzaga School; Fr Clifford Sequeira SJ-as the Principal of St Aloysius PU College; Fr Melwyn Pinto SJ-the Director of Management and IT Institute (AIMIT)-Beeri; Fr John D’souza SJ-as the Director of St Aloysius ITI; and Fr Gerald Furtado SJ-as Headmaster of St Aloysius High School; among others.

In 1880 Fr Augustus Muller SJ opened a Homeopathic Dispensary at St Aloysius College and later shifted to Kankanady, Mangaluru (present location as Father Muller Hospital) in 1891. In 1882 a Jesuit Novitiate was opened at Jeppu, Mangaluru, and later a workshop cum orphanage for the poor was started at Jeppu in 1884 and St Joseph’s Church at Jeppu in 1890. In 1937 the Jesuits took over the administration of St. Joseph’s Institutions, Bengaluru from the French Foreign Mission Fathers. In 1948, the Fatima Retreat House, Jeppu in Mangaluru was established.

Between the 1960s and 1970s Karnataka took up several parishes/mission stations in Mysore, Bellary, and Bangalore dioceses. In 1960 in the newly born Vice province, in Hassan the much-needed High School was started, followed by a PU College later in the years. In 1962 St. Joseph’s Indian high school and Loyola Mandir (Provincialate) came into existence at Lavelle Road Bengaluru. Apart from these, there are many more institutions run by the Jesuit priests in Karnataka and India, with a Mission -“Rooted in Christ and partnership with people of goodwill, transforming relationships and structures to build a society based on compassion, justice, reconciliation and service.” and with a Vision-“Companions of Jesus journeying with others towards building a just and humane society.”

Being a part of Karnataka Jesuit Province, around 600-700 family members of Jesuits from Mangaluru and the coastal region joined for the ‘JESUIT FAMILY GET-TOGETHER’ held at Loyola Hall, St Aloysius PU College, Mangaluru on Sunday, 28 May 2o23. The day’s programme began with the eucharist officiated by Provincial of Karnataka Jesuit ProvinceFr Dionysius Vaz SJ, joined by Fr Melwin Pinto SJ-Rector, St Aloysius Institutions, Mangaluru; Fr Anush D’cunha SJ- Director of Loyola Jesuit Pre-Noviciate, Mamgaluru; Fr Anil D’mello SJ- Director, Fatima Retreat House, Mangaluru; Fr Ronald Pais SJ-Superior at Asha Kiran Jesuit scholastic house, Mangaluru, and Fr Francis Fernandes-Superior at Jesuit Vidya Niketan, Dharwad.

In his homily, Fr. Francis Fernandes SJ highlighted the significance of the feast of the Pentecost and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. “If Bethlehem was God With us and Calvary was God for us, Pentecost was God in us,” Fr Francis said. He also said that it is through the power of the Holy Spirit that every believer can carry on the mission given to us by Jesus Christ.” Information, Instruction and Inspiration are three ways which play a vital role in spreading the message. The Holy Spirit is the principal agent of the mission. Pentecost is the power of fusion. Let us all speak the language of love. And that love is among the Jesuit community. And today we all have joined here to spread the love among everyone gathered here” added Fr Fernandes.

Following the eucharist, a brief get-together was held. Dr Judy Pinto, sister of Fr Gratian Carlo SJ of Kohima region, spoke on behalf of Jesuit families. In her message, she described Jesuits as men of prayer, obedient, simple and excellent in everything they do. “I have had an association with Jesuits for over 30 years teaching in St Aloysius College. And a bit of their quality of striving for excellence has come to me as well,” she added. Fr Joyson Vas SJ -the Province Coordinator for Vocation Promotion, Dharwad also gave an elaborate history of the Jesuits and the services they provide in Karnataka and other places in India.

Rector Fr Melwin Pinto SJ in his witty style kept the audience lively briefing them about the role of Jesuits in society and how they reach out to the community either in Education or other sectors. Provincial Fr Dionysius Vaz SJ in his message thanked the Jesuit families for coming in large numbers. Quoting Pope Francis, he said that ‘Give me good families, and I will give you good priests’. “Karnataka Jesuits are in demand. Every other province and international Jesuit house asks for Jesuits from Karnataka and Kohima. However, we cannot meet the demand. But, I must tell you that because these Jesuits have come from good families, they can face any missionary challenge,” added Fr Vaz.

Asha Kiran scholastics enacted a short musical drama on vocation, while students from St Aloysius PU College, Mangaluru performed the welcome Bharatanatyam dance. A video on Jesuit life prepared by Fr Anthony Arul and the team was presented. As a token of memory and love the families were given a memento each, handed over by the Provincial and Rector. The (Late) Fr Walter Albuquerque Choir under the leadership of Simon Pais Bajal sang a few soothing hymns during the mass. Fr Anush D’cunha SJ compared the programme very meticulously and eloquently and kept the audience lively and happy.

The family members went around looking at the lives of some outstanding Jesuits of our province which were decked on the walls, along with the pictures of Jesuit communities, the books published and art by the Jesuits, the stages of formation, unique moments of the Society and the province. The family members were also seen thronging the photo booth to capture their pictures with the Jesuit of their family. Family members were seen interacting with one another and Jesuits during and after the sumptuous meal. Many of them also visited the iconic St Aloysius Chapel and the College museum. Fr Anil D’Mello SJ, Fr Melwin J. Pinto SJ, Fr Ronald Pais SJ and Fr Anush D’Cunha SJ meticulously planned and coordinated the programme.

Speaking to Team Mangalorean, Fr Cedric Prakash SJ- a Jesuit of the Gujarat Province with his roots in Mangaluru, and Internationally renowned human rights, reconciliation and peace activist and writer who had joined in the celebration said, ” It was a memorable event indeed at the Family get-together of the Mangaluru based Karnataka Jesuits. It was memorable on several counts but particularly because it created a deep feeling of bonding amongst the many families that have gifted one of their own to the Society of Jesus. I, a Jesuit belonging to Gujarat Province and my elder sister Bernadette D’souza ( from Bengaluru), were particularly privileged to be part of this memorable programme. We are at present in Mangaluru for some other programmes”

” Fr. Melvin Pinto the Rector of St Aloysius College whilst welcoming the huge gathering made a mention of my presence ( and that of my sister and other relatives too) and said that the Society of Jesus is one big family! The entire programme was well appreciated by one and all thanks to the meticulous and efficient planning by the team consisting of Frs Melvin, Anil, Ronnie, and Anush with unstinted cooperation and support from several. It was truly a wonderful experience for me and my sister to be at this family get-together” added Fr Cedric. Fr Eric Mathias SJ, the Principal of St Aloysius PU College-Harihar said that it was fun and interacting with family members of the Jesuit priests made a precious moment during the celebration.

In conclusion, in my perspective, having associated with the Jesuit priests during my 15 years of an academic career at St Aloysius Institutions, Mangaluru, I think Jesuit priests are good people because they want to give their life to God. What makes a good priest is when he is friendly, kind, supportive and loving. And I found it in all these Jesuit priests I came across. They were my mentors, and they changed my life. ” I am very happy God made special people to be priests. Some people don’t realize it, but they gave their lives to be religious, holy and helpful to others. That’s why I think these Jesuit priests are good people.”

There are many different qualities looked for in a good priest. Priests are expected to be caring, compassionate and understanding. They are looked up to as good role models and are often asked for their opinion or advice. They are approachable and friendly, someone people will not be afraid to go to. But most importantly, they spread God’s word to people. They live Jesus’ example every day and work hard to bring Jesus and God into people’s lives. Priests are a prime example of the Catholic faith and morals. Good priests are caring and not afraid to help. They are constantly administering to the poor and needy, as well as living out the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Works like these show that a priest cares for society and will go out of his way to make a difference in people’s lives. I am glad that I am a great friend of Jesuit Priests. Long Live the Jesuit Priests!

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