The Golden Jubilee of Arrival to India:
19 December 2011, deserved to be engraved in letters of Gold and need to be displyed on every Jesuit noticeboard of our province, as it marks the occasion of the golden arrival of our three Spanish Jesuits to India: Fr Dastis Luis, Fr Civiac Joaquin and Fr Inaki Bereciartua.
THE FOUR DREAMERS - by Fr Civiac J
It was a windy and cold morning when 4 young Jesuits of Castilla Oriental, Spain, were boarding the French ship “Laos” on their way to India.The name of those dreamers were: Fr L Dastis ( already a priest) and the Scholastics I Berechi, J Civiac and L Imaz ( later on left the Society) . Fr L Dastis was of course, the Superior. The harbour was Marseille, France. That day was 8 December 1961, the feast of the Immaculate Conception - a most propitious day to start a new life.
The “Marseille-Bombay’s” 11 days journey was uneventful. Young French Air-Force officers were with us. They were going to Vietnam. They knew for sure that France was fighting there a losing war and that perhaps some of them would die there for nothing. I was impressed by their sense of discipline and self-sacrifice.
December 19 was our day of arrival. It was a splendid morning. Countless ships were in the harbour. Mumbai gave us the feeling that it was a metropolis without end. All the passengers were on the deck. The silence was absolute: The loud-speakers of the Laos were informing that the first Indian planes had started that very morning, bombing military targets in Goa and Diu…!
Fr Fabrat and Br Abril with their perennial smile were waiting for us. According to Br Abril the Customs Officer that would check our luggages was a good friend of him . Our personal luggage, as it was the rule in those days, was minimum to say something. But with us, and I still ignore why in my name, were coming about 40 boxes.
By 09 O´clock all those 40 cases were already in the huge Customs Hall. Only then our Customs Officer appeared. He was singing loudly in Spanish “Cielito Lindo”, --“Beautiful little Heaven—“,one of my favourite old Mexican songs. He greeted us in Portuguese. We were amazed and happy to be in his hands. Br Abril gave him the list of things contained in every box and disappeared from the Customs Hall. Mean while Fr Fabrat was our Guardian Angel.
We were enjoying our first Indian tea,when we heard through the loud speakers of the Customs Hall: “Mister Civiac…!” We looked at each other. It was our Customs Officer! He seemed to be pretty upset.This time he was talking English and loudly: “In which language of the world, tape-recorders and medicines are called by the same word…?” Aparently list and objects in the containers were not always agreeing. Neither Fr Fabrat nor me knew what to reply. About 6 or 7 times more I had to hear that morning that “Mister Civiac” and always with the same caustic remarks. What was left of “that good friend of Br Abril”,of his Portuguese and of “Cielito Lindo…”?
Meanwhile a Mother Superior appeared there to welcome us. Some of the cases were for them. When talking with us she realized that she had forgotten her bag in one of the shops. And in the bag were some dollars. She simply smiled: “That money is for the poor”. She didn´t say a single word more and left to search for the bag. One hour later she was back with the bag and the money. She smiled again: “This money is for the poor.!” It was more than obvious that the Divine Providence was in the pocket of that M.Superior
Br Abril appeared at last when most of the containers had been already checked up. He didn´t comment anything about the repeated “Mister Civiac” and consequent remarks that he himself had to hear too once or twice more. All the same his smile had disappeared. He had brought with him several trucks to take the cases to Anand. After paying the Customs duties his smile was back again: The Customs duties had been as low as possible and the whole of “Mister Civiac” as he knew by now from the Customs Officer himself, had been only a “natak”, a comedy as he had to translate for us.
Who can imagine a more fitting introduction to our new Indian way of life?. To start with we had been taught the first practical lesson about Indian psychology. Then the Lord had shown us through that M.Superior, that His Divine Providence would be as much part of our daily life as the tea at 10 O´clock or the bargaining when shopping. Besides that on that day I had learnt my first Gujarati word…”Natak.’
A Brief Biodata
Fr Dstis. was Born and brought up in a family with a long and rich tradition of sturdy catholic faith, vibrant piety, deep devotion and abundant vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
He hails form a very deep religious city-Zaragosa, a city closely linked with great saints in Jesuit history such as Joseph Pignatelli, Francis Borgia and Aloysius Gonzaga.
In Anand he succeeded in combining the coldness of the numbers-keeping accounts and the Zeal and enthusiasm for pastoral work. Later on as a pastor in the places such as Gothada he had shown contagious faith, great courage, constancy, perseverance, determination and enthusiasm.His life as a Jesuit and his work as a missionary are certainly examples that younger Jesuits would want to emulate.
At present he is in Zaragoza, Spain.
2. Fr Joaquim Civiac
It was in his childhood, from his mother, who was a young widow, that Civiac learnt to face life with grit and determination.
Civiac is not only a multi-linguist, including Greek which he taught as a regent and still keeps fresh by reading the New Testament in Greek daily, he is a ‘citizen of the world’ a native of Spain who has been of service in India, Italy, France and the USA.(California).. riding through unexpected tracks. His first appointment as a young priest was to Milan, for the magazine Missioni.He spent a year (October 1997 to November 1998) in Milan and Paris. He returned to Gujarat for his tertianship. In Ahmedabad, under the direction of the illustrious Fr Conget, he went to the Gujarat Vidyapith for 10 months as a resident student of Gujarati.
He was then sent to Anklao, on one of those proverbial “stop gap” appointments—which ended up by his being there for over 12 years (1971-1984). Afetr five years of break in Spain and Califonia, he returned to Gujarat, spending few months first in Khambhat, then Vadtal, till he was appointed to kathlal in June 1996.
Now he is happily serving in the Khambhat mission.
3. Fr Inaki Bereciaartua
He is fellow citizen of Master Inigo from whom he seem to have inherited the spirit of indomitable commitment to the mission of Christ. He spent 40 years of dedicated service in the Dediapada Mission. Now this has grown into 3 different mission centres with their education institutions, hostels for boys and girls, convents and a beautiful church and a shrine for Mother Mary at Korvi. Added to these, is the actual economic and social development, result of the various projects related to cattle farming and milk cooperatives that he initiated. At presnt he has moved to a small mission centre ‘Nani Singaloti’ which is the offshoot of the Dediapada mission.