JESUIT DIAMONDS FROM
By M. Diaz-Garriz SJ
The Italian steam-ship Ugolini Vivaldi weighed anchors at the
harbour in the early hours of Bombay 21 December 1951. On board were 12 young Jesuits from the Province of East Castille ( Spain) bound for Gujarat: Francisco Zubeldia, Juan G. Jordana, Luis M. Moreta, Isudas Cueli, Luis M. Zavala, Salaberria, Manuel Diaz-Garriz, Ignacio Galdos, Juan J. Morondo, Joaquim Bandres, Pedro Nagore, Jose A. Arroyo.
This year we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the arrival of these missionary diamonds to our land and soil.
The Spanish Jesuit
was established by St Ignatius himself. On province of Castille 16 July 1948 it was divided into East Castille and West Castille, when it counted more than one thousand members. The Castille Province had been sending missionaries to from the beginning of the 20th century. At the end of World War II (1939-1945), when China became independent of Japanese occupation, the Jesuits were looking forward to a very bright future in the Chinese missions. Unfortunately, under their legendary leader Mao-Tse-Tung the Chinese communists had started a long and bloody civil war. The continuous advance of the communist troops made it impossible for new missionaries to enter China . China
Under these circumstances Fr J. B. Janssens, the General of the Society of Jesus, directed that the newly established
East Castille Province should take up missionary work in Gujarat, which was dependent on the missionaries of the Bombay Mission who were sent from the province of Aragon ( ). Spain
Spanish Missionaries in
The first batch of six Jesuits (all of whom had previously received the formal appointment to
) arrived in Ahmedabad city in February 1949. China
Since there were no direct international flights from Europe to
Asia at the time, the Jesuits had to change flights several times on their itinerary: Madrid-Rome, Rome-Athens, Athens-Karachi, Karachi-Ahmedabad. The 6 pioneers are: Hilario Azpitarte, Miguel Angel Urrutia, Ignacio Ordonez, Jose Luis Lopetegui, Ramon Eizaguirre and Felix Ilarraz. Of this group, only Fr I. Ordonez is still happily with us.
The second group that came to
Gujarat comprised of 22 members. They came by plane in November of that same year, 1949. Accompanying them was the Provincial of East Catille, Fr Fernando Arellano. On that flight with them was the first bishop of Ahmedabad diocese, Edwin Pinto SJ, who had chosen to be consecrated in Zaragoza, Spain, as a symbol of solidarity with the large number of Spanish Jesuits working in Gujarat. Bishop Pinto had been nominated in May 1949 as the first bishop of the newly established Diocese of Ahmedabad, separated from the Archdiocese of Bombay.
The third batch programmed to arrive during the year 1950, in fact was slightly delayed and arrived in
by boat in January 1951. India
The diamond jubilarians
The fourth batch is that of this year’s jubilarians.
The 12 Spanish stalwarts from the
East Castile Province appointed to the then Ahmedabad Mission, had to first cross the international Bridge between Spain and France at on foot. The European Union did not exist at that time and the international frontiers were taken very seriously. Boarding a train at Hendaya, they travelled the whole length of Irun France to arrive at Genova in 36 hours later. Italy
Spain by crossing on foot the international Bridge between Spain and France at . The European Union did not exist at that time and the international frontiers were taken very seriously. They received a warm welcome from the Jesuit community in Genova. On Irun 1 December 1951 they embarked for on the Italian Steamer Ugolini Vivaldi. On the feast of St Francis Xavier the vessel docked for a day in India and the travellers were allowed to go on land and spend the day with their Jesuit brethren there. Then en route the 21-day voyage, the ship had stop-overs at Naples Alexandria, Egypt and . They finally arrived in Karachi, Pakistan on Bombay 21 December 1951.
The group proceeded to Vinayalaya, the Jesuit Noviciate-Juniorate of the
province. The rector, historian Fr Jerome Aixala, joyfully welcomed these very important reinforcements for the Gujarat Mission. He also informed them about a very significant event that had taken place on the feast of the Patron of the Missions, St Francus Xavier, in Anand, Bombay Gujarat: the ordination to the priesthood of the first-ever Gujarati priest Fr Basil Lalabhai Parmar!
(Note: The names are listed according to the order in the photo, from left to right.)
1. Francisco Zubeldia
20-10-1919. Joined SJ 19-9-1935. Ordained 30-7-1950. Died 26-1-2000.
Pioneer of the
South Gujarat Missions (Vyara, Mandal…)
Rector of Anand Community.
Parish Priest in
Secretary to the Baroda Bishop, Rt Rev Francis Braganza and Diocesan Procurator.
His very special and personal apostolate was the Explanation of the Act of Contrition to non-Catholic students. In this personal ministry, he was able to visit several hundreds of schools and High Schools and to contact no less than 400 thousand students of the upper classes.
2. Br Juan G. Jordana (partly hidden by his own cap)
27-12-1919. SJ. 27-3-1947. D. 26.5.2004.
He was a medical Doctor and Dentist and practised his profession for many years in our houses of Anand and Loyola Hall.
Went back to
for health reasons in 1982. Spain
3. Luis Maria Moreta
B.10-12-1927. SJ. 26-9-1946. O.
Founder of the Ankleshwar Mission.
Assistant Director, Ankleshwar Technical.
He has had a special charism to deal with Youngsters.
4. Isudas Cueli
24-12-1930. SJ. 3-9-1949. O. 24-3-1962.
His name is inseparable from that immense achievement of his, the Sampurna Bible… He was PCF for several years and for many more years spiritual Director of many of our Scholastics.
5. Luis Maria Zavala
21-1-1914. SJ. -. O. 1944. D. 4-5-2000.
He joined the Society after being for several years a diocesan priest and personal secretary to the Bishop of Vitoria.
He began as assistant parish priest in Anand. Then parish priest of Mehendabad/ Khatlal. And then for many years assistant at Petlad. Everybody called him the Pavitra Father. He was a gentle saint, a living example of simple piety and union with God.
He left for
barely one year after his arrival. Spain
7. Manuel Diaz-Garriz
B. 26-5-1932. SJ.
6-7-1949. O. 24-3-1962.
Pioneer in N.G. He thanks our Blessed Mother who inspired and helped him to build Unteshwari.
Assistant Parish Priest of Mandali.
For the last thirty years he has taught Church History in Newman Hall and Sevasi.
8. Ignacio Galdos
31-7-1931. SJ. 3-9-1949. O. 24-3-1962
Founder of Zankhvav, Unai and Bardipada.
Pioneer of inculturation in the field of Adivasi culture in
Parish Priest of Bardipada.
9. Juan J. Morondo
25-9-1928. SJ. 7-9-1947. O. 24-3-1961
Taught for 50 years in St Xavier’s – Loyola Hall
Best Teacher Award, Ekalvaya Life –Achievement Award
Harward university (
) Award for Ideal Inspirer of young talents USA
Respected as Guru by His Holiness Acharya Tejendraprasad Pande, Supreme Head of the Swaminarayan (Kalupur).
Inmensely dear to his innumerable old students.
At present he is at Javier (Xavier’s Castle in
[Fr Valentin Oteiza, Director of the Gujarat mission Secretariat in
. He had accompanied the group up to Spain ]. Italy
10. Br Joaquim Bandres
23-8-1929. SJ. 8-5-1946. D. 14.6.2008
A trained infirmarian who spent years of humble and dedicated service to ours and to the poor people of the surrounding areas in Nadiad and Anand. He was specially dear to our own scholastics in Premal Jyoti. He went back to
on medical advice due to a heart condition. Spain
11. Br Pedro Nagore
He was a specialist in agriculture. His first and only appointment was at Anand.
For health reasons he was compelled to go back to
Spain after only 5 years in . India
12. Jose A. Arroyo
B. 28-9-1931. SJ. 14- 9 -1949. O. 24-3-1962
He was an eminent professor of Psychology at St Xavier’s College, Ahmedabad, and an equally eminent Sports Master. He also taught at XLRI Jamshedpur.
He spent many years as professor in several Jesuit Institutions in the
Presently he resides in
Salvador College, . Zaragoza, Spain