FR LUIS ARZA SJ
1921 - 2013
Fr Arza was certainly ready to obey the call of the Lord summoning him to come to the House of the Father. He had been purified by a long illness which limited his mobility, and what is more painful, prevented him from speaking. To make his Way of the Cross still more painful he had to suffer at the end a prostate operation that forced him to be bed-ridden till his death. The only human relaxation he received was taken for short rides in a wheel chair.
Fr Arza received his call to the Society of Jesus when he was studying theology in the Seminary of Pamplona. He joined the Society of Jesus in Loyola, and immediately after his vows he was appointed to the then Ahmedabad Mission. That is back in 1949. So he has been a missionary in
Gujarat for nearly 64 years.
Fr Arza was particularly gifted for leadership which he exercised in various posts of high responsibility. After his ordination in Pune, he was appointed Spiritual Father of the boys in St Xavier’s High School, Anand. There he sowed the seeds of a vocation to the priesthood in a number of boys. He was Parish Priest in Dediapada,
Rector in Anand, Principal in St Xavier’s High
School, Surat, Principal of St Joseph’s in Baroda, Parish Priest in Valsad, Rector of Good Shepherd Seminary in Baroda, chaplain
of the Shrine in Baroda and Superior of
Jeevan Darshan, where he was completely dedicated to the service and welfare of
the retired and of the sick. He has left behind an example of what a real
missionary should be.
his contribution to the welfare of the adivasis is said to be an enduring monument
to his zeal and love for the oppressed and the dispossessed. His six years of efficient
service at Surat St Joseph’s, have left an impression on all who benefited
from his work. The clergy of Baroda
still remember him with affection and gratitude for his fatherly guidance
during his stint as the Baroda Rector of
the diocesan seminary. His liberty and generosity as a genial host is still
cherished by those who enjoyed his hospitality in Valsad. Sevasi too has enjoyed his contribution in
terms of making peace between rival groups and improving the conditions of the
hostel, setting the accounts aright and making the farm productive. The Jeevan
Darshan community was fortunate to have him as
cum chaplain in the Shrine of Our Lady of the Forsaken. Superior
Fr Arza was a man of deep spirituality. While he was in charge of the Shrine and of the Jeevan Darshan infirmary, I heard him often saying, that for him God as Father was what illumined and energized his whole spiritual life. God is my Father, he repeated over and over again. No wonder that he prepared himself so well through a long purification to go to the House of his Father.
His funeral was attended by a large congregation of priests, religious Sisters and laypeople. Bishop Godfrey de Rozario, Bishop of Baroda, presided at the Eucharistic concelebration, assisted by Archbishop Stanny Fernandes, Bishop Macwan and Jesuit Provincial Fr. Changanacherry.
May he rest in peace.
Fr Pablo Gil SJ