Monday, October 13, 2014

R.I.P:Fr.Corral Jose Antonio (GUJ) 75/59, passed away on 13 Oct 2014

Fr.Corral Jose Antonio (GUJ) 75/59, passed away at 0.30 a.m on 13 Oct 2014 at Jeevan Darshan Baroda. His funeral will be held at 4.00 p.m on 13 Oct 2014, in Rosary Church, Baroda.

Fr.Corral Jose Antonio

Date of Birth: 16-04-1939;  Place:Tudela, Spain
Entered the Society: 07-09-1955; Place: Loyola Spain
Priesthood: 25-12-1969; Tudela, Spain
Final Vows: 15-08-1975; Umerpada
Death: 13 Oct 2014

Responsibilities Held in the society of Jesus:

Asst PP:                                                         Vyara from 1972-1975
Asst PP:                                                         Umarpada from 1975-1976
Parish Priest & Director of Social Work: Umarpada from 1977-1984
Parish Priest & Director of Social Work: Vyara from 1985-1989
Parish Priest & Director of Social Work: Mandal from 1990 to 1996
Asst PP:                                                         Pimpri from 1977-1999
Asst PP:                                                         Mandal from 1999-2006
Asst PP:                                                         Vyara from 2006 –

He was a man of  deep passion for studies and research. Above all he possessed a great spirit of adaptability to mix and live with Adivasis, in order to learn their languages and culture. He took deep interest in the culture of the Adivasis, their myths and stories. In spite of an intellectual bent of mind he could come down to the level of the ordinary Adivasis. He used to warmly relate with everyone with respect. He was a man of great energy and perseverance in seeing through projects that  he had undertaken in spite of great difficulties. He ventured to start a milk cooperative society, the first among the tribals which was then taken up by the government. Besides that he started Jagruti High School with boarding for boys and girls at Mandal.
 Contribution to Tribal studies:
Fr.J.A Corral had been working among the Adivasis of South Gujarat for the last forty  seven years. For long periods of time his work was centred among the Gamits of  Vyara and Songadh talukas. He  had very many opportunities to be present, and to participate in the normal events of adivasi life, work in the fields, work in the forest, religious ceremonies, both communitarian and private, as well as in the activities of leisure, like hunting, fishing, foraging and the like. He had also the opportunity to witness, at grassroots level, the various village social institutions at work. He had also been a witness to the evolution of these Adivasi social institutions during the same period of time.
 He had written several books on tribal studies in Gujarat. The book on “the Gamit World of Meaning – Adivasi Religion and Culture”  ( Tribal sources I and II) were a tribute to the Gamit people.
 Health Hazards
On 30 July 2014, Fr.Corral was brought  to Jeevan Darshan and then he was taken to Pilar Hospital . The Doctors had diagnosed him to be suffering from cancer of the prostate.  He complained of his inability to pass urine and he was shifted to Vadodara to Our Lady of Pilar Hospital, run by Srs of Charity of St. Ann’s. The doctors found a very hard lump in his prostate, making it impossible even to place a catheter in the urinary track and were forced to make a hole to let him pass urine. He also had difficulty in passing stools. But the doctors had managed to help him to pass stools. That had certainly been a great relief for him.

Upon further investigations, they had found that the cancer had spread through the bones all over his body. The doctors at Baroda  tried their level best to contain the cancer.

Indomitable Spirit
Even in his sickness, he showed great desires to meet and to be with the people . He made a short  trip to Mandal and then to Vyara in the company of his niece who came to be with him from Spain. People thronged to his residence to have a darshan of the pastor who loved them deeply. He reluctantly left Vyara to attend to his medical treatment at Pilar, Baroda in the first week of September.

The end

Br.Malcolm and his team at Jeevan Darshan tried their level best to contain the cancer that had spread all over his body. His niece from Spain was with him till his last day. Knowing fully well that he had only a few months to live his life on earth with his beloved Jesuits and the people, he had fully prepared himself to meet his creator and the Lord. When the final call came at .030 a.m on Oct 13, 2014 ;  he could say in the words of St.Paul “ So I run straight toward the goal in order to win the prize, which is God’s call through Jesus to the life above” (Phil 3:14).

 By Fr.Lawrence Dharmaraj s.j

Monday, October 6, 2014

An Exclusive Interview with Fr Hedwig Lewis, SJ

An Exclusive Interview with Fr Hedwig Lewis, SJ

Published in DNC Times (Pune)
October 2014

1: Fr Hedwig, on 20 June this year you celebrated the 50th anniversary of your joining the Society of Jesus. Isn’t this another “red letter day” for you?

Well, it’s a golden milestone on which I rest awhile to scan the historical landmarks on my life-map. There are farther horizons to explore and more boundaries to cross.

2: We gather from your website that you were appointed to St Xavier’s College, Ahmedabad, after your ordination in 1977. You have been professor, student counsellor, Vice-Principal and Principal. Also, Rector, Director of the Xavier Institute of Languages and Xavier Centre for Human Resource Development. How do you now perceive that period of your life?

The word perception brings up images of the two men who looked out of prison bars: “One saw mud, the other stars”. I have looked high and low, at my peak moments and my pitfalls, my lights and shadows. I am left with a feeling of fulfilment, because I gave 100% commitment to my mission, and lived out the Ignatian Magis. What I cherish most was the opportunity given me by the Society of being in the service of education in its diversity. And the multi-tasking it involved enabled me to develop my administrative skills, taught me how to handle crisis situations, helped me interact effectively with all classes of people.

3. You had to resign from college and public ministry in 1995 because of a neurological illness. Yet, you have authored over thirty books since then. What has been the secret of your energy and productivity?

I would say ‘deep trust in Providence’. I felt the need of inner strength to transcend my physical disabilities. I was still fresh from my research on the Spiritual Exercises for my book At Home With God, which was published four years earlier. One basic principle that surfaced in my helplessness was that I am a “co-labourer” with God. If I do my best, within my limitations, God will do the rest. This ‘partnership’ worked for me, and for the greater glory of God. My books became my pulpits, my messengers. When the going got tough, I gazed at the picture of The Smiling Christ on the Cross posted on my bookshelf for strength and inspiration. 

4: Looking back at your five decades in the Society, can you recall some of the convictions and motivations you had during formation?

Thanks to this Jubilee Year, I have done some soul-searching of my life as a religious, guided by my sharp visual-memory, and several diaries (that survived the dustbin) containing my emotional responses to events. Let me give you a rough idea of my orientations as a scholastic.
<> I was convinced that Religious life is only for the stout-hearted. Jesus says: take up your cross daily and follow me (Lk 9.23). Whenever I found myself in a comfort zone, I would look around for the “cross” I had dodged… and start afresh. I also used to routinely check whether I was compromising between what was convenient and what was challenging, between striving for perfection and seeking loopholes.
<> AMDG was, and remains, the crucial “compass” and “touchstone” for my attitudes and actions, my self-development and social commitments.
<> I had a passion for wholesome living; that is, developing all-round abilities. I believed it was important to have a craze for at least one extracurricular activity (not a hobby) that would enhance my future ministries. Jesuits who are not “crazy” tend to be lazy. One area I concentrated on was creative writing. Providentially, during Philosophy this talent was noticed, and I was handed charge of editing the province vocation magazine Apostles of Gujarat, as well as the diocesan vocation monthly Children’s Page. In Theology I was given editorship of AVE. Through these opportunities I was able to lay a solid foundation for what would turn out to be, by a twist of circumstances, a writing career. I also developed expertise in counselling through reading and attending seminars/workshops; and skills for youth apostolate.

5: Can you share one significant experience that impacted your life as a priest?

After the ceremony of my ordination on 16 April 1977 at the Goregaon Seminary in Mumbai, while boarding the special bus for the railway station, a teenager approached me and asked whether he could join us. I said yes but paid no further attention to him. The train was not crowded, and my family and friends could sit together. As I turned my head, I noticed the lad a couple of rows away with his eyes fixed on me. I felt some vibes and an inexplicable urge to meet him. I quickly excused myself from the group and sat next to him. He said he was hoping to speak to me. He had been so impressed when he saw me at the altar, he explained, that he felt God prompting him to confide in me. I was deeply touched. I counselled the boy fervently till his home-station arrived. We parted as friends with promises to keep in contact. The story does not end here but for the present I want to share its impact on me.

It may seem like a commonplace incident, but to me it was certainly a “moment of recognition” of my call within the Call. A mysterious transformation was taking place within me during that short encounter. Even as I was conversing I was experiencing the movement of the Spirit in my mind and heart. I suddenly began feeling like a different person. I felt I was no longer in the usual friendly-counsellor mode, but was transformed into a pastor entrusted with a mission to heal a broken world.  

That night before going to bed, my thoughts were not on the euphoric ceremony of the day, or even about the fact that I was a priest at last. I was simply overwhelmed with God’s ‘ordination gift’ to me in confirming my heart’s deepest desire of being recognized as a spiritual director and counsellor.

I had taken for granted that it would be years before I established myself as a counsellor, but the incident in the train revealed that I was already on track. And as if to reassure me, there were more divine surprises in store. A month later when I arrived at the college where I was appointed to teach, I was told I would have to also double-up as Student Counsellor since the former one had unexpectedly left the college. Oh, how my heart bounced on receiving this bonus from Providence! The next thing I know, I was in my predecessor’s trendy office ready to launch my campus ministry. Down the decades, I have held numerous administrative positions, and have been involved in varied activities, but counselling and spiritual direction have remained my forte.

6: Thanks for sharing at such personal depth. One final question: what qualities do you feel Jesuits in training need to develop?

I have been out of touch with scholastics. However, years ago I had given a ‘Recollection’ where my talks provided five pointers for living out the Jesuit charism, under the acronym IGNIS. I trust they are still relevant. I’ll give you an outline from my old notes.

> Impelled by the Spirit. You must be constantly attuned to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, through the daily Examen and prayerful discernment, so as to become more and more spiritual (personal level), more and more compassionate (social outreach).

> Geared for excellence. The emphasis is on “gearing”. This means ‘equipping’ yourselves with professional skills as you strive to become better than your best – in every field, human/spiritual. Gearing prepares you to become life-long learners and to manage yourself. There are superiors and directors of work who tend to be unprofessional in their attitudes and aptitudes. Many either remain non-functional or get burnt out easily for lack of basic managerial know-how.

> Non-Negotiables: do not compromise with anything that obstructs you from living out zealously the Society’s motto of AMDG-Magis.

> Ignatian: Your words and deeds must be branded “Ignatian”, and must clearly reflect Ignatian values and spirituality.

> Servant-leadership: Ever to love and to serve, unconditionally and universally, especially the marginalized at all strata of human society.