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Father Felix Raj delivered the Convocation address at the second convocation of Sarojini Naidu College for women, Dum Dum on June 29 afternoon. 180 postgraduate students received their certificates from Fr. Felix Raj and Dr. Mahua Das, Hon'ble Vice-Chancellor of West Bengal State University. Dr. Urmila Ukil is the principal of SN College.
St. Xavier’s University, Kolkata (SXUK) celebrated the International Yoga Day in the university campus in collaboration with South Kolkata Yogasana Association on June 21, 2022 with great fervour and gaiety. The celebration witnessed the presence of a large number of students and their spontaneous participation in Yoga performance.
Rev. Dr. John Felix Raj, S.J., Hon’ble Vice-Chancellor of SXUK said, “Yoga is a gift to humanity and it is a holistic methodology towards bringing unison of body and mind.” He directed the students to embrace and engage in this exercise religiously.
The theme of this year’s celebration is ‘Yoga for Humanity’. Approximately 25 crore people across the world celebrated the day practising yoga for maintaining better health and wellness.
The young members of the South Kolkata Yogasana Association performed various asanas in front of the students and trained them. The programme concluded with the National Anthem.
Sandeep Mundhra, Sports Officer, St. Xavier’s University, Kolkata
Raghabpur Teachers visit SXUK
Forty teachers of Raghabpur St. Paul's Higher Secondary School, under the leadership of Headmistress, Ms. Sadhana Kharali, visited St. Xavier's University, Kolkata (SXUK) on Saturday, June 18, 2022. The tour was part of their Ignatian Year celebrations. Raghabpur is a village in South 24 Parganas, 25 kms from Kolkata. SXCK has opened a rural campus at Raghabpur since 2014.
Rev. Fr. John Felix Raj, S.J. Hon’ble Vice-Chancellor of SXUK welcomed the teachers and briefed them about the history of the University. He narrated how the University started its academic journey with a small number of students in 2017 and is gradually emerging as one of the leading academic hubs of the state.
Besides a campus tour of the university, they had attended two sessions on ‘Role of Teachers in Jesuit School and Cannonball Moment’, taken by Prof. Ashis Mitra and Fr. Mourlin K, S.J. respectively. The group enjoyed the tour and returned with memories of SXUK.
- Dr. Somak Sen
Memorial Service for Mr. Arun Biswas:
Mother Teresa International Award Committee organised a memorial service for late Anthony Arun Biswas who was the chairman of the MTIA committee at St. James' School, Kolkata on Thursday June 16 evening.
Fr. Felix Raj participated and paid his tribute to Mr. Biswas, "... Mr. Biswas was a committed leader in Bengal, he inspired many people by his spiritual depth and selfless service....He was fond of Mother Teresa and promoted her work for the dying and destitutes. He continues to live in our hearts and work..."
Biswas passed away at the age of 91 on May 7, 2022.
May he rest in peace.
St. Xavier's University, Kolkata was honoured with the prestigious Ananda Shiksha Ratna Award 2022 by ABP Ananda, India's leading News Channel on June 10, 2022. Fr. Felix Raj, S.J., Hon'ble Vice-Chancellor received the award at Swabhumi Rangmanch, Kolkata.
- Mr. Subhashis Majumdar
Eminent industrialist and Xaverian, Dr.Sanjiv Goenka, Chairman, RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group was conferred upon the first Doctor of Literature Honoris Causa on Saturday, March 5, 2022, in the third Convocation of the St. Xavier’s University, Kolkata.
Mario Martin Louis
‘In 1528, Francis Xavier, a lecturer, met another dynamic personality, Ignatius of Loyola at the Paris University. Francis Xavier was just 23 years old and Ignatius of Loyola was 38 years. The former dreamt of making a mark in the field of academics and while the later had been transformed from a Knight to a Pilgrim after the cannonball moment.’
In his inspiring sermon, Fr. Felix Raj, Vice-Chancellor of SXUK called this unique meeting of two legendries from diverse backgrounds as INIGO MOMENT which transformed the fabric of Francis Xavier from an ambitious man to a missionary. Francis wrote in one of his letters, “I will go anywhere and do anything in order to communicate the love of Jesus to those who do not know Him or have forgotten Him.”’
Ignatius of Loyola won over Francis with the biblical quote, “What does it profit a man, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his life”? (Mathew 16:26). These words hit Francis Xavier like a cannonball that hit Ignatius. They brought a radical transformation in the life of Francis Xavier. He became an Ignatian. Like Ignatius and Francis Xavier, we too experience moments of transformation.
Francis Xavier enlightened with the INIGO MOMENT joined Ignatius and other companions and pronounced their vows in 1534 at Montmartre, Paris and left for Rome in 1538 to seek permission from the Pope for the formation of the Society of Jesus. The Society was founded in 1540.
Francis was discerning his future course of action, the text of Genesis 12:1 crossed his mind: “ Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.” He left for Asia to preach the good news. He spent nearly 10 years in India. This decade is known as Xavierian decade. In ten years of his stay in India from 1542 to 1552, he travelled 45,600 km by sea and land for his apostolic work in Japan, Philippines and India. He is called the Apostle of the East.
Xavier did not return from his trip to China en route the Celestial Kingdom in 1552. He fell ill and died on December 3 at Shangchuan Island, Jiangmen, China and was buried at the beach there. The uncorrupted body was brought to Goa later. You will find his body at the Basilica of Bom Jesu, Goa. Francis lived for only 46 years but his work for humanity is beyond comparison.
St. Xavier’s University, Kolkata commemorated the 469thDeath Anniversary of St. Francis Xavier, the patron saint on December 3, 2021. The commemoration commenced with a high Mass at the university chapel followed by a Quiz exclusively designed for the faculty members and staff members on the Life of St. Francis Xavier. It was a good show of unity, leadership and teamwork.
Fr.John Felix Raj celebrated the Mass. The choir members mesmerised the congregation by their melodious multilingual songs.
Fr.Raj called upon each and every member of the congregation during the celebration with his words, “Every drop, small or big, makes the ocean, likewise every human person, young or old, poor or rich, makes the universe. Human life is precious…Come let’s make the difference through our life and work.”
Fr. Peter Johnson
Claret School, Sahanagar, Purba Bardhaman, celebrated its School Annual day by organizing a grand function in the school auditorium on December 04. All students, their parents, teachers and staff and other respected invitees attended the function.
The programme started with the inauguration of the New Tar Road from Kamalpur mode to Claret School.TheRoad project was initiated by the Rev.Dr. Felix Raj SJand sponsored by Shree Santanu Basu IAS, Chairman and managing Director of WBSEDCL. Dr. Moulin SJ, Dr.Amit Mishra, Mr.Sudippaul, Fr. Raimund CMF were also present as guests of honour.
Dream became Reality: TAR ROAD PROJECT sponsored
Claret School, Sahanagar is a remote tribal village in Purba Bardhaman District. The school was established in 2002 with the purpose of “Reach the unreached” to serve the poor Santal Tribal people. Claret School was not having a proper road from the beginning which was a barrier for the tribal education and development. More than 8 years of efforts went in vain.
Our eight year-long strugglewas resolved by the grace of God, through Dr.Felix Raj SJ and Shri Santanu Basu IAS. I must say, it is a ‘miracle’ to Claret School and the people.
After the inauguration of the road, we started the annual day function by lighting the lamp by all the dignitaries. A short Annual Report was presented by Fr.Peter Johnson, the Principal of the school in which he spoke of the school’s eventful journey and achievements in the last two years. Then students of the school presented dances, songs and cultural performances
The chief guest delivered an inspiring speech starting with the meaningful prayer which urged the students to do their best and bring honour to the school, their family and the country. Finally, the school band played the national anthem and the function ended at 5:00 am.
Fr. Peter Johnson,
Claret School, Sahanagar
St. Xavier’s University, Kolkata (SXUK) and St. Xavier’s University Kolkata Alumni Association (SXUKAA) jointly organised a COVID Vaccination Camp at the SXUK Campus, in collaboration with Department of Health and Family Welfare, Government of West Bengalon Friday, 1st October, 2021 for the benefit of the University Staff, Students, Alumni and others. A total of 286 people received their second dose of Covishield Vaccine on this day.
The camp was inaugurated and blessed by Rev. Fr. John Felix Raj, SJ, Hon’ble Vice Chancellor, St. Xavier’s University, Kolkata and President, St. Xavier’s University Kolkata Alumni Association. Rev. Fr. John Felix Raj, SJ commended the efforts of SXUKAA and all the people involved in making the event successful. Most of the eligible stakeholders of St. Xavier’s University, Kolkata are now fully vaccinated.
The necessary medical support for the camp was provided by the District Administration of North 24 Parganas and Salt Lake Sub-Divisional Hospital.
St. Xavier’s University, Kolkata and St. Xavier’s University Kolkata Alumni Association have undertaken a number of initiatives in response to the outbreak of COVID-19 in the last few months.A40- bed Safe-Home was setup inside the University campus during the peak of the 2nd wave of COVID-19 outbreak. SXUKAA has been involved in organising five COVID Vaccination drives covering over 1000 doses, including a rural vaccination drive organised in Gurap Village, Hooghly district.
On the 24th death anniversary of Mr. Susai Teacher on September 20, 2021, Fr. Felix Raj inaugurated the multi-purpose hall at St. Michael's Higher Sec. School, Sengudi (Tamil Nadu) in the presence of Fr. Vincent Amal Raj (Parish Priest), Fr. Michael David (from Germany) and Sister Principal. He also distributed the Susai Awards and Prizes to meritorious students of the School.
St. Xavier's University, Kolkata is live on Digilocker, National Academic Depository (NAD), Government of India. Our students, who graduated in 2019 and 2020, can now search and download their degree certificates from NAD. Also any employer or prospective employer may verify information about their recruits from NAD. Thanks to Dr. Indra Kanta Maitra, our COE for this digital initiative.
HCM Mamata Banerjee on September 7 afternoon conducted a special meeting with religious leaders, Ministers, Police officers and Durga Puja Committees at Netaji indoor stadium over how the annual Pujas will be celebrated this year.
The meeting was organised by Kolkata Police and conducted by Kolkata Police Commissioner, Soumen Mitra.. Five religious leaders including Fr. Felix Raj spoke at the meeting. Mamata insisted on adequate caution and announced guidelines for Puja celebrations.
Fr. Felix Raj congratulated the Kolkata police force for their firmness and humanness in exercising their duty. “The Covid 19 threw many challenges to us and has taught many lessons. If pandemic precautions are faithfully observed, the Puja celebrations will definitely be successful”, he said.
St. Xavier’s University Kolkata Alumni Association (SXUKAA) celebrated the birthday of its President Rev. Fr. John Felix Raj, SJ on Thursday, 26thAugust, 2021 as “Philanthropy Day”.
Rev. Fr. President was felicitated by members of SXUKAA and SXUKAA. On this occasion, alumni recommitted themselves for the cause of social welfare.
On this auspicious day, Fr. President handed over a cheque for the eye operation of Mrs. Laxmi Bag, a 78 year old lady who is in the urgent need of the same. Mrs. Bag is a roadside tea-seller, who was dispossed of her own house by her sons who do not look after her.
Rev. Fr. President also handed over supplies of nourishment food supplements for 50 pregnant and lactating women belonging to the economically weaker section of society.
A professional sewing machine was also handed over to Ms. Mamata Das, a young widow, who presently supports her two children by doing minor tailoring/stitching jobs.
A COVID Vaccination drive was organised on Sunday, 29th August, 2021 at Gurap (Hooghly District) primarily for the rural and tribal population of the area.
A video showing the various philanthropic activities undertaken by St. Xavier’s University Kolkata Alumni Association during the year was shown. The Alumni Identity Card was also unveiled on this day by Rev. Fr. President. The Hony. Secretary of SXUKAA, Mr. VatsalChirimar handed over the first ID card to Fr. Felix Raj.
Rev. Fr. President gave an emotional speech on the occasion. The program was followed by High-tea.
In Park Street, Mr. Pratap’s Oasis Restaurant distributed food to the poor and needy people.
Parasmani, Centre for Research and Social Outreach of St. Xavier’s University, Kolkata (SXUK) located at Ratnapally, Santiniketan, Bolpur, was blessed by Fr. Anthony Raj, local parish priest and inaugurated by Fr. Felix Raj, Vice-Chancellor of SXUK on Saturday, July 10th. The Jesuit priests of the University, local Priests, Sisters and some neighbours had joined the inaugural ceremony.
Parasmani, owned by the Jesuit Society of Calcutta for many years, has now been handed over to SXUK for its research and social outreach activities. At the inaugural ceremony, Father Felix Raj said, ‘The Centre shall, therefore, be upgraded in due course of time, with the latest technological and reference materials so that scholars, particularly from the domain of Social Work, Literature and Management can focus on high-end research that shall ensure the percolation of the research outcomes to the rural populace’.
‘It is also envisioned to act as a collaborative link between Viswa Bharati University that was established by the country’s first Nobel Laureate, Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore and St. Xavier’s University’, he added. To this effect, Fr. Vice-Chancellor has appointed a Research Committee under the leadership of Dr. Mourlin Fernando, Assistant Professor of Xavier Business School, SXUK.
Parasmani shall also be a Centre of regular formation and training for faculty and students of SXUK. As its first programme at Parasmani, the St. Xavier’s University plans to organise a seminar on ‘Jesus Christ and Rabindranath Tagore – Their World Views’, in the first week of August.
Capuchin Father Suresh Mathew, who is also the editor of the Catholic weekly, ‘Indian Currents’ released the latest list of COVID -19 deaths among priests and nuns in India on May 22, 2021.
He says that the findings have shocked him. “I am shocked at the huge loss to the Church in India.”
The list shows that the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic has so far claimed 181 priests and 165 nuns.
India has more than 30,000 priests, both diocesan and religious. The nuns, on the other hand, are around 103,000 – nearly three and a half times the priests’ number.
So, the death toll is comparatively much higher among the priests.
St. Xavier’s University, Kolkata, an abode of learning,forming men and women for others, could not be averse to the sudden trajectory demand of beds for individuals suffering from COVID-19 in the government and private hospitals. Fr. John Felix Raj, Vice-Chancellor took a clarion call with a team of committed faculty and officers to extend a part of the Arrupe Building (library block) to be converted into a Safe Home for accommodating corona patients in and around the university.
The Safe Home has provisions for 40 beds backed by a team of doctors, nurses and paramedical staff and a special provision for individuals in need of oxygen. The Department of Health & Family Welfare, Government of West Bengal, Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute, HIDCO and District Administration of North 24 Parganas have kindly consented to partner with us in this noble endeavour undertaken by an academic institution.
Admissions of COVID-19 patients are monitored by a galaxy of medical specialists of Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute in collaboration with the team at St. Xavier’s University, Kolkata.
In response to the West Bengal CM’s request, The Catholic Diocese of Asansol in co-operation with St Xavier’s University has started three isolation units for Covid-19 patients in Burdwan and Asansol. “The Chetana Ashram in Burdwan has 30 beds in seven rooms,” said Vice-Chancellor Father Felix Raj. In Asansol, St Joseph’s School has for 60 beds in eight classrooms and Loreto School has 50 beds for women patients
The Vice-Chancellor Fr. Felix Raj said,“Each one of us has a responsibility to contribute in our own humble way to alleviate the sufferings of humanity. It is time now to heal the world’’.
The death toll rose in Myanmar, as security forces continued their crackdown against protesters calling for democracy after a military coup.
By Linda Bordoni
More than 300 people have been killed by security forces in Myanmar since last month’s military takeover.
A group of observers that monitors the deaths and arrests of protesters on Friday said its tally of 320 deaths includes only documented cases, with the actual number of casualties “likely much higher.”
The latest killings came on Friday as three anti-junta protesters were shot and killed by officers, on the heels of 11 others killed on Thursday, according to Myanmar’s Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.
The association also revealed that almost 3,000 protesters have been arrested, charged or sentenced in the crackdown since the February 1 coup that ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.
Most, including Suu Kyi and President Win Myint, remain detained. The army's seizure of power halted the Southeast Asian nation’s move toward democracy that began when Suu Kyi’s party took office in 2016 for its first term, after more than five decades of military rule.
Source: Vatican News
St. Xavier’s University, Kolkata offers MA in Psychology from the academic Session 2021-22. Announcing the course, the Vice-Chancellor of the University Father Felix Raj said, “Psychology as a scientific study of mind and behaviour, is a part of our everyday lives. We have realised the importance of its study much more after we have been challenged by the Corona Pandemic recently. We are in the right direction by introducing the course and many students will benefit by the it.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a paradigm shift in human lifestyles and behavioural patterns. While we have swiftly adapted to these changed circumstances gradually, for some of us, the transition has not been without its side effects – physical, mental, social and economic.
Human beings, by nature, are social animals, but in order to survive through the situation we had to apply the physical distancing restrictions, leaving us lonely and with the realisation that we are always at the mercy of nature in spite of our scientific breakthroughs and technological achievements.
The brunt of the pandemic has been borne by all, irrespective of age, gender, social standing, economic condition, nationality, ethnicity and cultural backgrounds. In these tough times, it is therefore, important to take care of both our physical and mental health.
In order to help ourselves cope with similar situations in the future, St. Xavier’s University, Kolkata, has taken up the cudgels for the fight by introducing a new course, in MA in Psychology in its forthcoming Academic Year starting from July 2021 with specialisation in Clinical Psychology and Organisational Behaviour.
Admissions are already underway and the last date for application is 8th April 2021, followed by an online Admission Test on 16th April 2021. All relevant details about the course (syllabus, curriculum structure, course fees, eligibility criteria, scholarship etc.) have been notified under the Admissions page of the University’s website (www.sxuk.edu.in) and shall be updated from time to time.
As is the hallmark of the Xaverian spirit, SXUK, shall make all endeavours to provide the best facilities for the students, in terms of quality faculty, superior resources and experiential learning.
Centre for Incubation, Entrepreneurship and Consultancy (CICE) of St. Xavier’s University, Kolkata conducted an eConference: ‘Looking Beyond Borders’ –Exploring Opportunities for Entrepreneurs to do Business with Poland’ on 19th February 2021.
The Welcome Address was delivered by Fr. Dr. J. Felix Raj, S.J., Vice-Chancellor, St. Xavier’s University, Kolkata. He highlighted many possibilities and avenues to start with and explore beyond borders and boundaries. He shared about his visit to Poland and the great interest of Polish people about India and its affairs.
He said, “Xaverians of Kolkata have a very strong Alumni association, and there are many in Poland. They havea European chapter of the alumni, many of whom are leaders in industry or academia. They are showing the way to our present students to explore possibilities to exercise their entrepreneurial abilities.”
Chief Guest, H.E. Prof. Adam Burakowski, Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to India delivered the Keynote Address. He said thatIndia, due to its economic and demographic potential, has become very important for Polish Economic policy. Poland is happy to enhance its economic cooperation by increasing exports and encouraging investorsfrom India to make Poland as a business destination
Guest of Honour Mr. J J Singh, President, Indo–Polish Chamber ofCommerce & Industry (IPCCI), Warsaw, talked about the scopes ofentrepreneurial initiatives between Indian and Poland.
Special Guest, Mr. Witold Banka, Ambassador of the SilesianVoivodeship and President, World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) touched uponthe immense opportunities for business in Silesia region.
Special Guest, Ms Aleksandra Monsiol-Szatkowska, Director, Department of Economy and International Cooperation, Marshal Office of the Silesian Voivodeship, Silesia, shared her insights about the possibilities ofentrepreneurs at the Silesia region, and highlighted the major factors likestrategic location, economy, key industries and more.
Mr. Joydeep Roy, Chief Consular Officer,Honorary Consulate of Poland in Kolkata, concluded the insightful webinar with his comments.
Dr. Manodip Ray Chaudhuri, Dean, Xavier Business School, St. Xavier’sUniversity, Kolkata spoke about Educational Strategic alliance.Heemphasized on structured student exchange programmes, and collaboration in research and publication areas.
Ms Bidisha Roy, Executive Director, CICE, St. Xavier’s University, Kolkata, conducted the concluded thediscussion and delivered the vote of thanks. She highlightedtheinherent flexibility of entrepreneurs, and zeal to explore new markets.Shementioned the need for focus on entrepreneurship at the building blocklevel atUniversities and academic institutions.
Francis Sunil Rosario
Lent is a time for repentance and renewal yet the Preface of Lent will call it the joyful season of Lent. We should remind ourselves that originally Lent was a time for preparation for Baptism and for Easter. Later on as the practice of adult baptisms died out, it became a time of baptismal renewal as well as a time of repentance and a proximate preparation for Easter. As we begin this new season may we find our joy in coming back to God.
The message of Ash Wednesday is: “Remember, man!” If conversion is a necessity, work on it now! Do not wait until tomorrow, because you are dust and to dust you will return. And this can happen at the moment you least expect it. “Works” of penance are useful, but only as “means to the end” – your inner conversion to love of God and neighbor. The ashes on your forehead have only as much meaning as you are giving them. Make this symbolism a meaningful beginning of a time of penance, preparing to celebrate the paschal mystery of our Lord’s death and resurrection.
Despite what a certain kind of psychology tries to suggest, evil exists in and around us. Humbly Christians admit that we do not always live up to the ideals, which the Lord Jesus has taught us to go by. We are not as mature in Christ as we should be. Authentic adulthood involves humble acknowledgment of what has remained infantile in ourselves, of our bondage to our own past and the fact of concupiscence, egotism, cowardice, and the like, which color and distort our picture of reality. Hence, constant penance, aversion from evil, and conversion to God is a Christian imperative.
During Lent we bring immediately before God the sin, the godlessness, the death, the curse of rejection. “Perhaps he will again relent.” Our God is “gracious and merciful…..and relenting in punishment.” Lent proceeds on the principle that God must show compassion at the sight of misery, even if that misery is inducedwillfully by sin. Lent also carries the hope that each of us will thereby absorb something of God’s gracious concern and continual desire to relent and forgive.
First Reading: Joel 2: 12-18 (Rend your Hearts) The prophet points to the fact that “works’ of penance, if not related to that inner conversion to God in love, are worthless. “Rend your hearts, not your garments (oriental symbolism of regret), and return to the Lord, your God.” Whatever has happened in the past, God is merciful and willing to forgive. “A clean heart create for me, O god, and a steadfast spirit renew within me” (Responsorial Psalm).
Second Reading: 2Cor 5: 20-6:2 (The Acceptable Time) Jesus was made “sin” for our sakes, so that in him we might become the very holiness of God. What opportunity is ours now? Now is the day of salvation. Paul insists on conversion now! “God made him (Jesus) who did not know sin to be sin,” meaning, Jesus became the Lamb of God who took away our sins. Forgiveness is available. Ask for it now! “Now is the acceptable time!”
Gospel Mt. 6: 1-6, 16-18 (Almsgiving, Prayer, and Fasting)Mathew’s message is similar to the one of Joel in the first Bible reading. External works of penance have no value in themselves. Be on your guard against performing religious acts for people to see. You must relate them to the real penance, your conversion to god. The danger of hypocrisy is always present. It is nobody’s business to know what you give up for Lent. It is enough that your heavenly Father sees it and you relate it to a constant conversion to love!
“Rend your hearts, not your garments.” “Be on your guard against performing religious acts for people to see.” Jesus’ words in Mathew’s gospel about keeping your deeds of mercy secret do not contradict the prophet Joel who sanctifies a public assembly and calls for a general period of fasting and mourning. Both Joel and Jesus summon all of us to act as a single family of love – to be but one family – just as Jesus became thoroughly incarnate into our human family, even to be “sin” as we are sinful! Whatever is done in a family is done spontaneously, without show, without counting the cost and expecting a return. It is done altogether, so easily, that the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.
Love, the highest expression of faith and hope “Love is a leap of the heart,” says Pope Francis. “It brings us out of ourselves and creates bonds of sharing and communion.”The Holy Father emphasizes the need for “social love” in building up “a civilization of love.”
“Love is a gift that gives meaning to our lives,” he says. Love helps us to see all men and women as our brothers and sisters. Charity is multiplied when given with love, as we see not only in the Scriptures, but in our own lives, too, when we give alms “with joy and simplicity.”
“To experience Lent with love,” says Pope Francis, "means caring for those who suffer or feel abandoned because of the Covid-19 pandemic.” He invites us to “speak words of reassurance, and help others to realize that God loves them as sons and daughters.”
A Journey of conversion
After reminding us that “every moment of our lives is a time for believing, hoping, and loving,” Pope Francis concludes by saying: "The call to experience Lent as a journey of conversion, prayer and sharing of our goods, helps us – as communities and as individuals – to revive the faith that comes from the living Christ, the hope inspired by the breath of the Holy Spirit and the love flowing from the merciful heart of the Father." - (Pope Francis, Lenten Message, 2021)
Minor Irritants of Life
A young man had just hiked across a long, barren stretch of land. Reporters asked what he found hardest about it. “Was it the loneliness of the hike?” “No,” he replied. “Was it the hot sun beating down on you?” “No”, he replied. “Was it the dangerous nights by the roadside?” “No”, he replied. “Well then, what was it?” “The sand in my shoes,” he said. That is often the case in everyday life. It is not the big things that get us down, more often, it’s the tiny irritations! May be, accepting the tiny irritations with family, friends, colleagues, office workers, that come our way each day, could be a good way to start our Lent! Anonymous
Find Someone in Need
Dr. Karl Menninger, the famous psychiatrist, once gave a lecture on mental health, and then answered questions from the audience. “What would you advice a person to do,” asked one man, “if that person felt a nervous breakdown was coming on?” Most people expected him to reply, “Consult a psychiatrist.” To their disappointment he replied, “Lock your house, go across the railway tracks, find someone in need and do something to help that person.” –Don’t sit and pout. Get up and do something for others!Brian Cavanaugh in ‘The Sower’s Seed’
Academic and infrastructure expansion are high-priority areas along with alumni participation. On the occasion of the second convocation of St. Xavier’s University, Kolkata, vice-chancellor Fr. Felix Raj spoke to ABP Education and shared his vision for the institution which he, along with fellow Jesuits and a strong alumni network, founded in July 2017. A Jesuit of the Calcutta Province of the Society of Jesus, Fr. Felix Raj was earlier the vice-principal, principal and rector of St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata. A teacher of economics, he is also the director of The Goethals Indian Library and Research Society and was a member of the West Bengal State Education Commission. Excerpts from the interview.
Q: Though a private university, St. Xavier’s University, Kolkata, is run on a philosophy that’s different from its counterparts. Can you elaborate on it?
FR: St. University, Kolkata, is run by the Society of Jesus. It’s a 500-year-old philosophy based on Jesuit charism, with the aim to form men and women for others, to form leaders of commitment, leaders of conscience and leaders of values. For us, it is of utmost importance to ensure personal attention to each and every student and work on their holistic development. This is the basis of our educational mission. Also, ours is the largest education network in the world in the private sector. The Jesuits run about 3,600 schools, and 160 colleges and universities globally. In India, we have about 220 schools, 71 colleges and universities and 21 management institutes. This is how we are different from the others.
Q: How many courses is the university offering?
FR: We are offering 15 courses currently at the graduate and postgraduate level. We are also offering PhD degrees.
Q: What are the major milestones the university has achieved since its inception in 2017?
FR: The first and most important was recruiting quality faculty members. And though we have gone very slowly, we have now 2,500 students on the rolls. We have opened a management school and a law school. This is a continuous process of evolution and how best we can respond to the needs of society.
Another milestone has been to reach out to the rural poor through our outreach programmes. There must be a connect between this institution and rural people. We are planning to start some diploma courses for the village youth so that they get employment.
This is the second Jesuit University in India and is functioning very well. As a result, it has become an example to the Jesuits in the country to start universities. Also, St. Xavier’s University, Kolkata, is a case study in alumni participation. In our country, alumni participation is very poor, apart from the IITs and IIMs, but here our alumni are among the stakeholders of the university. They took interest in everything, from the planning to the execution. The entire university infrastructure was built with alumni donations. The impact this institution has on its students is very deep, very strong and we are proud of that. Currently, we have 15 international and 6 national alumni chapters of the College alumni.
Q: How else are the alumni contributing to the university’s stature?
FR: Now the university, too, has a small army of alumni. Our first batch had 136 students and our second convocation held on February 6 saw 451 students passing out. This university already has around 600 alumni and with 2,500 students currently on campus, they would soon add to the number in the coming years. I believe in the spirit of the alumni and all we need to do is to give them the space to participate.
Q: What are some of the university’s academic and infrastructure expansion plans?
FR: The academic and infrastructure expansions are both high-priority areas. We are planning to launch several new courses in the near future. Currently, we have a 300-bed girls’ hostel and a 300-bed boys’ hostel. We are building another 300-bed girls’ hostel. We are also coming up with a Management Development Programme (MDP) building, which would be offering short-term and long-term MDP courses to working professionals in offline, online and blended modes. We are also planning to start distance education championed by NEP 2020.
Q: When it comes to fees, where does St. Xavier’s University, Kolkata, stand vis-à-vis other private players?
FR: Unless like other private players, we are a group of religious men managing this university. We get students from rural, urban, poor and rich backgrounds, hence our focus is on reasonable fees for all students. What every Jesuit institution does is a mission and takes pride in ensuring that no deserving student should turn back on education because he or she does not have the monetary resources. We have scholarships and assistance for poor students and we call this ‘Jesuit preferential option for the poor’.
Q: What has been the university’s learning during the pandemic?
FR: The pandemic was unexpected but the Xaverian community — faculty, staff and students — took it as a challenge. I kept sending them guidelines and advisories, stressing the fact that our approach must be positive and we must face the challenge. We had regular faculty meetings to plan our responses.
Our initial response was to have blended classes. But during the lockdown, we went completely virtual. We prepared our faculty and students on how to go about it as it was new for all. From March 2020 till today, we have conducted online classes very successfully and smoothly. We did it in two ways — the students who had internet facility at home were asked to stay at home and those who didn’t were allowed to stay in the university hostel following all COVID-safety protocol and attend online classes. We had 15 students on campus. Attendance is compulsory for all and we monitor every class. It has gone off very well so far with the cooperation of everyone involved. But even during the pandemic, we did keep our university open and allowed students access to the library and laboratory following COVID-safety protocol.
Q: You ran St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata, before taking charge of the university. How have the two experiences been different?
FR: The experience gathered at St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata, has been the foundation for me to start the university. It is this 160-year-old college that gave birth to the university. My experience at the college gave me the determination and strength. And my experience of running the college has been a great asset to run this institution.
Q: Where do you see St. Xavier’s University in 2030?
FR: We have started working on Vision 2025 and we want to complete it in terms of infrastructure and academic expansion. Five years down the line, Jesuit Colleges in West Bengal, like St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata and St. Xavier’s College, Burdwan, will become a part of St. Xavier’s University and function as its constituent colleges. We are also planning for 2030 and 2050 and I am looking at it in terms of academic and infrastructure expansion, brand value, and the number of domestic and foreign students coming here. We want to undertake larger expansions to accommodate students from different parts of the world. We would not settle for anything but becoming one of the best institutions globally.
The IQAC of St. Xavier's University, Kolkata organized an online discussion on the life and philosophy of Swami Vivekananda on January 12, 2021 (Tuesday) as a part of the celebration of the National Youth Day, the birthday of the wandering monk.
The key note speaker was the Hon’ble Vice-Chancellor of the university, Rev. Dr. John Felix Raj, S.J. During his speech, Father Vice-Chancellor depicted the life history of Swami Vivekananda, his teachings aimed at the youth, promotion of human values and especially his visit to Chicago. Father also discussed about Swamiji's visit to Ramanathapuram and the other places of Tamil Nadu. Father focused on the similarities of Jesuit education and disciplines with that of Ramakrishna Mission.
Father recalled the significance of the decade of 1860-70s when a series of great personalities like Acharya J C Bose, BrahmabandhavUpadhyayay, Rabindranath Tagore, M K Gandhi, Swami Vivekananda and others were born in this country and dedicated their entire lives for the upliftment of human civilization through their valuable contributions i.e. science, arts, literature, religious movements, expression of secular thoughts and vice versa.
"Arise, awake and stop not till the goal is reached", while commemorating the famous scripture of Swamiji, Father reminded that enough opportunities are left there for Indians to grow as nearly 65% population of India belongs to the youth section. If this positive power can be utilized after productive issues with proper guidance and training, India will be the super power in near future, he opined. As a harbinger of new and innovative thoughts, Swamiji was always an aspirant of new India filled with a rejuvenated youth power, which also Father mentioned for several times in his lecture and appealed to everyone to follow Swami Vivekananda's ideologies in order to establish a better tomorrow.
The programme was attended by all faculty Members of the university. They also interacted with Father after he had completed his lecture.
Xaverians in Action (XIA), the social wing of St. Xavier's University, Kolkata, organised a Blanket Donation Campaign' in collaboration with the St. Xavier's University, Kolkata Alumni Association (SXUKAA) and SNEGAM, an NGO, who sponsored the event, on 21st December, 2020, on the occasion of Christmas for the construction workers of the University and the residents of the neighbourhood villages namely, Kathalberia, Kulberia, Ghashkhali, Holdepota and Beonta. Some of these villages have also been adopted by the University as part of its outreach activities.
The University's current infrastructure is the result of the untiring and dedicated efforts of the construction workers and some of the support staff who have been silently contributing towards establishing and maintaining the magnificent campus since its inception. A total of 150 blankets were given away by our Hon'ble Vice-Chancellor, Rev. Dr. J. Felix Raj, SJ, who addressed the gathering with a Christmas message of sharing and caring and thanked every worker for their immense contribution.
Ramakrishna, the spiritual teacher of Vivekananda, desired to see his disciple dedicate his life for the welfare of the society. After the death of Ramakrishna in 1886, NarendranathDatta (pre-monastic name of Swami Vivekananda) and other disciples founded their first monastery at Baranagar.
In 1888, NarendranathDatta left the monastery as a parivrajaka (“wandering monk"). Between 1888 and 1893 he travelled extensively in several states of India. During his years of wandering Vivekananda had experienced the sufferings and problems faced by common people. He was eager to deliver his people from the shackles of suffering.
In 1892, he went to South India. He visited Ramanathapuram and then Rameswaram to offer worship at the temple. He finally reached Kanyakumari on Christmas Eve, 24 December 1892 prior to his Chicago visit.
In Kanyakumari, standing on the sea shore, he spotted a large mid-sea rock. He asked the fishermen to take him to the rock. They asked him for money. The Wandering monk did not have any money with him and so he tied the turban around his waist and swam across the ocean and reached the rock. He did not mind the shouting and screaming of the boatmen.
The Holy man sat on the rock and started meditating on India's past, present and future. His meditation on the "last bit of Indian rock" (later known as the Vivekananda Rock Memorial) continued for three days from 25 to 27 December. Here he had a "vision of one India" and came up with a solution in the form of resolution, which is popularly known as the "Kanyakumari resolve of 1892"...". The purpose of the 'resolve' was also to organize sannyasins for the welfare and upliftment of common masses of India.
Of all the services that the royal family of Sethupathis, the dynasty of Ramanathapuram, has done to India, the most historical one was that of financing the visit of Swami Vivekananda in 1893 to Chicago, to address the Parliament of World Religions.
It was BhaskaraSetupati as the Raja of Ramnad, who had earlier decided to go to US to attend the Parliament of Religions as the representative of Hinduism; but after meeting with Swami Vivekananda, he decided that Swamiji was the right person to attend the conference. Swami graciously accepted the Raja’s offer. It was as if divine dispensation that the monk would declare to the world the worthiness of the East.
When Swami Vivekananda returned from USA after his grand success, as he was about to land at Rameshwaram, the overjoyed Raja was waiting with his entourage to give him a royal welcome at Pamban; preparations had been made at the landing wharf with a pandal decorated with great taste.
Because of the achievement of Swamiji and as well as the regard, the Raja had for him, he bowed his head and offered his shoulders as steps for Swami Vivekananda to get down from the boat.
But, Swamiji tactfully avoided this offer, by jumping from the boat to the land. Then the Raja unyoked the bullocks from Swamiji’s ceremonial chariot and pulled the conveyance himself manually with his entourage, till it reached his palace.
The spirituality of the monk and the humility of the king are outstanding and exemplary. Swami’s life teaches us that God is our light and strength. There is nothing to fear when God is with us. Godliness and Humility are the hallmarks of true discipleship.
Swamiji’s favorite message to the youth of India was: “Arise, awake and do not stop until the goal is reached. You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you, none can make you spiritual. There is no other teacher but your own soul. You cannot believe in God until you believe in yourself.”
Swamiji advised his followers that the moment we realize God is sitting in the temple of every human being, the moment we stand in reverence before every human being and see God in him or her - that moment we are free from bondage, everything that binds us vanishes, and we are totally free.
The Vivekananda Rock Memorial in Kanyakumari is a sacred monument built in 1970 in honour of Swamiji on a 4-acre rock half a kilometer in the sea where the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal merge with the great Indian Ocean. The 133-feet statue of the renowned Tamil Poet, Thiruvalluvar is placed in front of the Vivekananda Rock. Vivekananda dedicated most of his life trying to awaken the inner soul of man.
Swami Vivekananda founded the Ramakrishna Mission, a Hindu religious and spiritual organization in May 1897, which forms the core of a worldwide spiritual movement known as the Ramakrishna Movement or the Vedanta Movement.
Source: Waves – Story Bank
Francis Sunil Rosario
Christmas is here and we are called to celebrate. Have we prepared ourselves spiritually enough for His coming? Whether we are ready or not, He is ready and willing to come to us if only we let him into our hearts. He is in our midst; His name is Emmanuel, God with us! May his word open our eyes, May his Spirit open our hearts!
Where politicians and their leadership fail and disappoint us, it is “good news and great joy” that reliable leadership is available. It has been said that a philosophy of science must be created in the near future;otherwise, mankind is going to make this planet uninhabitable for the next generations, the lifetime of our children and grandchildren. Already the humankind has become victim of degraded ecology. The philosophy must lay the foundation for ecology, the global use of the plant’s resources, the function of money, international law, and the solution of other vital problems. Emmanuel (God with us in the Lord Jesus) offers such a philosophy of science. “Upon us who dwell in the land of gloom a light has shone. (Is 9:1-6)
We have a wealth of Christian heritage in the Bible and the great social encyclicals right from the Second Vatican Council, of recent Popes John XXIII, Paul VI, Pope John Paul, Pope Benedict and Pope Francis. They give us outlines that the human race can safely follow. “Today is born our Savior….He shall rule the world with justice and the peoples with his constancy.”
Whatever God has to tell us has been made “flesh” in the words, actions, and loving personality of the Lord Jesus, born in Bethlehem, reared in Nazareth, put to death in Jerusalem. The second Bible reading sees in the Christ-event God’s final revelation to the human race.
The birth of Our Lord marks the dawn of the Christian era. Christianity – Christians, you and I, filled with the light of faith – should shed light on dark human situations in our words and actions. The lights of Christmas tree should symbolize this Christian concern.
Today’s first reading from Isaiah52: 7-10, reminds us that Christmas is a feast of light. No doubt it is we who have caused the darkness in our lives; our sins, our indifference and lack of love towards our brothers and sisters have cast a shadow on our lives. The way God scatters the darkness is by letting ‘a child be born for us, a son given to us.’ God reveals himself not through power but through a small frail weak child. Night time is usually a time of fear and evil, but this night is different. It is a Silent night, a Holy night, a night made divine by the presence of God in our midst. May this night be filled with the light of love given and love received reflecting in our own lives the love of God, who entered our history with the birth of his son Jesus Christ.
Second Reading: Heb 1: 1-6 (God speaks through Jesus) God has spoken to us through his Son, his Word “made flesh.” It is true that we Christians can – like all human beings – find God in his creation, daily life, and any religious statement through which he speaks “in partial and various ways.” However, we also possess “the very imprint of the Father’s being,” his Word made flesh, in the Lord Jesus, given to us in Bethlehem of Judah.
Gospel: John 1: 1-18 (The True light) The Gospel uses both the “Word” model (God’s Word made flesh) and the symbolism of light to elucidate what the Lord Jesus is supposed to mean to us Christians. The light can shine in darkness and not overcome it. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”
Everyone’s life is a journey of faith. We have to believe and journey in faith to discover him. Today’s message of the birth of Jesus brings about a reversal of the value system of the world. The great people mentioned at the beginning of today’s gospel, Caesar Augustus and Quirinius, do not know of the birth of Jesus but simple shepherds in the fields hear the good news. God who created this world does not find a home in it. Mary and Joseph have to leave home and find a place in a stable so that God Emmanuel might be at home with us. Jesus becomes one like us so that we might become like God.
We Christians should beware of triumphalism. Although in fragmentary and varied ways, God reveals himself in all of creation, in the Jewish religion and in other religions as well. Each religion has its own distinctive insight. “They often reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all” (Vatican II: Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, no 2) As for the culmination of God’s self-disclosure, we believe it took place in the Lord Jesus. God’s word to you and me is: Grow in awareness of God anywhere, but especially by careful study of Jesus Christ, “The very imprint of the Father’s being” (Heb 1: 1-6) Awareness of God takes place in silence. However, we live in the world of noise and our world regards silence as a deficiency. Darkness stands for isolation, uncertainty, evil, and also ignorance. Light, especially bright daylight, changes a dark situation. “ Alight will shine on us this day: the Lord is born for us.”
The Christmas message of Pope Francis delivered in 2019 is still so very relevant to us today.
“May the tiny Babe of Bethlehem bring hope to the whole American continent, where a number of nations are experiencing a time of social and political upheaval. May he encourage the beloved Venezuelan people, long tried by their political and social tensions, and ensure that they receive the aid they need. May he bless the efforts of those who spare no effort to promote justice and reconciliation and to overcome the various crises and the many forms of poverty that offend the dignity of each person.
“May the newborn Lord bring light to the people of Africa, where persistent social and political situations often force individuals to migrate, depriving them of a home and family. May he bring peace to those living in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, torn by continuing conflicts. May he bring consolation to all who suffer because of violence, natural disasters or outbreaks of disease.And may he bring comfort to those who are persecuted for their religious faith, especially missionaries and members of the faithful who have been kidnapped, and to the victims of attacks by extremist groups, particularly in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Nigeria.
“May the Son of God, come down to earth from heaven, protect and sustain all those who, due to these and other injustices, are forced to emigrate in the hope of a secure life. It is injustice that makes them cross deserts and seas that become cemeteries. It is injustice that forces them to endure unspeakable forms of abuse, enslavement of every kind and torture in inhumane detention camps. It is injustice that turns them away from places where they might have hope for a dignified life, but instead find themselves before walls of indifference.
On this joyful Christmas Day, may he bring his tenderness to all and brighten the darkness of this world.”
A reflection from a prison cell of Fr. Stan Swamy, S.J. is quite relevant to our Christmas celebration this year.
The SXUK Family undertook a mask distribution initiative on 13th November, 2020 to spread awareness about the precautionary measures to be observed in view of the Corona situation.
The students, staff and teachers participated enthusiastically and distributed masks to 1000 people. The event was inaugurated by Hon’ble Vice-Chancellor, Fr. John Felix Raj, SJ, by distributing masks among the construction workers in the University campus. Thereafter, the organisers distributed masks to people, including Police personnel at the Biswa-Bangla Gate at New Town and among the inhabitants of the neighbouring Kathalberia village.
On November 4, at Mater Dei Hospital, Fr ROBERT WIRTH, SJ, aged 86, went to heaven.
He leaves to mourn his loss his brethren in the Society of Jesus in Malta and India, his sister Suor Elena Wirth of the Sisters of Charity, his sister-in-law Jeannie Edington, widow of Ian, his brother Philip and his wife Giorgina and his sister-in-law Anne, widow of Tony, nephews and nieces, relatives and friends.
Fr. Wirth was residing at PJG for many years when he was director of LTS movement.
The funeral was held on Thursday, November 5 at 10.15am at the collegiate parish church of Naxxar.
May he rest in the peace of the Risen Lord.
The imposing gothic structure of St Xavier's College, Kolkata standing with all its charm must have often impressed you as you zoomed down Park Street in your car.
But have you ever wondered if this was the original college that has catered to millions of students down generations? Well, in reality St. Xavier's College was established twice – 1835 to 1846 and 1860 to date.
The first one winded up after eleven years of its establishment in July 1835 by a group of English Jesuits on Portuguese Church Street. In January 1838, the college was shifted to a rented house on Park Street. From there, the college was once again transferred to another rented house on 28, Chowringhee Road (where Indian Museum stands now) in January 1841. Following a dispute with the local Church administration, the English Jesuits went back to their country in October 1846.
The present St. Xavier's College is the second one that was set up later in January 1860 by a group of Belgian Jesuits at the amalgamated 10 &11 Park Street (now 30 PS). After the death of Esther Leach, the "Queen of the Indian Stage" in 1843, the famous Sans Souci theatre was bought by the Bishop of Calcutta, Monsignor Joseph Carew and the Belgian Jesuits started the SXC in 1960 with 40 students under the leadership of Fr. Henry Depelchin.
Fr. Depelchin bought four Horse-drawn carts (as you in the picture) to transport students to the College.
We visited the Sribhumi Sporting Club Puja Pandal on Friday, October 23rd evening. The idols wore golden crown, golden chain and golden jewelry. The pandal looked like the famous Kedarnath temple. The organising committee had installed giant TV screens on roads to help people watch the decoration and the idol. The State Fire Minister, Sujit Bose, the livewire behind the puja organisation, received us and showed us around. May the Goddess bless all of us.
St. Xavier’s University, Kolkata organised a two day Doctoral Colloquium on 3rd and 4th October 2020. The University is offering Ph.D. Programmes in disciplines of Commerce, English, Mass Communication, Economics and Management.
Rev. Dr. John Felix Raj, S.J., Honourable Vice-Chancellor, delivered the inaugural address and highlighted the need to undertake research journey with Xaverian ethos.
Dr. Niraj Kumar, Programme coordinator of the Doctoral Colloquium,stressed upon the need for researchers to focus on s-curve and H-index.
Dr. R S Shukla, IAS, Secretary, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, Govt. of India and Dr. Anju Seth, Director, Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, delivered the keynote addresses during the inaugural session.
Dr. Lynn Martin, Professor, Anglia Ruskin University, UK and Dr. Soumyen Sikdar, Professor, Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, addressed the Ph.D. Scholars from India and abroad during the Valedictory Session.
The Doctoral Colloquium was designed to provide a supportive and constructive platform to the Ph.D. Scholars of St. Xavier’s University, Kolkata and the Ph.D. Scholars of other Institutions of repute in India and abroad.
More than 50 Ph.D. Scholars, including presented papers in the Colloquium and interacted with peer knowledge communities across sectors and disciplines under the mentorship of Faculty and Technical Chair.
The Doctoral Colloquium was conducted on Microsoft Team virtual platform. The Inaugural and Valedictory Sessions were Live streamed on Facebook and YouTube.
Dr. Niraj Kumar
Coordinator, Ph.D. Programme
The Foundation Course on Religion offers to all UG students the academic exercise to broaden their knowledge and appreciation of religion as an essential dimension of human experience and life. The course is designed to enrich their perspective in the context of India’s civilizational heritage and to empower them for global citizenship.
An academic exposition to the world’s religions inculcates unique cultural sensitivities among students. It opens students’ mindsets and aptitudes to a multicultural and international way of being that transcends the boundaries of the conventional and the everyday life. Further, it enables students to equip themselves with critical thinking, communication competence, interpersonal awareness, and intercultural literacy and connectivity necessary for success in an ever evolving global society.
Hence, the academic objective of studying religion is to facilitate students to see and appreciate the goodness embedded in the beliefs of all people within their distinct religious heritages, whereas in the essentials they are interconnected that calls us to create a culture of harmony. For ‘Religion is the sum of the expansive impulse of a being’ – Henry H. Ellis
E-copies of the text book will be sent to all first year students of SXUK.
Susai awards were distributed on September 20 to six toppers in Class X and Class XII respectively at St. Michael’s High School, Sengudi. Mr. James David, Sr. Soumya and Mrs Jothi were present at the simple ceremony organised by the Sisters of the school.
The awardees were: 1. E. Selva, 2 S. Pavithra and 3. J. Jagan in Class XII.
In Class X, the awardees were: 1. S. Manimaran, 2. S. Monica and 3. M. Nithiswara Raghavan.
Fr. Felix Raj and Snegam Society congratulate all the toppers.
Istanbul, a religious trap: Christians need to offer a religious response that Turkey's president may not want to hear
Isabelle de Gaulmyn, France
The trap is obvious, let's try not to fall into it.This summer Turkish President RecepTayyip Erdogan carried out two religious provocations.
He affirmed his right to transform two architectural jewels of Istanbul -- Hagia Sophia and Holy Saviour-in-Chorainto -- into mosques "in the name of Islam".
Should we denounce this as a form of "cultural jihadism", to reproach Turkey's strongman for his aggression against the Christian world, or even for invoking the good old "clash of civilizations"?
Race for the religious trophy.
It is no doubt exactly what the present ruler of Turkey is looking for -- to engage in a very vain race for the religious trophy. One must be indignant, of course, at the brutality of the method.UNESCO, which just spent millions of euros to marvelously restore Holy Saviour, has the right to demand accountability.
But above all, let us not place ourselves on the level of religious identity.To assert, as some people do, that the two monuments have always been Christian churches, and as such cannot be transformed for another faith, is quite an historical absurdity. The same goes to those who claim the sacredness of the two buildings for Islam...Everyone knows that many early Christian monuments were built on pagan sites.
Hagia Sophia as well as Holy Saviourwere mosques for several centuries. To be drawn into the field of heritage claims, there is a good chance that we will find as many arguments on one side as on the other.DangerousnationalismShould we say nothing and just shrug our shoulders, without reacting to these provocations?
No. On the contrary, one can only be astonished at the lack of reaction from the international community to these attacks by the President of Turkey.But it is important to thwart the trap set by a regime where religion is placed under the close control of political power.Erdogan has no more religious motivation for Hagia Sophia than when he claims hydrocarbon reserves against Cyprus and Athens. His claims are purely political and dangerously nationalistic.This allows him to strengthen his declining popularity.
Above all, it allows him to asphyxiate the country's courageous democratic opposition, which gained control of Istanbul's city hall last year, by brutally depriving it of tourist resources.The calculation is quickly done: 4 million visitors per year, each paying an entrance fee of €20, for a monument that was previously managed by the municipality and which now falls into the hands of the Directorate of Religious Affairs...
Beauty, another name for God
Is there no room here for a religious response?Yes, but perhaps it is one Erdogan does not want to hear.It's the one that claims that the dialogue between religions will not break down over provocations of identity and politics.One that affirms that beauty, which we admire in Hagia Sophia and in Holy Saviour, is another name that believers give to God, whether they are Muslims or Christians -- a beauty on which they can come together and not be torn apart.
Like Pope Benedict XVI, who was slightly suspected of weakness in the face of Islam, and who, in 2006, in the same city of Istanbul, silently meditated for a moment in the marvelous Blue Mosque, before simply explaining that he had "turned to the one God, the merciful father of all humankind" to ask that "all his creatures be able to recognize themselves in him, and give witness to true brotherhood".
We would like the believers who now go to Friday prayers at Hagia Sophia to make this same request.
Isabelle de Gaulmyn is a senior editor at La Croix and a former Vatican correspondent.
1. September 10, 2020: Online Induction Programme for PG Students (Batch 2020 - 2021) from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
2. September 12, 2020: Online Faculty Orientation Programme for Foundation Course from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
3. September 15, 2020: Online Induction Programme for UG Students (Batch 2020 - 2021) from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
4. September 18, 2020: Online Induction Programme for XLS Students (Batch 2020 - 2021) from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
5. October 3, 2020: Online Induction Programme for Ph.D. Scholars (Batch 2020 - 2021) from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
1. Projects Completed:
2. Project to be completed by 2025:
We express deep sadness over the death of former President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday August 31. Mukherjee passed away after he developed a lung infection at New Delhi’s Army’s Research and Referral hospital
He had also tested Covid-19 positive. His death “leaves a deep void in Indian politics.
We will miss him very much for his political statesmanship, moral integrity and for his fine oratorical skills.”
Mukherjee had visited SXC Kolkata thrice. I had the opportunity to meet him more than once at Raj Bhawan, Kolkata.A very fine gentleman.
“We mourn his loss and express our gratitude for all the support and encouragement he gave the Christian community and its activities. May the Almighty grant him eternal rest and comfort all his family members and those to whom he was dear.”
Mukherjee who was 84 at the time of his death served as the 13th President of India from 2012 to 2017.
He was awarded the Bharat Ratna (the Jewel of India), the country’s highest civilian honor in 2019 by his successor President Ram Nath Kovind.
In 2017, Mukherjee decided not to run for re-election and to retire from politics due to “health complications relating to old age.”
The Lord of the Drinks (LOTD) Restaurant at South City Mall organized a celebration for my birthday on August 30th noon. Mr & Mrs Bajorias were there with all the Fathers. The LOTD is an amazing place with a beautiful ambience and delicious food. Try it out. You won't regret it. The place is regularly sanitised to make it V-free.
Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
The Pope Francis signed his encyclical "Fratellitutti" (We are all “Brothers” and “Sisters”) on October 3, Saturday, in Assisi, an urgent call to follow the example of Jesus.
On the anniversary of St Francis of Assisi's death, Pope Francis celebrated Mass before the Saint's tomb and signedhis Encyclical.
The Encyclical on fraternity and social friendship was inspired by St Francis, as was the Pope’s second Encyclical, Laudatosi’, on the care of our common home, published five years ago.
The Pope traveled to Assisi by car. On the way, the Pope paid a visit to the Monastery of Vallegloria in Spello. Once he reached Assisi, the Pope paid a brief visit to the Protomonastery of Saint Clare and greeted the Poor Clare nuns.
Signing of the Encyclical
At the conclusion of Mass, Pope Francis invited Msgr Paolo Braida to bring the copies of the Encylical to be signed. He then explained that MsgrBraida handles the translations in the First Section of the Secretariat of State. "He oversees everything", the Pope continued. "This is why I wanted him to be present here, today, and that he should bring the Encyclical to me".
He also introduced two of the priests who also work in the First Section. Father Antonio translated the Encyclical into Portuguese from the original Spanish. Father Cruz oversaw all of the translations from the original Spanish.
"I am doing this as a sign of gratitude to the entire First Section of the Secretariat of State who worked on the translations".
At the end of Mass, Pope Francis briefly visited the Franciscan community in the SacroConvento monastery attached to the Basilica.
"'Brother' and 'sister' are words that Christianity really loves," said Pope Francis back in February 2015 during one of his weekly general audiences at the Vatican.
"And, thanks to the family experience, they are words that all cultures and all times comprehend," he added.
Solidarity is inscribed at the heart of our common humanity. But is it so obvious?From the very first pages of the Bible, reality strikes us in the face: to be close to others is to experience the violence of Cain, the greed of Jacob, the jealousy of Joseph's brothers...
"You can choose your friends, but you can't choose your family."
Fr. J. Felix Raj, SJ
August 26 2020 is Mother’s 110th Birth Anniversary. I am fortunate and blessed to share my birthday with her and with Archbishop Thomas D’Souza of Kolkata. Mother’s favorite words have always inspired me: “The fruit of silence is prayer; the fruit of prayer is faith; the fruit of faith is love; the fruit of love is service and the fruit of service is peace.”
In August 1990, I planned an article on ‘Jesuit Influence on Mother Teresa’, and I dropped in to meet her not knowing that she was in Retreat. She did see me. While I apologized for disturbing her, she just smiled and said, “I will always have time for Jesuits.”
When she heard that I was from St. Xavier’s, she conversed with enthusiasm and advised me, “Being a priest is not enough, being a good priest is important…. The Jesuit vocation is very special. You are called to a great and cosmic spirituality. You are called to aim at nothing less than St. Francis Xavier….” Mother was a woman who spoke with authority and gentle yet firm conviction
It is said, ‘every beginning has an end and every end has a new beginning’. Mother is not dead; such a life cannot have a conclusion. She bridged the gap between life and death like Jesus Christ and her legacy continues to live in the hearts of her sisters and followers like me.
Mother Teresa had habitually preferred Jesuits as Retreat Preachers, spiritual directors and confessors for herself and her Sisters. Many Jesuits of Calcutta Province, including Cardinal Trevor L. Picachy and Fr. Camille Bouche, were in close contact with her.
Fr. Celest Van Exem was the earliest main adviser and supporter to Mother Teresa and for the foundations of the Missionaries of Charity, since her days as Loreto Sister. He was the spiritual director to whom Mother Teresa confided her inspiration and who first sought to discern the authenticity of her experiences. He was the first to support Mother in requesting Archbishop Perier to begin the process for her to leave the Loreto Congregation. He made major contributions to the writing of the Constitutions of the Missionaries of Charity.
A less known fact in her life is that as the Missionaries of Charity flourished and gradually gained the attention of the world at large, Teresa progressed from confessor to confessor the way some patients move through their psychoanalysts. Fr. Van Exem gave way to Archbishop Périer, who gave way in 1959 to Cardinal Lawrence Picachy, who was succeeded by the Fr. Joseph Neuner in 1961.
By the 1980s the chain included figures such as Bishop William Curlin of Charlotte, N.C. For these confessors, she developed a kind of shorthand of pain, referring almost casually to "my darkness" or spiritual dryness and to God as "the Absent One." There was one respite. In October1958, she rejoiced, because "the long darkness or absence of God…… That strange suffering of 10 years." disappeared. She was confirmed that God ordained her Society, the Missionaries of Charity.
The author is Vice-Chancellor of St. Xavier’s University, Kolkata
Beautiful view of the water jet fountain with Indian colours- at Jet d'Eau Fountain Geneva Lake. Photo taken three years ago by Fr. Felix Raj.
Francis Sunil Rosario
Today’s solemnity glorifies Mary next to Jesus in heaven, a place where she and every one of us feel alone with God in preparation for a moment of triumph.
For Christians in India, August 15 marks two important celebrations. The solemnity of the Assumption of Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven and Independence of India. We are proud to celebrate this solemnity of Our Lady with our country’s freedom.
India’s soul craved for liberation from falsehood to reality, from darkness to light, from death to everlasting life. India became a nation on August 15, 1947. Jesus the Way, the Truth and Life has given us true freedom from all forms of slavery. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was privileged to be the first human being to enter into the promised Glory with Jesus. Mary is crowned the queen of heaven and earth, a shining star of true liberation.
The spirit of our nation was incarnate in the man called Mahatma Gandhi, who restored the pride of mother India through the path of non-violence, Truth and self-sacrifice. This great man drew inspiration from the Gospel and the Beatitudes.
Assumption, a Dogma of Faith
It was on November 1, 1950, that, through the Apostolic Constitution Munificentimus Deus, Pope Pius XII officially declared the Assumption as a Dogma of Catholic Faith. “Assumption” means that after her death, Mary was taken into Heaven, both body and soul, as a reward for her sacrificial cooperation in the Divine plan of Salvation.
The solemnity of Assumption is one of the greatest mysteries of the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary: her bodily assumption into heaven. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it: The Most Blessed Virgin Mary, when the course of her earthly life was completed, was taken up body and soul into the glory of heaven, where she already shares in the glory of her Son's Resurrection, anticipating the resurrection of all members of His Body (974).
It was already believed by the apostolic Church that Mary was the new Ark of the Covenant. The old Ark of the Covenant had been lost for many centuries, and none of the Jews knew where it could be found. (Indeed, it remains missing to this very day). W find at the end of chapter 11 of the Book of Revelation: “Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of His covenant was seen within His temple, and there were flashes of lightening, voices, peals of thunder, an earthquake and heavy hail.”
The first and third readings are about women and God’s creative, redemptive and salvific action through them. The Book of Revelation, written in symbolic language familiar to the early Christians, was meant to encourage them and bolster their faith during times of persecution. In the first reading, the author of Revelation probably did not have Mary of Nazareth in mind when he described the “woman” in this narrative. He uses the “woman” as a symbol for the nation and people, Israel. She is pictured as giving birth, as Israel brought forth the Messiah through its pains. The woman is also symbolic of the Church, and the woman’s offspring represents the way the Church brings Christ in to the world. The dragon represents the world’s resistance to Christ and the truths that the Church proclaims. As Mary is the mother of Christ and of the Church, the passage has indirect reference to Mary (Navarre Bible commentary: The description of the woman indicates her heavenly glory, and the twelve stars of her victorious crown symbolize the people of God – the twelve patriarchs (Gen 37: 9) and the twelve apostles. And so, independently of the chronological aspects of the text, the Church sees in this heavenly woman the Blessed Virgin, “taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, when her earthly life was over, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords (Rev. 19:16) and conqueror of sin and death” (Lumen Gentium 59)..
First Reading: Rv 11: 19a; 12:1-6a, 10 ab (Mary, the Ark)
A woman, clothed with the sun, gives birth to the Messiah who was snatched up to God, lest the demon devour the child. She herself fled into the desert, to a special place prepared for her by God. The woman of this passage is the true, ideal, heavenly Israel of both the Old and the New Testaments, God’s people, from which the Messiah who would defeat the dragon (all evil) was born. The arrival of the new Messianic era entails pain, which is compared to childbirth. Evil opposes the woman (God’s people) and the child, “destined to rule all the nations” (Jesus the Messiah), but he was taken up to heaven. “The woman herself” (the Church – God’s people) harassed by persecution must flee to the desert, that is, go into hiding. But ultimately the kingdom of God will prevail. “The woman” is a figure of Mary, the member of Israel who gave birth to the Messiah. We must read this passage with that in mind. As Queen of Heaven, Mary stands at the right hand of her Son, arrayed in gold. (Responsorial Psalm).
Second Reading 1 Cor 15: 20-27 (Christ the King)
As in Adam, all died, so in Christ, all are raised to new life. These belong to him and become the kingdom handed over by Christ to the Father.
Paul writes about the glorious end-time when Christ will have overcome all evil. We who have died to evil with him will also reign with him. Among God’s redeemed people. Mary takes a special place, as Mother of the Redeemer. “The queen stands at your (the Messiah’s) right hand, arrayed in gold” (Responsorial Psalm).
Gospel Lk 1: 39-56 (Blessed among Women)
Mary’s heart beat with the hopes of her ancestors and carried the momentum to the cross of Jesus and beyond to the resurrection. Her faith bore her beyond the tomb to her own assumption into heaven. Mary’s body, therefore, would not be permitted by God to disintegrate in the tomb after her death. She was assumed bodily into heaven.
The hopes and dreams of Mary may have seemed to isolate her in the silence of her intuitions. Yet, all of us are men and women of silent hopes. Do we not contain already by faith all that we can ever expect? Heaven is the unraveling of what we now possess in Jesus, our crucified and risen Lord. We too have the “special place,” as did the woman in the Book of Revelation. Mary then is bonded with us in the same way that Jesus was – in and through Jesus, of course. Consequently, Paul’s statements to the Corinthians are read in today’s liturgy:
Mary provides a sterling example of how to be obedient to the goals and hop3s which God through Jesus places within us. She is our model of faith. She is also among “the first fruits” of “all those who belong to Jesus,” who are to share (Mary, already) in the triumph of Jesus.
As for Jesus, so for Mary who as mother is the preeminent disciple of Jesus, fidelity to these secret hopes brings much suffering. These trials not only purify the saints to a holier status but they unite Mary, as Jesus was, with the blood and fiber of our human race (Heb 2: 14).
The feast of the Assumption is Mary’s tie with us in our way to victory. She is the first fruits of what we too will receive through and from Jesus. She urges us not to abandon our ideals, as we cry aloud in pain. We ought not to give up hope, even if the dragon crouches before us to devour our “child.” Mary’s Assumption assures us of the “special place” prepared for us as it was already for her where we are reunited with Jesus – and through Jesus with all our loved ones.
In his book Hail Holy Queen, Dr. Hahn shows conclusively that the story of the Visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth in St. Luke's Gospel, chapter one, bears numerous and remarkable similarities to the account in the Old Testament of King David bringing the Ark of the Covenant up to Jerusalem in 2 Samuel 6. The similarities are too many to be accidental: St. Luke means to tell us, in his own characteristic way, that Mary herself is the new Ark of the Covenant. Just as the Ark in ancient Israel contained the tables of the Law, and some of the manna-bread from Heaven — signs of the Old Covenant — so Mary's womb contained the sign of the promise of the New Covenant and the true Bread of Life: Jesus our Savior Himself.
But the Gospel message is not only that Jesus Himself rose again in a glorified body and soul, but that also, if our hearts live in union with His, we, too, shall rise to a glorified life, body and soul, just like His own. This is precisely what the Assumption of Mary proclaims: "Christ is Risen — and is now bringing all faithful hearts with Him to glory!" For the sign of this hope to all the Church is that the heart that was closest to His own loving Heart, has already been raised to glory before us. Assumptaest Maria in coeli, gaudeteangeli!
Mary, the Mother of the Church, is used in the book of Revelation to symbolize the fulfillment of the vocation of Israel in the new people of God, who are to bear Christ into the world. It is no wonder that when the Church began to put together liturgical texts for the Solemnity of the Assumption, she made a connection (first made by several of the ancient Fathers), between Psalm 131:8 and the mystery of the heavenly woman-ark: "Arise, O Lord, and go to Thy resting place, Thou and the ark of Thy might."
After the Lord arose from the dead, He took with Him into heavenly glory the true "ark" of the New Covenant, the body of His mother Mary. For just as the ancient Israelites believed that the original ark was made from incorruptible wood, so this passage foreshadows the bodily incorruption given to Mary by Her Risen Son.
And if we want further corroboration that the "woman, clothed with the sun" of Revelation 12 was meant to be a symbol of Mary, her body and soul in heavenly glory, have a look sometime at the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, given miraculously by Our Lady to St. Juan Diego in the 16th century, and compare it with the description in the Book of Revelation.
(Ref. Robert Stackpole, STD, is director of the John Paul II Institute of Divine Mercy, an apostolate of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception.)
Rabindranath Tagore’s poem of Freedom fits well with our dual feast of Our Lady and our beloved country, India.
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depths of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom my Father, Let my country awake.
The poem is a prayer to God to protect the nation from evil effects. The poem was written by Tagore during the time when India was under the British Rule and people were eagerly waiting to get their freedom. It is a prayer to the Almighty for a nation free from any kind of manipulative or corrupt powers.
It is a prayer to God in which Tagore addresses God as ''My Father'' and asks Him to awake his country into a heaven of freedom, where there is a total freedom of good thoughts, good words and good actions.
Our Lady can surely help achieve this goal for us and make our Independence Day very relevant.
Readings: Wis 9: 13-18; Phm 9-10, 12-17; LK 14: 25-33
Theme: Wisdom and the Demands of Discipleship>
Francis Sunil Rosario
In our digital era and computerized society, we stress the value of planning and calculation. The computer helps the human mind to make quick and prudent decisions. Does calculation have a place in interhuman relationships, or on a higher level, in the way human beings decide to style their lives as related to God and religion?
Biblical persons did not know the computer, but they did know about wisdom and prudence. Even if we speak of love, dedication, and faith, the element of prudence must be there! Intuitive and emotional decisions are sometimes feasible and even heroic. But, as a rule, we must sit down, apply wisdom and prudence, and even calculate our resources. The first reading and Gospel deal with prudence and even calculation.
First Reading: Wis 9: 13-18b God’s Counsel
The book of Wisdom addresses Jews living in Egypt (1st Century B.C.). As a minority group, they were exposed to the Greek culture and philosophy of their time. Greek wisdom, which survives even in modern universities, endangered the Biblical wisdom Jews were supposed to follow.
The author is convinced that we need wisdom and prudence, and as such this reading refers to today’s Gospel. But he also stresses that real wisdom is a gift of God. It cannot be obtained by professional philosophers. We must beg God to give it. Do we pray for guidance when we are about to make an important decision? “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart” (Responsorial Psalm).
Second Reading: Phlm 9-10, 12-17 Brothers in Christ
In this letter, Paul, though himself in jail, intercedes for a runaway slave. Was this slave, Onesimus, a young teenager? Paul calls him “my child.” Apparently, he had stolen something from his master. In any case, existence would be hard for this young man: if caught, he would receive the most severe punishment. Under the circumstances, in Paul’s opinion, it was best to send him back.
At the same time, Paul wrote this letter in which he pleads that Philemon, the master, will take him back, “no longer as a slave but more than a slave, a brother, beloved especially to me, but even more so to you, as a man and in the Lord.” God’s word in this tradition could be that we should practice clemency!
Gospel Luke 14: 25-33 Following Christ
The first part of this passage consists of Jesus’ statement on the demands of discipleship. It is followed by two parables that relate to these demands. “Hating his father and mother” is a Semitic way of saying “giving his father and mother second place in his affection”, Mathew’s version (10:37) has: “Whoever loves father or mother more than me……” Jesus requires detachment from family ties and the willingness to carry a cross.
If our Lord suggests giving up marriage and possessions, he does so for the reason of following him. Celibacy is not a value in itself, neither is it the same as bachelorhood! Hence, we speak of “celibacy for the kingdom of God.” Those who feel called should calculate their resources, as the parables of the tower-builder and the king going to war indicate.
The Church has always known young men and women who accept Jesus’ challenge. Let us pray that we may always have them.
By Tapati Chowdurie
Nothing in this world happens without the will of the Divine. It was therefore ordained that I would one day land up in the historical institution St. Xavier’s Collegiate School at 30, Park Street, built on the ashes of San Souci Theatre in 1860, which now stands tall as an institution of eminence in the world.
My first interaction with the Jesuits was with Rev.Fr. Andre Bruylants, Principal, St. Xavier’s Collegiate School, who appointed me to teach the boys. He was a visionary and a leading educationist—a gentleman turning out “men for others”. His persona awed me. Whenever I walked into the staff room early, I found him cleaning and dusting it, while also happily polishing clean the teachers’ washbasin. That I thought was the Jesuit spirit of simplicity.
He was instrumental in shaping boys to be CEOs; administrators; industrialists and what not; the reward, which he got in return, was happiness. The school did not lack helpers, but that did not deter him from practising the true spirit of sacrifice in a contented frame of mind. At teachers’meetings, he was one of us and not the stern head, doling out strict commands. Jesuit fathers are leaders and they do know when to pass an opinion and judgement in favour of the boys they handle.
I had a glimpse of this Jesuit spirit several times. One particular incident that comes to my mind is when Fr. Fohshow was presiding over a promotion meeting, where a particular boy had flunked in all the subjects and repeating class 11 was inevitable. Father astonished everyone. He lifted both his hands heavenward and said, “Then we promote him.” This was an eye-opener for me. Without mincing words, the vision of the Head Master allowed the boy to finish school rather than make him struggle, because only a miniscule number of boys fail to clear ISC.
Jesuits take the vow of poverty seriously. They are the wealthiest in their spirit and do not believe in gaining this world and losing the next. I have seen Fr. Fohshow stand before a cobbler to repair his worn out shoes in the corridors of the fathers’ quarters.
I owe Fr. Jerome and Fr. Felix Raj for standing by me and extending their help to me in my most difficult hour with smiling faces.Fr. Felix Raj, under whom I served as a teacher teaching English to the B.Com boys is no less a far-sighted educationist, who made a novice like me handling young men feel comfortable with my job. His help was invaluable.
On the Feast Day of Ignatius of Loyola,one of the most influential figures of the Roman Catholic counter-Reformation in the sixteenth century and the founding member of the Society of Jesus has oddly enough given me a reason to love my faith I was born into. Like Ignatius Loyola, I would want to appreciate the essence of what a religion truly means. The Jesuit spirit means a lot to me. I would have been a deprived person without this exposure of the Jesuits in modern times.
Tapati Chowdurie is former teacher of English at St. Xavier’s Collegiate School and College, Kolkata.
COVID-19 Effect (As of July 17, 2020, 10.00 am)
|Country||Total Affected (%)||Deaths (%)|
|World||1, 39, 47, 474 (100)||5, 92, 687 (100)|
|USA||36, 16, 747 (26.42)||1, 40, 140 (23.88)|
|India||10, 05, 637 (7.09)||25, 609 (4.25)|
Source: Data from COVIDVISUALIZER.COM.
Of the globally affected cases, In India, the total number of COVID cases was 17, 306 (0.63 %) on April 25 and 2, 87, 155 (3.85%) on June 11. Now as of July 16, the figure is 9, 70, 169 (7.09%) of the total cases in the world. Of the deceased cases, the number was 721 (0.38%) on April 25 and 8, 107 (1.94%) on June 11 and now on July 16, it is 24, 929 (4.25%).
The global increase of affected cases from April 25 to July 16 has been 402 % and of the deaths 207 %. In India, the increase in number of affected cases from June 11 to July 16 has been very steep, from 2, 87, 155 to 9, and 9, 70,169, a 237.8% increase. The cases of deaths have creased from 8,107 to 24, 929, a 307 % jump.
The death rate in India is 2.57% in July.
The Elderly Population AmidCOVID-19 in India Forgotten People?
The sudden outbreak of COVID-19 all-round the globe has created an unrest situation. India is no exception. People of all age groups have been affected both monetarily and psychologically,but for the elderly the agony has been manifold. Besides the psychological pressure of having to survive on a fixed income, the fear and anxiety of getting affected with COVID-19 has added to the woes.
Every day while turning the pages of the newspapers or flipping through the news channels we get to see many such instances where the problems faced by the elderly gethighlighted and reported as breaking news. But little is done to help them out. Delving deep, one must understand the problems they faced and (or) are facing amid the pandemic.
As soon as the lockdown was declared many migrant workers lost their jobs immediately and were stuck in the cities —a question of life vs. livelihood arose as the possibility of layoff still looms large. Losing their livelihood intrigued the fear of dying out of hunger. Their elderly parents and family members dependent on them are suffering on account of the lack of monetary help they used to receive from their wards as many of these migrant labourers are now jobless.
For some of the elderly who have tried to sustain as farm labourers are also facing problems as the harvesting season has come to an end and many had to destroy their harvests due to supply chain issues and lack of demand. On top of it, as Prof. Parikshit Ghosh from Delhi School of Economics has rightly pointed out that the rural section cutting across states have experienced additional hurdles in the process of receiving free food grains (announced at both the center and the state level) primarily because of corrupt practices of hoarding, not having a valid ration card and not being a beneficiary under any of the welfare schemes likePM-KISAN (Pradhan MantriKisanSamman Nidhi), MGNREGS (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme).
Moving on to urban India,the elderly who are staying alone have also faced problems in other dimensions. Few days into the lockdown, one of India’s largest pharmacy retail chains, Frank Ross declared“no home delivery” of medicines due to lack of manpower. This was a body blow to the elderly people, especially, for the oneswho arestaying alone and not well acquainted with online transactions. The sudden price hike, after cyclone “Amphan”, in essential commodities, including, fish, meat and vegetables added to the woes of this fixed income group. The elderly community staying in the cities areby and large dependent on domestic helps. But these services also got disrupted due to thenationwide lockdown. The morning or evening walks which were a source of socialisation and part of a regular fitness schedule for the elderly community got ceased given the social distancing norms, leading to anxiety and over-medication.
People suffering from dementia or the ones who are staying alone, especially, in the urban areas, some became a victim of loneliness resulting into severe depressionduring the lockdown period. From our experience in Kolkata, there was anotherapprehension. West Bengal got hit by cyclone “Amphan” on May 20, leading to disruption in network issues, particularly, all over the city of Kolkata. This aggravated the panic for the elderly staying alone as networks/communication means took time to stabilize.For some of the elderly in the affected pockets, going without water and power for a few days following “Amphan” added to the agony, in addition to the fear and anxiety of getting affected with COVID-19 which continues its rapid spread.
For the benefit of the elderly, the central government extended the validity of the Pradhan MantriVayaVandanaYojana (PMVVY) pension scheme till March 31, 2023 with an annual return of 7.40%, but unfortunately a major section of the society doesn’t benefit out of it as very few in the rural area would have a minimum investment capacity of roughly INR 1,60,000 p.a. Keeping in mind the poor senior citizens, the Central Government increased the pension amount to INR 300 per month for the widows in the age group of 40-79 years and INR 500 forthose aged 80 years and above, a move in the right direction.
Contrary to this, there has been a significant reduction in the interest rates across all the major saving schemes — Senior Citizen Savings Scheme from 8.6% to 7.4%, in National Savings Certificate from 7.9% to 6.8%, from 7.7% to 6.7% in five year time deposits, including for banks like State Bank of India,to name a few. This gave a body blow to the aspirations of this fixed income group. Also, a small part of the elderly community runs their livelihood from ancestral business;owing to this long lockdown, their business had to be called off and they ran out of money within a month of severe lockdown.As psychologists have pointed out, a section of elderly parents dependent on their wards suffer from an added insecurity that their wards might suffer a pay cut or might get terminated from their job amid the pandemic.
Role of the Society
This is a community which heavily relies on social connection and they need it more than others now. Apart from the government initiatives of going in for regular tests for the elderly population, particularly, in the containment zones, it is the youth of the country who have to come forward — in terms of regular checking on what the elderly community, especially the ones staying alone, inone’s locality or area require by dropping a message or over a phone call, helping them in buying their essentials, groceries and medicinesgiven that it is not wise for these elderly people to come out of their houses now. With the online medium all set to become the new normal in the post-COVID era, it is essential for the octogenarians to become habituated to the use of laptops and smartphones. But all said and done, the question still remains as to how effective these app-based online meansare for the elderly population of rural India? In such cases, I feel that reaching out through the locally empowered NGOscan be very helpful. In terms of awareness, as responsible citizens we must reach out to the elderly community and explainthem the basic need for practicing social distancing and the art of maintaining proper hygiene amid the pandemic. In no way, should they be allowed to feel as “forgotten extreme” and as responsible citizens it is our duty to ensure it.
Prof. Sovik Mukherjee teaches at St. Xavier’s University, Kolkata
St Xavier’s University, Kolkata has decided to offer a 20 per cent concession on semester fees for all undergraduate and postgraduate courses for the current semester, July to December 2020, Vice-Chancellor, Father Felix Raj said on Saturday, July 11.
University has decided to allow students to pay the sum in two installments. Students using the university hostels will pay less for the months they don’t stay in the hostels.
The vice-chancellor said the university decided to reduce the fees for the July-December semester to offer some relief to guardians who are going through financial problems because of the COVID lockdown.
“The decision has been taken with a humanitarian approach…. We believe in helping our students. But we also have to think about the problems of our guardians…. The Covid-19 and the lockdowns have created an unprecedented situation. Many people are going through a very difficult situation…. We have decided to reduce the semester and hostel fees to give some relief to our guardians,” Father Felix Raj said.
In addition to reducing the semester fees by 20 per cent, the university will allow students to pay the semester fees in two installments. The last date to clear the second installment for all students, including old and new students, is December 15.
The last date to clear the first installment for intermediate semester students is August 31. New students will have to pay the first installment as per notification regarding admissions.In the normal situation students are required to pay the entire semester fees at the start of the semester unless excused for valid reason.
The waiver in the semester and hostel fees will be offered to existing students as well as to new students. Set up in 2017, the Jesuit-run University offers undergraduate and postgraduate courses and runs a business school and a law school.The relaxation in the fees will apply to all students.
The vice-chancellor said the hostel fees for the current semester (July to December) will be reduced by Rs 5,000 a month.Normally, students have to pay the full hostel fees semester-wise at the time of admission.
West Bengal: Acknowledging the efforts, dedication and constant service of the doctors, nurses, paramedical staff, and other frontline workers in handling the COVID pandemic all over the country, the West Bengal State government has decided to declare July 1st, the national doctor's day as the State holiday.
We salute our doctors, nurses and all Health Care Heroes. They are our guardian angels protecting us from all dangers and diseases. We thank them and pray for them. Our wishes are always with them.
"It takes courage to answer a call, It takes courage to give your all, It takes courage to risk your name, It takes courage to be true. It takes courage to dare, what no other will share, To be standing alone, one whom no one will own, To be ready to stake for another man's sake, It takes courage to be true."
Reaching out to the underprivileged: Educational Institutions are the temples of knowledge and villages are the temples of prosperity. Their pairing is the beginning of a mutual revolution. Some glimpses of pairing to form future leaders among the underprivileged in South 24 Parganas, New Town and Trichy.
George Floyd's Daughter, Gianna, 6, Says 'Daddy Changed the World'.
The touching moment came after Gianna and her mother Roxie Washington spoke at a press conference on Tuesday, eight days after George Floyd's killing.
ISIAH WHITLOCK JR.: I ‘HOPE AND PRAY’ THE GEORGE FLOYD PROTESTS LEAD TO ‘FUNDAMENTAL CHANGE’
George Floyd's young daughter spoke with pride about her late father as protests over his killing at the hands of police continued.
Retired NBA player Stephen Jackson, a longtime friend of Floyd's, shared a clip of himself with Floyd's 6-year-old daughter Gianna on his shoulders. In the clip, the child smiled as she exclaimed, "Daddy changed the world!"
"That’s right GiGi 'Daddy changed the world' George Floyd, the name of change. George Floyd, 46, was killed while being pinned to the ground by a Minneapolis police officer. Washington mourned that Gianna "Gigi" Floyd will now have to grow up without a dad.
"I don't have a lot to say, because I can't get my words together right now," Floyd’s wife Washington said. "But I want everybody to know that this is what those officers took. At the end of the day, they get to go home and be with their families."
She continued: "Gianna does not have a father. He will never see her grow up, graduate; he will never walk her down the aisle."
"If there's a problem she's having and she needs her dad, she does not have that anymore," Washington added. "I'm here for my baby, and I'm here for George because I want justice for him. I want justice for him,because he was good. No matter what anybody thinks, he was good." "And this is the proof that he was a good man," Washington said, gesturing to Gianna.
We express our solidarity and demand justice for George Floyd. We stand with his wife and daughter. Black Lives Matter.
“We are born in an unjust society and we are determined not to leave it as we have found it.”
Top Jesuit and other Christian Colleges have featured in the NIRF rankings this year. Two Jesuit Colleges, namely Loyola College Chennai and St. Xavier’s College Kolkata have captured the 6th and 7th ranks respectively and figure among the 10 best Colleges in India.
According to the NIRF list, there are 34 Christian Colleges including 8 Jesuit Colleges among 100 best colleges in India. MHRD, GoI has announced the NIRF Rankings 2020 for all higher educational institutions on June 11.
The National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) was approved by the MHRD and launched on 29th September 2015. This framework outlines a methodology to rank institutions of higher education across the country. The methodology draws from the overall recommendations and broad understanding arrived at by a Core Committee set up by MHRD, to identify the broad parameters for ranking various universities and institutions. The first NIRF list was released in 2016. For the 2020 rankings, around 3,800 institutions participated in the process, which was 20 percent more than in 2019. There were 10 categories which included: Overall, Universities, Engineering, Colleges, Management, Pharmacy, Medical, Architecture, Law and Dental Institutes.
The parameters broadly cover 1. Teaching, Learning and Resources, 2. Research and Professional Practices, 3. Graduation Outcomes, 4.Outreach and Inclusivity, and 5.Perception.
Dr. J. Felix Raj
RANK (Out of 100):
6 th - Loyola College Chennai (Score: 68.03).
7 th - St. Xavier's College Calcutta (67.59).
31 st - St. Joseph's College Trichy (58.27).
36 th - Andra Loyola college, Vijayawada (57.64)
50 th - St. Xavier's College Palayamkottai (54.91)
59 th - St. Xavier's College Ahmedabad (53.93)
72 nd - St. Joseph's College of Commerce, Bangalore (52.37)
90 th - St. Xavier's College Mumbai (51.14)
Congratulations to all the eight Colleges. We are proud of you.
St. Xavier's University, Kolkata has drawn up a comprehensive plan and guidelines for faculty and students to return to campus as per the UGC guidelines. It has decided to commence the first year UG and PG programmes from September 1.
In the new session, "both for freshers and the intermediate semester students, each class will be divided into two batches of 25 to 30 students who will attend classes on alternate days. Students will be taught online on the days they are away from campus. Thus, no syllabus will be missed," said Fr. Felix Raj, Vice- Chancellor of the University. He added that only one student will be allowed to sit in one bench. In the first semester, the university is planning to hold 25- - 30 per cent of its teaching-learning online.
For new session, the university will start accepting online applications immediately after the +2 results, sometime early August. "We have the responsibility of addressing the issue of anxiety and uncertainty among students and their parents. Thus, we plan to hold the terminal semester examinations in June, intermediate semester examinations in August and resume classes as early as possible," Father Raj said.
"End-semester students don't need to return to the university. Adhering to the UGC recommendations, their remaining examinations will be conducted online and the final results will be announced on July 10.
The University will conduct admission tests for all PG courses and two UG courses including Law. The admission test for Law, XLAT will be held on July 26, Sunday. The admission tests will be conducted for one subject at a time.
"The protection of our students, staff and faculty is particularly important for us. The SXUK is taking all precautions and necessary measures to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19," Fr. Raj added.
Curtesy: Somdatta Basu, the Times of India: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/st-xaviers-univ-to-resume-on-sept-1/articleshow/76185370.cms
i) Dr. Kalam never accepted gifts. Once he had gone Erode to attend a function sponsored by Sowbhagya wet grinders. On that occasion, they gave him a grinder as a gift. He refused to accept it but since he needed it he insisted on paying for it. He then sent a person to the shop with a cheque for Rs 4,850 dated August 25, 2014.
The Managing Director of the company was reluctant to receive money from Kalam and did not encash the cheque for over a month. A month later, they received a call from Kalam's office asking why the cheque has not been deposited. Further, Kalam directed them to deposit the cheque to avoid returning the grinder. The company agreed to deposit it. But they did not want to let go of the treasure and decided to keep a copy of the cheque. They got it scanned and had framed it. The very next day they deposited the cheque and received a message from Kalam's office thanking them for doing so. (Source: newindianexpress.com).
ii) Once, the missile man rejected the suggestion to put broken glass on the wall of a building that needed protection because broken glass could be harmful to birds!
This happened when Dr Kalam was with the Defence Research and Development organization (DRDO) and his team was discussing options to secure the perimeter of a building that needed protection. Dr Kalam reportedly said: "If we do that, birds will not be able to perch on the wall. Think of something else. "
iii) He invited a cobbler and a small hotel owner as the "Presidential Guests" As the President, Dr. Kalam was entitled to invite any two people as the "Presidential Guests" to the Raj Bhavan of Kerala during his first visit to Trivandrum. He had spent a significant amount of time as a scientist in Trivandrum and guess who he called? A roadside cobbler who was quite close to Dr. Kalam during his time in Kerala; and an owner of a very small hotel where Dr. Kalam used to have his meals.
This gesture was more than enough to show his level of simplicity!
iv) When a teammate of President Kalam at DRDO couldn't take his children to an exhibition due to workload, Kalam surprised him and took the children instead!
During a significant project, the workload was high. One of the 70 scientists working on it asked him if he could leave at 5.30 pm that evening as he had promised to take his kids to an exhibition. Dr Kalam granted the permission. However, the scientist got busy with work only to realise that it was 8.30 pm. When he looked for his boss, he wasn't there. Guilty for having disappointed his kids, he went back home only to find that his kids weren't there. When he asked his wife where they were, she replied, "You don't know. Your manager came here at 5.15 pm and took the children to the exhibition."
Dr Kalam had been observing the scientist and he realized that he was too busy with the work and might forget to reach home at time. So, he decided to take the kids to the exhibition instead.
v) The property left behind by Dr. A.P.J.Abdul Kalam was estimated. This is what he owned:
6 pants(2 DRDO uniforms)
4 shirts(2 DRDO uniforms)
3 suits (1 western, 2 Indian)
1 flat (which he has donated)
1 Bharat Ratna
1 twitter account
1 email id
He didn't have any TV, AC, car, jewellery, shares, land or bank balance.
He had even donated the last 8 years' pension towards the development of his village.
He was a real patriot and true Indian. India will forever be grateful to this noble soul.
Monstrous Cyclone Amphan slammed into Kolkata and has wreaked havoc.
At SXUK, all of us – Fathers, Sisters and the 15 hostel students are safe.
Amphan roared and whistled and threatened to blow us up.
Many trees and plants have been uprooted.
The Green environment has been destroyed.
The campus will be ready and lovely, by the time students return after lockdown.
Pope Francis has nominated Bishop Shyamal Bose, to the pastoral government of the Diocese of Baruipur, Bengal in India. He succeeds Bishop Salvadore Lobo, whose resignation was accepted by the Holy Father. Bishop Shymal Bose was, until now, Coadjutor Bishop of Baruipur.
Bishop Bose Shyamal Bose was born on March 24, 1961, in Gosaba. He studied philosophy at Morning Star Regional Seminary, Barrackpore and theology at St. Albert's College, Ranchi. He was ordained a priest for the Baruipur Diocese on 5 May 1991.
As a priest of Baruipur, he served the Diocese in various capacities: assistant parish priest, Keorapukur (1991-1994); Khari (1994-1996) and Parish Priest, Khari (1996-1998). He was the director of Palli Unnayan Samiti, the Diocesan Social Service Centre for eight years from 1998 -2006. He was the Vicar General of the Diocese from 2000-2008. He was parish priest of Sacred Heart Church, Thakurpukur from 2006-2008. He obtained Licentiate in Biblical Theology from St. Peter's Pontifical Institute, Bangalore in 2010.
He was appointed director of the Regional Social Centre, Association of Bengal Collaborators for Development in 2011. At the time of his appointment announced on May 17, 2019 as the Coadjutor Bishop of Baruipur he was the Diocese's financial administrator, Chancellor and Secretary of the Finance Committee.
We wish him all the best and continue to pray for him.
Liquor Shops reopen in India. Alcohol sale has begun and people crowd outside liquor stores. Indian people are for liquor while Indian Governments are for revenue.
It is a mockery of social distancing in many parts of India. Mad rush for liquor raises corona alarm.Thousands in serpentine queues jostled for alcohol, triggering chaos, police action, and fear of Covid-19 spread as booze shops opened after 40 days in some areas. As these shops opened, people formed a long queue, waiting for hours to buy alcohol.
Why liquor matters to states?
Queues after easing of restrictions, and a price hike are pointers to the importance of liquor as a source of revenue.
Manufacture and sale of liquor is one of the major sources of revenue, and the reopening comes at a time when the states have been struggling to fill their coffers amid the disruption on account of the lockdown. With lockdown, State revenues may get a ‘high’ from liquor sales
States eye excise from liquor sales to tackle fiscal crisis that has intensified with revenue contraction. Long winding queues outside liquor shops in select areas across the country barring four States (Bihar, Gujarat, Manipur and Nagaland) and Union Territory of Lakshadweep have brought some cheer for local governments.
FACTS ABOUT ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION IN INDIA:
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New Town, Rajarhat: St. Xavier's University, Kolkata reached out to the eleven neighborhood villages (including Kathalberia, Kulberia, Morapukur and Kamlahati) where University students go for social outreach programmes. Jesuit Fathers with some university officers and student volunteers distributed food items - rice, dal, potatoes, and soybeans - to poor families in five phases - on April 19, 20, 22, 26 and May 3, reaching out to 1,200 families in total.
SXUK has also extended its support to relief work in Boitakhana, Sealdha. The humanitarian work will continue in the days to come as and when required in these villages. The distribution work was organised at St. Francis Academy, Kathalberia village, adhering to COVID protocol guidelines issued by the Government.
The Vice-Chancellor is constantly in touch with the faculty, staff and students of the university with instructions and advisories. Students of Xaverians in Action (XIA) association of the University have also announced an online campaign for donation to express their solidarity to the neighbourhood people.
Online classes are going on smoothly well. Teachers and students are in touch with the Registrar with feedback and suggestions.
Father Louis Hincq, a Belgian priest and a former principal of St Xavier’s Collegiate School, Calcutta and St. Xavier’s School, Burdwan, left for his heavenly abode, on Sunday, April 5, at the Maison Saint Claude La Colombiere, a home for elderly Jesuits adjacent to Jesuit School of St. Michelle in Brussels, Belgium. He was 98.
Born in 1922, Father Hincq joined the Jesuit society in 1940. He came to India in 1947. Father Hincq was ordained in 1953 and took his final vows five years later. Father Hincq had also served as in-charge of the Higher Secondary section of St Xavier’s College.
Father had learnt and mastered Bengali at St Lawrence School and studied theology at St Mary’s, Kurseong. He underwent final training at Sitagarah in Hazaribagh.This illustrious Jesuit priest returned to Belgium in 1981.
Whenever I visited Brussels or Luxemburg, I made it a point to meet Fr. Hincq. Once he showed me a neatly kept file with all letters he had been receiving from his old students in Kolkata. He particularly showed me the letters of General Shankar Roy Chowdhury and Manish Gupta. I called up Manish and asked Father to speak to his old student, both were delighted to share memories of golden days spent together.
Another time he volunteered to show me around the city of Brussels. He took me to the Little Europe. We spent a long time there, together, reminiscing and relaxing over an ice-cream.
During another visit, I told him that I was planning to visit Luxemburg to meet Fr. Emile Gales, former principal of St. Xavier’s School, Haldia. He volunteered to take me to Luxemburg. We travelled together by train.
At one point during our travel, a police officer came in and asked for Fr. Hincq’s ID card. He showed his. After the officer left, he told me he is an idiot. You are the visitor and I am resident. He didn’t even check you. I gently told him, “The officer knew well that I am no stranger because I am with you.”
When we reached Luxemburg Jesuit residence, Fr. Gales was eagerly waiting for us. We had a long conversation and Fr. Gales asked me about Kolkata. While at dinner, Fr. Gales offered a merry drink in my honour, saying that he is back in an Indian company after a long time.
Fr. Hincq was a very affectionate man. During my visits, he used to take me to other Jesuits in the residence. Fr. Destienne and Fr. Huart were among them.
I remember Fr. Hincq very fondly, as an emissary of values and virtues that are imperishable. May his soul rest in peace.
Felix Raj, SJ