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The thoroughbred Jesuit

by Fr. Nascimento Mascarenhas

Fr. Lino Paulo Xavier de Souza was born in Saligao, Goa, on 15 July 1915, the son of Ligorio Braz de Souza and Regina Efegiana Fernandes from Demelovaddo, Saligao. After completing his primary studies in his native village, he joined the Rachol Seminary and studied humanities there.

Being called to a religious life, he joined the Jesuit novitiate at Calicut on 10 June 1936 and after his studies of Philosophy at Shembaganur and Theology at De Nobili College in Pune, he was ordained a Jesuit priest in Pune on 21 November 1950. He also obtained a Bachelor of Science degree through the Tiruchirapati College in Tamil Nadu.

In June 1951, he was appointed to St. Britto’s in Mapusa, at a time when that school was facing de-recognition due to the lack of qualified staff. At St. Britto’s he taught Chemistry to the senior students. Later, when the construction of the new school building was in progress, he was appointed Rector and somehow had to carry on with the work though money was scarce. His unflinching trust in Providence carried him through those very difficult years.

On completing his term at St. Britto’s he was posted in 1954 to Loyola High School, Margao, as a teacher of Chemistry. He returned to St. Britto’s in June 1974 where he taught until 1976, at which time he retired from teaching.

In 1976 this Goan Jesuit priest was appointed parish priest of Milagres Church at Halkarni in the Belgaum diocese, and worked there for four years, until 1980. His work in that parish was highly appreciated, and the parishioners made several petitions to the provincial not to transfer him. However, Lino’s eyesight was failing and it had become very strenuous for him to shoulder the responsibilities of parish priest. He was moved for a year to Ajra in the Pune Diocese, and for another year to Khanapur in the Belgaum Diocese where he served as assistant parish priest.

In 1982 he was asked to take charge of the parish of Sanquelim in the Archdiocese of Goa, and served there for two years, when once again, due to his poor eyesight, he had to be relieved of his post. He was then transferred to Old Goa in 1984 and worked for twelve years at the Basilica of Bom Jesus until May 1996, assisting the rector in the ministry at the Basilica and serving the Jesuit community in Goa as minister of the house. Finally, in 1996 he was transferred to St. Britto’s, where he spent the rest of his days, praying for the Jesuit Society and the Church, with the Rosary beads perpetually in his hands.

Fr. Lino may not have been a genius, but he was a thoroughbred Jesuit priest. His devotion to God was a source of inspiration to all who met him. In every assignment given to him, he placed himself entirely at the disposal of his superiors. He was very meticulous and thorough in his work. However, what really stood out was his practice of poverty. In his last will he wrote: “In case of any painful illness, no painkillers that are not locally available or that poor people cannot afford, be given. Jesus became poor and as a religious I have a right to imitate my Lord who is our only model. My funeral should be simple— arrange a simple coffin of bamboos…”

For the last few years of his life he lived at the St. Britto’s infirmary, wishing to give as little trouble as possible to the community. His refrain during those days was “Lord, when are you going to take me away?”

He was transferred to the Clergy Home at Porvorim in November 2002 because the infirmary rooms at St. Britto’s were being given a facelift. I was myself at the Clergy Home at the time, and I came to know Fr. Lino much better, as he was my next-door neighbour. He bore his pains and sufferings in silence for more than five months. Every time we priests went to visit him he looked at us silently but never complained. His family and relatives from Saligao visited him frequently. David Fernandes, moderator of the Saligao Parish Council, was almost daily at his bedside, consoling him and praying the Rosary along with him. During these last months he was in and out of the hospital with some medical difficulty or the other. He expired on 19 March 2003, at the JMJ Hospital in Alto Porvorim, on the feast of St. Joseph, to whom he had a special devotion.

At a well-attended Eucharistic celebration in which 22 Jesuit confreres and four other priests took part, the Provincial of the Jesuit fraternity in Goa, Fr. Patrick D’Melo, was the main celebrant. Fr. Hector Almeida, the rector of St. Britto’s, performed the last rites and Fr. Lino was laid to rest at the cemetery of Mapusa Church in the evening of 20 March 2003.

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