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Address of His Excellency, Shri M. K. Narayanan, Governor of West Bengal to the Jesuit Fathers and Brother of

St. Xavier’s, Kolkata

31 July, 2010

 

Father Rector, Father Principal, Fathers and Brothers,

I greet you on the occasion of the Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola today. I understand that the staff and students have celebrated the occasion this morning, and that you will be celebrating in the evening as well. My best wishes to all of you on this festive occasion.

St. Ignatius of Loyola was a remarkable individual whose name and fame remains undiminished despite the intervening Centuries. The founder of the Society of Jesus is revered across the world, and the Jesuits today are acknowledged keepers of the lamp of learning. They symbolize the best practices in education worldwide.

Jesuit Educational Institutions are, hence, greatly sought after by people of every faith and community. There is hardly a single Jesuit College or School that has not made its mark. St. Xavier’s, for instance, is rated amongst the 10 best Colleges in the country. It has a hoary tradition going back over a Century and a half. In fact, on January 16, this year, St. Xavier’s celebrated 150 years of service to the nation, with the Prime Minister presiding over the event. I was earlier slated to be part of the PM’s entourage, but since my appointment as Governor of West Bengal was to be announced the very next day, I had to deny myself the pleasure of being present. I would, therefore, like to take this opportunity to extend my very best wishes to you on the occasion and pray that the Lord give you the strength to carry on in this fashion and provide you with many more years of service to the community in Kolkata and the Nation.

My entire education has been in Christian institutions- most of it in Catholic Institutions - St. Columbus in New Delhi, St. Edwards in Shimla and Loyola College in Madras. These institutions helped me firm up my values. I spent six years in Loyola College - one year as a supernumerary student in the Intermediate Science Course since I was too young to be formally admitted to the University. Then two years in Intermediate Science and three years in the Economics (Honours) course, which qualified me for a Masters Degree. Loyola, in many ways, shaped my destiny, and I am both proud and grateful to my Mentors there. They were towering personalities like Father Jerome D’Souza, Father Gordon and Father Mathias who were my Principals, my Economics Professor, Father Basnach and my English Professor Father Murphy. To each, and all, of them I owe a deep debt of gratitude, as also to the Institution and, I might add, the Jesuit community as well.

Consequently, I do not need to dwell too much on the virtues and ideals that all of you are imbued with. Your commitment to service to the community, specially in the field of education, the type of values that you instill in students that leave an indelible stamp on their psyche, the selfless service that is rendered by you in ensuring that every child or student who passes through the portals of your Institutions understands the values and virtues of discipline, service, compassion and an understanding of the environment, and above all the need to be good citizens of the country. Verily, therefore, you are God’s messengers on Earth and all those who pass through your hands are, in that sense, children of God.

Our country and our Government is committed to providing every single child, boy or girl, with the benefits of Education. Education is our birthright, and its is unfortunate that there are still large number of children who do not enjoy this privilege. The Government has recently promulgated the Right to Education Act, but Education for All calls for much more than pronouncements or promulgation of Laws and Acts. It demands dedicated and committed people to provide the right type of education that is value-based.

The Jesuit community who run some of the finest and best educational institutions in the country are flag-bearers in this regard. Your activities are not limited to cities and urban pockets. You work in the rural areas as well, and I am aware of your ‘option for the poor’ policy. This segment requires very special attention and I am optimistic that the zeal and dedication that you have shown in many different and varied streams of educational endeavour, would be channelised and focused in favour of this segment as well.

As the followers of St. Ignatius of Loyala, and committed to pursuing his goals and objectives, I have no doubt, that yours would be the beacon light that ensures a new awakening in our country and creating a society that is secular and value-based.

I wish you well, and thank you for what you are doing. May you at the St. Xavier’s continue to be the torch-bearers of wisdom.

Once again, I thank you for your invitation and wish you all the best.

In return, I request you to invoke God’s blessings upon me as well.

Thank you.     

 
 

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