Archbishop Henry D’Souza, Mother Teresa’s friend, dies
Kolkata: Archbishop Henry D’Souza, a friend of Mother Teresa for more than 35 years and a founding member of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC), died of age-related illness on June 27 in Kolkata, eastern India.
The death occurred at 1:30 pm at Vianni Home, in the premise of St. Thomas Parish, near Calcutta Jesuit Provincial house, where the 90-year-old prelate was spending his retirement.
The funeral Mass will be held at St. Thomas Parish at 10 am on June 30.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) condoled the death and prayed for the repose of the prelate’s soul.
“Archbishop D’Souza’s contributions to the Church in India are precious and manifold. In his capacity as the secretary general of the CBCI and president of the CCBI (Conference of Catholic Bishops of India—Latin rite), he has rendered effective leadership, especially in crucial moments,” CBCI deputy secretary general Monsignor Joseph Chinnayyan told Matters India.
“Emeritus Archbishop of Kolkata Henry D’Souza just passed away. Much loved educationist and man of God. Friend of our family. RIP,” Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien said in a tweet.
Archbishop D’Souza, who headed the Archdiocese of Calcutta during 1986-2002, played a crucial role in fast-tracking Blessed Mother Teresa’s canonization process.
“It is sad that he missed Mother Teresa’s canonization,” said Jesuit Fr R Jothi, director of Udayani, a human rights center in Kolkata.
Mother Teresa’s canonization is scheduled for September 4 in Rome.
According to Fr Jothi, the archbishop was “a creative spiritual stalwart and holy man well integrated in Theology. His homilies were very inspiring, challenging and hope giving.”
Archbishop D’Souza hit international headlines for the smooth handling of the funeral of Blessed Mother Teresa who died on September 5, 1997, in Kolkata. However, he was away in Rome when she died. As the sole Asian representative for the composition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, he had gone to Rome to present its text to Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, who later became Pope Benedict XVI.
Archbishop D’Souza often hailed Mother Teresa as “the face of Christ in the world” for spending her life time helping people understand the nature of the divine.
He was born January 20, 1926, and was ordained a priest on August 24, 1948. He was appointed the bishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar in 1974. In 1985, he was transferred to the Calcutta a as the coadjutor Archbishop. He succeeded Cardinal Lawrence Picachy as the archbishop of Calcutta on April 5, 1986.
He had also served as the first bishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar.
Known as an educationist, he had also played a major role in founding the Sacred Heart School in Kharagpur town.
He started Life Assenting, a newsletter for senior citizen, and edited it until the end.