By Matters India Reporter
Porvorim: The Society of the Missionaries of St. Francis Xavier, popularly known as the Pilar Society, has elected Father Sebastião Mascarenhas as its new superior general.
The election took place on August 10 during the society’s general chapter now underway at its generalate in Porvorim in the western Indian state of Goa.
The 19th chapter also elected Fathers Nazareth Fernandes, Norman Almeida, Alarico Carvalho and Romualdo Gonsalves as councilors. Father Derick Rodrigues was elected the new general treasurer of the society.
The new superior general, who is popularly called Fr. Seby, hails from Camurlim de Salcette, a quiet village in south Goa. He early education was at Mumbai and in Saviour of the World School, Loutolim Goa.
He joined the Fr. Agnel Minor seminary at Pilar as a fifth grader. He passed out the school leaving examinations with seventh rank in Goa. He completed his philosophical studies from St. Charles Seminary Nagpur and acquired a Bachelor of Arts in economics earning a gold medal, says a press note from the society.
He was ordained a priest in 1984. He was first posted to Vapi, a city in the Valsad district of Gujarat. He has also worked in Nagar Haveli. He served as rector of the Pilar Major Seminary for five years from 2002. He was then elected provincial of the Mumbai province, a post he held until 2012. He became the Mission Superior of Daman in 2013, a post he held at the time of election as the superior general.
The superior general has a Masters of Missiology Degree from Sankt Agustine Germany and doctorate from the University of Freiburg Germany. He is the brother of Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India.
The Society of Pilar was started by Father Bento Martins in 1887. The society had gone through hard times as older members died and some left the congregation.
It numbers began dwindling and the Society was on the verge of extinction. Eventually in 1939, the lone surviving member Father Remedios Gomes kept the flame burning.
That year, the society received a spurt of new life when five young diocesan priests joined it. They were inspired by the zeal of Francis Xavier, and pledged to give new life to the dying society. They revived and reorganized the society by introducing the rule of common life with private vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. The society was reorganized on July 2, 1939.
The society now has 335 priests and 10 lay brothers working in the provinces of Delhi, Goa, Kolkata and Mumbai and the Agnel region.
The Society works for social uplift and integral development of people without discrimination of caste, class or creed. It has units in Jammu, Haryana, Punjab, Delhi, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and the Union Territories of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Daman, Diu, Nagar-Haveli.
It has opened missions and parishes in foreign countries such as Nepal, England, USA, Germany, Italy and Mauritania.