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Last of Italian Jesuits in Mangalore dies in his homeland


Last of Italian Jesuits in Mangalore dies in his homeland

By John B Monteiro
 
Mangalore, Jan 8:
Fr Victor Piovesan, who was Professor of Theology and Spiritual Director at St Joseph’s Seminary at Jeppu, did not despair about seeing Italy. He was born there and had returned several times ever since he came to India, and Mangalore, 64 years ago. He was the last of the Italian Jesuits in Mangalore, who first landed in Mangalore on December 31, 1879. The Jesuits have given Mangaloreans St Aloysius College, Father Muller Institutions (though Fr Muller was of German origin, he was part of the Italian Jesuit Mission in Mangalore), St Joseph’s Seminary and Workshop at Jeppu and Kodialbail Press.

The most enduring and priceless is the legacy of paintings left for Mangaloreans by Br Moscheni who has painted the St Aloysius College Chapel and other religious places in the district. Since then batches of dedicated Italian Jesuits had come to Mangalore and strived for the educational, health, social and economic progress of the district. Fr Piovesan, who died in Italy on January 1, 2014, at the age of 86, was the last of the Italian Jesuits in Mangalore till his close relatives escorted him back to Italy a few years ago to spend his sunset years in his homeland.
 
Victor Piovesan, first of nine children of Sante and Maria Piovesan, was born at Treviso, a small town 20 KM from Venice, on January 5, 1927. He had his elementary education in his parish and then went on to prepare for the diocesan priesthood, studying philosophy and earning Master’s degree in classical languages. But, his sight was stretched beyond the diocesan parish-bound priesthood. He was interested in ecumenism – union among various denominations of Christianity. He joined the Rome Institute run by Jesuits.
 
In 1950, Fr Piovesan was sent to India in a move which he ascribed to “mysterious ways of God”. Boarding a cargo ship in August, he disembarked in Bombay in September and travelled onwards to Calicut by rail. There he learnt sufficient English to get along. In 1951, he was sent to Sri Lanka to do his Masterate in Philosophy at the Papal Seminary in Candy. As there were many seminarians from Kerala, Fr Piovesan picked up enough Malayalam to say Holy Mass in that language. He returned to Calicut in 1952 and was posted at Christ Hall Novitiate (where initial learning for priesthood is offered). The next posting was at St Michael’s Anglo-Indian School at Kannur, teaching various subjects and looking after the boarders. In 1955, he was sent to Kurseong, near Darjeeling, for a four-year course in theology.
 
Fr Piovesan was ordained as priest in 1958 and was sent to Mangalore the following year. He was then told that the posting was “temporary for one year” and he wryly said that one year had lasted into 2000s. But he had no complaints. A Belgian priest then told him that Mangalore was a big village with all houses hidden by trees. He also recalled that there were no large residential hotels, Moti Mahal, perhaps the earliest such, being under construction then.
 
In 1964–65 Fr Piovesan studied at Gregorian University in Rome, leading to a doctorate in theology. He returned to Mangalore in 1966. Meanwhile, his mother had died in 1962. His father died in 1972. Even if he had wanted to go to Italy for his father’s funeral, he could not as he himself was close to death, after suffering uncontrollable internal hemorrhage, following eating hot Indian curries while attending a seminar in Bangalore. Dr. Venkat Rao treated him at Father Mullers, Kankanady. Unable to control the bleeding, Dr. Rao one day said in desperation: “I am sorry you won’t be here tomorrow”. The last sacraments, given at the verge of impending death, were administered. The next thing he knew was complete recovery. Dr. Rao sent him to Bangalore for further investigation and it turned out that he had very sensitive veins which can’t stand spicy, hot food. For many years then, a neighbouring convent used to send bland food for him. Eventually he ventured to taste curries, chasing them down with water.
 
Fr Piovesan was appointed Rector of Jeppu Seminary in 1977 which position he held till 1983. Since then he had been Professor and Mentor for seminarians. While he conducted holy mass in Malayalam every Sunday at Milagres Church for Malayalees, he had not attempted preaching in Konkani. Early on he was told about another Italian priest, Fr Fazi, who learnt Konkani and gave his sermon in it. Because of his Italian accent and pronunciation, the congregation laughed uncontrollably and that was the end of it.
 
Fr Piovesan, an eminent theologian, was much in demand for giving lectures, conducting courses and retreats in convents. He had been on lecture circuits, during breaks at the seminary, to Goa, Pune and Kolkata. Being one of the oldest and enduring professors at Jeppu Seminary, he counted about eight bishops among his students. His early interest in ecumenism got concrete expression through Mangalore Christian Council which involved interaction with Protestant church leaders. He had also interacted with Hindu and Muslim leaders and counted some of them among his friends. He had special praise for Mangalore and Mangaloreans as the well educated and hospitable people. He soldiered on cheerfully in Mangalore until a few years ago when his close relatives took him to Italy to spend his sunset years there.


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Comment on this article

  • Dr. Cajetan Coelho, Goa, India

    Sun, Feb 2 2014

    Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord and let thy perpetual light shine upon your servant Fr Victor Piovesan.

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  • Alwin and Mira, Mangalore/Auckland

    Fri, Jan 24 2014

    It is with such grief that we heard today of the passing away of our dear Fr Pio. Last spoke to him in Jan 2013. He was a dear friend from the seventies onwards and we loved him dearly. Was sad that we couldn't talk with him more often. May his dear soul rest in peace!

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  • Kuriakose Mundadan, Ernakulam

    Tue, Jan 14 2014

    He was my theology Professor in Mangalore. He enkindled fire of love and justice in me. Still, my preaching and teaching has got a punch from dear Father Piovesan. Adieu to my dear Professor.

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  • O.P.D. Noronha, Valencia, Mangalore

    Thu, Jan 9 2014

    I came into contact with Fr. Piovesan when he joined St. Michael's School Teaching Science. He was a scholastic, and was in- charge of the Small Boys in the Boarding House. My late brother, Ronald, was one of them.May his soul rest in peace.

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  • Sunil D'Souza, Mumbai / Mangalore

    Thu, Jan 9 2014

    I know some non-christian senior citizens who were very much appreciative and thankful to these batches of white priests who arrived from Italy. So I guess these Fathers may have done really a great amount of social work way back since 1900's.

    May God grant him eternal peace.

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  • Fr. Vincent Mewnezes, Cascia

    Thu, Jan 9 2014

    Fr. Victor Piovesan was indeed a great theologian, all round professor teaching theology, even the scriptures, church history, etc. Above all he was a holy, exemplar professor. Always approachable and very kind. Fr. Piovesan may the Lord reward you abundantly for the sacrifices you endured in molding future priests. I can never, ever forget your lovely classes and spiritual talks. Thank you and bless me from heaven.-Fr. Vincent Menezes, Cascia.

    Reply Report Abuse

  • Milton Jacob, Kerala/Rome

    Thu, Jan 9 2014

    I feel blessed to be his student. I have fond memories of this great man with his up-to-date knowledge on any theological subjects, vast reading, gentleness, compassion during confession, and love for my diocese (Calicut). May his soul rest in peace!

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  • Sr. Prabha D' Souza, Brahmavar

    Thu, Jan 9 2014

    may your soul rest in peace. I am indeed grateful for your exemplary and affectionate person to me and for many,please pray for me

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  • Apolinaris D'Souza, Valencia/Muscat

    Thu, Jan 9 2014

    Fr. Piovesan is a wonderful priest. kind, soft spoken and always smiling, always helpful. Used to meet him regularly when i used to visit St. Joseph's seminary in the late 70's and then. May his soul rest in peace.

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  • Fr.Raymond Santhanaz ocd, Mangalore - Tanzania

    Thu, Jan 9 2014

    Death of Fr. Piovesan ends the story of a great generation. He has inspired many great souls, so he will live for ever in the lives of thousands of people of India. May his soul rest in peace!!!

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  • Claudius Pais, Jeppu/Vancouver

    Thu, Jan 9 2014

    I had the privilege of meeting Fr. Piovesean at St. Joseph's Seminary when he arrived there in 1979. He was devout priest and he taught me a few Italian words which I still use whenever I meet Italians. I have fond memories of him. It is nice to know that he could celebrate Mass in Malayalam. He was very polite, gentle, caring and loving towards others in his dealings. May the good Lord, grant Fr. Piovesean eternal salvation and may his soul rest in peace is my only prayer.

    Reply Report Abuse

  • McQueen, mangalore

    Thu, Jan 9 2014

    i had the privilege of treating the teeth of this great soul, when i was at Fr Mullers. Eternal rest grant unto him o Lord.

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  • Sr Angeline Sequeira, Belthangady

    Wed, Jan 8 2014

    may your soul rest in peace. I am indeed grateful for your exemplary and affectionate person to me and for many,please pray for me

    Reply Report Abuse

  • Fr A. S Anand, kottar

    Wed, Jan 8 2014

    I am so proud to say that I am both his student and his disciple. He is the grammar of Priesthood.I am sure he is in paradise interceding for us.

    Reply Report Abuse

  • Fr Anil Lobo, mangalore

    Wed, Jan 8 2014

    Fr Piovesan was my professor @ St Joseph Seminary Jeppu,Mangalore. His life has been a great inspiration for me.May the good Lord grant him eternal reward.

    Reply Report Abuse

  • RAM , Mangalore / Bahrain

    Wed, Jan 8 2014

    What a GREAT contribution to Mangalore as well as India..from the Jesuits

    May his soul R. I. P.

    Reply Report Abuse

  • Alwin, mangalore

    Wed, Jan 8 2014

    May his soul RIP.

    Reply Report Abuse

  • Hubert D'souza, Mangalore Dubai

    Wed, Jan 8 2014

    May his soul rest in peace(RIP)God give him GIFT to serve his goodness.

    Reply Report Abuse

  • zulfi, dubai

    Wed, Jan 8 2014

    great work done, may allah reward u for that,

    Reply Report Abuse

  • Gerald Dsouza, Riyadh.

    Wed, Jan 8 2014

    Thank you father for your dedication.May his soul rest in peace..

    Reply Report Abuse

  • M.P. RODRIGUES, MANGALORE

    Wed, Jan 8 2014

    People like Fr. Piovesan continue living in the memories of his admirers and I am one of them. He was erudite yet humble, pious yet practical and was ahead of his times. May the good Lord reward his selfless and dedicated service.
    - Paul, Jessy and family

    Reply Report Abuse

  • PSKpinto, Mangalore,Canada

    Wed, Jan 8 2014

    I had met him few occasions this gentle, humble and simple person. Great missionary. May his soul rest in peace.

    Reply Report Abuse

  • T.S.Thomas, Mangalore, Kabul

    Wed, Jan 8 2014

    R.I.P. He was a great man with a clear vision and mission, an outrageous Jesuit who spoke with conviction. As a journalist, I had an opportunity to interview him once on 'Catholic priesthood'.

    Reply Report Abuse

  • William, Bantwal

    Wed, Jan 8 2014

    May his soul rest in peace, Amen. Thanks a lot for his dedication and social work which has given us so much education.

    Reply Report Abuse

  • Maxim Lobo, Bangalore

    Wed, Jan 8 2014

    I have fond memories of Fr. Piovesan whose classes have had a great impact on my overall learning in life. While I thoroughly enjoyed his classes, his profound knowledge in various disciplines of theology, his insatiable thirst for updating himself and his simplicity have endeared him to his admirers like me. I have no doubt how he must have delighted at the elevation and the functioning of the current Pope Francis. Goodbye Padre Pio...

    Reply Report Abuse

  • RTN MICHAEL MATHIAS SHIRVA ROTARY, PILAR SHIRVA

    Wed, Jan 8 2014

    May his soul rest in peace.

    Reply Report Abuse

  • Fr Joachim fernandes, Kelarai

    Wed, Jan 8 2014

    Fr.Pio was my spiritual guide for several years. He inspired me with his able and apt guidance. he encouraged me to write articles and read many a books. He knew the nerves of the students and encouraged them accordingly. I lived with him for several years and savored his company. May he rest in peace.

    Reply Report Abuse

  • Fr Philip Roque, Karwar

    Wed, Jan 8 2014


    Dear Fr Pio,Thank You for your Love, care and service to us your beloved students at St Joseph's Seminary. You guided me in spirituality and helped me to ascend the altar of God. Thank you Father for what you have been to me.May you be rewarded by God for the same.May your Soul 'Rest in Peace'. Pray for me in Heaven.

    Reply Report Abuse

  • WILSON, Udupi / Muscat

    Wed, Jan 8 2014

    MAY HIS SOUL REST IN PEACE.
    THANKS FOR THE CONTRIBUTION IN MANGALORE IN SEVERAL THINGS

    Reply Report Abuse

  • Dr. Sudhama Ananda, Mangalore/New Jersey, USA

    Wed, Jan 8 2014

    Fr. Pio was a great ecumenist. Fr. Pio was on the utive Committee of the Mangalore Christian Council when I was its Secretary and he fostered ecumenism in Mangalore. Being gentle and loving, Fr. Pio was a humble servant of God.
    May Fr. Pio have eternal life in the Holy Presence of Jesus Christ.

    Reply Report Abuse

  • Stan Rodrigues, Agrar/Italia

    Wed, Jan 8 2014

    Just in the month of august I had the privilege of meeting Fr. Piovesan in their Jesuit house in Gallarate. And he was fairly in good health and in jovial spirit. He recollected his fond memories about his teaching career and his love for Mangalore. I still remember the last words he spoke to me: “we are all useful in so far as we are fit to do our jobs, ones we are bedridden our health begins to fail and that is the end of our journey here on earth”. Yes Fr. Piovesan you are absolutely right and now you have terminated your journey here on eath. Thank you for everything and may you enjoy Eternal bliss with the Lord.

    Reply Report Abuse

  • THERESA LOBO, Mukamar-Sharjah

    Wed, Jan 8 2014

    May his soul Rest in peace in Heaven.

    Reply Report Abuse

  • SM, Mangalore

    Wed, Jan 8 2014

    Dear Father ,

    Thank You for your service to the people of Mangalore and May you be rewarded by God for the same.May your Soul 'Rest in Peace'. Pray for us in Heaven and for Peace & Harmony in the beautiful Coastal area of Mangalore between all faiths.

    Reply Report Abuse

  • Naveen Frank, Mangalore/Sharjah

    Wed, Jan 8 2014

    Anyone who has come across Fr Victor Piovesan will agree that he was a pious and a holy priest. Almost coincidentally, Kerala Jesuits also lost another Missionary pioneer from Italy, Fr Linus Maria Zucol S.J. ( 97) on 06th January at Calicut.
    The Italian Jesuits have been exemplary missionaries in the erstwhile Mysore State. Great priests and Jesuit coadjutor Brothers left their countries and made India their home, living with the locals, studying our languages and culture. The Karnataka Jesuit Province had some great Italian stalwarts. Br John Germaick, Br Andrew Morosin, Br Ruben Calligero, Br Siminetto, Br Maganza are some of those I vividly remember from my days.
    In the passing away of Fr Piovisan, we have lost a good priest, a dedicated Jesuit and a wonderful human being. The Mangalorean community in particular owe a lot to these pioneering Jesuit missionaries who chose to remain with us. May his soul rest in peace.

    Thankyou JB Monteiro for highlighting the life and times of Fr Piovesan.

    Reply Report Abuse

  • FR FELIX MONTEIRO, BADYAR, MANGALORE

    Wed, Jan 8 2014

    Thank you daijiworld and thank you Mr John Monteiro for the information and details of the sad demise of my favorite guru Rev. Fr Victor Piovesan, who taught me at St Joseph Seminary Jeppu. He was a priest after the model of Melchizedek in the old testament. Fr Piovesan was a great teacher, guide, philosopher, theologian, scholar and down to earth, humble, simple and Godly person. He was known as walking encyclopedia.He was my role model. He will remain as a history to St Joseph's seminary and all his pupils. May his soul rest in peace.

    Reply Report Abuse

  • Sr. Lydia A.C. , St. Agnes Convent, Mangalore - 575 002

    Wed, Jan 8 2014

    Dear Fr. Piovesan,
    You were my guide and mentor from my Novitiate days. I am always grateful to you for it. The Invitation of the Centenary of St. Agnes Convent with my personal note probably would have just reached your address when we heard the sad news about your passing away. May your place in heaven be special and do send down God's blessings on all the people of Mangalore who have benefited from your self-sacrificing life. Sr. Lydia A.C.

    Reply Report Abuse

  • Vincent Rodrigues, Katapadi/Bangalore

    Wed, Jan 8 2014

    Sad to know that the last Italian Jesuit in Mangalore dies in his homeland.May his soul rest in heaven with eternal peace.Thanq.

    Reply Report Abuse

  • Praveen Fernandes, Mangalore/Dubai

    Wed, Jan 8 2014

    RIP

    Reply Report Abuse

  • Fr. Archie Gonsalves, ocd, Bangalore

    Wed, Jan 8 2014

    We your students fondly remember your thoughtfulness provoking insights leading us to in depth theological discussions on various current topics of interest. As a true missionary, you have shaped many broad minded, versatile theologians all through the length and breadth of India. The Church in India remains ever grateful to you for your undaunted courage and selfless service. Your ardent love for the poor expressed in your "Option for the poor," and your inclusive "Ecumenical" approach shaped us your students in line with the II Vatican Council. May your soul rest in peace and we your students in India commit ourselves to this cause that you held always close to your heart.

    Reply Report Abuse

  • Janet fernandes, Dubai / Mangalore

    Wed, Jan 8 2014

    Dear Father,

    Thanks for the dedication, GOD ONLY KNOWS THE DEPTH OF YOUR JOURNEY, DEFINATLY, YOU WILL BE IN HEAVEN, PRAY FOR ALL THE POOR SOUL DOWN !!! JANET

    Reply Report Abuse

  • Joe Gonsalves, Mangalore

    Wed, Jan 8 2014

    It was my pleasure to know Father Victor Piovesan S.J. Personally. He was a very outspoken person who did not mince words.

    I saw him once at The Police Office where he had gone for police clearance to renew his visa and I recall accompanying him to the The Supt. of police to help him. He remembered this small act of service. I was present at the send of accorded to him at The Retreat House when he was quite emotional.

    He helped several seminarians during their formative years.

    I am glad that John Monteiro has paid due tribute to this worthy Jesuit.

    Joe Gonsalves

    Reply Report Abuse

  • Priya Das, Karkala / Mumbai

    Wed, Jan 8 2014

    God may grant eternal peace to the soul of Fr. Victor Piovesan. We praise you dear Fr. Piovesan, for the selfless service you have rendered to all of us ...

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  • HENRY MISQUITH, Bahrain

    Wed, Jan 8 2014

    RIP Father Victor. You will be missed by many.

    Reply Report Abuse

  • Hindustani, Manipal/Dubai

    Wed, Jan 8 2014

    RIP!

    Reply Report Abuse

  • CYRIL MASCARENHAS, KIREM/MIRA ROAD/DUBAI

    Wed, Jan 8 2014

    GOD MAY GRANT HIM ETERNAL REST..AMEN..

    Reply Report Abuse

  • Vashal, Mangalore

    Wed, Jan 8 2014

    May his soul RIP.

    Reply Report Abuse

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