Fr George Gispert-Sauch was a well acknowledged theologian, Sanskritist and Indologist, ever willing to mentor and to accompany young aspirants. He even stayed with a group of theologians living for a while in an Old Delhi slum.
Born in Spain, he joined the Society in Veruela, and sailed for Bombay as a Junior, more than 70 years ago. He studied at St Xavier’s College, specialising in Sanskrit. After his theology in Kurseong, he was assigned there. An invaluable mentor, accompanying guide and inspiration, always supportive and encouraging, Gispert could vibe with most discourses, without compromising his intellectual integrity.
Most intellectuals generally understand you in their terms of reference, and respond to you from within their perspective. Gispert would try the opposite, namely, entering into your frame of reference and meeting you there for a dialogue. Most intellectuals have too much ego to be so open to the others’ ideas. Gispert had no such issues. For him the Jesuit intellectual enterprise was committed to the Kingdom, not some petty gain for oneself.
With his guidance, the Vidyajyoti Journal of Theological Reflection saw a quantum leap in quality. As librarian, he knew every book in the library, and where it was placed and on which shelf. He worked all day in his room, cluttered with papers. But he could always find what he wanted, with ease. ‘l’ll always remember something Gispert said to me when I was too critical of our colonial missionaries: Don’t rubbish these men; they gave their lives to the mission; though we may disagree with them, we must respect their heroic dedication.
His application for Indian citizenship was still in process when he passed away on the morning of 29th Jul 2020 at Vinayalaya. Jordi was a true Jesuit, after the heart of Ignatius, who wanted Jesuits to be men of solid virtue and solid learning.
- Rudi Heredia, SJ