Fr. Jose Javier Aizpun, (Gujarat Province but transcribed to the Argentina-Uruguay Province), was called to eternal life on Good Friday (April 10) at the ripe age of ninety. He was a Jesuit for 72 years and a priest for 59 years.
Joe (as he was fondly called) held several responsible positions in the Society. These included Novice Master, Provincial Superior of Gujarat, Director of Sadhana, Tertian Instructor, General Councillor and the Delegate for Formation in Rome. However, his forte was as Spiritual Father and Retreat Director – a ministry he did till the very end. Joe was a man of prayer; he radiated this throughout his life. He was Novice Master when the reforms of Vatican II were sweeping the Church. In keeping with the signs of the times, he stopped the study of Latin in the novitiate and was also a strong advocate in ensuring that the novitiate moved from the seclusion of Mount Abu to the hustle and bustle of Ahmedabad. He made sure that the novices imbibed the spirit of the Society in the changed circumstances and in the spirit of Vatican II. His novices loved him and several of them kept in close touch with him over the years. On hearing of his death one of them wrote: “for me a light has gone out.”
On April 1, just about eight days before his death, Joe sent an email to one of his friends: “I go out for Sunday Mass, I give an occasional retreat, and a number of diocesan priests (very good fellows and very good priests) come for a bit of spiritual direction. And quite often I´m called for confessions of people in the surrounding area. For the rest in my room, reading, seeing movies, writing and praying.”
Joe was a man for others who had fully imbibed the spirit of the Society and went out of his way to ensure that the basic charism of the Society is applied and made relevant, according to the changing contexts. In his death the Universal Society has lost a stalwart!
- Gujarat Jesuit Samachar