Alphonsus Benedict D’Souza was born in Bajpe near Mangalore on 13th Feb, 1941. He grew up with nine siblings in an atmosphere of love and care in a devout family. He did his early education in the parish school and joined the Jesuits of Karnataka Province in 1957. There was no looking back. The young man did brilliantly in his studies and was ordained a priest in March 1971.
He walked into St. Aloysius College, Mangalore, in 1972 and set up the Department of Sociology. He remained there till 1995 encouraging and challenging young minds. He felt the pulse of the students and the anxieties of the new lecturers. He was a friend to all. During this period he did his doctoral studies from D-School in Delhi University.
In 1995 a ‘call within a call’ and ‘his restlessness’ to do more brought him to the North-East to work in the Kohima Jesuit Region. He was one of the architects of the young St. Joseph’s College, Jakhama, Nagaland. He encouraged research and intellectual vigour both as a Professor and twice, during crisis moments, when he stepped in as the Principal. Scores of his students ended up doing research and gaining PhDs thanks to the encouragement, vision and guidance he provided them.
Alphonsus was also appointed Rector at Loyola School, Jakhama and St. Paul’s, Phesama, Nagaland. During this time he got into serious writing. He co-authored text books in Sociology with two other scholars for the Nagaland Board and Nagaland University. His book on forest conservation among the Angami of Nagaland is much acclaimed. He did a pioneering study on ‘Tribal Learning Systems’.
In 2009 he was sent to support and strengthen the Jesuit-run North Eastern Social Research Centre in Guwahati. He remained there till the end, surrounded by scholars and heaps of books churning out ideas and challenging young University scholars.
Wherever Alphonsus went, it was like the Sistine Chapel heralding the good news with white smoke. He was generous with his time and energy. He loved to celebrate life, though he did not want to be in the limelight. He encouraged others to blossom. On 6th September, 2019, the fire was doused and the white smoke was taken up into heaven.
- Hector D’ Souza, SJ