Fr. Francis Britto was born in Chinna Dharapuram, Tamil Nadu, in 1947. He entered the Society for the Madurai Province at Beschi College, Dindigul, in 1964. After his First Vows and Juniorate studies there, he did his B.Sc. Mathematics at Loyola College, Chennai, and an integrated Philosophy-Theology course at Sacred Heart College, Shembaganur, for two years, and another year at De Nobili College, Pune, after which he was missioned to Japan, where he arrived in 1973. After two years studying the Japanese language in Kamakura (1973-75), he taught conversational English at Sophia University, Tokyo, for two years (1975-77), during which time he also gave some lectures on Indian philosophy in the International Division. Another two years (1977-79) were spent studying Sociolinguistics at Georgetown University, U.S.A. He returned to Japan to complete his Theology at Kamishakujii, Tokyo (1979-82), and after his ordination to the priesthood, went back to Georgetown and got his doctoral degree in Sociolinguistics (1985).
Then began 31 years of teaching Linguistics in Sophia University and serving as a visiting scholar at foreign universities. Fr. Felix Lobo, in a reference letter given to Fr. Francis Britto, writes: “He is endowed with a very keen mind, an extraordinary gift for languages, an intellectual potential to do original and independent research, and a great ability to express himself both in speech and in writing.”
On his return flight to Japan from a conference presentation and talks to Jesuits in Croatia in March 2017, he suffered a disabling stroke. He had to move into Loyola House for Long-Term Health Care, Kamishakujii. In the latter months of 2020, Francis suffered repeated minor strokes, was bedridden, and eventually lost consciousness. He was summoned very quietly by the Lord on 5th January 2023. May the Lord grant his humble servant eternal rest!
Robert Chiesa, SJ