//Fr. Jean Englebert, SJ (CCU) 1929-2021

Fr. Jean Englebert, SJ (CCU) 1929-2021

In January 2017, for health reasons, Fr Englebert decided to return to Belgium. There were several farewell functions at the Prabhu Gisur Girja where he had spent the largest part of his apostolic life. Above all, Jean (John) will be remembered as the liturgist. Not so much the master of ceremonies (that he was also), but the man who lovingly and painstakingly translated in Bengali, the liturgical texts and adapted them to the culture of Bengal. In the history of Jesuit missions there is a beautiful and long tradition of pastoral work and inculturation of the Christian faith. That is where Jean excelled.

Born in Liège (Belgium), Jean did his studies in the Jesuit school of Namur and entered the Jesuit novitiate in 1948. Attracted by the Bengal Mission he did the so called ‘Indian Juniorate’ organized by Fr Johanns, veteran of the Bengal mission and Sanskrit scholar. He arrived in Calcutta in 1956. After theological studies in Kurseong Jean was ordained priest in March 1962. Even though entirely trained in the old tradition, spiritually and theologically, Jean entered enthusiastically into the spirit of Vatican II. He at once vibrated to the new understanding of the Church as primarily ‘People of God’. Pastorally – he was then vicar in the Bengali speaking St Teresa’s Parish of Calcutta. With dedication and competence he entered into these apostolic areas. And he started with the Bengali translation of liturgical texts, Christian prayers, hymns, and other documents needed for the training of a committed Catholic laity. For that matter he trained his own lay collaborators and gave a strong impulse to lay movements such as the CLCs.

That was the work of a lifetime.  And as he returned to Belgium, he took along with him all that he needed to carry on his liturgical work. That was not to be. Soon his health deteriorated. Jean died in his sleep on the 7th September 2021.

Etienne N. Degrez, SJ