Fr. Lawrence Pinto was born on 20th April, 1933, the youngest among six children. After graduating from St Aloysius College, he joined the Society of Jesus on 1st July 1955; he did his novitiate at Christ Hall, Calicut, his philosophy in Shembaganur and his theology in Kurseong. He was ordained on 29th March, 1967; he made his final profession on 15th August, 1972, and passed away on 16th December 2021.
A simple, soft-spoken and down-to-earth person, Fr. Lawrence Pinto’s primary ministry was education; but it was education with a difference. Whether it was in urban or rural institutions, his main concern was to form women and men for others who would, in their turn, reach out to large groups of deprived and neglected people.
Even after retirement, Fr. Lawrence’s zeal for humanitarian work continued unabated. He devoted the next 15 years of his life to pioneering work among the tribals of Mundgod. For the children of these tribals he built a school and provided residential facilities in the town. Among the tribals, he had a preferential love for the Siddis, ethnically of African origin. His distinctive contribution to education of the rural poor was the integration of formal instruction with practical skills in carpentry, electrical wiring, computer education, tailoring, etc., skills that would come handy when children returned to their communities. He made sure that the tribal talent for sports and games, and for music and dancing, were given due importance in education.
With the demise of Fr. Lawrence, Karnataka Jesuit Province has lost a great lover of the poor, a pioneer in the field of education, and a simple and compassionate human being. Even in death, he was selfless. He has pledged his body to science and donated his mortal remains to Fr. Muller’s Charitable Institutions, Mangaluru.
Francis Menezes, SJ