In the late 60s, some Bombay Jesuits volunteered to work as missionaries in Guyana, South America. Louis Menezes was one of these.
During the twenty years (1971 to 1993) he spent in that beautiful, tragic country, Louis moved from parish to parish, preaching, organizing, inspiring, healing and helping, as most pastors do. He put in many years ministering to an indigenous people, the Warao, living along the Orinoco River. So closely did Louis identify with them that he even published a dictionary in their language, with an accompanying grammar.
Mission was Louis’s overwhelming preoccupation, and it broke his heart to have to return to India in 1993. This had become sadly inevitable, however, for the privations in Guyana broke his health, both physically and emotionally.
At St. Mary’s Mazagaon and St. Xavier’s, Fort, Louis re-organized the library, tutored the scholastics and translated Lakshmibai Tilak’s Smriti Chitre, subsequently published by Katha (1998). For years he served unostentatiously as a proof-reader and book-editor for numerous publications of GSP, Anand. In 2003, he published One Day at a Time, a diary of his twenty years in Guyana, written with great tenderness and transparency, and interwoven with a number of his poems. It is truly the “diary of a country priest” for today.
Louis had chosen as his priestly motto those words of St Paul, “to spend and be spent in the service of God’s people”. God took him at his word. The dedication of such men and their total availability for mission, tell us that we are in the presence of a grace-filled life. All that remains for us is to echo those words from the Gospel, “Well done, good and faithful servant, Louis. Enter now into the joy of the Lord!”
- Myron Pereira, SJ