We were privileged to witness and experience God’s mysterious plan in the extraordinary life of our beloved Fr. Stephen de Souza who peacefully commended his soul to the Lord on 2nd September, 2019. He was born on 2nd September 1939 – exactly 80 years ago! Many of his former students from St. Xavier’s College, Palayamkottai, and their families who had come to BeschiIllam to celebrate his 80th birthday were present at his funeral. After the coffin was lowered into the grave, spontaneously they burst into “Happy birthday to you” testifying to the close personal relationships he had with them.
Fr. Stephen had a one-year stint as a regent at St. Xavier’s College, Palayamkottai, where he taught Zoology. He returned in 1975 and served the institution in several capacities as Hostel Warden, Professor, Head of the Zoology Department and Principal for 21 years. Once he retired from there he volunteered to be a missionary in Australia. He served there in several parishes for about 17 years as associate pastor, pastor and resident priest. Fr. Mark Raper writes: “While I was Australian Provincial I had quite a lot to do with Stephen. Notably on one occasion I visited him in an aboriginal parish on an island in the Darwin Diocese… He talked charmingly and knowledgeably the whole time about food and plants. He was a gentle soul. He has many family members in Australia, especially in Darwin where his brother, a Diocesan priest, was incardinated.”
As his health deteriorated, Fr. Stephen returned to Palayamkottai in 2013. From 2015, he was at BeschiIllam, Dindigul, teaching the novices. May he rest in peace!
- Michael Doss, SJ