Fr William Bourke, SJ, was born on May 28, 1925, in Halifax, Canada. After his graduate and post-graduate studies, he joined the Novitiate on September 7, 1948. After completing his Juniorate studies and Philosophy in Canada, he came to India in 1954. He was ordained a priest on March 18, 1959, at St Mary’s College, Kurseong.
He lived an illustrious and incredible Jesuit life. He was the Regional Superior of Darjeeling from 1974-1980. He was the Headmaster of St Peter’s School, Gayaganga, for twelve years, and of St Robert’s school, Darjeeling, for nine years. He worked as the Vicar General of Darjeeling Diocese for five years. He also did the work as the Socius to the Provincial for three years. He was the Province Archivist for twenty-six years. He meticulously maintained Province records and history.
He was an outstanding linguist and a prolific writer. He wrote several articles on the history of the Darjeeling Province. He established the Bellarmine Institute of Language in Darjeeling. He composed a Thesaurus, a book of Proverbs, and other books in Nepali. He was awarded ‘Madan Puraskar’ by the Government of Nepal for his contribution to Nepali language and literature. He translated many books of the Bible into Nepali and brought out several editions of the Bible in Nepali for the liturgical use of Darjeeling Diocese.
He kept remarkable health throughout his life till he had a brain stroke early September 2019. He died on September 29, at the age of 94 of which he spent 71 in the Society of Jesus. He was the last of the Canadian missionaries in the Darjeeling Province. He was the record keeper of the Society of Jesus in Darjeeling. May his soul rest in peace!
- Shajumon C.K, SJ