For me, Fr. Joe Velinkar’s, life had three strong dimensions. Dr. Joseph Velinkar the Scholar, Prof. Velinkar the teacher, and Fr. Joe the pastor. He was 93 years old and 77 years a Jesuit.
Quite often, I would see Velinkar, in his 80s, sitting in front of the computer for hours with books and notes spread around him. Velinkar produced 6 books and countless articles in the field of history. He had an admirable work ethic and was committed to research.
Velinkar the teacher, was known both for his strictness and compassion. He would push his students to do well, not tolerate any laziness or lack of punctuality, but if they were ill or in need of special care, he would even visit their homes to teach them! He taught mostly in two places – St. Xavier’s College, Fort, Mumbai and Gonzalo Garcia College, Papdy. He was Principal at Gonzalo Garcia in its infancy (1985-95) and helped it build its deep foundations.
As a priest, Fr. Joe enjoyed celebrating the Eucharist and visiting his parishioners. Besides working in Manickpur and Papdy parishes while he helped at Gonzalo Garcia college, every summer he would take off to the U.S. to substitute priests who were going for their holidays.
I always wondered what drove him to do such a lot of rigorous work on the history of the Portuguese encounter with India. I realised that Joe wanted every Indian with a Portuguese history to accept and incorporate this into their identity with a sense of pride albeit with a critical analysis of its positive and negative traces. His was thus a nationalism that opened itself to wider horizons, of an acceptance of pluralist influences that went beyond one’s narrow ghetto.– Trevor Miranda, SJ