Ms. Candice says, “It was back in 2000 that I met Fr Cyril Desbruslais, SJ, a charismatic yet simple Jesuit. Little did I know that he would become a friend, philosopher and guide to me and my family. I was part of the SSU, which organized public speaking events and plays. What inspired me to know him better was his passion for the young. He could connect with young people, irrespective of their religions and belief systems. Moreover, he would respect and inspire others in the group to respect each other.

“He was different from the other priests. A simple yet striking difference was that he would ask us to chuck the honorary title ‘Father’ when addressing him. It made an impression on me. While many priests held on to the ‘titles,’ here was one Jesuit giving up his so-called ‘right’ to be called ‘Father.’ He made it a point to get down to us and help us ascend.

“The best time for interactions was during drama practices. The scripts he would write or choose to direct were terrific. It would subtly but firmly highlight the Ignatian values of Cura Personalis, Magis and Social Concern. He was so creative that his radical ideas always dumbfounded us. He was, in short, ‘different.’ And I came to like the ‘different.’ He inspires me to be different as an educator at St Vincent’s High School in Pune.

“Years have passed, and I am no longer the youth I was back then. But the values I learned then have stayed with me. I wouldn’t have grown if not for all the events that I was part of. I have worked with Jesuits for a long time now. Your hallmark is to be creative in whatever you do. In addition, you also need to encourage creativity from your collaborators and other stakeholders. If you fail to be creative and encourage creativity in your institutions, you miss an opportunity to accompany the young. Our creative efforts might make this world safer for everyone to co-exist.”

Ms Candice Pandit teaches at St Vincent’s High School, Pune. Without Cyril’s creative efforts, Ms Candice wouldn’t have found a safe community at SSU. Fr Cyril Desbruslais is a Jesuit of Pune province. He is a renowned Professor of Philosophy and a public intellectual. He founded ‘Searching and Service in Unity’ (SSU) in 1971 to help the young. He has written and directed plays that tackle subjects including but not limited to nuclear disarmament, globalisation, terrorism, consumerism and religious dogma. Through his involvement in theatre, he has demonstrated that creative endeavours can help build a loving community of diverse individuals passionate about improving the world.