Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Birthday of Fr Nelson tomorrow

Tomorrow, 30 September, is the birthday of Fr Nelson Falcao, our Parish Priest. Those who wish to do so may join in the Eucharist that he will celebrate at 7.00 p.m., Don Bosco Church. We will cut a cake and sing for them after mass.

Born in 1956 at Vasai, Fr Nelson turns 53 tomorrow. After his early schooling in the Marathi medium, he joined Don Bosco Lonavla, where he soon excelled in studies in the English medium. Having decided to join the Salesians, he made his novitiate at Yercaud in 1975-76 under Fr Anthony Mampra, SDB. After a year of philosophical studies at Yercaud, he was asked by the then provincial, Fr Tony D'Souza, to come over to Jnana Deepa Vidyapeeth, Pune, to continue studies there. In Pune he decided to begin philosophy studies all over again. After two years of the Bachelor's degree course, he went on to do the Master's degree in philosophy, under eminent professors such as Fr Richard De Smet, SJ, Fr Jean de Marneffe, SJ, Fr Gaspar Koelman, SJ, Fr Salvino Azzopardi SJ, Fr A. Sabino, SJ, Fr Subhash Anand, and Fr Cyril Desbruslais, SJ. He did his master's thesis on Bernard Lonergan's philosophy of knowing, and went on to publish this thesis as a book ('Knowing' according to Bernard Lonergan). While in his second year of MPh, he was appointed 'assistant' to the newly initiated BPh course (Divyadaan) at Don Bosco Youth Centre, Pune. He did another year of regency at Divyadaan Pune before going on for a third year at Dominic Savio, Andheri, where Fr Orville Coutinho was Rector.

For his theology, Fr Nelson was sent to the Salesian Pontifical University, Rome. He had the privilege of being ordained by Pope John Paul II in Rome on 21 June 1987. He went on to do a master's degree in theology. Upon his return to India, he was assigned to teach theology at Kristu Jyoti College, Bangalore. After a couple of years engaged in such teaching, he was appointed Parish Priest in Ahmednagar, where he was instrumental in dividing the St John's Parish, Bhingar, into three entities, giving rise to the two new parishes of St Ann's and Don Bosco Savedi.

Eventually Fr Nelson was given time to pursue a PhD in theology, which he initiated at JDV, Pune. He chose to study the Khristapurana of Fr Thomas Stephens, SJ, a Marathi life of Christ written in verse by the first English Jesuit, and one of the first Englishmen, to set foot in India. Fr Nelson, working under the guidance of the renowned scholar Fr Francis de Sa, SJ, completed his work and had it published by Gujarat Sahitya Prakash, Anand. Fr de Sa had high praise for the work: in the future, he said, whenever we speak of inculturation, we will have to speak not only of De Nobili, but also of Thomas Stephens; and with the name of Thomas Stephens, the name of Nelson Falcao will forever be bound.

Fr Nelson spent the years after his doctorate preparing two translations of the Khristapurana, one in contemporary Marathi, and the other in English. The present birthday is a very significant one, seeing that he has the joy of having his Marathi translation of finally in print, after at least 5 years of hard work.

The book is due to be released on 1 October 2009 at Provincial House, Matunga, during the first session of the Provincial Chapter. Another release is being planned at the Nashik level at the Sarvajanik Vachanalaya some time in November.

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