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Rev Noel Sheth SJ RIP

The funeral took place at 4:00 PM, Wed, July 26, 2017, at Holy Family Church, Andheri, Mumbai.  His Eminence Oswald Cardinal Gracious was the main celebrant, assisted by Rev Fr Jose Thayil SJ,  Rector, Papal Seminary and Rev Fr Selva Rathinam SJ, President, Jnana-Deepa Vidyapeeth, and others. The Home of Love bids him farewell, with sweet memories and  joyful hope!

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Fr Noel Sheth SJ (31.10.1943-08.07.2017; July 7 at Columbia)

We are deeply sad that Fr Noel Sheth, former Rector of PS (28.07.1991-06.10.1994) is no more.   May God be with him. We got the shocking news that he died at Bogota, Columbia, and more details are awaited.  The body will be brought to Mumbai and honoured.

Papal Seminary offers a special mass for him on Monday, 10 July, 2017, at 7:00 PM, presided over by Rt Rev Dr Thomas Dabre, Bishop of Poona. All are invited!

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Rt Rev Bishop Thomas Dabre presided the Eucharist in honour of Fr Noel Sheth and called him a “real Jesuit.” He spoke of his scholarly commitment and administrative ability.  Bishop Dabre described him as a  close friend and collaborater in the area of inter-religious dialouge.

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Noel speaking on the last day of his life, July 7,  2018 at Colombia

His Last Day

“Fr. Sheth was participating in the V World Congress of COMIUCAP here in Bogotá. He delivered his excellent paper; he delivered excellent comments to papers and keynote addresses by others. His mind was as always. But since the beginning I had the impression that he felt rather tired and was not so strong as I knew he was 3 years ago. On the evening of July 7, after the General Assembly of COMIUCAP, where I was reelected and so he came to congratulate me, I felt that his hand was unusually cold, even if his words were as warm as ever towards me. I felt something unusual. But not more than that.

After the General Assembly, where he, as always, participated actively (sadly not representing JDV for a lack of communication), he went home to the House of the Dominicans, where he was staying. They treated him very well. I was surprised that he was not in the LECTIO FINALIS and the Closing of the Congress. He also was not present in the final banquet.

At around 10PM I got the sad news about his death. I immediately contacted the Province of Colombia in order to get the contacts of Fr. Provincial in India. It was not easy since the phone numbers were either deactivated or directing me to the United States. Finally I could leave a message in a phone that I believe was the cellular from the Provincial superior in Mumbai. I also called a Fr. Da Silva in the same city. He promised to pass the word as necessary. Then I went to the convent of the Dominicans. There I met the Superior of the Convent, an outstanding man of manners and generosity. I also met there Ms. Miranda and her husband. She told me that she had another Jesuit in the family and that she had conveyed the message to India as well.

The official declaration about the causes of death are not yet known, I believe. From what I saw, the facts are: Fr. Noel fell on the stairs coming from the first floor of the house to the ground floor. The fall was horrible. I did not see the body since when I arrived the Colombian authorities had already removed the body to the Legal Institute for the autopsy and all the rest that must legally happen in such situations. But I was told that the pool of blood was immense and that his face and head was severely disfigured. My hypothesis is this: before going to sleep he wanted to meet some of the students that helped him during his stay with some practicalities. He never made it to the students. I assume that he had a stroke or something similar and so felled down the stairs without any resistance. He was face down. No signs of resisting the fall. Hence the terrible injuries to the head that he suffered. Indeed, I tend to believe that we was unconscious when he felled. But this is just my theory. The authorities might say that the case was something different. I might have laid faced down on his own blood for about 20 minutes before he was discovered. If my theory is true, he did not suffer as much as the scene was indicating.”                                                         (From Joao Vila-Cha, SJ, President, COMIUCAP)

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[Noel] was living with the Dominicans in order to be close to the venue. The organizers had put me in another place. I felt terribly bad when I was helpless after I received the news. I was already due to be on the move. Fr. Vila-Cha told me that the Jesuits were attending to what was required. I heard that the body had to go through some medical verification.

Fr. Sheth did not look sick all, though slightly weak. His talk on Mahatma Gandhi was greatly appreciated, as also all his interventions in the groups and in the general sessions. In fact he sat close to me for nearly all the sessions. We were the only two Indians in the Assembly.

Apart from the great work he has done holding many high responsibilities, I admired his wide knowledge, openness of mind, and breath of vision. We were planning to keep in touch with each other and collaborate. All the more, his sudden departure was a very great shock for me, and in fact for all of us. Even more, because he was ten years younger to me.

My sincerest condolences to you, to all the Jesuit communities, and all those who were close to Fr. Noel Sheth.

(From + Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil’s letter)

Brief Biodata

Noel Sheth, S.J. currently teaches at St. Xavier’s College (Autonomous), Mumbai, and works in its Heras Research Institute. He is a former President (Principal) of Jnana-Deepa Vidyapeeth, Pontifical Institute of Philosophy and Religion, Pune, India, where he has taught for more than thirty-five years. He was the  former Rector of Papal Seminary.

He holds a doctorate from Harvard University, is a reputed scholar in Sanskrit and Pali, and his name is in the Who’s Who of Sanskrit Scholars of India. He was the Convener of the History of Religion Section of the 14th World Sanskrit Conference held in Kyoto, Japan. He has been awarded numerous scholarships and prizes. An important award is the “Dr. Sam Higginbottom Award for the Best Principals of India, 2004-2005.”

He has published widely in India and abroad on Sanskrit and Pali exegesis and on comparative philosophy and theology, and has taught different Indian religions and philosophies in many universities in various parts of the world. He is a member of several national and international learned bodies and international administrative bodies, and is on the Board of Editors of some international journals. He is an adviser to the Jesuit General for interreligious dialogue with Hinduism and a Member of the international Secretariat for Ecumenical and Inter-religious Relations for the worldwide Society of Jesus.

Noel Kantilal Sheth

 

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See also “Jesuit savant’s death mourned”

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