18 Aug. One if finest Jesuits, an ever-smiling priest, Fr Ronnie Prabhu (75) died this evening at St Philomena’s Hospital, Bangalore. He was 75.
Fr Ronnie’s original name was Ronald T Noronha. After his initial education at St Aloysius College (SAC) school, he joined the Society of Jesus to be a priest. After his ordination to priesthood, he was always in much demand – as a Jesuit superior and director of works.
He was Rector of St Aloysius College from 1980-86. That is when I -as a little boy at SAC- took his interview for our College wall magazine. Later he was Rector at Mount St Joseph, on Bannerghatta Road, Bangalore (1986-1992. That was followed by his stint as Rector at St Josephs College (1992-98), and in 1998, he was Provincial superior of the Karnataka Jesuit Province. As Provincial, he was ex-officio President of Karnataka Jesuit Educational Society, and all other Jesuit Educational Societies like MJES, BJES, etc.
Fr Ronnie had a smile every minute of his life. People called him “Smiling Father”, ‘smiling Jesuit’. When he was elected Provincial, many remarked, ‘Karnataka Province needed some fresh air, but now they a tornedo!’
During his scholastic days (before his ordination), Fr Ronnie did his M.A. in Indology (Sanskrit) from Karnataka University, Dharwad, and secured a gold medal.
As a priest inter-religious dialogue and harmony meetings were his special charisms. He would impress on anyone on his very firsts meeting, on first sight. In fact, when he was diagnosed with cancer a few months ago, his Inter-religious harmony movement friend Dr Thimmappa Hegde from NIMHANS (currently Devi Shetty Hrudayalaya – heart care foundation) cried inconsolably!
Fr Ronnie, probably, the best and the finest Jesuit superior I ever had (probably only Fr Terence Farias comes somewhere closer to him in his stature and integrity). He never looked at people’s faults or failures; he saw the heart and its intentions. I wonder where that warmth in him came from ! That profound spiritual energy! And he radiated it so spontaneously!
When he was at St Josephs College, the Boys High Boys would come to his room, in hundreds for his special “blessings”, just before their class. He would bend them forward and very gently punch them, and the boys, would thank him and rush to begin their academic day! It continued day after day!
Fr Ronnie was recently nominated for the IIPP Award for ‘Outstanding Community Leaders of Mangaluru’ , for his outstanding contribution to Inter Religious Dialogue among all faiths, which he was to receive sometime this year.
His confrers, friends, and family will bid him their final goodbye at a Mass to be celebrated on 20 Aug. 2015, at 9.00 a.m. at St Joseph’s Boys’ High, and the procession would proceed to Mount St Joseph, along Bannerghatta Road.
Fr Ronnie, I will miss you. Not just we. Rest in peace.