First Catholic bishop of West Bengal’s Baruipur Diocese dies

Bishop Linus Nirmal Gomes, a Jesuit, died early on Feb. 27, in Calcutta, India. He was 99 and was the oldest Catholic prelate in India.

Bishop Gomes spent his last seven years at St. Xavier’s College Jesuit community. He used to be chairman of Radio Veritas Asia’s Bengali service.

“He valued the communication ministry so much and propagated it among those he met,” said Father PeeJay Joseph, director of Chitrabani, the oldest media training institute in eastern India.

“All of us have listened and followed his words of wisdom,” said Father Joseph.

Bishop Gomes was born in the small village of Balidior under the St. Francis Xavier parish in Borogolla, in the district of Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Sept. 7, 1921.

He went to St. Thecla’s pre-primary school and the Bandura Holy Cross High School in Bangladesh.

He studied philosophy at Sacred Heart College in Kodaikanal in Tamilnadu from 1945 to 1948. He graduated in Bengali literature in 1949, completed regency in 1950-51 and studied Theology from 1952 to 1954.

He was ordained a priest together with 21 deacons at Kurseong by Archbishop Ferdinand Perier of Calcutta on Nov. 21, 1954.

After his ordination he was appointed assistant parish priest of St. Teresa parish, Calcutta.

Along with other Jesuit priests, he established the first Catholic Bengali medium school, St. Peter’s High School at Taltala, Calcutta, and became the first headmaster.

Pope St. Paul VI appointed him the first bishop of the newly formed diocese of Baruipur in 1977. He was ordained bishop by late Cardinal Lawrence Trevor Picachy on Nov. 19, 1977.

He served the nascent diocese of Baruipur for 18 years, nurturing and building it up from its inception. He retired on Oct. 31, 1995.

After his retirement, he was sent to Bangladesh in 1997 to support the Jesuit mission there where he remained for 18 years, rendering spiritual ministries to the Christian community and religious sisters at Monipuripara, Dhaka.

In 2014, he returned to India and lived at St. Xavier’s College Jesuit community in Calcutta.

“He was a man of God who was known for his humility, simplicity, love and compassion,” said Bishop Shyamal Bose of Baruipur.

“Our Bishop Linus had inspired many people by his simple life witness and his dedicated service,” said Father Raphael Hyde, provincial superior of the Jesuits in Calcutta.

“Anyone who met him would come back with peace and joy, an experience of meeting a spirit-filled person,” recalled the priest.

“His warm smile said it all about his interior joy and gratitude to God and to everyone he met,” he added.

By Nikhil Gomez/RVA News

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