Jesuit who dreamt films dies at age 85

Father Gaston Roberge, father of film studios in India who had associated with Satyajit Ray and other top filmmakers in the world, died on Aug. 26 in Kolkata. He was 85.

“Father Gaston Roberge passed away at 8:20 this morning. He received communion in the morning and had breakfast. Peaceful passing away,” said a message from the headquarters of the Jesuit’s Calcutta province.

Father Roberge, a Canadian missionary, was leading a retired life in St. Xavier’s Infirmary attached to St. Xavier’s College in the capital city of West Bengal state.

The funeral Mass will be held at 11 am on Aug. 28 in St. Xavier’s College and burial at Dhyan Ashram, some 20 km away.

“A great communicator indeed. May his soul rest in peace,” said Father Cedric Prakash, a Jesuit social activist who has known Father Roberge for years.

“Father Gaston Roberge is a legend,” says an article in the Telegraph newspaper in Kolkata, the Jesuit’s base since his arrival in India in 1961.

In 1970 he setup Chitrabani (picture and word), the oldest media training institute in eastern India. It started as an extension service of St. Xavier’s College.

The Jesuit-turned-film academic from French-speaking Montreal used to live in a room in St. Xavier’s College that had his workstation, complete with a desktop computer and a printer, besides his bed.

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