You Made a Difference – A Tribute to Monsignor Paul Cordeiro

 On the 20th of July, 2010 I called Monsignor Paul Cordeiro to greet him on his 87th Birthday. He replied in a feeble voice, “I am tired I can’t even sit”. Excusing myself, I quickly assured him “Surely I will be there tomorrow”. But that was not to be. For him tomorrow never came and for me it was a black tomorrow.

If inanimate objects could speak then the stories of this majestic Church, the wise old Banyan tree would give an unbiased testimony to Monsignor Cordeiro’s enduring contribution to our School and Parish He left his foot prints on the sands of time. The East Wing and West Wing of the Secondary School Building, the extensions to the Primary School Building, the boundary was of the playground and many more. The sisters of St. Joseph Convent and Sister of Missionaries of Charity will trace the roots of their establishment in Vile Parle to the efforts of Monsignor Cordeiro.

Monsignor Cordeiro was a man with a large heart of gold. Many a student including many present here were the beneficiaries of his generosity. Material aid in the form of freeships, books and other requirements were given not only at School but also for higher studies. He even arranged for their employment. Many a doctor, banker, lawyer, teacher, managing director rose to their top positions and are grateful to him.

So up-to-date was Monsignor Paul Cordeiro with his work that according to Mr. Pinto or ex-teacher, when Monsignor was transferred in 1974 by His Eminence Cardinal Gracias and asked “How many days do you need to submit your accounts?” he replied “One day”. He also said that Monsignor was a unifying factor and taught them loyalty to the School.

In spite of his failing health and advancing age Monsignor’s passion for books never abated. His favorite author was Henry Nouwen and he plugged on to an infinite source of the strength through his book ‘Bread for the Journey’ which was a common sight on this table. He had an infallible memory. He could remember names, nick names, places and incidents with precision.

I can proudly say Monsignor Cordeiro recruited me and I became a teacher because of him. I have the dual honour of being his student as well as his staff member here at St. Xavier’s Vile Parle. I pay tribute to him with these verses dedicated to him,

Lives of great men all remind us

We can make our lives sublime

And departing leave behind us,

Footprints’ on the sands of time

For the measure of greatness lies not in wealth or fame

But when in letters of gold we write his name.

When many shed tears and whisper “Thank you very much”

 

You made a difference. My Life You Touched.

 

Late Ms. Myra D’Souza

Ex-Student & Ex. Teacher

As I Remember

An Alumni Association of St. Xavier High School is a long felt need and I am happy that the students across last Seventy years are coming together to form this Association. Most of our students have done very well in their life. Many have occupied position of importance in various fields. Surely they have a feeling of gratitude towards their Alma Mater. Moreover, they are an inspiration for the younger generation who are always still preparing to take their rightful place in the Society. The School always feels proud that their students have distinguished themselves in life. What better way to repay the debt of the Institution than to be reconnected with it and to pass on their knowledge and expertise to present students.

Many of you will remember the physical growth of the School from three scattered places in the campus to one imposing building with a stone wall surrounding the campus. Many must have seen this growth taking place under the stewardship of late Fr. Paul Cordeiro. Nostalgic feelings of the house system must be strong in our hearts. How all competitions were organized House wise. You will certainly remember your classmates who excelled in debates, dramatics and sports and memories of school assembly and prefects who look charge of discipline will be refreshed when you get together.

Some of the teachers, who are now in their Heavenly abode, must have made their place in your heart. Miss Agnes Fonseca our English and French teacher, Miss Anne D’Souza, Mr. H D’Silva, Mr. B. J. Chaudhry, both science and maths master Mr. V. K. Iyer, the walking encyclopaedia, Mrs G. Munshy humble Mr. Ali Mirza, an Art Master and later Mr. Prabhakar Zope, Mrs. Sheila Pethe our science teacher, Ms. Asha Kalla who later became the principal of a teacher training institute, and Mrs. Sudha Manerikar must have all contributed something to make them remember with a tear and a prayer by different batches of old students.

It is that leader that shapes an Institution. We have had many of them with a vision or the welfare of the students. Each one contributed to the all-round growth of the school and students, according to their charisms. Fr. Paul Cordeiro, father figure to many. Fr. S. F. Dharmai, a kind man, thought a man of few words, Fr. Simon Borges who installed the intercom system for better communication. Fr. Peter Paul Fernandes, a kind, understanding and compassionate man who influenced many a life. Fr. Gregory Lobo, friendly, cool and charismatic. His views on education have not only changed the tone of the School but appreciated at various levels as reflected by his election as President of Headmasters Association. He was appointed by the Government to the SSC and HSC Board and several consultative committees. He was also given the Best Teacher’s Award by the State Government. We are fortunate to have had such leaders who took us to greater heights among the best educational institutions.

Once again, I congratulate and appreciate the past students for their initiative in establishing the Alumni Association of St. Xavier’s High School and Jr. College and wish them well. May you grow by leaps and bounds.

Mr. M. S. Pinto

Ex-Teacher

 

 

 

St. Xavier’s School my Alma Mater

Dear Fellow Xavierites,

I was requested to author a few words reflecting on my student days from a few decades past.  I approach the task with some trepidation because it is invariably said that setting aside time to reminisce about the days past is often the first signs of aging!  Quite frankly, I am not experiencing any overwhelming desire to hasten my journey along the temporal continuum of life.  Then again, when the request is from a former teacher who you greatly respect, the routine excuses to shy away from the task are difficult to advance.

Thus, as I let my mind wander nostalgically through the decade of the seventies when we experienced life as students in St. Xavier’s, it is difficult not to be impressed and consider ourselves blessed for those formative experiences.  While we certainly aspired to twist and pirouette when walking the corridors in school as John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever, posses our own light saber as Luke Skywalker, while also reciting dialogues from that magnum opus of our times – Sholay, my compatriots and I owe a deep sense of gratitude to the institution that has helped shape us to this day.  We were indeed fortunate that we had a strong cadre of teachers who worked hard to instill within us a strong work ethic, a spirit of perseverance, tolerance for differing viewpoints, a mutual respect for each other, and a sense of self-confidence, anchored by a strong moral compass and some old fashioned discipline.  Right from our days in kindergarten (BTW, and with all due respect to Robert Fulghum, I learned quite a few things beyond kindergarten!) through when we graduated as the Class of 1980, these individuals taught us to speak, read, think, analyze, synthesize, induce, deduce – skills that endure to this day.  I continue to marvel at the deep sense of professionalism that our teachers carried with them to school every day, as they strived to mould the clay that was us.  Many of these stalwarts have completed their journey on earth and moved on, but their contributions have left an indelible mark on most of us.

One of my most endearing memories of school was our daily recital of Tagore’s celebrated poem from Gitanjali.  His words very much encapsulated the heights that we were exhorted to achieve.  Have there been any words written that speak to self-confidence and courage more efficaciously than expressed by Where the Mind is Without Fear and the Head is Held High!   A characteristic that is particularly endearing to me about our school was the emphasis placed on both curricular as well as co- and extra-curricular activities.  Needless to say, the institution of the color-coded varsity groups and the assignment of students to one of these groups did promote some good-natured competitive spirit among the students.  I still recall the traditional rivalry that existed between the Blue and Red Houses during the decade of the 70s, which perhaps may explain my enduring preference for all things blue!

In exhorting us to work towards our dreams and not be fazed by some temporary impediments, the environment we experienced in school helped prepare us for the world we inhabit today.  There is no gainsaying the fact that those experiences, nascent though they may have been, helped establish the foundation on which we could build as we progressed through life.  We inhabit a world today that is breathtakingly dynamic, immensely complex, supremely interconnected, and undoubtedly global.  We google for information, we tweet stories and feeds, we friend individuals with whom we may only have a cursory relationship, and we are ever willing to express our likes and dislikes about anything that catches our social networking fantasy.  Yet, I find the skill sets required to inhabit this world are not any different than those which we developed in school at a time when the internet was only the figment of the imagination of some individuals in the Defence Department of the United States.   In as much as one can perhaps somewhat tritely assert that it’s a brave new world in which we live, the equally bandied around cliché – the more things change, the more they remain the same – serves as a good counterbalance.

That said, it is also true that the opportunities that confront the current generation are significantly greater than those which generations past experienced.  This generation of Xavierites – members of the so-called I-generation or Net-generation – constitutes the next wave from which will emerge the future Mark Zuckerberg or Larry Page.   As the global environment morphs into a knowledge driven economy, education of its citizenry will be the cornerstone in any enduring success that is experienced by a nation.   The continued value placed on education in India and the role played by institutions such as ours is a key driver of this success.  There is no reason why some of those who are currently treading the hallways in our cherished alma mater will not scale the stellar heights of global success, consistent with the spirit of the branding campaign currently underway in the United States labeled Incredible India.  I have no doubt that the spirit of this school exemplified through its students will continue to be a beacon of enduring moral values, industry, perseverance, and strong character, much like it was before, during, and after we spent our formative years.  I wish the school continued success, and God’s speed in all that it endeavors.

James G. Almeida, Ph.D.

Associate Dean – Graduate Programs and

College at Florham Campus

M-MS1-03, Silberman College of Business

Fairleigh Dickinson University

285 Madison Avenue, Madison, NJ07940

Those were the days

 

I am 85 years old and proud to be a Xavierite and probably one of the oldest and privileged few to vividly recollect my days at school. I passed my Matriculation examination (present equivalent is SSC) in 1946. This examination was conducted by Bombay University and 1946 was the last year. My subjects were English 1, English 2, Latin, Mathematics, Science, History and Geography. Non academic subject was Religion for Catholics and Moral Science for Non-Catholics. Unlike today coaching classes and guides did not exist. Working hours were 9am to 4pm with holidays on Thursdays and Sundays. Our Principal Longinus Pereira, however some teachers cannot be just forgotten.

Ms. Agnes Fonseca who taught us English, Mr. Moothy our Maths Master, and our Drill and Exercise (now Physical Training) Master Mr. John Quadros who conducted the Drill under the Banyan Tree.

Students from Andheri to as far as Bhayander attended St. Xavier’s and were given concessional railway passes by BBCI-Baroda Bombay Central India Railway (Now Western Railways)

Trees of various kinds grew all over the place but conspicuous by its location (entrance gate to Missionaries of Charity) and there was a huge well which provided potable water for the villagers. Another landmark is the Grotto of OUR LADY OF LOURDES which was constructed by a Non-Catholic.

I would like to go on and on but I have to conclude by saying, “Those were the days!”

Francis D’Souza

Alumnus of batch 1946

 

 

From the Parish Bulletin 1992

This is an excerpt from an article that appeared in the Parish Bulletin of June 1992. This article was written by the great professor Late Nicholas Gonsalves the then editor of the bulletin, who used to live opposite the school ground.

“56 years ago, I went to St. Xavier’s School in Vile Parle the place where I was born. I have been living there for the past 61 years.

In those days you were not admitted to School unless you had completed six years on June first. My first class was called “ABC Class” – not Kinder Garden, Kinder Garden in German means children’s garden. My first classroom was anything but a garden. It was a graveyard – the porch of the old church. It was the same graveyard you will see today and you will find it hard to believe when I tell you that the bench I sat on was exactly over my grandfather’s grave. We had no desk, we all sat on benches. The school had no bell. The bell was a large iron struck on a flat iron plate hung on a mango tree.”