Farewell to Fr. Stephen Thadam, SJ
Dear Staff and Students,
This evening we bid farewell to Fr. Stephen Thadam, SJ in the gathering of the Staff Community. He was born on July 28, 1953 and became emeritus in JDV on July 27, 2018. Since he was at Rishikesh at that time on his research and Sabbatical we missed the farewell function with the student body. I would like to share about Fr. Stephen under Four C-As.
(1) Commitment and Accountability
Fr. Stephen was committed to the work that was entrusted to him. He taught at JDV from 2007 till 2018 without any break except a short break from October 2018 till his retirement for few months at Rishikesh spending time in research, meditation and updating his Yogic expertise. The personal record of Stephen shows that at each stage of his stay and work here he was very transparent and meticulously accountable in every one of his undertakings. This, perhaps, shows not only his Jesuit credentials but also his background in Economics both at the Baccalaureate and the Master’s levels. Thank you, Stephen for your integrity which is a source of inspiration to all of us.
(2) Creative and Administrative
In 2009 Fr. Stephen started teaching Yoga and Karate to the students in the evenings. Until the present it attracts great number of our students. He was the founding Co-ordinator of the Master’s in Spirituality at JDV. When our Faculties were passing the buck to each other, Stephen came forward with creative Spirituality Programme with the best mix of East and West and it picked up well with his administrative skill. Within this Spirituality Programme and also on the JDV campus he organized every year Study Pilgrimage to various holy places in and out of Pune with the duration of one day to several weeks and it widened the horizons of our students to our country’s rich spiritual heritage.
(3) Compassionate and Audacious
Fr. Stephen is very compassionate. This we see in his compassion shown even to the poisonous snakes. He catches the intruder snakes but never kills them and he leaves them in the forest. He also has taught so many of our students to catch these creatures. I found him as very outspoken but also very sensitive to others’ feelings. He never hesitates to take steps and make reconciliations. He is, indeed compassionate and audacious.
(4) Communitarian and Academic
Fr. Stephen connects to the Youth personally through Yoga, meditation and Karate. We must remember that he was, at one time, the state President of AICUF in Kerela. He connects with the Bishops and superiors to draw students for the Master’s in Spirituality. He connects to the Acharyas, Gurus, Bhikkus and Granthis in his pilgrimages. He is, indeed a communitarian. He is a searcher and researcher. His search is both experiential and academic. He had given series of talks and meditation sessions in Germany even before he joined the staff of JDV. He says that it is his interest in Yoga and Meditation that took him to Indian Philosophy. Having obtained his Master’s in Philosophy at the Radhakrishnan Institute for Advanced Philosophy, he went on to do his Ph.D there in Advaita Vedanta. He took personal interest and made self study ad practice in various disciplines and awarded with ‘Yoga Shiomani,’ ‘Black Belt,’ and expertise in East-West Spirituality with special interest in Edmund Husserl Phenomenology. He deepened this inter-disciplinary approach during his Post-doctoral Studies at Katholic University of Leuven, Belgium. His articles and presentations are inter-disciplinary and well known and especially his writings on Christian Yoga in the recent past.
On personal note, I am acquainted with Stephen for many years now. For B.Th stay at De Nobili College Stephen was one year junior to me. In 2013 both of us traveled together to Eichstatt, Germany for paper presentations. Since I, too have similar interest in yoga, meditation, karate and Indian Spirituality we had at times shared things together. On his request, I too led a group of students at De Nobil College in Zen Meditation. Dear Stephen, we, the JDV family will miss you but all your contribution to the growth of this Institute will go down in its history for years to come. In the name of JDV, I express my heartfelt thanks to you and may God go with you to continue to bring abundant blessings in the lives of the people!
Selva Rathinam, S., S.J.,
President of JDV
Nov. 16, 2018