Douglas' Father, M. Bruce Gordon, was a member of the Scottish clan of Gordon, his granduncle being Gen. Charles George Gordon of China and Khartoum.
Charles George Gordon (1833-85) distinguished General of the British Army was killed in Khartoum. His diaries, Journals and Letters have been published and were the basis of Lytton Strachey's most readable biography of him in his collection "Eminent Victorians". His grandfather Col. George Gordon was in the same regiment as Major J.H. Sewell. Later Fr Sewell, S.J. of the Madurai Mission. Fr J,H. Sewell had been a Major in the British Army and seen action in China and Burma. Sta-tioned in Trichy contonment he lost his wife and child ( buried in the St John's Vestry Church ) and as a widower was received into the Church and the Society and was Manager ( Principal ) of St Joseph's Trichy. Of great influence and prestige he was Chairman of Trichy Municipality. Douglas' grandfather, Douglas Martin St Ledger Gordon, was a sergeant in the British Army and married Grace Kennedy, an Irish Catholic girl, which led him to be practically cut off by his presbyterian family. The only child to survive that union was Marie Melville Bruce Gordon, Douglas' father. He married .lay Florence Bowers, daughter of Lieut. Michael Bowers, I.M.D., an Irishman, and Esther Byrne, also Irish. In consequence, in spite of his Scottish name, Douglas Gordon had more Irish blood in his veins than Scottish.
Douglas as a student in Loyola Hostel used to give to his companions in the Loyola Hostel imitations of his Father's manner of speaking and acting, mimicking Indian speakers of English with roars of laughter, in the style of Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky.
At the age of five Douglas was taken in early 1917 to the Sacred Heart Convent School, Yercaud, a small hill station on the Shevaroy hills in Salem district, to begin his schooling. He remained there four years under the care of the Sisters of St Joseph of Cluny. Here he completed kin-dergarten (2 years) and the first and second standards of those days.
In early 1921, at the age of 9, he was shifted, along with his younger brother, Harry to the neighbouring Montfort Boys' School, started by the Brothers of St Gabriel only three years earlier. He continued in Montfort for 7 years till December 1927, passing successively the following Public Examinations A.I.Middle School, Junior Cambridge, A.I.High School and Senior Cambridge, always in first class or with honours. He was an intelligent boy for whom study presented no difficul-ties. It was during his last years in Montfort that the idea came to him that he might become a priest, an idea warmly en-couraged by the School Chaplain, Fr P. Morin, M.E.P. Douglas was also a member of the School Sodality for several years.
COLLEGE STUDIES : (5)
In June 1928 Douglas gravitated almost effortlessly to Loyola College, Madras, where English-speaking Catholic Students naturally went for higher studies. Loyola was then only 3 years old and still under the care of its Founder, Fr F.Bertram, as Rector, along with his pioneering companions Fr A.Sauliere, P. Varin, F.Vion, F.Basenach and L.D.Murphy. Douglas would continue in Loyola for five full years, complet-ing intermediate and B.A.(Honours). His " vocation " was known to the Fathers and they discretely encouraged it, especially Fr Sauliere, the hostel Warden, and Fr Murphy, the spiritual Father and Douglas' confessor. In fact, after passing Intermediate in first class he wanted to take English Literature Honours, which Loyola was to start in 1930. The College authorities, however, decided to postpone the starting for a year. While communicating this decision to Douglas, who was then at home in Ooty, Fr Murphy told him he could apply to Presidency College and would certainly be admitted, but, knowing his intention, he advised him to join Loyola for Economics Honours. And so he did, continuing in Loyola College for the next three years till 1933, when he passed the final Honours Examination again in First Class. Shortly afterwards he applied to the Provincial, Fr A.Ayraud, for admission to the Society and was welcomed.
One should not imagine that Douglas' vocation was a foregone matter. He led a happy-go-lucky life in College, doing the minimum of study because he could manage the course without hard work. His companions and he were out to enjoy themselves. They did nothing wrong, but were not serious enough about life. However, Douglas was faithful to daily mass and frequent reception of the sacraments and was a member of the College sodality. He entertained vague ideas of appear-ing for the I.C.S. and other competitive examinations for entry into Government service, much to the dismay of Sr Kevin, his maternal aunt. Yet the idea of becoming a priest never left him and at night prayers he would promise Our Lady that, if she wanted him to be a priest, he would not fail her.-
The question arises : how did his family take his decision to become a religious ? As regards his father there was only jubilation. Night after night after Supper he had been lecturing his children on the i.ickedness of the world and advising them all to become priests and nuns, if they wished to be safe and happy. His mother, who was extremely fond and proud of her eldest child, felt the wrench no doubt, but raised no obstacle to his leaving home for the Society. Her only fear as a Doctor, was that he would be starved in religion. When she visited him in the novitiate six months later and found him looking healthier than ever, she not only fully accepted but rejolo-ed in his choice. When three months later in March 1934 Douglas' father died suddenly of heart failure, his widowed mother, with three grown-up children to look after, consoled herself with the thought that atleast her eldest son was safe in God's service.
SHEMBAGANUR : Novitiate, Juniorate, Philosophy (2+2+3)
Douglas arrived in Shembaganur on the 3rd June, 1933, accompanied by his father and brother, by car, all the way from Ooty. He settled down easily to novitiate life under Fr G.Foreau, the Novice Master, reputed for strictness, but in fact providing a very understanding and encouraging guide. The novice took to collecting mushrooms for the. Master who was an avid botanist.
Little need be said about the next 7 years of customary formation : two years of novitiate, followed by first vows on the 9th June, 1935, two years of juniorate and three years of Philosophy. He ended the course in Philosophy by passing the examination. "De Universe Philosophia" in 1940 ''cum laude".
In later life Douglas would often refer to the care-free days in Shembag, especially to the weekly "prima profectio" on villa days, and the less frequent common picnics. Often he chose as his companions scholastics who were interested in sketching and painting. Encouraged by the Rector, Fr A.Anglade, a self-made artist, Douglas turned out a number of landscape paintings and portraits of Jesuit saints, some of which still adorn the walls of Jesuit Institutions.
Another pursuit was the writing of poems usually on Nature, some of which were published in the New Review, or on religious subjects, which were put up in a frame on the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in the College grounds. At one time Douglas was in charge of choosing the poems written by scholastics for this purpose. He found a kindred spirit in Frank West, a scholastic from Calcutta, who was a born poet and something of an artist too.
REGENCY : (2)
From Shembaganur the scholastic was posted in June 1940 to St Xavier's College, Palayamkottai, as lecturer in Economics in the College, and assistant prefect in the College division of the Boarding. The next two years were tough, with plenty of hard work, not a little hardship, but also with satisfaction at work well done. During the second year of regency he was first prefect and had to sleep at night in a cassock, along with 300 boys in a large hall, which accom-modated every boarder from first standard to senior B.A. He was given also the additional responsibility of being in charge of college games and at one time appointed Superintendent of University supplementary examinations. All in all he cer-tainly learnt a lot about college management and student psychology during those strenuous years in Palayamkottai.
THEOLOGY : (4)
In June 1942 Douglas was sent for his theological studies to De Nobili College, Poona, started a few years before, and housed for the nonce in St Vincent's High School and an adjoining block of flats which housed the scholastics. He continued there for the next four years, 1942-46, being ordained Priest on the 23 March 1945.
It is characteristic of Father Gordon that he mentions this great event of his life almost casually. One would like to know whether his mother and members of the family were present and where he said his first mass for them - but he is quite reticent on these matters.
Those were the war years with all kinds of shortages: no rice, no sugar, no bread. The community made do with chapatis and jaggery and whatever meat or vegetables the local market had left over, after the military had had its pick. More serious was the dearth of professors, since the German staff was interned. However, the substitute staff acquitted themselves creditably, while the theologians, Douglas included, worked hard and did a good course of Theology.
Living in the middle of a large city the theologians had ample opportunities for ministry, which would otherwise have been denied them : Cathechism to Catholic children attending non-Catholic schools, sermons in the parish church during May devotions, and once they were ordained, Mass and the sacraments in neighbouring parishes, the jail, the mental hospital and numerous army camps all around Poona. During the final year the theologate was closed down, the junior scholastics were transferred to Kurseong, leaving the dozen newly ordained priests masters of the scene. They were left much to them-selves, trusted by the Fathers in charge and acquitting them-selves of their responsibilities very creditably. Those were really happy and formative years.
MINISTRY & TERTIAN SHIP : (1)
After giving his "Ad gradum" examination at the end f of Theology (which he passed again 'cum laude') Fr Gordon was sent for a spate of ministry in a parish. He was appionted assistant in Munjikal (Kodaikanal) to Fr Hagen the P.P, and continued in that post for three months (March - June, 1946). He had a taste of parochial life, hearing confessions, giving many baptisms, blessing a few marriages, besides saying Mass in the Parish Church and in neighbouring convents. In the middle of June he began tertianship under Fr Ayraud, the Instructor, with some 20 companions from all over India. Little can be said about tertianship which is very much a personal matter between the tertian and his Lord, while he tries to brush up his commitment to Christ in the Society.
ST. JOSEPH'S COLLEGE, TRICHY : (2 1/2)
After tertianship Fr Gordon was posted to St Joseph's College where he went straight from Kodaikanal in April 1947. He continued for nearly three years in the college, lecturing on Economics to Honours classes, helping Fr Carty with AICUF and the King's Rally, but most of all as spiritual father to nearly 200 Catholic intermediate students in the Boarding, a work which Fr Pinto, the Provincial, insisted was his chief assign-ment. In later years Douglas often said that those three years
In Trichy were among the happiest years of his life, and certainly the most fruitful. He had a diversity of works to do, lecturing in the College to a bunch of intelligent and keen Honours students, whom it was a pleasure to teach : prefect of games and sports, assisting the Physical Director in supervising the games every evening, choosing the college teams and occasionally accompanying them to play in out-stations, most of all, spiritual direction to the junior college students, prefect of their Sodality and their animator in all spiri-tual matters. This last assignment was the most consoling. Year after year a van load of generous young men was des-patched to Shembag novitiate, at a time when the vice-province was in dire need of vocations. In this connection a 'word of praise is due to Fr Kalathil, the Rector, who did all he could to encourage the young priests in charge of spiritual matters, giving them all the facilities they asked for. This policy was justified by its results: a spurt in vocations to the Society from St Joseph's.
Life was physically hard; getting up at 4 a.m., mass at 5, breakfast at 6, followed by the hasty glance at the newspapers and preparation of classes till 9.30, when students would start trooping in to ask questions and clear doubts. There would be 2 or 3 classes during the day. In the evening supervising games from 4 to 6 p.m., some study and spirituals till supper at 7.30 afterwards from 8 to 10 p.m. in the 1st Division Boarding hall, hearing confessions and meeting stu-dents, after which examen and bed. This was the routine day after day during term time. Yet Douglas was happy in the thought that he was achieving something for souls. This happiness was rudely shattered one afternoon in early December, 1949, when the Provincial called him and told him that Fr General had appointed him Rector of Loyola Col-lege, Madras. "Good Lord", he exclaimed, "this is the last thing I expected". "You may be sure", retorted Fr Pinto, "that if you expected it, you wouldn't have got it". That afternoon the College football team played the finals of the University football tournament and won, becoming University champions. But the victory was no solace to Douglas, who was overwhelmed by the responsibility thrust on him.
LOYOLA COLLEGE : (3+2m)
Fr Gordon moved to Loyola College towards the end of December, 1949, and assumed charge as Rector immedi-ately The arrangement of Fr Jerome D Souza as titular Principal, with Fr Adisayam, Vice-Principal, acting as Principal, while Fr Jerome was away in Delhi on the U.N.O. would continue till the end of the academic year. Douglas was much encouraged by the way the Loyola Community received him. Among them were several fathers who had known him as a student and some of• them had even been his teachers, notably Fr Murphy and Fr Basenach. They went out of their way to show that they welcomed him as their Superior.
At the beginning of the academic year, 1950-51, Douglas took charge as acting Principal, Fr Jerome insisted 'that Fr Adisayam should not remain in Loyola. He wished to continue as nominal Principal, till his work in Delhi and abroad was completed. On the 15th August Fr Gordon took his Last Vows of Solemn Profession in Loyola College Church. At the reception later he was happy to testify that he owed his Jesuit vocation to the example of the Jesuit Community which he came to know and respect. They were all very happy to hear it.
Towards the middle of the same academic year the Col-lege celebrated its Silver Jubilee. At the main function in October the Chief Minister presided while a large number of dignitaries, both civil and eccelesiastical attended. Fr Gordon was glad to leave the reception of the guests to Fr Jerome D' Souza, while he attended to arrangements behind the scenes. The Bertram Hall was also officially inaugurated on the occasion.
At the end of the year, 1950-51, Fr Jerome was appointed Superior of the I.S.I. in Poona and Fr Gcrdon took charge as full Principal from 1951 onwards. The work in the college went on smoothly; that was the hey day of Loyola College in almost every respect. A number of new buildings had been put up by Fr Jerome (Bertram Hall, Chemistry Laboratory, Addl. Hostel Buildings), so there was a lull in new, constructions. Still two large hostel blocks were put up behind the "Catholic Blocks" to accommodate the overflow of hostelers.
Fr Gordon had settled down to his work as Rector and Principal, when he had a second shock in December 1952. Fr Pinto, the Provincial, informed him that he was to succeed him as the first Provincial of Madurai Province. One should add here that Fr Gordon enjoyed the support and encouragement of Fr Pinto throughout the 3 years he was in Loyola.
PROVINCIAL OF MADURA!: ( 5 1/2 )
At the beginning of February Fr Gordon left for Provincial's House, Trichy, and took charge on the 4th February, the feast of St John de Britto. One of the first things he did was to make a pilgrimage to Oriyur to seek the blessing of our Martyr Patron.
It soon became clear that keeping the Provincial H.Q. at Trichy was not practical. Except for Loyola, Madras, all the other works of the Province were in the South. Whenever the Provincial had to visit any place, he would first have to go to Dindigul and then branch off, south, east or west. It was only wise to transfer the H.Q. to St Mary's, Dindigul, which was the original plan when a second floor had been put up in the Residence, precisely to house the Provincial Curia. The change was 'effected before the end of the year.
JUNIORS AND PHILOSOPHERS BACK TO SHEMBAG
At the time the'Juniorate of Shembag, both staff and students, had been transferred to Vinayalaya, Bombay, while the philosophate, again both staff and students, had been shifted to De Nobili College, Poona. The justification for these shiftings was to relieve crowding in Shembag. Fr Gordon found that this did not make sense and in particular did not favour the formation of our scholastics who were denied opportunities they would have enjoyed at home, so he began measures to bring back both the Juniors and Philosophers, with the approval of Fr General.
BESCHI COLLEGE, DINDIGUL
On the other hand the logical solution to the over-crowding in Shembag was to transfer the novitiate and juniorate to the plains, preferably Dindigul, where we had 48 acres of land in Kattumadam, exactly a mile from .St Mary's, on the Karur road. Thus began Beschi College, built largely with the funds obtained by selling the Trichy property to the Holy Cross sisters at cost price. More land (8 acres) was purchased in Dindigul, to gain access to two wells. The building was ready to receive the novices in June 1954. The cooperation of Fr Thomas, the novice Master, and the other members of the staff, is worthy of mention, especially because they had to put up with hardship in a new house, still in the making. The help rendered by Fr J.Alapatt, the Superior of St Mary's in getting the new foundation to settle down, should be recorded with gratitude.
ANDHRA LOYOLA COLLEGE, VIJAYAWADA
The next major work Fr Gordon had to undertake was the starting of a Jesuit College in Andhra. Fr Deviah, who had been sent earlier to Loyola, Madras, to survey the situation, was ready in 1953 to start collecting funds and acquiring land in Vijayawada, between the villages of Patamata and Gunadala. He was much helped in this by a committee of local citizens. The foundation stone of Andhra Loyola College was laid in December, 1953 at a glittering function attended by the Governor, several Cabinet Ministers and some Andhra Bishops. The college opened in July 1954 with a Jesuit staff of seven, assembled, with difficulty by Fr Gordon. The College has grown steadily, from strength to strength ever since. From the start it helped the poorer Catholic students to get a University education, and has maintained that tradition.
ILLNESS AND HOSPITALIZATION
Towards the end of 1953 Fr Gordon fell ,j1I and was hospitalized in the American Hospital, Madurai, with enteric fever. After six weeks, during which he consumed a lot of anti-biotic pills, he had himself discharged against the Doctor's advice. A few days of treatment by a Doctor from Madras on a visit to Madurai, made him well again !
In 1954 he paid his first visit to Rome as a new Major Superior and met the General, Fr J.B.Janssens for the first time.
The new novitiate in Dindigul with 50 places for novices clamoured for many vocations. These had dwindled in previous years, especially from Tamilnadu, happily made up by voca-tions from Kerala through St Joseph's college. The idea of a pre-novitiate was mooted for candidates for the Society to do the Intermediate course. This would relieve the parents of the burden and give the students a better formation. It was first set up in 1953 in Leo XIII School, Alleppey, with Fr Lemahieu, Director of the diocesan minor Seminary, also looking after our candidates, who had all passed Intermediate. They numbered as many as 32 in 1954. The pre-novitiate was shifted to St Joseph's, Trichy, in 1955 with the pre-novices occupying their own hall in the museum building and scholastic C.P.Varkey as prefect. They then numbered 50.
This successful experiment was the inspiration for a number of pre-novitiates started in other provinces all over India. As numbers increased, the pre-novices were divided between St Joseph's and St Xavier's, Palayamkottai. To gauge the success of the venture we have only to take the number of scholastic novices in the province during the succeeding years:52 in 1957 and 67 in 1958. The brother vocations were numerous also: 20 in 1957, 17 in 1958.
FIRST JESUIT REGIONS IN INDIA
In 1955 Fr General entrusted Fr Gordon with a delicate task: to meet the Mission Superiors of Hazaribagh, Santa! and Darjeeling Missions, and their respective Provincials of Ranchi and Calcutta, to suggest a mode of Government which would give greater autonomy to the Missions, while they remained part of the Province. The important points to be kept in mind were relations with the mother Provinces of the Missions viz. Australia, Malta and Canada, financial autonomy and freedom to recruit their own personnel. After some discussion all agreed on the formula of the " Region " which would precisely embody all the requirements mentioned. Accordingly three new Regions of Hazaribag, Santa' and Darjeeling were set up, with their own, Major Superiors, enjoying relative freedom except for a few points which had to be referred to the Provincials. The whole process of consultation was a 'hush-hush' affair because it dealt with foreign countries, so near to India's attainment of independence. The formula of establishing Regions, which eventually graduated into Vice-Provinces and Provinces, was adopted in other parts of the country in succeeding years.
THE MALABAR REGION
The Superior of the Karnataka Vice - Province Fr Boniface D' Souza , approached Fr Gordon to consider Madurai Province taking over the Calicut Mission in Kerala, just as it had previously taken over Alleppey from the Goa Mission. Fr Gordon hesitated to do so, because it meant adding a large burden to the Province which had already extended into Andhra. However, at the request of Fr General Janssens, the matter was discussed_ in the Province consults and we agreed, not without apprehension, to the take over, Fr General later expressed his gratitude personally to Fr Gordon in Rome over this decision, because tt sblved a problem, since the Calicut Mission had not been progressing under Mangalore. The take-over was completed in 1956 with the establishment of the Malabar Region and Fr J de Roton as Major Superior. In a few years it would develop into the Kerala Vice-Province and eventually into a Province. A good many members of the Madurai Province were transferred to Kerala to bolster the new Region and would eventually be incorporated into the Kerala Province. Madurai is happy to have played its part in building up the Kerala Province, in return for the great services rendered for long by Jesuits from Kerala in staffing works in Madurai.
IRUDAYAKULAM RESIDENCE & PROPERTY
In 1956 Fr General raised the question of the status of the property in Irudayakulam (700 acres with Church and Buildings) which technically could not be possessed by the Palayamkottai Mission District, as shown in the catalogue. After consultation a proposal was made to Rome to let St Xavier's College assume proprietorship. This proposal found immediate acceptance in Rome and the property (Church, residence, land) was handed over to St Xavier's as an endowment. This trans-fer was providential because later when the diocese of Palayamkottai was established in 1971, a suggestion was made by the Archbishop of Madurai that the lands in Irudayakulam be given to the new diocese as a foundation. It was pointed out to him that the lands had been the property of St Xavier's since 1956.
In December 1956 Fr .Gordon's mother took ill in Ootacamund and could no longer live by herself. Accordingly arrangements were made to shift her to Bangalore. Along with Sr M.Kevin, his aunt, Fr Gordon went to Ooty and after disposing of the household effects took his mother and her brother to St Martha's Hospital, Bangalore. She did not survive the change for long, passing away in March the next year. Fr Gordon was at her bedside when she died and buried her in the local cemetery.
In 1957 Fr Gordon attended the 30th General Congregation in Rome along with Fr Thomas and Fr Jerome D' Souza. The latter was elected during the Congregation, Assistant for the newly created Assistancy of India and East Asia. Fr Gordon addressed the Congregation in this connection.
In early 1958 Fr Gordon was informed by Rome that it would he convenient if a new Provincial could be appointed at the beginning o'f the next academic year, i.e. mid 1958. He wasted no time in sending a terna to Rome.
Fr Gordon does not mention what then became known in the Province, namely that his own choice of a successor fell on Fr 1. Thomas whom he wanted as the first Tamil Provincial of Madurai. But Rome thought otherwise. Fr L.Fernandes was appointed Provincial and took charge on 31st July, 1958.
Fr Gordon asked permission to undergo an operation on his right ear (fenestration) which had been successfully done on the left in 1950. Accordingly he went to Madras and after the successful operation and a short period of convalescence, was asked to go to St Joseph's College, Trichy, where he remained for the rest of the academic year,teaching public finance in Economics Honours classes and being Spiritual Father -to the senior students in the Sacred Heart Hostel.
ANDHRA LOYOLA COLLEGE, VIJAYAWADA :
(10)In 1959 Fr Gordon was appointed Principal of A.L.C., Vijayawada, replacing Fr T.A.Mathias, who had been Principal since the starting of the College and built it up most efficiently. When Fr Gordon asked why Fr Mathias was removed, when he himself was quite ready to work under him, the Provincial replied that Fr Mathias had asked to be relieved !
Fr Gordon continued in A.L.C. as Principal for ten years (1959-69) during which time the College was consolidated, with the completion of many buildings, including the main College building, the new Hostel, the Library, the Church, Xavier Hostel, Non-Resident Student Centre, Canteen and guest rooms, etc. The staff strength grew to over 100 and the student strength to just under 2000. The top performance of the College in public exams, initiated by Fr Mathias, was maintained and the College teams began to excel in sports also. Former staff members have referred to this period (1960-70) as the Golden age of A.L.C.
Fr Gordon's long Principalship of Andhra Loyola College between 1959 and 69 kept him away from the centre of Government in the province. He did not participate in the 31st General Congregation of the Society held in Rome between May 1965 and November 1966 in discontinuous sessions. But he was chosen from the Province as delegate or elector for the 32nd G.C. which was held in 1974-75 and which was an important turning point in the history of the Society. This fact is mentioned later in his account but without comment on his part.
Fr Gordon was nominated a member of Andhra University Syndicate in 1960. After the usual term of 5 years he was elected from the Academic Council to the Syndicate, continu-ing in that position till 1969 (a total of 9 years) when he left the College. As Syndicate member he was appointed to various educational committees both by the University and by the State Government. In fact the work of these Committees, which entailed frequent journeys to Visakhapatnam and Hyderabad, interfered with proper governance of the College.
In 1962 he was appointed Rector in addition to being Principal and continued in that capacity till 1965, when he asked to be relieved of the Rectorship. In 1961 he was appointed Visitor of Jamshedpur Vice-Province, which again took him away from the College for several months. The Jamshedpur Jesuits were a bit apprehensive when a man from conservative Madurai was appointed their Visitor. Fr Gordon soon put them at ease by making them understand that he did not come to find fault but to encourage. The Visitation was a success. By God's providence the smooth running of the College was not impaired by these additional burdens and frequent absences.
Loyola Public School, Guntur was started in 1964 with Fr Y.Papaiah as founder. Fr Gordon assured both the Provincial and Fr Papaiah that A.L.C. would extend all help to the new institution and Fr Papaiah could use our residence as his own for as long as he liked. A.L.C. continued to help L.P.S. during its early years in any way it could.
PROVINCIAL FOR A SECOND TIME : (4)
In early 1969 Fr Gordon was informed that he was appointed Provincial of Madurai for a second time - a most unexpected piece of news. He took charge from Fr Varaprasadam on May 1st. Many told him that he would find a great difference between being Provincial before Vatican II and after. As it turned out he did not find any great difference except in externals.
A number of important decisions had to be taken in connection with Madurai Archdiocese as a follow-up of an initiative made by Fr Varaprasadam. To begin with the Parish Church of St Mary's belonging to the Society and attached to St Mary's H.S., Madurai, was handed over in 1970 to the Archbishop, Mgr. Diraviam, to become the Cathedral. Only the plinth area of the building was parted with, the compound continuing to be the property of the School
Subsequently with the erection of the Palayamkottai diocese in 1973 the Province handed over Xavier's Parish Church, belonging to the Society, to the Bishop of Palayamkottai to become his Cathedral. Along with it went the large Residence attached to the Church, the adjoining cemetery (including a Jesuit cemetery) and some two acres of land attached.
The Archbishop of Madurai, Mgr. Justin Diraviam, was anxious that the Society should take over the De La Salle College at Karumathur, which was entrusted to the De La Salle Brothers, and which they were unable to staff with their own men. Fr Gordon demurred because the Province was already saddled with 5 University Colleges, constituting a drain on our personnel. When Fr Gordon mentioned this to Fr General Arrupe in Calcutta in August 1972, Fr Arrupe replied: "I think, Father that we should help the Archbishop". So the Province took over the Management of Arul Anandar College (as it came lobe called) from the Archdiocese. In 1972 Fr S.J.Rajanayagam was appointed Principal, relieving Br Callistus Fernando, and Fr M Santiago became Warden of the Hostel.
Another important development was the erection of the Andhra Region in Nov. 1972, with Fr T.Baliah as Regional Superior, appointed without a terna (as requested by the Provincial). As expected he immediately set about expanding the works of the Society in the area and acquiring valuabe property in Secunderabad and elsewhere.
In early 1973 Fr Gordon wrote to Rome that, in view of the ensuing 32nd Gen. Congregation, it would be convenient to appoint a new Provinaial who would attend the Congregation and thus be able to implement its decrees with inside • knowl-edge. Rome readily agreed and asked for a terna. A new pro-cess was initiated to decide the terna. The whole Province was asked to give its opinion; those who secured the highest number of votes were short-listed. An expanded consult of 10 members, including the Province Consultors, made a community discernment lasting a whole day. The consensus was clear: 9 put the same person first and 10th put him second. The terna was sent to Rome and accepted. Fr G.Casimir was appointed Provincial and took charge on the 22nd April, 1973.
ARULANANDAR COLLEGE, KARUMATHUR : (2)
One of the first things the new Provincial did was to send Fr Gordon to A.A.C., Karumathur, to be Vice-Rector and Procurator there. While the college had extensive grounds and the necessary buildings, there was no provision for accommodating a Jesuit Community, which numbered 9 already in the first year. The Principal lived in his Office. The Rector occupied the Warden's room in one of the hostel blocks. The other members of the community were fitted into various rooms on the campus. Fr Gordon immediately set about constructing a few rooms in the seminarians' block, at the same time providing a small domestic chapel and a refectory.
The hostel for non-calholics was overcrowded. While the large hall (later called Diraviam Manram) was used as a refectory, the enormous kitchen attached to it was utilised only in part. So a new kitchen was built adjoining the refectory and the erstwhile kitchen accommodated the junior hostel students as a temporary measure.
Fr Gordon as Correspondent of the College and Procu-rator of the house had his hands full with administering the slender finances of the :institution. The farm was improved in order to enhance its income which never amounted to much. However, the diocesan Treasurer was always helpful and never refused a request for money, which was made as seldom as possible.
At the Provincial Congregation in 1974, prior to G.C.32, Fr Gordon was chosen Elector. He attended the Gen.Cong. from the end of 1974 to the beginning of 1975. When he returned from Rome he requested the Provincial to relieve him, since there were competent persons in the community to replace him, His request was heeded and he was asked to go to Loyola College, Madras for the second time. (2)
On arrival in Loyola Fr Gordon was asked to teach Economics in the P.G. inter-Collegiate Classes, and Catechism. He waS appointed Director of the O.B.A. and Spiritual Father to the Catholic Hostelers. Since the College was celebrating the Golden Jubilee of its foundation in 1975, he had to re-vamp the O.B.A. Office, revise the list of life-members and try to increase their number. This involved him in a good deal of correspondence. He helped in bringing out the Jubilee Souvenir by writing the history of the College for the past 25 years (1950-75). The next year he was made Procurator of the Community, in addition to his existing work, and also Consultor of the house.
In 1977 Fr Paul Satyanarayana, newly appointed Regional Superior of Andhra, requested him to come to Andhra Loyola College as a Rector there, because he could find no suitable man in the Region to succeed himself. Fr Gordon agreed to do so for a period of 3 years.
ANDHRA LOYOLA COLLEGE FOR THE SECOND TIME: (4)
Fr Gordon took charge as Rector of A.L.C. on the 26th Aug. 1977. Fr Bazou had expired only 5 days earlier, the first to be buried in the College cemetery. He took classes in Morals and Catechism and began teaching French privately to intermediate students and later to degree students also. He was appointed Consultor of the Region and Revisor Arcarum of the Madurai Province.
One of the first things he undertook was building the dining hall and kitchen of the Xavier Hostel. Till then the students had been taking their meals in the canteen building, a most inconvenient arrangement. Fortunately Fr Francis, the Principal, had just obtained a substantial grant from the U.G.C. for the purpose. By careful spending the building was completed for little more than the money of the grant.
Looking after the extensive property of the college was a major preoccupation, especially the lands which were not contiguous to the main campus. Eventually Fr Gordon nego-tiated the sale of two plots, one facing the I.T.I. and other near the Siddhartha Medical College, now University of Health Sciences. The transactions were settled in 1980 for a total of about Rs.7 lakhs, an amount approved by Mr K.Raghuramaiah and other friends who were consulted.
At the end of 3 years Fr Gordon reminded Fr Paul that the stipulated time was over. He was asked to continue for just one more year. When that was over and he was preparing to move to Loyola, Madras. for a well-earned retirement, Fr Paul interceded with him to come to Loyola Academy, Secunderabad, as Procurator, because the accounts needed to be put in order, and the Fathers' Residence had to be built.
LOYOLA ACADEMY, SECUNDERABAD
Fr Gordon moved to Loyola Academy in the middle of 1981, when the College consisted only of the asbestos roofed buildings which now house the Junior College, while the Fathers lived in a similar shed alongside. The hostel was (3) a makeshift arrangement in a line of rooms nearby. All this was at the end of the vast campus of 146 acres. At the other end was a burgeoning farm with its grape garden and cattle shed. In the space of the next three years a number of buildings was put up, the Fathers' Residence and the Girls' Hostel, the Boys' Hostel and especially the main college building, spread out on the land between the older structures mentioned so as to cover the whole campus.
As Procurator Fs Gordon had to keep the accounts of the College and Fathers' Community, while supervising the building of the new Jesuits' Residence. Incidentally this latter was completed within the amount given by FACSI, except for a small contribution by the Region. The construction of the other buildings (college, hostel) was attended to by Fr Baliah through contractors. Besides the work of the Treasurer, Fr Gordon taught Economics to the Associate Degree Students, French to the Intermediate students and the inevitable Morals and Catechism to various classes. He was, also Revisor Arcarum both for the Province and Region.
Since people were moving from the twin cities to the periphery, it was necessary to protect our land; so a barbed wire fence was put up all around the property, especially on both sides of the public road which ran through the campus.
In 1983 the Community was able to move to the new residence where they could enjoy reasonable comfort, with a fine domestic Chapel, convenient refectory, the beginning of a house library, etc. Since the main purpose of his coming to Loyola Academy was achieved, namely the building of the residence, and there was a suitable replacement as Procurator in Fr Thainese, Fr Gordon asked to be allowed to retire at the age of 72 to Andhra Loyola College, Vijayawada, where he felt he could end his days peacefully. There was also the attraction of St. Ann's Hospital, in case he would need medical attention.
ANDHRA LOYOLA COLLEGE FOR THIRD TIME
Fr Gordon returned to Andhra Loyola College in mid 1984. He continued to be Revisor Arcarum of the Region for a while, and began to teach French first to Intermediate and later to degree students also, the latter entailing much more preparation. He undertook French tuition for girl students too. As Library Warden in the College he was consulted by the Librarian on the purchase of new books and any significant changes in the management of the college library. Being in charge of placing periodicals in racks of the Reading Room in the Father's Residence, he kept order on the table and the racks and helped Fr Jojayya, the House Librarian, in ordering books, displaying new books, etc. In these small ways he kept himself busy serving the Community.
In August 1993 he suffered from acute indigestion. Clinical examination revealed a cancerous tumour in the stomach. He was operated on in Madras, losing a third of his stomach, but the cancer was eliminated. After a stay of 6 weeks in Madras Hospitals, he returned to A.L.C., medically fit but very weak and much reduced.
Here the autobiography comes to an end
It is strange that Father Gordon who as Provincial of Madurai got the Andhra Region formed and its first Major Superior, Fr Baliah appointed, makes no mention at all of the raising of the Region in 1989 to the status of an independent Province. He had a strong feeling that the senior members of this newly-to-be erected Province. were more or less side-lined when decisions were taken in Madurai. His reactions are reflected in a letter which he wrote to me on 12th May 1987: "I don't see him (the Socius) writing to me-not after the Province administration pointedly excluded the whole Andhra Region from the search for a new Provincial. I would have made a noise about it till I found the people here in no way concerned". Later, the same year on 18th October congratulating me on an article I wrote for The Hindu 'On Jesuit educational, work in the South,' he wrote "Several members of the Community appreciated your reference to efforts in Andhra Pradesh which the younger members of the Province too easily forget. In fact the tendency nowadays is to talk about the achievements in Tamilnad and stop with that. Ever since the "Postulatum" was sent to Rome to declare A.P. a Province, the separation has increased. Beginning with a complete separation in the Provincial catalogue.... it now extends to all activities. For instance the Andhra Jesuits have not been associated in any way with the celebration of the 150th year of Madurai Province and even the old Madurai Mission had important contacts with what is now A.P., the Carnatic Mission which has a stirring history. But our younger people have no sense of history. They are concerned only with the great things they are going to do, blazing new trails and beating new paths, often leading nowhere. However we shall all arrive, I trust, with the grace of God".
Yes Father Gordon has arrived, one of the first to reach HOME from the Andhra Province and surely its powerful intercessor now there where all journeys end. I subjoin here a very interesting account of Father Gordon's last illness, written by Fr Theckemury who was closest to him during the final nine months of his life.
It was in the Tamil Nadu Hospital, Madras. Fr Gordon was convalescing after his major operation. I was with him day and night. One day when I returned after taking my breakfast in the Hospital canteen, Fr Gordon told me that the phone in the room was ringing for a long time. Naturally he could not get up and attend to the phone. I was just thinking who could have called us. Then he told me "Father Antony - there are four calls. First, there is a call from God - few will respond to that call. Then there is the call of man -many will answer that call. The third kind of call you have to respond - that is the call of nature - otherwise you have to pay for it. Then comes the fourth kind of call- the telephone call. All will rush to answer that call".
Fr Gordon had a subtle, sense of humour. The wife of one of our lecturers was promoted on the eve of her retirement as Principal of the Govt. College which was situated in a godforsaken village far away from Vijayawada.She approached Fr Gordon for advice; with a mischievous smile Fr Gordon suggested that she would ask for leave for three months. "On what grounds" she enquired. "Maternity leave" - he replied - "SML - Suspected Maternity Leave" he added.
Fr Gordon knew the value of positive stroke. Dr Balachander the young and handsome Doctor of TN Hospitals used to visit Fr Gordon during his morning rounds. One morning, Fr Gordon asked "Doctor, are you married ?" "Oh yes" he replied. "Thank God", Fr Gordon exclaimed, "otherwise all these girls in the hospital will be after you". Dr complimented Fr Gordon "Father, you are our best patient"
Exactly two weeks before his death, Fr Gordon told Sr Ancy Tom, who was looking after him in St Ann's Hospital, Vijayawada, to send for me. She replied that Fr Theckemury would come in the evening as usual. (I used to spend four to five hours every evening with him) But he insisted that she should call him immediately. I rushed to the hospital. As soon as I entered the room he told me that he would like to speak to me alone. "Please close the doors and window. I have certain problems: get me my tape-recorder". After closing the doors and window I took the tape-recorder which I had brought to the hospital from his room. Casting a glance at it and with a strong disapproval he insisted. "Bring me my tape-recorder". I was at a loss; it was his tape-recorder. So, I calmly told him "Father it is yours-not mine; mine is there on that table". He 'was confused; paused for a moment; then apologetically said, "I am sorry; bring me my hearing-aid" When I fixed his hearing aid to his ear, he said, 'I am facing certain moral problems, you sit down. My first problem is: for the past several days I am not taking any food (he could take neither solid nor liquid food) They are keeping me alive by these drips. Can't we stop this too" ? "Father, we are not using any extraordinary means to prolong your life. (when I was taking him to the hospital, he had told me that no extraordinary means should be used to prolong his life) What we are doing is just the normal thing. If we stop this, we will be allowing you to starve to death. I don't think that it is the right thing to do". He seemed to agree with my reply and so moved to his second problem. "All my major organs are functioning well. Heart, Liver, Kidney... And yet my weight is going down. (It was 59kg. ; before his operation his weight was 71kg.) How long will I live? Did the Doctors tell you any thing"? I did not want to hide from him what Dr Pattabhi Ramaiah M.S had told me a few days earlier when I asked him the same question. "In the case of cancer patients, it is difficult to predict the end. In some cases the end will come fast. In other cases, the patient will drag on for days - in some cases even for months" - After a few minutes reflection he said, "may be another two weeks more, for Fr Gordon". As I shared with Fr Gordon what Dr Pattabhi had told me I added - 'it can happen even earlier - even tomorrow-and he added may be the day after'. I knew that he was fully prepared to meet his Lord and Master.
"My third problem" - he paused for a moment you see I am a nuisance to all of you" When I heard that statement, I was upset; with tears I told him, "Father, please do not think that you are a nuisance. It is a privilege for us to serve you; we do this out of love; be assured you are never a burden to us". f could not continue. Both of us remained in silence for some time. Besides, the members of ALC Community, every day the Sanjeevan scholastics took their turn to be at his bedside. For forty days he was never left alone.
His next problem was: "I cannot sleep" A strong dose of sleeping pills resulted in nightmares and the following days he was in a drowsy mood and on such days he spoke incoherently! I promised to discuss the matter with the Doctor and to do what was necessary.
My last problem is the 'visitors' - the good sisters - sometimes they come in a group and at odd hours. The invariable question they put to him was "How are you father"? Fr Gordon was never satisfied to reply in monosyllable. He would narrate to them his operation in detail from the beginning. Often after such an exercise he was left exhausted. I promised to restrict the visitors by putting a notice • outside his door - "No visitors - without permission"
We were together for about 40 minutes. His mind was clear and his thinking was logical. He seemed to be relaxed. Then he said "I want to make my confession" Fr Jojayya was his regular confessor. I told him that I would send for him. He replied "I want to make my confession to you" He made his confession. He „ looked happy when I left him.
A JESUIT OF A LEGENDARY BREED - By Fr C.Peter Raj.S.J. (This does not purport to be either a biographical account or an exact reproduction of the oration given at the funeral Mass)
\FR GORDON S ILLNESS AND DEATH
The edifying and inspiring manner in which Fr Gordon accepted his suffering and came to terms with the baffling mystery of the killer disease cancer will merit a separate account by itself. Throughout his illness he tried to retain his sense of humour. His ready sense of appreciation for all that the doctors and nurses did for him and for the exemplary assistance and caring support extended to him by the members of Andhra Loyola College Community in general and by Fr Theckemury and Fr Amalanathan in particular remained undiminished. The patience with which he coped with the pain and discomfort was something out of the ordinary. It would have required all the spiritual strength he could muster, to reconcile himself to the visible ravages that the dreadful dis-ease of cancer wrought on his physique. As the final days approached, all intake of food ceased, he was drastically reduced in weight and he became incredibly feeble apprearing like a pale shadow of his former self. But none of these could stamp out his innate nobility and his characteristic serenity and composure. By all accounts, he had a premonition of his imminent end. He appeared to have assiduously prepared himself for his final journey. He called for his Community members, blessed them, received Communion, joined in the recitation of the prayer "Soul of Christ, sanctify me" with unusual unction, and gradually entered into a phase of quiet repose. Then somewhere between the final hours of Good Friday and the early hours of Holy Saturday, his gentle soul effortlessly took wings and merged into eternity. What a blesssed way and a blessed day to commend his soul to God, completing his participation into the sacred mysteries of Christ's suffering, death and resurrection !
So towering and truly multi-faceted a personality was Fr Douglas Michael Gordon that I felt a•sense of privilege as well as a sense of unworthiness when told to say a few words on the sad and sombre occasion when we had assembled to bid him our final and fond farewell, farewell that was also reverential and prayerful. About twenty five years ago as a first year student of Philosophy at Shembaganur, in Kodaikanal Hills, I was among those present outside the Jesuit residence on the roadside, all agog, awaiting the arriaval of the newly appointed Provincial for his annual visitation. We did not have to cool our heels for long in the mild sun of that fresh morning. For the bus that was clambering up the hill heaved to a stop near us and there emerged a tall and impressive figure with what looked like a week-end luggage. Accustomed as we were to the awe-inspiring solemnity associated with the visit of the previous Provincials we had seen earlier, there was something refreshing about the simplicity of the new Provincial Fr Gordon, coming by the public transport bus instead of the customary car of his office. His brief but witty speech in the dining hall assuring us that he would see us 'in detail confirmed the favourable impression we had gained of him as an affable and amiable Provincial. However, I was to get the privilege of with him which would enable personality 'in detail'.
it was about ten years later that beginning a friendly association me to see his rich and versatile
From 1978 when he happened to be my Rector at Andhra Loyola College to the present day I had never wavered in my opinion that Fr Gordon was undoubtedly, a man of magnificient calibre and stature in everyway. Rarely do we see in a man such an amazing combination of diverse talents and charisms. Seldom do we see in a single person such an enviable spectrum of endearing human qualities, sound and solid virtues, intellectual endowments and academic achievements, artistic aptitudes and administrative acumen, an astonishingly retentive memory and a magnanimous heart, a veritable mine of general knowledge and above all the gift of a noble soul. Even a cursory glance at the salient and significant landmarks in his life will reveal Fr Gordon 's extraordinary degree of flexibility to adapt himself to different places and situations when called upon to serve the Society in different capacities. Being Provincial for two terms both in the pre-Vatican and post-Vatican eras, he was a witness to the varying and 'shifting trends within the Society of Jesus. Through it all, his ardent love for the Society and his uncompromising attachment to its finest traditions remained unchanged.
A PRIEST IN THE SOCIETY OF JESUS:
Though young Douglas was more than usually gifted both intellectually and artistically, he did not seriously consider opting for a lucrative career in the world. For, the seed of vocation to priestwood had been planted early in his impressionable years and was nurtured during his studies at Loyola College, Madras, when he came under the spell of such Jesuit stalwarts as Fr Murphy and Fr Bertram. The decision to join the Society of Jesus, therefore, was natural and predictable development. He valued his vocation to priesthood in the Society as a priceless gift for which he was ready to sacrifice everything. More than the different offices he held, it is the exercise of his priestly ministry that he most cherished. In a brief autobiographical account that he wrote shortly before his hospitalization consequent on the detection of a cancerous growth, he considered the three years of his ordination, the happiest period in his life. So deep was his love for the Society, that in later years , whenever he made allusions to St Ignatius in public speeches, his voice would invariably get chocked.
HIS SOLID AND JOYFUL SPIRITUALITY:
Fr Gordon's spirituality as a loyal son of St Ignatius remained solidly rooted in and was sustained by his undeviating love of Jesus. His entire life conformed to the biblical image of the man who put his hand to the plough and never looked back. He was unswervingly faithful to the supportive elements which nourished his spirituality, like personal prayer, fervent daily celebration of the Eucharist, readiness to serve his Community in whatever way he could, and a genuine love for the poor and disadvantaged. His spirituality was that of a cheerful giver and not that of a glum and morose ascetic. It was not an overly demonstrative kind which produced a streak of self-righteousness of a holier-than-thou attitude.
HIS NEVER-CEASING INTEREST IN PEOPLE AND INSTITUTIONS:
Fr Gordon's spirituality so far from being self-centred, flowed incessantly into the whole network of his relationships with people and institutions. It was this which accounted for his insatiable thirst for news about people and institutions. He had a particular fondness for the new apostolic ventures launched in the Province and kept himself abreast of the latest developments in them. Fr Gordon's interest in the Society of Jesus was not so hidebound as to be confined to the Provinces of Andhra and Tamil Nadu with which he was closely connected. His vision of the Society was truly universal and it is this which turned him into an avid and voracious reader of the newsletters emanating from different Jesuit Provinces.
HIS SPECIAL LOVE FOR THE POOR
Throughout his life Fr Gordon had an instinctive love for the economically disadvantaged students. This was particularly evident not only during his tenures as Rector and Principal but also during his years of retirement. The gifts he had received from his brother and sister in England were chan-nelled into helping the poor students and this was always done through the Treasurer of the House as he was averse to han-dling money himself. What was remarkable about the helps he had given and what the beneficiaries of his assistantce valued most and were deeply indebted to him for, was the fact that these helps were given at the time they needed most and that they were done in the most unobtrusive and uncondescending manner and without expecting to reap a harvest of future gratitude. He took in his stride the snide remark made by some that he was being exploited by students making specious and spurious appeals for his help. But in his judgment, it was better to be cheated ninety nine times than to turn away one individual in genuine need of his help. The flood of affectionate tributes that filled the visitors' book in the wake of his demise abundantly testifies to this compassionate and magnanimous attitude of Fr Gordon.
A MAN WHO WAS FULLY HUMAN AND FULLY ALIVE
Fr Gordon was consistently cheerful even to the point of being vivacious and boisterous at times when the situation warranted. He was at his lively best during the regular recreations, regaling the Community with a string of amusing anecdotes and incisive comments, plunging into an animated discussion with all the cut and thrust of a political debate and fiercely arguing and defending a point in favour of the underdog but always with his unfailing sense of humour. He had the rare ability to laugh at himself and to enjoy an explosive joke cracked at his expense. Of particular delight and hilarity to the Community was what was facetiously refered to as his "REFECTORY ORATORY'. He had the heart of a child to relish the assorted cartoons that appeared in the daily and Sunday papers. But he also had the intellectual bent of mind to grapple with the most intractable clues of a crossword puzzle. One always had the feeling that the atmosphere in the community was lit up with the radiance of Fr Gordon's gentle and urbane humour.
FR GORDON A STOREHOUSE OF INFORMATION
No matter what the subject discussed was, Fr Gordon could always be counted upon to throw some light on it. Amaz-ing were the range of interests he cultivated and the fund of general knowledge he had accumulated over the years. It was another veteran Jesuit Fr Subbaiah who once made this apt assertion. " What Fr Gordon does not know is not worth knowing " This was the reason why a word with Fr Gordon was de riguer for all the major decisions connoted with the College and the Community. Having had the benefit of a long administrative experience, Fr Gordon naturally became very knowledgeable and proficient in matters relating to the laws of the Society of Jesus. He was the prime consultant of the Province when some knotty legal points had to be resolved. The commendable command of Latin he had, stood him in good stead while elucidating and interpreting some complex points in any official document of the Society.
FR GORDONS' INNER DISCIPLINE AND TRANQUILITY
Fr Gordons' inner discipline, serenity and equanimity found its expression in the all-pervasive neatness and order he maintained around him. Everything about his room was kept tidy and shipshape. He knew exactly what things were kept where. In the course of my stay at A.L.C. Community, I have had occasion to approach him for sundry articles ranging from a back number of a journal to an old fashioned button for a cassock. Never had he to search for any of these items even for a moment. He would zero in on the exact place where the requisitioned article was kept and hand it over to me with a smile of satisfaction. The same methodical and systematic approach the same meticulous attention to details was brought to bear upon anything he did. It was implicitly axiomatic with him that if anything was worth doing, it was worth doing well.
A MAN OF GOLDEN MEAN
One feature of his life that was ever in evidence was that he would never do anything in excess. He was a man of moderation, regularity and refinement in all his personal habits. Everything had its place and time whether it was going for his daily walk with Fr Kuriakose or listening to the news bulletine in his rickety transistor. Never could he reconcile himself to wasting anything, be it a polythene bag or other odds and ends which could come in handy for his own or others' use. Whenever he could, he would rather deftly recycle old envelopes than use new ones. Simplicity of lifestyle and religious poverty remained the recognizable hallmarks of his life.
FR GORDON, EVERY INCH A GENTLEMAN
Fr Gordon was a gentleman to the core and would never deliberately cause hurt and 'pain to others. He would go out of his way to show his concern for others and put them at their ease. Any letter written to him would be promptly replied to and it was an unalloyed pleasure reading his letters written in fluent and flawless English and his elegant and impeccably neat hand. He was adept in bridging the generation gap as he could converse with the young and the old with equal ease and facility. He made himself useful in many ways even during his years of retirement. The community relied on him for drafting any important document and he was an accomplished obituary writer for 'CARITAS'.
He officiated, till he was immobilised by his illness, as the Library Warden of the College and maintained order in the Reading Room of the Fathers' Residence. His sensitive and refined soul shrank from anything that was in disarray and he would quietly restore the same to order. This was seen in the way he would tirelessly arrange the newspapers on the reading table every time others left them in shambles. If some pages in the missal in the Chapel were found torn, he would artistically mend them. If any domestic item was damaged or broken by others, he would ingeniously try his skill in putting the pieces together in proper shape. All this was done unasked and without drawing undue attention to himself. He functioned as the local metereologist, maintained up-to-date chart of the temperature and rainfall, and during the monsoon and summer, a comparative study of the rainfalls and the temperatures of the previous years would be put up for the Community's perusal.
THE END OF AN ERA
The passing away of Fr Gordon marks the end of an era and the fading away of one of the finest generations. Never have I seen such a harmonious blend and a delicate fusion of the human and spiritual. 'Grace builds on Nature' has never been more tellingly and emphatically proved than in the case of Fr Gordon. In his truly remarkable span of life, he touched the destinies of many institutions and the lives of countless individuals. Innumerable were the people who felt uplifted and ennobled by his sage counsel, genial conversation and his spar-kling humour. Many had been the beneficiaries of his be-nevolent and timely assistance. It was a benediction and a blessing for any one to have come into contact with him. I, for one, count myself immensely lucky to have lived with him and laughed with him in the same Jesuit Community and to have received some measure of his affection and concern. A feeling of gratitude to God wells up in my heart that he had moulded such a person as Fr Gordon. The beautiful setting in which the funeral Mass was held, underscored and accentuated the beautiful culmination of his life. The trees around the Xavier Hostel were steadily and sweetly dropping their golden coloured flowers around the place where his body was kept for the Mass. The symbolism of a gentle shower of rain, soon after his death and just before the funeral Mass was not lost on the vast assembly of admirers who had gathered to accompany him on his last journey.
Good-bye Fr Gordon ! You were God's gift to the Society of Jesus, a gift to Andhra Pradesh, a gift to the A.L.C. Community and a gift to every one who had the privilege of knowing you.
MAY GOD GRANT YOU ETERNAL REST
Exactly two months before his death in reply to my letter of greetings for his 82 birthday, Fr Gordon wrote:
" Thank you for your kind birthday greetings. I do hope the Lord will hear your prayers and grant me better health and. strength. My health at the moment is passable, nothing seriously wrong but still not quite good... I stagnate at 60kgs which is far too low. Please pray for me not that I live long ( I've lived long enough already) but that God grant me the strength and courage to bear all my pains and aches manfully ".
The story of the last month of his life has been narrated in an account circulated soon after his death
" It began when he was discovered to have a cancerous tumour in the stomach in August 1993. Surgery done in Tamil Nadu Hospital, Madras by which the tumour was re-moved, in the month of September 1993, promised hope of a few more months of life. Ever since he returned from Madras in October, '93, Father Gordon was able to carry on his usual work as librarian, etc., He was getting periodic medical check-up, and was continuously monitoring any further symptoms of cancer.
By the end of Feb. 94, he fell that his stomach was getting hardened. A scanning revealed that the inevitable had happened. Cancer had appeared again. For about 40 days Father Gordon was in St Ann's hospital, Vijayawada, going through the desert of purification, surrender and intimacy with the Lord. On the one hand he knew he had been reduced to a pitiable skeleton and on the other his heart, and kidneys were functioning well and he had a clear conscious mind. He edified all who visited him and took care of him day and night".• Never once did he express any complaint or discouragement. His only wish was that he should not give trouble to others and to go away peacefully.
From Palm Sunday, he was more devout than usual, knowing fully well that his end was near. He was found mur-muring prayers, blessing people, telling visitors that he saw angels and he was in heaven. He had prepared himself by receiving the Sacrament of the sick twice and made his con-fession. On good Friday he told the sisters that he should be taken to Loyola. Around 9.00 p.m. he insisted that the Jesuits come and take him. Fr. Rector and a few others went and gave him Holy Communion. What happened then was a clear premonition of his death. He recited the prayer 'Soul of Xt' devoutly. He wanted the candle to be lit and kept burning. He gave his blessing to the six (4 Jesuits and 2 sisters) and blessed them each by sign of cross on the forehead. He wanted the cot to be turned in the direction of the crucifix, in order to see it, and continue his prayers. After Communion and blessings, it was a two hour silence and prayer and he breathed his last just after midnight.
The funeral and burial took place on Easter Sunday evening. Hundreds of former students, friends and Jesuits at-tended the Mass. Three Bishops officiated at the service. Fr Donatus Jayaraj and Fr Rodricks represented the Madurai province. Fr Peter Raj gave a touching and memo-. rable funeral oration that summed up Gordon as a Jesuit, Christian, Scholar, Administrator and above all a perfect Gentleman. He was laid to rest in Andhra Loyola College cemetery. Fr Bosco the provincial of Andhra officiated.
I have ventured to put together this sketch of Father Gordon selected from different contributions. l knew him for sixty-five years ever since we were together from 1929 on-wards as companions in the Catholic Hostel of Loyola College. His younger brother Harry a great singer, the soloist of our Loyola Choir, was also with us. Both were from Montfort School, Yercaud. Duggie as he was known was in the senior Inter-mediate when I came to join the first year Hens in Presidency College. Fr Bertram gave me a room in the Hostel where Fr Sauliere was our Warden. So Duggie although six months older in age than I, was one year junior to me in studies. Like him I wanted to join the Society after my Honours but I was unable to, on account of domestic circumstances. He preceded me into the Society by ten years. When Douglas told me in 1933 after he had finished his Hons, course that he was going up to Shembag, I told him that I envied him and asked for his prayers. I continued in Loyola as member of the English Staff. In March 1934, his father died suddenly but he was not able to attend the funeral. Nor did Harry his brother because he was then writing his final B.A. Examina-tions. His aunt Mother Kevin sent word to Father Murphy not to tell Harry about the sad event lest he should miss a year. Harry went home only after everything was over. Neither of the two sons therfore attended the father's funeral. The Mother's faith was more than strong to accept these trials. Older than her husband Bruce Gordon, by some years she was a lady of determined character. As Doctor in Salem she knew C.R. that is Rajaji, then Municipal Chairman and was the family doctor helping in confinements in the family. Both she and Mr Gordon were friends of the Rajaji family. But I am an-ticipating. The story must be told in chronological order. This is easy, for Douglas himself has left us a fairly complete account of his life, written in his own attractive, artistic hand, clear, legible and pleasing. His last paragraph brought him very near the end of his days. Besides, all his life he was a great letter-writer whether in office or out, replied at once to all who wrote to him, and hardly ever used a typewriter. His correspondence if gathered together would make a sizeable and readable volume of good, bracy literature, forthright as well as kindly in manner, with comments and reflections on facts and events not lacking in spicy remarks on men and happenings and withal sense of true charity and utter freedom from malice or rash judgment, a delight to read.
We must now let him fell his own tale: here and there I have ventured to add information which I thought would be useful as filling gaps in his narrative.