Father Mani – the doyen at Xavier’s Jaipur

Author: 
Melven Castelino

Melven Castelino, a product of St Xavier’s Jaipur, is a multi-faceted personality. An English teacher by vocation at his Alma Mater, Melven is heavily into photography, calligraphy, sketching and making short documentaries. He enjoys posting YouTube videos. An approved All India Radio announcer, he enjoys anchoring radio shows and Rajasthan Tourism events.

Melven is also an avid blogger, besides being active on Instagram and Facebook. He is an inspirational leader for creative arts for his students. He is the writer and a composer of the school song for St. Xavier’s School, Nevta campus. And to top it all, he runs his own Rock Band fittingly named, COOL BOYZ. Melven can be reached at www.melven.in.

For someone who has served at St. Xavier’s, Jaipur for over 16 years as Principal and as a teacher, the school certainly holds a close connect with Fr. N. V. Mani, S.J.

His first tenure at Xavier’s was from 1973 to 1983. He made a comeback to play his next innings from 1988 to 1994 and is at Xavier’s Jaipur at present as well for a third innings.

He has witnessed countless batches passing out during his three stints but has the uncanny ability to recollect the names of alumni even after several years.

Xavier’s has undergone several changes over the past few decades. At one point of time the school switched to Hindi as a medium of studies from the early eighties to the early millennium years. Fr Mani was perhaps part of that momentous decision. Fortunately, better sense prevailed and the school reverted to English medium without suffering too much damage to its overall reputation.

Father Mani at St. Xavier's, Jaipur.

Father Mani at St. Xavier's, Jaipur.

Fr. Mani is one man who has witnessed it all. He was present at both the Golden and Platinum Jubilee celebrations. His deep persona and stern administrative skills have made him an icon synonymous to this 78 year old Jesuit institution.

Though today he finds himself and the school in the middle of drastically changing times, he opines rather characteristically that we all have to keep pace with innovative and modern times. Carrying a smart phone, Fr. Mani can be traced on Facebook as well. The digital world has brought about a revolution but he strongly feels it has also impacted the student teacher bonding.

“Rev. Fr. Mani was my first ‘boss’ at St. Xavier’s... and as a Principal he gave me amazing leeway to do things my way... be it in the method of teaching English, setting up a Quiz Club or a Debating Society or even directing a play. On my request, Fr. Mani gave me the ‘Moral Science’ class also to teach. Not to forget he allowed me to wear frayed faded jeans and tees to come to take classes. Able yet humble; efficient yet humane — they don’t make ‘Jesuits’ like him anymore,” so opines Mr. Jagdeep Singh, a former Senior English teacher at Xavier's.

Pleasantly alarmed at the number of co-curricular activities that buzz round the year keeping the students engaged and involved all the time, Fr. Mani feels that greater participation actually encourages students towards healthy exposure and spirited competition.

He further believes that if students are trained to organize themselves responsibly, allotting proper allocation of time for studies, relaxation, sports, prayers, friends, family and the internet, then we can be sure that we are discharging our duty as able parents and teachers.

“In a world governed grossly by speed, technology and selfishness, one should develop the art of sensitivity towards the needs of others, be more compassionate and helpful to one another,” suggests Fr. Mani.

Recalling the bygone era, Fr. Mani cherishes the good times spent with Fr. Wilzbacher – the cycling missionary Jesuit; Mr. Anand Singh Junia, who literally devoted 24 hours tirelessly when the hostel facility was launched; Fr. J. Wilmes, who painstakingly clicked monochrome class stills, framed them with names and even had them mounted on the walls just outside the School Hall; Fr. Grace – whose charming smile and personality was captivating, and the benevolent, Mr. Rashmikant Durlabhji, President of ExCom for several years at a stretch.

Father Mani with a young skater.

Father Mani with a young skater.

Fr. Mani’s day begins with attending the morning school assembly followed by counseling sessions on all working days. He finds time to respond to emails, general reading, catching up with national news on TV and of course spending time in private prayers.

His evenings take him for regular walks in cute shorts, a t-shirt and his trademark cap around the school campus as he bumps into little kids found skating, or chatting with those who come for evening games.

The man may look fragile as he hops around the Jaipur Xavier campus at a ripe old age of 83, but he is as active and agile as any school boy, involved, enthused and vibrant.

His History lessons in Class VIII still echo in my ears and so do his announcements over the intercom just before the interval or even his prayers at the morning assembly over the retro microphone in a crisp voice, “O God, who are truth and the origin of all knowledge, bless our studies which we consecrate to you, enlighten our minds, strengthen our memories and guide us to speak truth always.”

In the words of the Late President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Fr. Mani smilingly leaves a message for all of us – ‘Be good and do good’.

We Xavierites wish Fr. Mani a long, healthy and active life.

Comments

Some change is inevitable in a school over time, but the core principles still are the same as when I was a student - 1960s.

Amazing Sir!!

Indeed Xavier's will remain incomplete sans Fr. Mani. We are & we will remain children for him . its a great pleasure & a precious blessing of Almighty that he gave us Fr. Mani.

today being teachers day i thought of Fr Mani who was Xavier's school principal when i was a student, 1972-74. thereafter, we met again when he attended my wedding in Jaipur - 1993! Is there anyway i can contact him?
Its hard to find such dedicated academicians and mentors today like Fr Mani. i wish him the very best!

Please write to the author on the website mentioned in his bio data at the top of the story . Melven can put you in touch but you will.have to go to the school to him .
Thanks for reading
Editor

Pl contact Melven the author on www.melven.in
Thanks for your comments
Editor

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