Ranchi, Jan. 15: Cardinal Telesphore P. Toppo is “all excited” to leave for Calcutta today to preside over the sixth convocation of St Xavier’s College-Calcutta, on Wednesday as chief guest.
The convocation will coincide with the 153rd foundation day of the college that was set up in 1860 by Belgian missionaries and is now being run by the Society of Jesus, a Christian religious order.
Toppo will share the dais with Suranjan Das, vice chancellor of Calcutta University, who will give away degrees to 1,865 undergraduate, post-graduate and BEd students.
“I am very excited to be the chief guest at this great institution. Over the past five years, vice-president Hamid Ansari, political luminaries like Pranab Mukherjee, now President of India, P. Chidambaram, M.K. Narayanan, now Bengal governor, and Mamata Banerjee, now Bengal chief minister, have been guests of honour at the St. Xavier’s convocation. I am the only one from the ecclesia to be conferred with the honour,” the Cardinal told The Telegraph.
Toppo is scheduled to return to Ranchi in the evening of January 16.
Himself a student of St. Xavier’s-Ranchi from where he graduated with English honours in 1965, Toppo rued he “never got a chance” to be a part of the Calcutta college.
“I completed my studies in theology from Pontifical Urbanian University, Rome, and thereafter, returned to India in 1969. After I came back from Rome, there was some thinking at the church level to send me to St Xavier’s-Calcutta for further studies. That proposal, unfortunately, did not take shape,” Toppo recalled.
On May 3, 1969, Toppo was ordained as priest and was sent to Torpa in Khunti as an assistant teacher of St. Joseph High School. “Thereafter, there was no time for anything else and I plunged myself into the service of humanity.”
On October 21, 2003, he was proclaimed cardinal, the highest official in the Roman Catholic Church in Eastern India.