Father Gerard Beckers
St Xavier’s College students past and present have come together to observe the death anniversary of a teacher who played a key role in the evolution of the institution.
The programme to remember Babu, as colleagues and friends used to affectionately call Father Gerard Beckers, will be held at 6.30pm on Wednesday at room No. 15 of the college.
“The aim is to remember the great personality who helped shape the college and the lives of innumerable students,” said a member of the St Xavier’s College (Calcutta) Alumni Association.
Father Beckers, a DSc in biochemistry, came to India in 1954, and fell in love with the country. He joined the chemistry department of St Xavier’s College in 1960 and served as the head of department for over a decade. The Belgian priest became an Indian citizen in 1978.
Since retiring from service in 1984, Father Beckers had been working for the marginalised, especially the Santhals of Bengal. He died on December 9, 2006. He was 82 and had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease.
“In his 23 years of service, Father Beckers had transformed the face of the college by adding the social dimension of helping the poor and removing all sorts of injustice,” said an alumnus.
Father Beckers’s interests went beyond teaching. Through the All India Catholic University Federation and the National Social Service (NSS), he tried to nurture leadership qualities among students and promote education among the poor.
Members of the NSS, the department of social work and the college alumni association have jointly organised Wednesday’s programme.
Some senior NSS student volunteers would attend the event. “We want them to be familiar with the founder of the NSS and the dedication and service of this great man,” said an alumni member.
The college has also decided to celebrate December 9 as Rededication Day.