03/14/2009, 00.00
NEPAL
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Funeral for Fr. Stiller, historian of Nepal dear to Hindus and Muslims

by Kalpit Parajuli
The Jesuit missionary founded two institutes for the recovery of the country's historical heritage, and promoted education for young Nepalese. The Hindu community: we were enlightened by his books. The Muslims: we are shocked by his death, and we are praying for him.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - Hundreds of Catholics took part in the funeral for Jesuit historian Fr. Ludwig Stiller, celebrated on March 12 by Bishop Anthony Sharma, apostolic vicar for Nepal. Many intellectuals and religious representatives were also present at the church of the Assumption in Kathmandu. For the Hindus and Muslims as well, Fr. Stiller's death is "a great loss" for the country.

Bishop Sharma commemorated the Jesuit missionary saying that "Fr. Stiller was a true Catholic who served the nation at his best, but his demise has caused irreparable loss to us."

Originally from the United States, Fr. Stiller arrived in Nepal in 1956, and in 1969 he received honorary citizenship. He was fascinated by the history of the country at the foot of the Himalayas, and dedicated himself above all to researching the nation's modern roots. The first Nepalese to receive a doctorate in history at Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu, he published a number of books that are recognized by all as important instruments for getting to know the country's recent past. Noteworthy among these are "Prithwinarayan Shah in the Light of Dibya Upadesh," "The Silent Cry," and "Nepal: Growth of a Nation."

In order to explain the reasons for his research efforts, Fr. Stiller often used to say that "Nepal is our child and we should let it grow." For this reason, together with his many publications, he also produced CD's and videos to help the Nepalese themselves learn or rediscover the history of their country in the 18th and 19th centuries. Moreover, he contributed to the foundation of the Centre for Nepal and Asian Studies and the Godavari Alumni Association, institutions dedicated to the reconstruction of the country's history in the past few centuries.

Together with his work as a historian, Fr. Stiller was also engaged in important efforts in the field of education, promoting instruction for all Nepalese young people by teaching at the St. Xavier School in Kathmandu, and collaborating with the educational initiatives of the Jesuits scattered throughout the country.

His death was a painful loss for his many former students, but also for the faithful of other religions in the country, who appreciated him as a scholar and educator.

According to Hindu spiritual leader Chintamani Yogi, "Fr. Stiller was not only the wealth of the Catholic community, but he was also a great resource for many Hindu who could read and be enlightened through his books."

Nazrul Hussein, president of the Nepal Muslim Federation and secretary general of the Interreligious Council, says, "The death of the father has not only shocked Catholics, we are also equally shocked and we pray for his soul."

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