Fr. Swamy one year on: 'To the last he thought of the poor'
On the first anniversary of the death of the Jesuit prostrated by almost nine months of unjust imprisonment for his commitment in defence of the tribals of Jharkhand, the memory of Sr Beena who assisted him in hospital in the last weeks of his life: "There was a sense of joy in his struggle. He encouraged me to renew my daily commitment as a doctor for the people of the suburbs and the marginalised".
Mumbai (AsiaNews) - India today marks the first anniversary of the death of Fr Stan Swamy, the Jesuit from Jharkhand who died on 5 July 2021 from the consequences of almost nine months of imprisonment in Taloja prison in Mumbai on charges of "terrorism" simply because of his commitment to defending the rights of tribal peoples. The charges were never proven and were based on files found on one of his computers that Fr Swamy did not recognise as his own and claimed had been uploaded by others to frame him.
In fact the long imprisonment coupled with denied access to proper medical care despite the fact that he suffered from Parkinson's disease, led to his death. But even in his Calvary, Fr Stan never ceased to bear witness to his love for the least of these. This is testified by the recollection we publish below, written for AsiaNews by Sr Beena, a religious of the Ursulines of Mary Immaculate and a doctor, health secretary of the archdiocese of Mumbai. Sr Beena - who is executive director of the Holy Family Hospital where Fr Stan was admitted on 27 May 2021, exhausted by Covid-19 and long imprisonment - says: "He taught me never to give up in my commitment to the poor and marginalised".
On the occasion of the first anniversary of Fr Stan Swamy's death, I fondly remember my brief association with this saintly man.
It was indeed an honour to treat Fr Stan Swamy, a Jesuit priest, at the Holy Family Hospital in Mumbai. I clearly remember the day he was brought to the hospital, some of our sisters along with Jesuit Fr Frazer Mascarenhas - whom the court had appointed as guardian - welcomed him into the hospital. Although he was sick and frail, he greeted us with a smile and said: 'Now I am in safe hands'.
He was very humble, down-to-earth, very serene and sometimes witty. Even when he was suffering, he had a smile on his face. It was a pleasure to interact with such a personality, who had vast experience in social life and would tell me about his experiences. He truly lived up to the values of the Gospel, despite many challenges and difficulties. I looked forward to the moments with him, because I would eventually get his blessing. Every encounter with this humble man was enriching, enlightening and truly exciting. He was a person of conviction and there was a sense of joy in his struggle. There is no doubt that there was a special aura surrounding him.
After leaving the intensive care unit for Covid-10 patients, Fr Stan told me that he appreciated the care and attention of all the hospital staff, including the food. He encouraged me to renew my daily commitment, as a doctor, in my missionary work with the poor, the people on the periphery and the marginalised. Fr Stan inspired me to use my medical knowledge and position as a responsibility to love and serve the poor, to treat them with dignity and to offer them the best care available. Through his words, I could clearly understand Fr Stan's vision and commitment to justice, especially for the poor and those who are reduced to helplessness. He had a 'Never Give Up' attitude in his life and mission, which inspires me to continue my work as a nun and as a doctor.
(Nirmala Carvalho contributed)