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FR. SYLVANUS KIRO, S.J. 1937-2019)

Posted on: 17 Jan, 2024 | Modified on: 28 Apr, 2024

By Fr. Deepak Toppo, S.J.

In the morning of 17th January 2019, in Gurunanak Hospital, Ranchi, the merciful Father has called to Himself Fr. Sylvanus Kiro, S.J. Born on 14th April 1937 at Gangutoli parish in Simdegadiocese, Fr. Sylvanus belonged to a family that was rich in faith and assiduous in practice of religion. He had two brothers and a sister. His younger brother Benedict is a Ranchi Jesuit working in Ramnagar parish, Port Blair, Andamans. After his primary education in the parish school, Fr. Sylvanus went to St. Ignatius High School, Gumla for his further studies. On completing his intermediate from St. Xavier's College Ranchi, he joined the Jesuit novitiate at St. Stanislaus College Sitagarh, on 6th August 1960, and took his first vows in August 1962. Then, he went through the regular formation stages, namely Juniorate, philosophy, regency and theology. He was ordained a priest on 23rd March 1971 and was finally professed on 15th August 1977.

Though Fr. Sylvanus was engaged in diverse ministries in various capacities in and out of the province, he was basically a formator. As a regent, he worked at St. Mary's High School, Samtoli. As a good shepherd, he took care of the people of Jampani as their Parish Priest, and for a few years he worked for AROUSE, Gumla. Over these few years, his Superiors had seen in him his bent for molding persons. Hence, he was sent for formation work as a Socius to the Novice Master, a ministry that he took over after a couple of years. Possibly he had the longest innings in this responsibility in Ranchi Province. When he was Superior at St. Xavier's, Doranda, he was also appointed PCF to take care of the Scholastics for six long years. He handled these two jobs with care, readiness and concern. Travelling by trains to almost all corners of India to visit our scholastics in the universities was never irksome to him.

Though physically of small stature, he was born for greater heights. Very soon his service was required from his home Province to the Assistancy. He was appointed Socius to the Provincial of India (POI). While there (Jor Bagh), he had a fall from his scooty during one of the errands, but escaped with minor scratches though some faint black scars still remained on his elbows. He served for quite a few years the Jesuit Tertians as their Instructor at Sacred Heart College, Shembaganur and at SSC, Sitagarha. He was also the Spiritual Guide of the young theologians at Vidyajyoti, Delhi. To cater to the Spiritual needs of the province men and of the people of Chotanagpur, Ranchi Province erected 'Jharna': a Centre for Ignatian Spirituality in 2008. Jharna needed somebody spiritually well matured to achieve its aims and objectives. Fr. Sylvanus Kiro with his rich, solid experiences and in-depth knowledge in the field of Ignatian Spirituality was the right man for Jharna. He came to Jharna as Assistant Director and soon became the Director of the Centre. He put all his energy and creativity in his new responsibility. He worked hard to ensure the maturity of the Centre and, with his colleagues, gave it a real Ignatian colour. He was always available for any spiritual ministry both in and away from the Centre. Such was his generosity and commitment. The kinds of tasks he had shouldered over the years had fashioned him into a pliable, modest and deeply spiritual person. In fact, his personal holiness seemed to ooze in his interactions with others.

"There is a time for everything," says Qoheleth. In the beginning of 2016, Fr. Sylvanus began to feel physically weak and his health began to gradually decline. He was under medical care for a year and frequently visited the hospital. He had difficulty in walking, his knees did not cooperate, and his memory also started getting weak. He had also prostrate related problem. Seeing his condition, it was decided in 2017 that Fr. Sylvanus be taken to the infirmary of Manresa House, Ranchi for better medical care. He seemed to be doing somewhat okay with his health, though it was evident that he was getting gradually weaker physically, especially his memory. He always welcomed visitors and his joy knew no bounds when he met someone from Jharna. His memory would seem to bounce back and he would, though painfully, try to connect. Probably he realized his limitations. Whatever the condition he was in, even in his sufferings, his angelic smiles never vanished. But all this came to a massive halt when in January, he had a stroke and his right side was completely paralyzed. He lost his speech and body movement was badly affected. He was rushed to Gurunanak Hospital, Ranchi where he breathed his last on 17th Jan. 2019.

I had a chance of living and working with Fr. Sylvanus Kiro for a few years. I will ever remember him for the following two reasons: He was a man of prayer. I don't remember a day when I did not see him in the chapel for his personal prayer. His prayerfulness was well reflective in his relationships. He had a good and happy relationship with all. He not only had the in-depth knowledge of Spiritual Exercises but was a man of Spiritual Exercises. The thing that made him special was that he loved and created occasions to share it with others. His love for the Society and for the Province was big. He loved to read and reflect the documents of the Society. He kept himself in tact with updated knowledge of the happenings of the Province and of the Society. These two characteristics will make any Jesuit a special one and Fr. Sylvanus was so. After having lived for 82 years of his fidelity to the Lord, I am convinced he is happy in the presence of the Lord.

Dear Fr. Sylvanus, we thank you for your testimonies of life, filled with love and we offer you our prayers of suffrages. Intercede for us that we know to carry our faith in our mission.