Mumbai (The Hindu): Jesuit priest Gussi Frederick Sopena, who waited 39 years for Indian citizenship and finally succeeded last year, died on Wednesday at Holy Spirit Hospital, Bandra. He was 91.
Doctors said he was brought in early last week with fever and breathing difficulties. “Examinations revealed that he had a kidney failure due to which his creatinine level was extremely high,” a doctor said. “He was immediately put on dialysis and oxygen support.” After he showed improvement, he was shifted from the Critical Care Unit to a ward on Tuesday, but that night his condition deteriorated and he passed away on Wednesday evening at around 5 p.m. Doctors said that Fr Sopena was on heavy dosage of painkillers which probably had led to the renal failure.
Born in Barcelona, Spain, Fr. Sopena had lived in Mumbai since 1949. He was fluent in Hindi and had studied modern and ancient history and Indian philosophy and knew the Vedas, Puranas and Upanishads. He also taught psychology at the Archdiocesan Seminary in Parel.
Fr. Sopena got Indian citizenship after applying four times, starting in 1978; he took the oath in April 2016. Activist Vaishali Patil, who knew him closely, had written to the government requesting that his case be consdidered. “I wanted his contributions to get some recognition from the Indian government, but unfortunately that did not happen. His love for the country was such that when he got the citizenship, he first said Bharat Mata Ki Jai. Now, his funeral will take place on January 26, Republic Day.” Ms. Patil told The Hindu that some of his relatives have come from Spain for his final rites.
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