A third of Jesuit missionaries around the world who died of the coronavirus disease were Indians.
In India itself, members of the Society of Jesus, better know as the Jesuits, also accounted for the largest number of deaths among priests.
India has more than 4,000 Jesuits, the largest group in the world.
A list circulated by Father Arturo Sosa, superior general of the Society of Jesus, shows that as many as 158 Jesuits died of COVID-19 in the past year starting June 2020.
Among those who died, 50 were Indians and two Sri Lankans.
“This list is long, and it would be even longer if we added the names of all our relatives who have left us,” said Father Sosa in his letter.
“We now know that this pandemic is far from over, and that we need to remain vigilant to prevent the spread of the virus to those around us,” he added.
“We also know that this emergency calls for a thorough revision of our lifestyles and methods of development,” said the priest in his letter dated June 25.
The deaths due to the coronavirus disease have added to the already dwindling numbers among the Jesuits.
As of 2018, the Society of Jesus had 15,842 members: 11,389 priests and 4,453 men in formation. This was 56 percent less than 36,038 in 1965, when the congregation’s membership peaked.
In September 2019, before the pandemic hit the world, Father Sosa estimated that by 2034 the number would decrease to about 10,000 Jesuits, with a much younger average age and with a shift away from Europe into Latin America, Africa, and India.
Father Sosa has urged provinces, regions and communities of the congregation to arrange times of prayer in memory of the COVID-19 victims. – Report from Matters India