RR  DD  BENEDICT  J.  OSTA, S. J. (82/63)

Died in Kurji Holy Family Hospital, Patna, on 30th January 2014.
Funeral Eucharist at 02.00 pm on 01 February 2014 in Kurji Parish Church,
followed by burial in XTTI cemetery.

Born:                                              15.08.1931
Entered the Society of Jesus:     20.06.1950            
Ordained:                                       09.06.1963
Final Vows:                                    15.08.1976
Episcopal Ordination:                   21.06.1980
Appointment as Archbishop:       11.07.1999

Archbishop Emeritus Benedict J. Osta, S.J. was a spiritual person who loved God, the Church and his people of Bihar. His life radiated the love of Jesus. Through his leadership and administrative skills he built the Church of Bihar and contributed much to the growth and development of the State by promoting educational and health services in the rural areas and made these affordable for the Dalits and other marginalized and poor / weaker sections of the society. This true shepherd of his people has now entered into the glory of his Master.

‘Swamiji’ as he was affectionately and respectfully addressed, was born as a beloved son of John Osta and Anna Osta, 16 years before but on the day and month on which India would become an independent nation. He had his Primary education in St. Stanislaus Middle school, Bettiah and High School education in KR High School Bettiah. After his novitiate and Juniorate in St. Stanisalus College, Sitagarh, he did his Intermediate studies in St. Xavier's College, Ranchi and B.A. in Rajastan University, Jaipur. His Philosophy study was in De Nobili College, Pune and Theology in West Baden College, Indiana, USA. He also did M. A. in Sanskrit from the University of Chicago and Journalism from Marquette University, USA. The tertianship in Sitagarh completed his Jesuit formation.

He was Socius to the Novice Master from 1967 to 1969, Novice Master from 1969 to 1976 and Vicar General of Patna Diocese from 1976 to 1980. He was consecrated as the Bishop of Patna on 21 June 1980. “Well done, good and faithful servant, you have been faithful in a few things, I will put you in charge of many more things; enter into the joy of the master.” (Mt 25:21). These words of the gospel became literally true in 1999 when his leadership of the Patna diocese was given recognition by the universal church, with the elevation of Patna as an Archdiocese and Bishop Benedict J. Osta as its first Archbishop; Bettiah, Bhagalpur, Buxar (bifurcated from Patna in 2006), Muzaffarpur and Purnea were made suffragans.

His novices adore him for the depth of spiritual foundation he laid in them. The Patna diocesan clergy found an affectionate father figure and an able leader in him; the religious experienced him as a modern prophet. And, the people of God (Christians as well as non-Christians) encountered a true person of God, a maha-atma in him. Of the 82 years of his life on this earth, for 63 years he was a Jesuit, 50 years a Priest, 33 years a Bishop (27 years in office) including 14 years as an Archbishop (8 years in office), till he retired on 09 December 2007 and shifted to XTTI for a life of prayer and deeper communion with God whom he had loved and served all his life. Neither would it be possible to count the number of churches, schools, hospitals / health centres / dispensaries, presbyteries and such that he built or the institutions that he established (such as Tapovan – Cloistered Carmel Convent in Patna or the Rosarian Brothers’ Monastry in Sasaram) nor is it perhaps appropriate even attempting to do so. It may be sufficient just to say that he was a true shepherd of his flock.

May Jesus, whom Benedict J. Osta served so faithfully on this earth, receive him for eternal reward in heaven. Swamiji, you are a light which has enlightened our path in following Jesus and serving His people. You will always live in all of us, whom you guided and those whom you served.

(All members of Patna Province should offer one Mass for the repose of his soul and members of XTTI community two Masses)

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