Sunday, April 19, 2009

BIS #1361 - FR VINCENT VAZ PASSES AWAY

Ivo Coelho sdb NASHIK, APRIL 19, 2009: Fr. Vincent Vaz passed away some time in the afternoon of April 19, 2009, Divine Mercy Sunday. He had suffered a mild stroke towards the end of October 2008, leading to hospitalization. But he rallied, and, though significantly weakened, he got back into his daily routine of writing and ministry. His hair was whiter, his voice weaker and more reedy, his walk unstable, and he had to call in a brother to kick start his Kinetic so that he could go for the chaplaincies. The wonderful thing was that he worked practically till he died. I saw him just the day before at table; he was in a good mood and was trying to pull my leg. On the way to the station yesterday, I remarked to Vally and to Wyman that we would not even know if anything happened to him up there in his room. He would not, probably, have the presence of mind to call to anyone, and we would assume that he was busy working or resting, and would not bother to check out. As it happened, he did not come down for lunch today, and Fr Savio D’Souza, the Rector, did go up to his room, and found him fallen on the floor. It has been all very sudden. We knew he was getting weak, but we did not think that he would go so quickly. Fr Vincent Vaz came to Nashik in 1996, the year the MPh course began. He had a PhD in Education, and was needed on the faculty. It was, I think, a big sacrifice for him to leave his comfort zone of Matunga and come up to Nashik. We in Nashik went out of our way to make his settling down comfortable, and he did settle down beautifully. Like many of his age, he was not one to express his feelings directly. But he did tell the Salesian Sisters that he was very happy, and that the community was wonderful, and they passed on the message to us. The provincial, Fr Tony D’Souza, was good enough to allow Fr Vincent to keep a room in Matunga, and to move between Mumbai and Nashik as often as he wanted, and that suited Fr Vincent fine. He plunged into his writing, and was probably the most productive professor on the campus. He took up the teaching not only education for the MPh but also a variety of courses for the BPh, ranging from Christian Doctrine to Latin and Italian. He never said no to a request for ministry, be it mass or confessions or recollections or retreats. And whatever he did, he did perfectly. He endeared himself to the brothers. On occasion he would pull out his music books and teach the community the traditional songs and hymns: Kookaburra, the Man with the Mandolin (or was it the Accordion), and so on. And he was quite independent: he did not make demands on anybody’s time (unless you asked him questions about mathematics or about the organ), he was quite busy and found fulfilment in his work. One of the brothers once did some photocopying for him, but the copies were smudged, and the young brother was afraid of what Fr Vincent would say. Finally he plucked up courage and handed over the papers to him. ‘Why so late,’ Fr Vincent asked. ‘I was afraid,’ said the brother. ‘Don’t forget, Brother, I also have a heart,’ replied Fr Vincent. During the celebrations of the golden jubilee of his priesthood, he had shared with us about the heart attack he had suffered while in Matunga: some confreres had remarked, ‘At least now we know he has a heart.’ I think we can say quite confidently: Fr Vincent Vaz received the grace to grow old gracefully, as gracefully as I have ever seen anyone do. He was happy and grateful to be a religious, a Salesian, a priest. He was contented. He was able to say that he had done all things out of love. In the last few years of his life, Fr Vincent kept putting his prodigious expertise in mathematics to good use. Quietly and silently he went wherever he was called: to Jhabua, to Ahmednagar, to Sulcorna, and perhaps to many other places, teaching teachers as well as students, unfazed by problems of language and managing to communicate despite the linguistic barriers. In Nashik itself there are many students who he has helped, some of them in astounding ways, like the girl who came to him exactly a week before the SSC exam, and came out with flying colours in his mathematics papers. Here was a man who was given a gift, and who used it happily and to the full. Divyadaan and Nashik will miss the silent, unfussy presence of Fr Vincent Vaz. God bless him and give him peace.

12 comments:

Gopal Racherla said...

I am very saddended to hear the passing of one of my favorite and influential teacher in my life. Fr. Vincent Vaz taught Mathematics to us at Don Bosco Lonavla in 1986-1987. He was a teacher par excellence. He spent a lot of time preparing notes for us to supplement the text book. A perfectionist that he was, he set a very high standard for all us and worked hard to ensure that we got all the help that we needed to meet it.

Today, I owe a great part of my academic and professional success to Fr. Vaz.

May his soul rest in eternal peace.

Gopal Racherla
San Diego, USA

Anonymous said...

It is tremendously saddening to hear that Fr Vaz has passed on. I can confidently say that my entire knowledge of Maths was built on the superb foundation built by Fr Vaz. It was sheer delight to watch him in action, teaching and communicating with students.I am honoured to have Fr Vaz as one of my teachers at Don Bosco Matunga and owe a tremendous amount of my professional success to him.

May his soul rest in peace.

Subodh Purohit
Melbourne, Australia

Anonymous said...

On behalf of the boys of Don Bosco, Matunga, Batch of 1983, our sincerest condolences on Fr. Vincent's passing. He was our much-admired Prinicpal, favorite Math teacher and a great source of all-round inspiration to us all. He was a teacher in the truest sense of the word.

May his soul rest in peace.

Sunil Shenoy,
Los Angeles, CA

Anonymous said...

I am truly saddened by his demise. I remember him from early days when I passed out in 1985. His books on maths were the most circulated in other schools too and his teaching methods and skills were the best. You will be missed Father Vaz.

Rushabh Mehta said...

Fr Vaz was a great institution at Don Bosco Matunga. As a '95 passout, even today after many years I recall his simple superb visual techniques that helped me grasp the foundations of mathematics. I hope his books "Modern Mathematics" are still in use in schools. He shall always live in our memories.

Rana Ranjit Singh said...

I am sorry to hear that Fr Vincent Vaz is no more. I remember when I passed out of Don Bosco Matunga, I wrote him a letter to which he replied with a card in his beautiful handwriting....That card was one of the memories of the school we all cherished. My condolences...
Rana Ranjit Singh

Vishal said...

I am very saddened to learn about the passing of Fr.Vincent Vaz.I had admired him like a true eklavya learning from his book "LMR"Last minute revision in mathematics.
May his soul rest in eternal peace.

Vishal Wagle
Bhopal

Anonymous said...

I learned of the existence of Modern Mathematics (in 1971) from Fr Vaz, not in the classroom but in evening conversations out in the vast playground with the cool breezes of those days. He was young, black-haired and dashing in his white cassock, witty and argumentative. I left DB Matunga in my ninth, but those images are ageless. RIP Father Vaz, mentor and genius.

Venky said...

Fr.Vaz was one of my best-ever teachers in Modern Mathematics. I always looked forward to his class in Std.X. His books on Graded Exercises in Modern Mathematics (GEM) for Std.IX and the 1975 Edition with the same title for Std.X provided me with the rigorous drill work. Not to exclude his LMR and GEM editions which eventually were a breeze for to follow through. These exercises enabled me to not only achieve thorough mastery but also, became responsible for my unlimited love for the subject that I still carry. Even now, I enjoy solving those kinds of problems along with the more difficult ones!

Fr.Vaz was one of the few teachers in my life who actually used the wooden straight-edge and compass (the gigantic ones) on the blackboard to illustrate his Geometric Constructions! We will miss him, he was an awesome teacher with a beautiful handwriting on both, board and paper!

May his soul rest in eternal peace!

Venkatesh Ramamoorthy (Venky)
Milpitas, CA, USA
DBHS (Matunga) 1983 Batch

REMEMBERENCE said...

FR VINCENT VAZ WAS MY MATHEMATICS LECTURER IN 1970 AT SACRED HEART COLLEGE TIRUPATTUR.IAM HIS STUDENT I USED TO MEET HIM IN MATUNGA WHEN I WA WORKING IN MUMBAI.HE IS VERY PROFICIENT IN COMPUTER APPLICATIONS.HE WAS ALWAYS VERY FREINDLY .HE USED TO ADVISE NOT TO BRING CHILDREN TO MUMBAI FROM CHENNAI.I HAVE FOLLOWED HIS ADVISE BECAUSE MUMBAI EDUCATION IS VERY BAD AND STUDENTS HAVE NO APTITUDE TOWARDS EDUCATION.TO DAY MY CHILDREN ARE ALL POST GRATUATED FROM MIT(USA) AND HARVARD (BOSTON) THANKS TO FATHERS ADVISE AT THE RIGHT TIME.

Anonymous said...

As I was looking for the latest versions of Mathematics Books for Std X, by Fr. Vincent Vaz, I was unable to get such books. Then after viewing the blog at google search, came to know the sad demise of Fr. Vincent Vaz. Extremely sad to know about it.
When I was in 9th Std at Don Bosco Matunga in the year 1981-82, Fr. Vincent Vaz was introduced as our Maths Teacher. In Std X, he became our Principal as well our Teacher. I recollect the days, when I was called by him at the stage after every Results of Algebra & Geometry and he is to be very proud about me, as I was the shortest child in not only Std. X but also the Secondary Session.

MAY HIS SOUL REST IN PEACE
Prakash Sunder Gounder
SSC Batch 1983

Anonymous said...

As a Student of Fr. Vincent Vaz, nobody could forget his Teachings in Mathematics. He use to explain in such a way that even a child will be fond of learning Maths. Of Course his G.E.M. & LMR was really great. I am really proud to have a Teacher as Fr. Vincent Vaz.

PRAKASH SUNDER GOUNDER
SSC BATCH 1983