Breaking Bread, is a ritual that goes back to the time of Christ and is symbolic to the Eucharistic being shared by Christians globally primarily on Sundays and other days. Sundays are special when i get to meet this man and shake his hand as he welcomes each parishioner to church; his words always being, “Welcome” followed by a gentle “Good Morning”.
In my life time i have never come across a priest who stands outside the Church and welcomes the parishioners .One such Sunday , he was excited and said “Heisenberg” , pointing at my tee which had a mug shot of infamous chemistry teacher from Texas, Albuquerque, he thought it was Heisenberg, the German Physicist.
Anyways, it was a month ago when he requested all the parishioners during Sunday Mass to pray for him as his Visa for the first time in 52 years was stuck at the home ministry in Delhi. In this age when everyone including me has escaped this country for greener pastures, here is a German Jesuit Priest requesting a prayer for extension of his visa in India. It was this moment which made me eager to learn more about this man, and help him in his pursuit for the visa. I was eager to tweet to a certain Ms. SS in the Government , but he said gently “ Let’s wait for a week and see”. Two weeks later , with folded hands he said thanks to all in Church , as he had got his visa extension.
After few phone calls, emails and visits to him , i briefly now know about Fr. Matthias Altrichter S.J , born in a tiny village of Smilov, Czech Republic, on 27th Jan,1934. He at the age of 25 joined Society of Jesus in 1959 post his brief education and work as a clerk in the postal department. Since,his main aim to join the society like St. Ignatius Loyola was to serve the “Missions” ,he landed in India on 4th June, 1965. He has worked in Goa , Mumbai, Pune and Ahmednagar provinces of the Jesuit order. In Ahmednagar , the poor farmers use to call him Father “Transistor” as Altrichter was tough for them to pronounce. Father “Transistor” , since 2000 heads the Loyola Retreat Center in Pune.
After serving India for last 52 years, he now calls India his “Second Motherland”. Writing this on our 70th year of Independence, i question myself, who is a True Indian ?
Danke, Fr. Matthias Altrichter
Love & Prayers, Louis