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Kolkata Photo Exhibition on Father Ante Gabric, 'Apostle of Sunderbans'

Father Ante Gabric Photo Exhibition in Kolkata (Photo from the Exhibition by Teresa Rozario)

A photo exhibition on the life and works of Father Ante Gabric, a Croatian Jesuit missionary, popularly known as the ‘Apostle of Suderbans’ was held in Kolkata at Mother Teresa Hall in Christ the King Church from February 16-17.

The exhibition was organized by the Croatian ‘Father Ante Gabric Foundation’ in collaboration with the Archdiocese of Kolkata.

Violeta, the founder of the "Father Ante Gabric Foundation," said that "Father Gabric and Mother Teresa inspired her to launch the program in India."

The exhibition displayed several rare photographs taken by Croatian photographer
Zvonimir Atletic in 1977.

Archbishop Thomas D'Souza said, "Fifty years devoted in the service of humanity," during the two-day display. Nothing is for him; everything is for others.

The Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity, Sister Joseph MC, present on the occasion said, “He has been a light to the diocese of Baruipur. His life merged with another saint Mother Teresa.”

Exhibitions have previously been hosted in Croatia and other European locations since 1990, with the most recent ones taking place in six Croatian towns in 2022.

The pictures show Saint Mother Teresa of Kolkata and Father Gabric's early work. He is now a Servant of God. For 50 years, he lived in eastern India, mostly in the Sundarbans, and became a Servant of God.

"His way of getting around was always something simple, like a bicycle or a bus. He wouldn't take himself in a taxi. I think he broke his back trying to carry a bicycle across a stream or river. Whatever he used to get, he got for his people," said Father Raphael Hyde, Provincial of Calcutta Jesuits.

Arundhati Roy, a former English teacher at Kolkata's Loreto College, said, "Even though it was a photo show of a unique personality, it was ethereal. I really got a sense of how humble he was and how happy it must have been for him to work with saint Mother Teresa. Very interesting, piqued my interest, and led me to discover a man who was both noble and of the highest order."

Father Gabric came to Kolkata on 20 October 1938, as a Jesuit seminarian and died on the same date in 1988.  

Since his ordination on 21 November 1943, “Father Gabric was a man on fire and a man for the frontiers, finding new avenues and opportunities to reach out to the unreached and unreachable” wrote the late Nicolas Naskar, a catechist who had worked with the Jesuit since his arrival in the region.

Father Gabric did not limit his help just to giving food and money. He introduced viable income-generating activities, such as carpentry, and stitching, tailoring and embroidery. Most tailors in many Sundarbans Islands now were trained by his Tailoring School.

Father Gabric was close to Mother Teresa, and they both respected and admired each other as they tried to follow Christ better every day.

The exhibition will now go to Basanti on February 23-24 and Gosaba on February 26-27, both located in the Sundarban region, in the diocese of Baruipur. - Teresa Rozario.


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