Alumni Affairs

SMS Hall of Fame

Among the ranks of Abuites are men who climbed Everest, headed one of the world's largest banks, directed some of the world's most prestigious corporations, became millionaires, successful professionals, musicians, sportsmen, photographers, soldiers, etc. A hearty round of applause to them all. They're an inspiration to the rest of us, and we're proud to know that we may be made of roughly the same stuff, have walked the halls of the same school as they did, whacked their shins in hockey, and perhaps choused some tuck out of them or vice versa.

In their annual address to parents at the concert, more than one Principal remarked about the school's notion of success. When alums racked up personal laurels the school would certainly hold its head high, but it reserved its greatest appreciation for those who made the world a brighter place for others.

Without taking a thing away from the achievers referenced above, this page celebrates a brand of passionate and dedicated visionaries who might have been outstanding entrepreneurs and CEOs too, but (a) envisioned a way to help the less fortunate, (b) sacrificed their own interests, and (c) dedicated the time and effort to turn their visions into reality, gaining nothing out of it other than smiles and namastes of gratitude—on a good day. It's an embarrassment rather than an honour to have whacked these guys' shins. If you're lucky enough to be among the millionaires and high flyers SMS has produced, there could be some compelling charitable causes below.

To nominate someone for the Hall of Fame, drop me an e-mail with details, bearing in mind that—as you'll see from the citations below—the bar is near the summit of Everest.

Br J A Keane gained renown as Principal in the 1960s-1980s, particularly for sneaking up on chaps talking during quiet time, climbing over cupboards to catch them if that's what it took. That imagination and energy showed through in his administration of the school: he convened the Parents' Auxiliary Committee and initiated construction of the Br Rice Wing in 1967. In the late 1980s JAK started a school for adivasis in Umarpada. It was a daring break from the model of elite institutions the Brothers ran at the time, and compared even with the Brothers' quarters, was not exactly a life of creature comforts. At least in India, this began a new mode of Brothers engaging remote communities, that was then expanded to Arunachal and Burma. JAK returned to Ireland in failing health in 2008 and died in February 2009.

Fr Roger H Lesser (1944) is perhaps the best known Jesuit. Affectionately known as “Podge,” he hosted a counselling column, “Ask Uncle Podge” in The Teenager in the 1970s. He's authored about 85 books on religion and lifestyle, not just on Catholicism but most creditably on its links to other religions (example) and the merits and demerits of religious conversion. He's been cited as the best known Catholic writer in India after Mother Teresa. As a priest he opted to live and work among Bhil tribals, most recently in the Udaipur area. Other than his prolific authorship, he shuns the spotlight and it's difficult to nail down a biography, though there's a brief filmography from 1986. He was awarded an MBE in the Order of the British Empire (Civil Division), Diplomatic Service and Overseas List, by the Queen in 1999 [BBC, photo outside Buckingham Palace]. He died in 2015.

Br Brendan MacCarthaigh was a young Brother when he served in Abu, 1970-71. Enormously talented, he played football with the school team and clarinet with the orchestra, wrote his own choral recitation pieces for the Elocution/Declamation contests (which invariably won), and composed the music and lyrics for a school anthem that was subsequently scuttled—most unfortunately. In the 1990s, incidentally in partnership with a Hindu and a Muslim, he set up Student’s Empowerment, Rights and Vision through Education (SERVE) in Kolkota (Calcutta) to address the problem of teen suicide, mostly related to school exam stress, by counselling and designing a stress-free system of education. Recently his story was featured in India Today and earned Mac a Harmony Silver award.

Jagdish Nazareth (1967) had his tenure as a do-gooder cut short when he died suddenly in 2002. He started the Institute for Studies and Transformations (IST), applying his brilliant mind to the problems facing farmers in Gujarat, weaving alternative eco-friendly fertilizers out of natural substances. He was in communication with a circle of scientists around the world, exchanging ideas on probiotic fertilizers. His expertise extended not just to biochemistry, but he sideslipped easily into areas like remote sensing and geometric image transformation, to map and to monitor the success of crops grown with his fertilizers. The big chemical companies weren't enamoured with him, but he soldiered on despite them. A search on his name will bring up many of his technical writings (example) and interactions.

Len Alphonso (1973) spent 20 years working as an architect in Dubai, Bahrain and Australia. He returned to India and settled in Goa, and after a few serendipitous developments, he made the unusual decision to open his apartment to homeless kids from El-Shaddai, a street child rescue agency. Not just his apartment but his computer and his precious hard drive. He got a bench of 6 computers running and taught the kids what he knows best: architecture and computer aided design (CAD). His “graduates” in turn plan to build homes for the homeless (El Shaddai reports). “My idea is to equip them with skills so they can work in architecture firms. I use an international methodology so they can work here in India or the Middle East, Europe or Australia.”

Tony Paul (1975) was orphaned early in life and raised by the Mission Sisters of Ajmer. He trained as a draftsman in Bombay. Seeing street kids growing up around him, he remembered how it felt each year as he waved at the 2nd batch buses heading out, packed with boys going “home.” Grateful for the break he'd received from the MSA and Brothers, he was inspired to give the street kids a place to call home. In 1989 he launched an orphanage, Anand Ashram, in Vasai (Bassein), Bombay. He worked tirelessly to secure sponsorships, and now accommodates 90+ boys. He gives them a roof and meals, education/training appropriate to their circumstances, and helps them find jobs. Some of his graduates are working in the Middle East and UK. He recently added a home for the aged.