RUDOLF R SCHOCH SJ
I was transferred from Mumbai to Pune in August 1959. My eldest son Arun was in Std. I. As is every father’s wish, I wanted him to get a good foundation for his future, with a disciplined life as I was myself a Scout in my younger days, which had inculcated in me, the spirit of discipline and service. On transfer to Pune I tried St. Vincent’s High School, which was one of the best schools in Pune. But as I could not get admission there, I put him in a school in Poona Cantonment. One morning when I attended the school prayer meeting, I found the boys misbehaving in the meeting. This badly affected my mind and I decided to change the school.
One day, I happened to go on my bicycle to the National Defence Academy (NDA) Road near National Chemical Laboratory (NCL) Complex. I saw a bulldozer working on the hill, where I saw a tall person with flowing white robe supervising the work. Out of curiosity I went up the hill, greeted the father-like figure and introduced myself. He told me that NCL wanted the establishment of a good school similar to St. Vincent’s. Father Schoch had been assigned the task of laying the foundation of the building for a branch of St. Vincent’s there. I narrated to Father about my attempt to put my son in St. Vincent’s and sought his help and blessings for seeking admission in the school under NCL. Father told me it was too early and I should wait for a couple of years for this school to be founded. I started visiting the construction site frequently to watch the progress. One day Father Schoch was so impressed about my desire and advised that I put my son in St. Joseph’s High School for Girls (earlier a co-ed) for three years and try admission later at Loyola. Permission was required from the Municipal School Board to change from one school to another within the same Corporation limits. However paradoxically, the 12th July 1961 floods isolated our residence from Cantonment area. This came as a blessing in disguise and as I was in the western side of the city closer to Loyola, the Board granted me permission to admit my son in St. Joseph’s.
Later on, under very strict vigilance, a test was conducted and Arun was admitted to Loyola. Three years later, my second son Anil was also admitted under a similar test. Finally my third son Anup followed suit on the same lines. All the three were called 3 Musketeers by Father Schoch. I used to visit Father religiously every week to apprise myself about their progress which Fr. Schoch highly appreciated.
Anil fell ill due to typhoid 3 months prior to Matric examinations. He was very studious, scoring high percentage consistently. On hearing this Fr. Schoch drove his 16-seater school van himself to my two-room residence. Everyone in the colony was surprised to see a foreigner dressed in a cassock. He sat at Anil’s bedside, spoke very soothing words and wished him well. This act on the part of Fr. Schoch remains fresh in our memories even today.
Arun’s performance in pre-Matric especially in Maths was below average. The rules then did not permit detention except with parents’ consent. Father told me, “Mr. Yoganand, if I were his father I would detain him,” and left the choice to me. I readily agreed to abide by his advice. He took the trouble of getting him coached after classes. Arun passed Matric with good percentage.
A picnic to Katraj Ghat had been arranged by the school. The driver was Mr. D’souza. On return down the ghat, the brakes failed. Rather than jumping out to save his own life he drove the bus head-on to a big tree on the side of the road and saved all the children in the bus. Unfortunately, due to the impact of the steering wheel on his chest, he was sandwiched and sacrificed his life, thus saving all the 36 children. Next day I called on Fr. Schoch to pay my homage to the departed driver. Father had personally sent word for me to attend the late driver’s funeral.
Father used to himself bring home to the students, the value of education, character and discipline. Not a single soul among students, parents or teachers were there who did not love him. He used to invite me for any function either auspicious or otherwise.
I am incompetent to describe the innumerable human qualities of this great personality. I do worship him like God.
During his last days at St Vincent’s – Father’s residence, he asked me to bring my three sons whom he blessed. Hats off to a foreigner who took so much interest for a country like India; my family and I are ever grateful to this saintly person – a godly man at least for me. For my family and me, Father is immortal and lives in our hearts for time immemorial. May his soul rest in eternal peace.
India Meteorological Department, Pune (Jan 1946 – Jul 1980)
Father of Arun (SSC Batch 1971), Anil (1972) & Anup (1974)