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Fr John Lens calls it a (good) day!

By Castilino Vincent  - 5 Comments
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Hyderabad, Nov. 29. 'Be good and don't forget to breathe!' was the cheerful message spread around by Fr John Lens SDB of Hyderabad Province, to everyone he met all along the 93 years that he spent on this earth. Fr Lens, as fondly called by all who knew him, left for his eternal 'good' yesterday, 28 November 2014 at 11 pm. The Salesian Province of Hyderabad, along with all those dearly loved by him, will collectively pay homage to the mortal remains of this man who gave nothing but his best to God and the Salesian world,  on Monday, 1 December at Don Bosco Philosophate, Karunapuram, at 2.30 pm.
Fr John Lens, the only foreign missionary in the Salesian Province of Hyderabad and the senior-most confrere of the Province, breathed his last on Friday night. He was the confessor in the novitiate at Manoharabad for the past 17 years.

He suffered a massive heart attack and collapsed in his room before confreres discovered him missing for prayer which was something very unusual. The Novices broke open the door and rushed him to the hospital where he was declared dead.

For a man who was born in Borgerhout, Belgium, and went on to make war planes for Hitler during the World War II, life would have been a different saga if it were not for God's call. When God called him, he left all of it and entered the Salesian Society making his first Religious Profession in his hometown the year India won her Independence. Two years later, in 1949, he found himself in Goa, India doing his practical training (Regency) as a young missionary.

The next three years he spent in Shillong for his theological studies. Soon after his ordination, on 1 August 1953 he was posted at Poonamalle. Having worked also in Kotagiri, Katpadi, Negombo (Sri Lanka), and Tirupattur, he reached Andhra Pradesh in 1975. And all along he made India his home!

From 1975 when the Salesians were offered a Parish, St Teresa's Church, Sanathnagar in the city of Hyderabad, he stayed put offering God and his best to all those who approached him. He also served two separate terms as the Rector of the aspirantate in Gunadala, Vijayawada, before retiring to the novitiate as Confessor. However, 'retirement' was only from a portfolio... he never stopped working, never stopped doing all he could.

Those who knew him personally - that would be practically the whole of the Salesian Province of Hyderabad - would vouch for the fact that he was a man beyond comparison. His tireless enthusiasm, even in his last days, would put any youngster to shame. His love for Don Bosco was very tangible - in his dealings with confreres, young and lay people alike, in his words, writings and attitude.

Fr. Lens was indeed a true son of Don Bosco. His most passionate hobby was to make Don Bosco known, besides the million other things he kept himself busy with! His pen, opened envelopes and pieces of used paper, and his computer were the most used means for the same. He had a real knack of narrating events and stories. Boys and confreres would hang on to his lips, especially when he spoke of Don Bosco's life and deeds. After meals, during recreation, he would be the most sought after person - that too after he had successfully led them all to a visit to the Blessed Sacrament.

As all those close to him, feel his absence here on earth, we are glad to have a sure intercessor for us in heaven. What he did here on earth, he will continue doing from heaven... leading us closer to God.
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BELLAMKONDA Anthony Sudhakar India
December 02, 2014

Rev. Fr John Lens was a great missionary. He is a LEGEND for the Salesian Province of Hyderabad. 30 years ago I met Fr. John Lens for the first time (06.06.1984) when I first stepped in Don Bosco aspirentate, Gunadala, Vijayawada and he was there to welcome us (my dad and me). Looking back my journey with him especially first three years of my stay with him was memorable and unforgettable. He was a father to form us, he was a guide to accompany us and a friend to listen to us. I admire for his memory to remember and call every one by name who came in contact with him. Certainly his demise will be great loss for all who know him closely. As a community (Don Bosco Navajeevan, Hyderabad), we planned to go and listen to him as part of our community plan during this year of Bicentenary of the birth of Don Bosco. Now this will remain just in planning but not reality. Dear Fr Lens, I miss you. Do pray for us that we may accomplish the mission entrusted to us in Don Bosco Way. May your soul Rest in Peace

Antony EARATHARA India
December 01, 2014

Fr. Mathew Orathel sdb writes from Tiruchi: "Rev. Fr. Lens taught us liturgy,Salesian conferance n every sunday in the theologate at Kotagiri. I used to look forward to his class and conference. The library books of the new theologate were bought with money which Fr. LENS WAS GETTING from his friends abroad. A very hard working man an examplary Salesian Missionary, a great gift to the Salesians of South India.Today the salesian community of Yercaud prayed for the soul of Rev. Fr.Lens . We offer our deep heartfelt condolences to V. Rev. Fr. Provincal and all our dear confreres of Hyderabad province, R.I.P. Fr. Mathew Orathel sdb Mission Procure director, Trichy Province.1-12-14.

amruth dilip India Hyderabad
November 30, 2014

He is greatest father with kindness, mercy and sympathy .... we miss you father.

November 29, 2014

Fr. Lens was a great pioneer who founded Salesians works in the province of Hyderabad. He was a bridge connecting us to Don Bosco by his translation of the European Salesian literature to English. His personal imparting and writings were sources of first knowledge of Don Bosco to younger generation of Salesians. Everyone who encountered this man of God was touched by his simplicity and greatness. The demise of this only foreign missionary and a Salesian stalwart is a great loss for the Salesian Province of Hdyerabad. May this great son of Don Bosco rest in peace in the presence of the Lord.

Sebastian Koladiyil Kenya
November 29, 2014

Rest in Peace Fr. Lens as you to for a well deserved rest with the Lord whom you made friend to many young people.

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Religious Institute Founder archbishop dies
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