90-year-old priest becomes finally Indian 

Published on: 4:27 pm, April 22, 2016 Story By: mattersindia.com

Mumbai: After years of struggle and being a resident of India for over 67 years, Father Sopena, who originally hails from Spain, finally received Indian citizenship.

Originally from Spain but having resided in India for over 67 years, Father Federico Sopena Gusi finally got an Indian citizenship. Imagine a Jesuit father from Spain quoting Kabir ke dohe.

This beaming 90-year-old priest expressed himself with a Hindi couplet, “Kabir once said that a man is happy when he has no expenses and surrenders his life and soul to his country, and this is what I have achieved. I am happy that I could sacrifice everything for this country.”

April 21, Thursday, marked the end of a rather long wait of 38 years for Father Sopena when he was finally handed over the Indian citizenship by the Bandra District collectorate.

Father Sopena gave up his Spanish citizenship last month. After all, having spent over 67 years in this country, India is more of a home for him than his native country Spain, DNA reported.

Father Sopena was born on 10 March, 1926 in Barcelona, Spain. He is the fifth child out of seven kids. In 1949, he came to India to study – he delved into Indian Philosophy, Ancient & Modern Indian History, Religious Movements and Hindi Revival in India in 18th and 19th century – and never left. Along with social work, he went on to become a professor of Psychology and in 1960 he became assistant novice master and counsellor of Junior Jesuits.

“Now, you are all my brothers and sisters,” beamed this nonagenarian, flanked by his long-time friend and activist Vaishali Patil. It is the people of this country who accepted him and made him feel at home. He has had a long struggle with bureaucratic red-tape, the entire process of changing his citizenship was marred by several by hurdles, but Father Sopena found friends and well-wishers who made his Indian citizenship possible.

“India has its inherent contradiction, which the people manage to turn it into a positive factor. We accept and we try to correct. There is no one, specific reason as to why I love India. It’s a matter of the heart. It’s the people here I love, people who are ready to change,” said Father Sopena.

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