In Memoriam: Amédée Nagapen
By Professor J. Manrakhan
Allow me to add to the flood of homage, being rendered to the memory of Monsignor Amédée Nagapen, GOSK, former Vicar- General of the Diocese of Port Louis, and who passed away at 81.
He forms part of a whole galaxy of distinguished personalities who have served both Church and Letters, from the days of St. Augustine (354 -430), theologian-philosopher and a most celebrated priest of his time, who attempted to harmonize the tenets of Plato’s teachings with Christian values and principles, to Cardinal John Newman (1801- 90) whose classical Idea of the University still remains at the very foundation of any functioning Citadel of Reason (the University included) to even more modern times, with Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881 -1955) Jesuit priest, philosopher and paleontologist, searching for a superior, universal and unifying Conscience.
After studies at the Royal College, Amédée entered a seminary in France to become a priest in 1955. Subsequently, he proceeded for social-sciences study in Canada, and was appointed Vicar-General, 1969 – 2002.
The writings of Amédée Nagapen centred upon various intertwined aspects of the history of Mauritius and the Roman Catholic Church here – probing both wide and deep: from parish monographs to the more monumental, L’Eglise à Maurice, 1810 – 41; and L’Histoire du Diocèse de Port Louis; and from the plight of runaway slaves in ‘Le Marronage à l’Isle de France’, to his latest, L’Abbé Tristan Bordet, 1829 – 84 (now in print) concerning the first Mauritian English Scholarship holder to become priest.
Amédée Nagapen also served as Editor-in-Chief of La Vie Catholique (1968 – 71) and as a member of L’Union Internationale des Journalistes de Presse de Langue Française; as the President of the Roman Catholic Education Authority (1971 – 91) and on L’Association des Ecrivains de langue française, and the Société de L’Histoire de L’Ile Maurice, among others.
As a historian, he acted more in the style of a peace-time Herodotus (c484 – c422 BCE) rather than that of a near-revolutionary Friedrich Hegel (1770 – 1831). As a person he was courteous, patient and affable, pertinent and sharp, tolerant yet discreetly persistent, hard-working and productive – ever striving; and methodical:
‘Toute pensée qui pénètre en profondeur s’achève en un mysticisme moral’
— Albert Schweiter, 1875 – 1965
‘La plus petite mousse par ses harmonies élève notre intelligence jusqu’à l’Intelligence qui veille aux destins de toute la terre….’
— Jacques Bernadin de St Pierre, 1737 – 1814
But perhaps the most appropriate citation to discern his effectiveness might be one from l’Abbé de Saint Cyran (1581 – 1643):
‘…les choses visibles me sont comme invisibles, et les invisibles comme visibles: et les unes et autres me servent…’
How might he have seen himself, amid all his achievements, not least with his amazing penmanship?
“In my Father’s house are many mansions” (St John, 14:2)
* Published in print edition on 16 August 2019