The untimely demise of Rev Dr Santanu Kumar Patro, the Registrar of the Senate of Serampore College has cast a gloom over the minds of several of his associates and friends in the country and in the world. As an administrator and an ecumenical leader, Dr Patro has been a close friend of the NCCI and its network churches and their theological colleges for so many years, walking together on many contemporary issues that the NCCI network has involved, particularly during the last decade.
Born on October 20, 1960 in Berhampur, Odisha, he was ordained as a Presbyter of CNI Cuttack Diocese. Besides the Church of North India, his services included the World Vision India, as a Faculty at Eastern Theological College, Jorhat and Gurukul Lutheran Theological College and Research Institute, Chennai and as Registrar of the Senate of Serampore College from 2013-2021. His area of specialization was in the field of Religion and was a renowned scholar in religious studies, writing many articles and guiding many students. His scholarly articles on various subjects related to mission, ministry, theological education, religious studies, interfaith relations, ecumenism, etc were published in many reputed journals.
He was a visionary who always aimed for achieving great things for God. He worked tirelessly to take theological education to the higher levels which will in turn be a lasting contribution to churches in India and the Global South. His dream to provide quality theological education was seen during his service at the Senate of Serampore College. He had a special concern for the marginalized, through his teaching and service, whereby he was a true friend of the marginalized sections of our society. He envisioned an effective theological education that takes seriously the sufferings of the people as the basis of theologizing. As the Registrar of the Senate, we have seen some path breaking initiatives being taken, along with the NCCI in the areas of HIV and AIDS and thereafter in the area of gender and sexuality. A new syllabus in these sensitive areas of HIV and AIDS and then Human Sexuality was implemented at the Senate through his initiatives.
Being an ecumenist, Dr. Patro upheld the spirit of ecumenism in his writings and was one of his qualities which stood out during his ministry, particularly during his services at the Senate of Serampore College, which is a conglomeration of different colleges belonging to churches of various denominations. He understood the need for ecumenism in theological education and took serious efforts to develop it by embracing leaders of different churches with the utmost respect. In our long standing relationship with Dr Patro, the NCCI member churches and its affiliated theological colleges had a close relationship with him, promoting ecumenical values and challenging them towards key issues. As NCCI, we have indeed lost a true friend in Dr Patro, which we recognize as an irreparable loss for the ecumenical fraternity in India.
At this time of grief and loss, we extend our heartfelt condolences to his wife and children and share in solidarity in bidding a tearful adieu to Rev Dr Santanu Kumar Patro. May our resurrected Lord give strength to the family and may his life be an inspiration to all of us in the times ahead.
Rev. Asir Ebenezer
General Secretary, NCCI