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Nepalese mourn pioneering Jesuit missionary

American-born Father Casper J. Miller served as a missionary in Nepal from 1958 until his death
American Jesuit Father Casper J. Miller spent about six decades in Nepal until his death on Jan. 15

American Jesuit Father Casper J. Miller spent about six decades in Nepal until his death on Jan. 15. (Photo: St. Xavier's College, Matighar)

Published: January 18, 2023 08:06 AM GMT
Updated: January 20, 2023 03:47 AM GMT

People in Nepal are mourning the death of the country's oldest Jesuit missionary who spent more than six decades as an educator and ethnographic researcher in the Himalayan nation.

American-born Father Casper J. Miller, 90, died on Jan. 15 in the national capital Kathmandu, the Nepal Jesuit Society said.

Fondly called “Father Cap” he was a former principal of St. Xavier Schools in Jawakhel and Godavari and was well known for his various roles as a missionary — a mentor, writer, storyteller, educator, counselor, and pianist.

His funeral service took place on Jan. 16 at Assumption Church, Dhobighat in Kathmandu. Following the funeral Mass, his mortal remains were cremated, Radio Veritas Asia (RVA) reported on Jan. 17.

Father Miller “was a saintly man. He did everything a Catholic missionary should. Maybe he was the most evangelical one too,” Chirendra Satyal, a former student and former director of media and communications at the Apostolic Vicariate of Nepal, told the Matters India news portal.

Satyal said that the priest carried out pioneering anthropological research for Nepal’s Tribhuwan University resulting in two bestselling books Faith-healers in the Himalaya (MA, 1979) and Decision Making in Village Nepal (PhD, 1990).

“He lived in really challenging conditions in various very remote villages for this research,” he said.

The missionary is hailed by the Church for introducing Catholicism to Tamang tribals in the mountainous Dhading district of Nepal.

Following Father Miller’s death only one Western missionary remains in Nepal now — American Jesuit Father Gregory Sharkey, who lives in Kathmandu” as a Buddhist research scholar, he added.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio in the United States in 1933, Father Miller arrived in Nepal in 1958 at the age of 25. He was ordained in 1964 at St. Paul’s Church, Kurseong, India.

Father Miller served as the principal of St. Xavier’s School, Jawakhel between 1967-1969 and St. Xavier’s School, Godavari between 1969-1975.

He also earned a doctorate in Anthropology in Nepal.

He had to endure tough conditions in remote interior villages in Nepal for his doctoral studies, reports said.

He was awarded citizenship in 1971, one of a handful of foreigners to be honored by Nepal's then-king for his service to the people.

Besides his formal studies in Social Anthropology in Nepal, he has made the study of folk and classical music a lifetime hobby.

From 1976 to 1987, Father Miller served as a research writer at the Human Resource Development and Research Centre in Kathmandu.

He was well-versed in Nepali culture and life and was fluent in the Nepali language.

In 2018, at the age of 85, he joined St. Xavier’s College, Maitighar, as a student counselor.

He spent his retirement at Campion House, where he worked as a community librarian and writer. In 2022, he was taken to Jawalakhel Jesuit Residence.

His students remember him as a man of simple tastes who was saintly and easily approachable.

“Fr. Cap was more like a friend than a counselor and was always surrounded by students, like ants surrounding a sugar cube. Fr. Cap was that sweetness in the lives he touched. He was the light and wisdom that everyone needed. May his soul rest in peace,” Isha Das, a former student wrote in the Kathmandu Post.

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2 Comments on this Story
JOHN MASCARENHAS
a TRUE follower of christ! wish we had many more who IMBIBE and WALK in the SPIRIT OF CHRIST!
KAREN ADLER
I just remembered Fr Casper's fullname this morning, I called him Casper the Friendly Ghost. He came to my bedside when I was in Katmandu more than 30yrs ago, and listened to my story and was kind to me. I am sad to hear of his death but feel greatly blessed to know more about who he was. Thank you!
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