The Native Returns Home

Friday, August 27, 2021, close to midnight:  I stagger out of the Toronto Airport and meet Fr. Henk van Meijel, S.J., patiently waiting for me.  Relief!  Now I can claim to be safely home!

I had left Kathmandu about twenty-four hours earlier.  The Turkish Airlines flights were on time and the service good, though I wished I had retractable legs while sitting in coach class seats.  The six hours in Istanbul airport were not exciting but I was able to doze there.

Henk drove me across Toronto to our community and retreat house at Pickering, and got me settled in a comfortable guest room.  In the morning I enjoyed a good breakfast and met many old and new friends, and then made a final move into the La Storta Jesuit Community residence.  I’m now rested and ready to help with retreats.

The center has three sections:  the Manresa Retreat House, La Storta Community Residence, and The Rene Goupil Community for retired Jesuits. We generally have meals and liturgies together at Rene Goupil House.  The elderly receive the best of care there.

I’ve enjoyed a week of rest and walking.  Br. Paul Baker has guided me through the main walking trails in the area.  I look forward to more exploring during afternoon walks.

The years 2020-2021 have been full of changes and anniversaries for me.  I joined the novitiate at Guelph on 14 August 1960, sixty-one years ago. Regular Jesuit formation followed at Guelph, Spokane, and Toronto, culminating in ordination at Toronto, 5 June 1971.  I then spent the last of five summers at Seattle University, to earn a master’s degree in science teaching.

Meanwhile I had asked to join the Darjeeling mission, so in late 1971, I flew off to India.  An Indian resident visa was not forthcoming, but I was able to join Fr. Bill Mackey, Br. Mike Quinn, Br. Nick Johannesma, Fr. Jack Coffey, and Fr. Joe Paikaday in Bhutan.  The five years there were delightful.  We ran a school at the government’s expense.  Jack was able to recruit the best of poor but intelligent students from government primary schools.  Our lives were completely focused on raising these students.

Once my five-year visa expired, I returned to Canada in late 1976 and enjoyed the first half of 1977 teaching at St. Paul’s High School in Winnipeg.  I enjoyed visits with family and friends there while arranging a further mission posting.

So in mid-1977 I was off to Nepal.  Then Nepal’s education was taught completely in the Nepali language, so I spent the rest of the year learning as much as I could.  Early 1978 found me teaching a vocational course in basic electric wiring – a joy to teach despite my limited language skills.  I’ve continued high school teaching, while filling in Jesuit administrative posts.

At the end of the academic year in May 2021, it was clear that school teaching was too much for me, so I retired in Kathmandu where I prepared to return to Canada.  I now look forward to ministry here in Pickering.  I look back in thanksgiving for untold blessings, specially thanks to good Jesuit companions and superiors, and look ahead to new ministry at a reasonably reduced pace, again thanks to God’s blessings.


Bill Robins, SJ, is a Canadian Jesuit who lived at Godavari, our original school at the south-east edge of the Kathmandu Valley. He lived in a community of six Jesuits and taught 11 and 12 English until his return to Canada in 2021.

  • Nancy McEachnie
    Posted at 01:23h, 21 October Reply

    I look forward to meeting you in the future

  • Paul Desmarais
    Posted at 02:54h, 21 October Reply

    Very moving and inspiring, Bill. You have been an inspiration to many Bill, Jesuits and non-Jesuits.

  • Donna Zeolla
    Posted at 08:04h, 21 October Reply

    Welcome home!

  • Charles Pottie-Pâté
    Posted at 08:54h, 21 October Reply

    Bill, WELCOME BACK HOME TO CANADA. I remember well when you went to Bhutan. You have contributed much to Bhutan and Nepal. They will miss you. Blessings on you.

  • Darcy Mann
    Posted at 09:05h, 21 October Reply

    Sounds like you have had a very interesting and fulfilling life so far.. Enjoy the next several years closer to home and Thank You for your service.

  • Peter Bisson
    Posted at 09:35h, 21 October Reply

    Thank you Bill!

  • Mike Hyland
    Posted at 09:58h, 21 October Reply

    A wonderful, inspiring and blessed story. Welcome home and looking forward to your retreats at Manresa.

  • suzanne renaud
    Posted at 11:16h, 21 October Reply

    Nice to meet you!

  • Gerlad Forest
    Posted at 12:25h, 21 October Reply

    Thanks Bill. Very fulfilling life. Welcome home and may you fine peace in whatever you do.

  • Elizabeth C Bryant
    Posted at 13:06h, 21 October Reply

    So happy you’re home. Welcome and God Bless You!

  • Bernie Carroll
    Posted at 15:49h, 21 October Reply

    Bill – Wherever you have served, you have done it with energy and enthusiasm. I recall our regency at Campion High School in Regina. And in your many years in Nepal and Bhutan you gave it your all. Thanks for this blog. I’m happy that you are back in Canada and look forward to seeing you again.

  • Eric Jensen
    Posted at 17:04h, 21 October Reply

    Good to have you back in Canada, Bill! I was privileged to spend a few months with you in Winnipeg.

    Blessings on your ministry,


  • Jomon Jose
    Posted at 00:50h, 22 October Reply

    Thank you Fr. Bill. I missed saying bye tonyou. Wish you all the very best for your ministries in Canada.

  • Kumar Pandey
    Posted at 11:23h, 23 October Reply

    Several generations of Nepali studenrs and parenta are thankful for your selfless service, Fr. Bill Robins. May God grant you good health and peace, close to your home and family. You will be missed.

  • Mathew A
    Posted at 11:57h, 23 October Reply

    Bill could easily write a book about his life in Nepal for more than 40 years, in education, social work, spiritual ministry ministry; and about his hikes and treks. We miss him here. God bless

  • Brian Tansey
    Posted at 03:06h, 25 October Reply

    what a neat way to learn that you are ‘home’ Bill .. ie. thru IgNation; I never imagined that that would happen… only that you’d find you way to the Lord one day thru running , cycling walking hiking and teaching your way thru and in Nepal.

    Have been so fortunate to have known you and to know that you are here so close now ; am hoping to me able to see you 1:1 soon

    Margaret and I were just in Peterborough this past weekend, to watch our youngest grandson play football ; ( it wouldn’t have been much further for a drop-in visit at Pickering )

  • Shulav Khadka
    Posted at 04:26h, 25 October Reply

    Thank you very much for everything Father…Stay happy and healthy….

  • Kevin Burns
    Posted at 08:43h, 25 October Reply

    Welcome home, sir!

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