From Mangalore to Rome: Fr. Naveen Rebello, SVD – A New Doctor of Sacred Scripture
Mangaluru, May 11: The Catholic Church in India has a new doctor of Sacred Scripture in Fr. Naveen Rebello, SVD who brilliantly defended his doctoral dissertation on Monday, May 8, 2023 at the Pontifical Biblical Institute (famously called the “Biblicum”), Rome – the Roman Catholic Church’s premier institute of biblical studies. His defense was attended by more than hundred SVD confreres, priests, religious men and women, friends, students and members of the academic community at the Aula Paulina, Biblicum.
Fr. Naveen wrote his dissertation titled, “Recognizing the Messiah: A Study of Antithetical Anagnorisis in the Gospel of Matthew” in which he explored the use of ancient literacy device of “recognition” that was employed by the evangelist Matthew in various encounter scenes of divine-human interactions in order to communicate a unique revelatory epistemology. He prepared the doctoral dissertation under the guidance of Prof. Henry Pattarumadathil SJ, an expert in the Gospel of Matthew and a professor of New Testament exegesis as well as the Dean of the Biblicum. Besides him, the doctoral commission consisted of Prof. Michel Kamanzi SJ, world-renowned Prof. Ronald D. Witherup PSS, Prof. Paolo Costa and was presided over by Prof. Fr. Michael Kolarcik SJ, the Rector of the Biblicum. The board of examiners commended the high-quality exegetical work undertaken by Fr. Naveen and appreciated his ability to analyze the Greek texts of the Gospel of Matthew and many other Hebrew texts of the Old Testament critically and logically and offering an illuminating synthesis of the research conclusions. Following the excellent presentation of thesis by Fr. Naveen for 25 minutes, there was an engaging question and answer session that lasted for one and a half hour during which he demonstrated his excellent knowledge of the ancient classical (Greco-Roman) and the biblical literature particularly the Gospel of Matthew.
For his brilliance both in the high quality of written work and the clarity and scholarship of public defense, Fr. Naveen was awarded Summa cum Laude, the highest honors at the Biblicum. In fact, he became the 26th Indian to earn a doctorate in the Sacred Scripture (SSD) successfully and has the distinction of being the first Indian to obtain the honors of Summa cum Laude. From the religious congregation of SVD (the Society of the Divine Word) to which he belongs, Fr. Naveen is the first Indian SVD, the second Asian and the tenth SVD globally to obtain an SSD as his immediate predecessor Fr. Ludger Feldkämper, SVD from Germany did it 46 years ago in 1977.
Fr. Naveen Rebello hails from Niddodi and is the parishioner of Little Flower Church, Niddodi. He is the second son of Mr. Ignatius Rebello and Late Mrs. Lidwin D’Souza who were both teachers by profession for almost four decades. He has two brothers Santhosh and Praveen. Fr. Naveen did his schooling from Little Flower Primary School, Niddodi and Little Flower High School, Kinnigoli. After his SSLC studies, he joined St. Peter’s Apostolic School, Kirem in 1996 and completed PUC from Pompei College, Kirem with a distinction. Later, he pursued his BA studies from the well-known Loyola College, Chennai where he was the academic topper with nine gold medals. Besides, he has Bachelor of Philosophy and Bachelor of Theology degrees from SVD Vidya Bhavan, Bhopal and Jnana-Deepa, Pune. After his ordination in 2010, Fr. Naveen served as the co-pastor at Sacred Heart Church, Andheri for two years. From 2012-15, he specialized in the ancient classical languages like Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac and Latin and earned a Licentiate in Sacred Scripture (SSL) from the Biblicum with summa cum laude as well as a diploma with distinction in the advanced Hebrew studies from the leading Hebrew University, Jerusalem. In addition, he speaks and has the working knowledge of five modern foreign languages, viz. English, Italian, German, French, and Spanish, not to mention several Indian languages.
After his licentiate, Fr. Naveen taught for two years at Jnana-Deepa, the Pontifical Institute of Philosophy and Theology, Pune (2016-18) and was a visiting lecturer to many seminaries teaching Greek, Hebrew and Latin as well as the courses on the Old Testament and New Testament. He has conducted several biblical seminars for lay people in Mumbai and Pune and offers lay biblical formation programmes. During his doctorate, he was a research assistant at the Biblical Institute and was a regular resource person at the international Centro Ad Gentes Center, Nemi, Rome. After his return to India, he will continue to teach Sacred Scripture at Jnana-Deepa Pune.
The Rebello family of Niddodi and SVD India Mumbai Province congratulate Fr. Naveen on his remarkable accomplishment and wish him all success in his future teaching and scholarly career as he continues to communicate the Word of God to seminarians and the people of God in India and world at large.