Donor Profile | Mrs. Jaya Thadani
Mrs. Jaya Thadani is a longtime supporter of the Dominican Friars and a parishioner at the Dominican parish of St. Denis in Hanover, New Hampshire, which serves the Dartmouth College community. BlackFriars sat down with Mrs. Thadani to discuss her remarkable journey to the US and to the Catholic Faith.
Why did your family leave India?
My grandfather became a Christian at great personal cost when he married an Anglican convert. He was a Sikh, and gave up both property and family ties in order to become Christian.
When the British empire withdrew and India was partitioned, there was little place for Christians. My father thought it would be better for the family to move to England.
What made you interested in the Catholic faith?
In England, I met Baroness Bosch Van Drakestein, who had founded a lay order for women called ‘The Grail.’ She gave me a job selling tickets to a Passion Play and introduced me to a Dutch priest who gave me instruction in the Catholic faith. He and the Baroness received me into the Catholic Church.
What brought you to the Hanover, New Hampshire, area?
My husband, an economist educated in India, was offered a job by the World Bank, and we moved to Washington, DC, in 1971. Our son went from Georgetown Prep to Princeton, and then on to Yale for medicine. After completing a doctorate at Yale, he was offered a job at Dartmouth as a neurologist. Dartmouth was expanding its neurology department, and they asked him to come to New Hampshire and to be part of it.
What are your hopes for your grandchildren and great grandchildren?
I want them to have faith. In America, young people are very practical, but they don’t always go into the deeper side of things. Although religious beliefs in India are sometimes inadequate, they are never simply ignored. Here, public schools teach nothing about the spiritual needs of the person.
My son has done much to instruct his children on Mass and Christian beliefs and living. I’m so thankful for this, as well as for the prayers of the Dominican Order for my grandchildren. Neither in India nor in England did I see such a combination of learning and diversity of interests as among the Dominicans serving at St. Denis in New Hampshire.