Legion of Mary
REV. FR GABRIEL DIAS OF OUR LADY OF ROSARY
(8th of July, 1955 to 20th of July, 2016)
A "rock and refuge" for the afflicted....
Another Carmelite star has joined the firmament of the Heavenly Jerusalem. July is a special month for our Order as we celebrate the feast of our Patroness, Our Lady of Mount Carmel (16th of July). Key moments of Fr Gabriel's life are intimately woven with this month. He saw the light of day (was born) and entered eternal light (commended his spirit) in this very month of July, and that too on a special day 20th of July, which is the feast of St Elijah (inspirer of our Order - only our Order is privileged to celebrate a feast in his honour - an Old Testament Prophet). There are no co-incidences for God and so we can confidently say that Fr Gabriel was being prepared for his grand entry into the Order of Our Blessed Mother, by the Almighty right from his birth. He always fostered a great devotion to Our Lady and so took his religious name: of Our Lady of Holy Rosary (also because he earlier belonged to the Navelim Parish dedicated to her). While in India, he was instrumental in organizing pilgrimages (over a dozen) to the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Health at Vailankanni, and took keen interest to arrange for enough priests who could attend to their spiritual needs.
Mr Celecio Ovidio Caetano Dias (who expired in 1996) and Mrs Anna Francisca Dias, the parents of Fr Gabriel must have been overjoyed at the birth of their first born son on 8th of July, 1955 in Bombay. He had three siblings: Mrs Juliana Almeida (married); Miss Rosy Dias (expired in 2005 after losing a battle to cancer) and Mr Carmo L. Dias (this name already gives us a glimpse of the family's closeness to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, much before Gabriel joined the Carmelites). The parents and four children formed a very close knit and loving family and now continue to live in harmony with the extended members, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, the four nieces and one nephew.
I am not sure of the reasons why he was given the name Gabriel (in close circles he was affectionately called "Gabbu"). As we know this Archangel is a prominent biblical figure, and always appears as the one entrusted to deliver several important messages on God's behalf (in the New Testament to Zechariah and Mary; but also in the Old Testament to Prophet Daniel). The meaning of his name is derived from the Hebrew which means: God is my strength / God is great! I think it's a prophetic choice of name, as it unveils a greater part of Fr Gabriel's life - his trust in God, who was his strength - especially in the last days of his life. Moreover like his patron saint he was a messenger of 'good tidings' to all who met him.
He completed his primary education at St Joseph's Convent School, Aquem (a few metres away from his house) and then went to Loyola High School, Margao. After his SSLC, he obtained a Diploma in Electrical Engineering.
From what I have gathered, Gabriel had a desire for priesthood right from childhood. Even when he attended the retreat, which was conducted at Old Goa by Fr George D'Sa SJ (Lighthouse movement) for Tenth Standard students from across Goa, it seems he had already recorded somewhere that he wished to embrace Priesthood. According to God's plan this did not happen soon after his studies. As the eldest son in the family, he wished to support the family and worked in Bombay for a couple of years. But the call of God was irresistible and kept ringing in his ears. A providential meeting with Fr Felix Silva from the Carmelite Monastery, Margao, sealed his decision to enter the Discalced Carmelite Order. I guess, he was quite familiar with the monastery as he lived in the vicinity. As a priest he always recalled his work experience with a sense of pride, which he claimed strengthened his resolve to serve the Lord.
Our Karnataka-Goa Province was formed on 12th of March 1981. So Fr Gabriel who entered the Order in June of that same year, with his 4 companions (Frs John Lobo, Anthony D'Souza and Victor Fernandes Sr, the last two from Bicholim, Goa and Mr Chinappa), belonged to the first batch of novices (under the guidance of Fr Patrick Lobo), who would be formed entirely within our territory (till then formation was conducted in our mother Province of Manjummel in the state of Kerala). After his first religious profession in this very Church on 15th of October, 1982, he proceeded to Mangalore for his philosophy and theology. There too, being the first students, he along with the other companions became pioneers in many fields, blazing a trail for all to follow, even to this day. One of those being the Carmel Day - annual Seminary Day. Though they were a handful, often doubling up as stage-managers, dancers and musicians, besides acting, those initial shows have become memorable, and people remember their performances to this day. Fr. Gabriel and his fellow Goans true to their roots, gave it a typical cultural touch though the dekhni, mandos and other folk songs.
THE FIRST FRUITS....
He was ordained a Priest by Most Rev. Raul Gonsalves, Archbishop-Patriarch of Goa and Daman, again in this very Church on 22nd of February 1990. This ordination brought to close a long drought of Goan vocations to the Carmelite Order. The last priest to be ordained before him was Fr Jerome Braganza of happy memory in 1973 (17 years ago)! So this was a momentous occasion - a revival of Carmel in Goa, because thereafter we have had a good number of Goans entering the Carmelite Order. It was also the first priestly ordination in this church.
I was a novice here at the time, and for me it was the first ordination of a Carmelite - hence it is etched in my memory as something very special, since I was just beginning my journey in the Order. The novices were given special permission by the Provincial (Fr Joseph D'Souza) to attend the function that followed at his house.
As he was appointed to this very community in Margao soon after his ordination, I was witness to his initial priestly ministry. I remember vividly, the first retreat he preached to the Pilar novices at Colem. He was given a rousing welcome and embrace by Fr Nemesio Alzola - then superior of Margao Monastery - on accomplishing such a noble task. A few years ago, I met one of those who participated in that retreat (now a priest). While inquiring about the whereabouts of Fr Gabriel (he was then in Canada), he mentioned that he was greatly touched by his reflections, before making his first commitment in the Congregation and was so thankful for that experience.
THE RICH FRUITS....
Fr Gabriel has served at Margao, Londa, Mapusa and Mira Road - Mumbai in various capacities (Vocation Promoter, Formator, Assistant Parish Priest and Superior) in India. He was also elected III Provincial Councillor (for apostolate) in the Provincial Chapter of 1993. Simultaneously he was also appointed as the Formator of the Initiation Course in Mapusa, just when the new monastery was inaugurated. It tested his mettle, because the course was being shifted from Xellim and things had to be set up still. There was so much to be done in this new place with minimum facilities. He lived up to the challenge and went about his duties without any complain, in spite of the inconveniences and difficulties.
His services abroad included pastoral ministry in Canada from October 2008 - May 2014 (around 6 years). First he was Assistant Pastor at St Thomas More Church Calgary. We have just received information that the Bishop, Most Rev. Frederick Bernard Henry will be celebrating a special requiem Mass at the parish on 26th of this month. He is fondly remembered by many people there. During his stay there, he also spiritually assisted the community of Secular Carmelites. Here is a message from Mrs Molly Diaz, the President of the OCDS in Western Canada:
"It is with deep sorrow that we learnt of the passing of Fr Gabriel Dias. He was so dearly loved by all who knew him. We will remember him for his gentle spirit and kindness and he will always have a special place in our hearts. We are truly blessed that he touched our lives. Our members will keep him in prayer. May he rest in peace. Amen."
Even though he suffered a stroke, which slowed down his physical movements, he generously accepted to shoulder the total responsibility of a parish in a completely different region. From Western Canada, he was transferred to Eastern Canada and became Pastor of St Elizabeth's parish, Wainfleet, Ontario (Diocese of St Catharines) for the last two years he was in that country.
But his most fecund ministry was in Kuwait, where he served from December 1994 - June 2001 (around 7 years). Here he was a like a "rock and refuge" for those in trouble (especially those exploited by the employers). He sheltered some of those in distress even in the Cathedral, at great risk to his life. Those who have been rescued and saved by him, remain greatly indebted to his courage and compassion. Just the other day, when I visited the family along with the provincial, the mother expressed that many who have worked or are still working in Kuwait kept inquiring about his health, showing such great concern for his welfare, because of the good he had done to them. Soon after he returned from Kuwait, I met him in Mapusa, and he was sharing some of those experiences. After narrating one such harrowing tale of injustice towards a maid servant of Goan origin how he had saved her, he spoke about the rumours that were spread questioning his involvement. He turned to me and asked: "As a priest what would you have done?" I could only nod in approval and commend him for his daring stand.
As a Carmelite, another tradition that he introduced over there, and which needs mentio, is the regular feature of night vigils. His predecessor, Fr John Alex Pinto had already begun something in this regard during his term which coincided with the Gulf War. Fr Gabriel now took off from there, nurturing the spiritual lives of the people, that would help them face any adversity. Besides he also invited good preachers from Goa and elsewhere for the annual Lenten retreats making them truly enriching experiences.
A SPECIAL BLOSSOM....
Probably after he went to Kuwait, there slowly emerged another facet in his life. He became a voracious reader. A quick glance at his priceless collection of books, testifies that he was a seeker of truth. It's an array of spiritual classics, research works in psychology etc. That he imbibed what he devoured in reading, was visible in his homilies and reflections, which were rich and insightful.
However, he grew in this passion in the latter half of his life, not only to enhance his knowledge and pass it on to others. It was primarily for his own growth and refinement. When he was asked by the Provincial, Fr Lawrence D'Mello to go to Kuwait and take over from Fr. John Alex Pinto - which he accepted in a spirit of obedience, almost immediately without battling an eye, he continued: Fr Provincial I will go, but not before I go for a counseling session. Though suddenly baffled by this odd demand, Fr Lawrence understood his intent. He wanted to know himself better, in order to better reach out to the people, who were just coming out of a dreadful war.
After the stroke he suffered in Canada, his health declined steadily. He had to face one setback after another. This not only affected his general well-being but also his hearing capacity. Even after the best treatment and aids, he could never fully recover it. So much so, that for the past two years, he could not actively and fully participate in conversations and discussion at table or in community gatherings. That must have been a cause of great suffering, even though his fellow friars made all attempts to get him involved in all acts of the community. In his heydays he had jokes up his sleeves, sending the community of friars into peals of laughter. Now all that had come to an end!
Please find attached an account by Fr Archibald Gonsalves, the Superior of Carmelite Monastery, Margao, regarding his final years since he joined their community and a touching testimony of the last agony which lasted over 7 months.
THE FINAL SALUTE....
I stand here on behalf of all the friars and nuns of the Karnataka-Goa Province, I offer a fraternal tribute to the memory of Fr Gabriel Dias, who has left his imprint on the history of the Carmelites in India, and over the seas in Kuwait and Canada. I conclude with a poetic tribute from the pen of our senior Goan friar, Rev. Fr Paul D'Souza:
As youngster, a mechanic
Gabriel wished to be
But then a light from heaven
Further helped him to see.
He heard a Voice that called him
Shedding on him sweet light
Inviting him to serve by
Being a Carmelite.
Humbly he went and gladly
On a mission to Kuwait
Where to the afflicted he
Was consolation great.
With zeal he contributed
To the Canadian church
By assisting those people
Who for a Saviour search.
And following his Master
Who lay upon the tree
He fell into a coma
And savoured Calvary.
And soon with the archangels
Gabriel Dias will rejoice
For when the Master called him
He hearkened to His voice.
Thus comes to an end the earthly pilgrimage of Fr Gabriel Dias:
- 61 eventful years, gifted by God of which
- 34 years as a Carmelite Friar
- 26 years as a Priest
Fr Gabriel made his first and solemn (final) profession, was ordained a priest and even celebrated the Silver Jubilee of his Ordination in 2015, in this very church. We have now gathered for the final time to thank and praise God for sending him in our midst and touching our lives in some way or the other through him. May he enjoy the company of all the Saints and Angels and contemplate eternally the Face of God, along with Mary, Queen and Mother of Carmel.
Thank you Lord, for the unique message of your love and compassion that you delivered to us through the life and example of Fr Gabriel Dias of Our Lady of the Rosary. Dear Fr Gabriel Dias, till we meet again, Adeus!
(Eulogy given by Fr Silvestre D'Souza OCD, at the Carmelite Monastery Church, Aquem, Margao, Goa at the end of the requiem Mass on 22nd of July, 2016)
Fr Gabriel Dias of Our Lady of Rosary
20, Aquem Alto, Near Forest Dept. Margao Goa 403 601
St Sebastian's Church, Aquem Alto, Margao (earlier: Our Lady of the Rosary Church, Navelim)
Goa and Daman
Late Mr Celecio Ovidio Caetano Dias
Mrs Anna Francisca Dias
Mr Carmo L. Dias
(1) Mrs Juliana Almeida (2) Late Miss Rosy Dias
DATE OF BIRTH:
8th of July, 1955 (Bombay)
DATE OF BAPTISM:
24th of July, 1955
1st of August, 1981
15th of October, 1982 (Carmelite Monastery, Aquem, Margao)
22nd of February, 1990
1) Carmelite Monastery, Margao and Carmel Nivas, Londa (February 1990 - May 1990)
2) Avila Jyothi, Mapusa (June 1990 - December 1991)
3) St Joseph's Church, Mira Road, Mumbai (January 1992 - June 1993)
4) Avila Jyothi, Mapusa (July 1993 - December 1994)
5) Kuwait (December 1994 - June 2001)
6) Avila Jyothi, Mapusa (July 2001 - June 2005)
7) Emmaus Counselling Centre, Mapusa (July 2005 - June 2008)
8) Canada (October 2008 - May 2014)
9) Carmelite Monastery Margao (June 2014 - July 2016)
Local Procurator, Mapusa ; Vocation Promoter, Goa; Asst. Parish Priest (St Joseph's Church, Mira Road, Mumbai, Kuwait, St Thomas More Calgary, Canada), Director of Initiation Course, Mapusa; III Provincial Councillor for Apostolate; Chaplain (Salmiya Chapel, Kuwait); Superior (Mapusa, Goa); Director of Emmaus Counselling Centre, Mapusa; Pastor, St Elizabeth's Parish, Wainfleet, Ontario, Canada.
20th of July, 2016
REV. FR. ANTONY SILVA OCD (1912-2003)
Fr. Antonio Silva was born to Jeronimo Silva and Ana Blanca Soares in Remanso House, Mapusa, belonging to his maternal grandparents, on December 5, 1912. He was the fourth of five sons born to them. His Father was Government Tesoureiro for Quepem and later served as the Administrador do Palacio de Deao.
Fr. Anton studied at the Escola Primario De Margao. Later on he took private tuitions in Latin. He was very weak in his studies and was shy when it came to speaking in public, reveals Mousinho his brother. "But all this changed when he joined the Seminario de Rachol. It was as if he found the purpose of his birth in this religious college," he exclaims.
Fr. Silva was ordained a priest on April 16, 1944 for the Archdiocese of Goa. As a diocesan priest he excelled too, for the people of the Majorda parish fondly remember him which was his first posting. He was also the first chaplain of the Rosay Chapel, Fatorda, which is now elevated to a parish. During this time he came to know the Carmelites who had recently built their Monastery at Aquem, Margao. He was very much attracted to their way of prayer life. But according to Mousiinho it was only after his mother's death that he joined the Carmelite Order at Margao. He became a professed member of this Order on July 2, 1951.
Thereafter, he continued to serve in the community at Margao itself for quite many years. For a short period he was a member of our monastery at Alwaye, Kerala and then he was transferred to Pushpasrama, Mysore. In 1972 he was transferred to Mangalore and was made superior of the same house at Carmel Hill in 1975 '78. For the rest of his years he was continuously at Margao till his death on August 13, 2003.
Fr. Silva loved to reach out to one and all. In fact he respected people of other faiths too and was always seen visiting the elderly Hindus or Muslims in the neighbourhood. Perhaps his heartfelt wish to reach out to everyone attracted him to a two-wheeler. One always remembers him riding a moped, which he did even when he was in his late eighties. Though he met with many accidents he never lost confidence. And he got up each time he fell- something, which inspired others a great deal.
It was on the 5th December 2002 that Fr. Anton Silva thanked the Lord, for his 90 years of life. All were wishing him ad multos annos; to go much beyond, to make it a century. His health was good enough and his mind quite alert. His inviting smile and encouraging words, his regularity of life was all there. He easily overcame some minor health problems a few months ago. Though he gave up his moped driving by his 90th birthday, used for taking rounds to distribute communion to the sick, his ministry to the sick and the old went on. On the advice of others he accepted a reduced regimen of activity. Surprisingly a few before his death he was even seen kicking football with Fr. John of the Cross! On Sunday the 10th he offered the H. Mass for the public at 6.00 a.m and on Monday as well. Life was normal for Fr. Anthony till Tuesday.
On the previous midnight he complained of breathing trouble and doctors came rushing and advised him to be shifted to the hospital. But Fr. Anthony was not willing. He thought he did not need any serious medical help, or he simply knew that 'time had come to go home' as he used to say. All the same he was rushed to the hospital. From there it was all a slow but steady slide down. His response for the medical help was poor. By noon on the 12th the renal failure was serious and by evening there was little that earthly medicine could do. He was all-feeble, yet seen to be saying something; his lips were all through moving without noise. He was given the anointing of the sick. At no time he showed stress or struggle. He was serene and radiating inner peace. For any queries he could only respond by nodding. At about 6.00 pm he showed signs of heavy breathing.
On the 13th of August 2003 at about 7.15 p.m. the end came invading, and Fr. Anthony Silva left us to his eternal Home, leaving behind not merely an empty space in the community and in the hearts of those who admired him, but much more, a heroic example of holiness of life; indeed a rich heritage of virtues and a legacy of a meaningful committed life as a priest and as a Carmelite.
The funeral was slated to be held at 4.00 p.m. on the 15th of August, the feast of Assumption of our Lady. The body was brought from the morgue at about 12.00 noon and laid in state for the people to pay their respects, in spite of frequent heavy showers. There was a steady flow of people throughout till 4.00 pm. when the Mass began. The people who piled past could be as many as 5-6 thousands. There were more than 100 diocesan priests for the funeral Mass. The presence of the Carmelites too was robust. The pre-philosophers from Xellim, some theology students from Mangalore, as well as friars from almost all our communities in good number were in attendance. There was the libera me domine sung in Latin, there was the office of the readings celebrated in common, there was the vigil of the friars around the coffin, there was in Paradisum. sung in solo.
The Archbishop Patriarch of Goa Most Rev. Raul Gonsalves, presided over the Eucharist, Auxiliary bishop Felipe Neri Ferrao paid his tributes by visiting the community in the morning hours, Fr. Thomas Aquinas, Rector of Rachol Seminary preached the homily, Fr. Patrick Lobo gave the obituary, the Carmel Choir lead an animated liturgy, the Carmel youth helped very much in the smooth organization of the function, Fr. George Santhumayor expressed the gratitude to one and all, and finally the funeral rites at the grave were conducted by Fr. Provincial. His mortal remains were laid to rest in the cemetery at Margao Monastery in a grave dug out in the laterite stone, on the top of the hill.
His living room could not be any simpler. There was not a thing that one could say superfluous there. His very few clothes mended many times, his age old but tidy sandals, his neat but ascetic bed, are a witness of his loftier riches of human life that lie beyond the boundaries of the world. There were the hand written sermon notes from his first year of his priesthood showing the diligence of his ministry of the word; there were the old copies of the diocesan bulletin Amcho Sevadhorm on pastoral matters; there was the life of Bl. Fr. Joseph Vaz printed in the 17th century in Portuguese. The only curious thing in the room, 6 time-pieces and clocks all giving perfect time, speaks volumes of his punctuality and disciplined life; the breviary and the spiritual reading book of John Powel on the table show his rich and up to date spiritual intake and deep commitment to the priestly obligations and the devotion to the Church. His generosity for the poor was proverbial as his accountability for every penny he handled or received.
Once professed as a Carmelite, he showed himself a man of unflagging zeal outside the monastery and relentless fidelity to observance, inside, especially for the hours of prayer and meditation. After a day full of activity he was to be seen kneeling down in prayer quite often with eyes closed deeply absorbed in communing with God. Even when he had the added responsibility of governing the Margao community, he would rarely allow himself dispensation from the acts of the community, especially the hours of mental prayer. It appears that it was from prayer that Fr. Anton acquired his inner energy for the fulfilment of his commitments.
One would easily miss those slow rhythmic silent steps of a tall towering personality moving along the corridors of the monastery always on his way either to the chapel, or to the confessional, or to spiritual counseling, or to the preaching ministry, or to give the viaticum of the sick. There cannot be a life better lived in our times where the only value is for a life on the platform under the beaming focus lights.
His long life of 59 years as a priest, 52 silent years as a Carmelite lived away from the scenes of power and pomp, and 90 years as believer in Christ have been totally a gift for the Church. There has not been a pulpit in Goa from where Fr. Anthony has not gently but courageously invited his listeners to the feet of Jesus and animated them to put on Christ. The Church in Mangalore, Mysore and above all in Goa owes him a lot for the spiritual vitality. His ministry of the word of God was vibrant, his love for the Eucharist has been marvelous, his contemplative life has made him to grow up and above the rest of us, thus making him truly a son of St. Teresa and beloved disciple of Jesus entrusted to the care of the Bl. Mother. He had the image of our Lady of sorrows, the Last Supper and the picture of our lady of Mt. Carmel occupying special place in his cell.
He had a passion for the people and wanted to serve them in whatever way possible. Whenever there were disputes in family, people would come to him to get his advice; later he would visit the family and would give his simple advice which certainly may not be like that of trained psychologists. But it had ready acceptance because it came from a holy man. Towards the end of his life Doctors had suggested him to slow down his ministry and take some rest. But his love for the people and that urge to communicate the Word of God to the people made him to attend to their needs even at the neglect of the advice of his Doctors.
Fr. Silva's first sermon was delivered at the feast of the Ascension at the Church of the Holy Spirit, Margao. It moved everyone present there including his brother. Fr. Silva indeed gained fame as a good preacher. His simple and practical sermons touched many a life, and his words are still stored deep down in all those who revere him.
It was precisely this great love for the Word of God and his desire to make it known and understood by people that he arranged the bible classes for them at Margao monastery for many years. And rightly so his parting words were "I am going, Jesus is with you, give Him to others".
His oft repeated phrase last days had been, 'Jesus Loved us so much that he has chosen us to be His disciples. We must proclaim Him to all peoples". There was a whisper heard all around on the funeral day saying, " We have indeed lost a Holy Priest on earth and but gained a powerful saint in heaven".
Fr. Anthony of Jesus;
Domingo Antonio Geravdo de Piedade da Silva;
Jeronimo da Silva ;
Ana Blanca Soares e Silva;
5 December 1912;
16 April 1944;
2 July 1951;
15 October 1954.
Margao, Mangalore, Alwaye, Mysore.
13 August 2003.
REV. FR. JOHN OF THE CROSS OCD (1925-2003)
Fr. John of the Cross, in the world Firmino Gracias was born on 19th November 1925, along with a twin brother who too was a priest. His parents' names are Joaquim Inacio Gracias and Maria Ezildinha Pereira. Both the twins were the students of Rachol Seminary. While one continued his studies, was ordained priest in Goa, went to America and died there; John of the Cross still a senior student of Rachol joined the Order. They were three Goans who joined Carmel together: one a priest who left after temporary vows and the other Fr. Boniface Barracho. While the latter pursued his priestly formation in Trivandrum Fr. John was sent to Belgium for his priestly formation. The entire studies he completed in Belgium and was ordained priest there and returned to Goa in 1955. Almost all his years as a religious, he spent in Margao. Only once he was posted in Mangalore but had to return to Margao due to his sickness. Though in poor health; whenever he was well he lived an exemplary religious life.
He was a great devotee of St. Joseph and spread his devotion around. He was a fervent member of Marian Movement of Priests. His poor health did not permit him to take up preaching ministry in the parishes but he was always ready to help in the celebration of the Holy Mass like the Sunday Mass at Military Camp and other Chaplaincies the monastery had to serve. He would sit in the confessional whenever he was asked to and to all his penitents he advised always to wear the Scapular, which is a sign of Our Mother's protection.
He had to carry the weight of his illness with high dose of drugs throughout his life, which did not permit except a hermit's life. Though he was ready for celebrating H. Mass in regular chaplaincies as well as ready for administering the sacrament of reconciliation round the clock. He could not boast of retreats etc but like the Little Flower he was a man of simplicity and love. Much of his life he was confined to his cell and the surroundings, yet he could radiate a high quality of life that was full of gratitude to those who did any service in his helplessness, including finding the right pages in our complicated breviary.
Last years of his life he was rather sick and the friars had to attend to his medical needs but he took his cross in an exemplary way and had a peaceful death after suffering patiently his physical disabilities owing to a fall. With his 56 years of religious life of which 48 spent in Margao, made him in many ways a unique person.
He has so many things that we may call as strange coincidences with our other departed friars: like Fr. James Vas he too was about to celebrate his Jubilee of his Ordination. In this case the Golden Jubilee. The death came to both of them abruptly during meals time. He died on the death anniversary of Br. Louis Pillay and was laid to rest in our Margao monastery cemetery on the death anniversary of Fr. Boniface Baracho.
The presence of so many people for his funeral was a sign that many people were touched by his simple life. The Archbishop Patriarch officiated at the Eucharist. Fr. Mariano Proenca preached the homily highlighting the joyful humility of Fr. John. His niece appreciated and thanked the community past and present for the care that was given him. While Fr. George thanked all those who collaborated for the funeral, Fr. Provincial gave the short panegyric and conducted the last rites at the Cemetery.
So ends the life of a friar who lived a unique life of childlike simplicity and freedom from fear. He never complained about any one, though it was not easy when he had to depend on everything on the help of others, even for a shave. The novices in times gone by and the scholastics thereafter have done that yeoman service of taking care of this friar. Fr. John used to say: "I don't need anything. I have all things. To pray I have the choir, to rest I have my cell, to nourish I have the refectory, if I die the cemetery is ready, for eternity I have heaven". He could be so content with the simple but essential elements of Carmelite life, away from the focus lights of social status and refuse to feed our life on the crumbs from others' table.
Perhaps for all these things, the reason is his deep admiration and cult of St. Joseph. He sang loudly the hymn to St. Joseph the previous day of his death going on the wheel chair to the statue of St. Joseph on the corridor. His enthusiasm especially in the month of March perhaps earned him the grace to live a simple life and die a good death on the eve of a Wednesday, the 23rd of September.
Fr. John of the Cross;
Firmin Marcelino Gracias;
Joachim Inacio Gracias;
Maria Marcelina Quiteria;
DATE OF BIRTH:
REV. FR. ANASTASIO GOMEZ OCD (1923 - 2004)
In the demise of Fr. Anastasio, the Church in India has lost a faithful son; the Indian laity its strongest spokesperson; the Indian theologians an erudite Doyen; the Carmelite Order a saintly friar. The Universal Church however will surely one day find in him a true Christian of heroic sanctity.
The death occurred on the 23rd of December 2004 at 06.30hours in the Brindavan Clinic in the neighbourhood of the Mapusa Monastery. A week ago he met the Provincial and the first sentence he said was "It is time for me to go". There was no health emergency at that time. In two days he would find himself in the clinic with some palpitations of the heart, low pulse rate and some symptoms of urinary infection. These things were attended to at the clinic and the condition was stable. The Archbishop of Goa did visit him in the hospital. Though he was blind he was joking with the hospital staff and those who visited him; or just praying his beads. No complaints, no groaning but no improvement in his condition either. He was intent on 'going' so it seemed to celebrate Christmas in heaven. His mortal remains were interred at Margao Monastery Cemetery on the 26th evening with all solemnity he deserved including Libera Me sung in Latin. So passed by another saint... Silently!
Fr. Anastasio Gomez was born on 11.05.1923 to an economically poor working class family from Nachinola. In fact the Uncle Priest of the present Archbishop Philip Neri Ferrao supplied the necessary economical support during his studies. It did produce right fruits. He will be known world wide for his lofty erudition and theological acumen. He has unique distinction in the Indian Church for writing his doctoral thesis in dogmatic theology, on St. Gregory the great in elegant Latin. He was the studious companion of Mons. Lucio Vega de Cutinho, right from his seminary days at Rachol, and remained an astute observer of the church life especially in Goa even in his sick bed and blindness. A blindness caused by more than half a century of medication for diabetes, yet his life was full of light and the face radiated such inner peace and joy. He gave his unstinted service as the professor in Ecclesiology, fundamental theology and Mariology at the pontifical institute at Aluva, Kerala for more than 20 years. He was a renowned writer with innumerable theological articles to his credit. He worked for more than 20 years as the Editor of the 'Living Word' the oldest theological journal in India, a periodical begun by Ven. Aurelian of the Bl. Sacrament.
With the demise of Fr. Anastasio has ended a glorious era of theological reflection in the church that lead to the II Vatican Council and the subsequent reform in the Church. He was a very involved theologian especially in the field of dogma. His was, though many a times lonely, a formidable voice of the voiceless in the Indian church that wanted sanity and prudence in the Post-Vatican rush for 'indianization'. Not without reason did so many bishops admire him for his clarity of doctrine and the courage to think in tune with the official church and it's Magisterium. He could easily dismantle the opponents' arguments as no one could quote and interpret the Latin texts of the Magisterium as he could. Naturally he was loved and hated like a prophet. He went ahead majestically without currying favours neither to the crown nor to the court.
The other soft side of his personality was his capacity for spiritual animation. He remained a great spiritual master and spiritual guide for the priest, religious and the laity till the last day. Strong believer in the private spiritual experiences and messages and spent his later years to propagate Marian message to the priests received through the Belgian visionary Margaret and of St. Faustina. Fr. Michel Morris recalls Fr. Anastasio telling him of his surrender to God's will as regards his blindness: "Michael, I prayed so much to my beloved St. Faustina but this time she seems to be not wanting to give me back my sight. Yes I surrender my physical blindness to Him so that those spiritually blind may receive sight." and "I am suffering more in my conscience than in my body, but I obey. Lord, give me more strength to obey totally."
He was a great inspiration of heroism in his disciplined life and fidelity to his priestly and religious commitment. Though he was confessor to many priests yet was humble enough to make his regular confession with even a newly ordained priest. He was an eminent example of Marian piety. Even a very Paternal Spiritual Guide to the young seminarians in his later years at Mapusa. He would ask pardon even to an aspirant in case he hurt him. His life was indeed a monumental inspiration for them, which they would miss in times to come.
A joyful religious with polished wit and elegant command of language, not afraid of death or demon. An intellectual sharpness and a fresh memory till the last moments of his life. He was ready to go home as he had said exactly a week ago. No complaints! Only an advice to safe guard and promote prayer life in the Province and keep true to the spirit of our Order. Thus a life well lived has ended in this world only to begin anew in heaven.
Fr. Michael mentions that the greatness of Fr. Anastasio was not so much in his phenomenal memory of council documents. He was a prolific writer, voracious reader, anointed preacher and a man of prayer but his greatness was his deep humility.
Fr. Anastasius of St. Joseph,
Anastasio Bartolomeu Lorenco Santana Gomes,
Camilo Mathias Gomes;
Claudina de Souza;
DATE OF BIRTH:
15 August 1949;
8 December 1952;
Margao, Brugges Belgium, Alwaye seminary 23.5.1957 31.01.1984. Mangalore, Mapusa;
REV. FR. BONIFACE BARRACHO OCD (1915-1985)
Rev. Fr. Boniface of Jesus and Mary was baptized as Joaquim Barracho. He hailed from Raia Salcette, Goa. He was born in 1915 and was a diocesan seminarian at Rachol where he studied up to Philosophy. Those days he used to be quite ill and found it hard to study. However, when he joined the Carmelites he was able to pursue his ecclesiastical studies better. He was given the name Boniface, in memory of the then Belgian Provincial Fr. Boniface. When he joined Carmel, the Malabar semi province had been just erected and Goa monastery was kept as part of Belgian province. Together with him two other Goans had joined the novitiate: one Fr. Elias D Souza who left after his Profession and the other was Fr. John of the Cross who too joined as a seminarian. After his Profession, while John of the Cross was sent to Belgium for his philosophical and theological studies, Fr. Boniface was asked to study theology in Trivandrum of Malabar Semi province and was ordained priest there.
Soon after, the new foundation at Carmel Hill Mangalore was to be his apostolic destination. Most of his time as Carmelite priest he spent in Mangalore. He was the right hand of the late Fr. Constantine (Belgian). In building up Mangalore monastery he was responsible to cut the hard laterite rocks of the compound and fill it with earth brought from outside and make it level and cultivable so that if now Mangalore monastery has fine coconut trees and mango trees it was due to his work. He can be considered as one of the founders of Mangalore Monastery.
With his BSA motorbike he would reach all the city parishes and even many of the village parishes for preaching and confessions. He had a unique way relating to people, poor and rich alike, and would remember them by name even after many years of gap.
Later when Mangalore monastery was handed over to Manjummel province Fr. Boniface still remained there especially in charge of the boarding boys. He was a successful vocation promoter too and many of our senior Mangalorean Fathers of the Province were the fruits of his zeal.
Eventually he was responsible for the purchase and foundation of Mysore monastery. The property belonged to the Maharani of Mysore and with the help of Bishop Mathias Fernandes of Mysore he succeeded in getting it for the Order.
When the province was formed in 1981 he was posted again in Mangalore and was very popular in that diocese and had many friends esp. among the Mangalore lay Catholic families in the city and priests. He had a smile and kindness to all and he left a mark of warmth and friendship in all whom he met. Many priests came to him for the sacrament of reconciliation. His life was simple. He was a person who loved the workers and the poor very much. He too was very much loved by all the neighbours, Catholics, Muslims or Hindus alike. He loved the community and spent his later years between his cell, garden and the chaple.
He expired in Goa. He had come to spend some time with a family well known to him in Mapusa when he got a stroke while still on journey by night bus. He was rushed to Remanzo hospital and after a few days already in coma he was transferred to another clinic in Panjim where he expired. Though a Goan and most of his family members still living in Goa, Mangalore was lucky to have his last funeral rites performed in Mangalore monastery. His popularity was seen when about 100 priests of the diocese participated in the funeral mass. His mortal remains are interred in Carmel Hill Cemetery.
He could very well be regarded in the history of the Province as cofounder of Mangalore and founder of Pushpashrama Monastery, Mysore.
Fr. Boniface of Jesus and Mary;
Joachim Inacio Barracho;
Jose Vincent Barracho;
Anna Maria Melo Tavares;
15 Jan 1916
1 August 1947.
1 August 1950;
21 April 1951;
25 September 1985.
O U R T E A M