By Sr. Molly Fernandes SFN

Having received confirmation at his hands (Archbishop Raul), little did I know that I would meet this charming and jovial personality, at the mother Church ‘Se Cathedral’ while a novice at St Anthony’s Novitiate, Old Goa and loved to hear those words “Antonichi poram” and on Maundy Thursday serve us with the delicacy of ‘Niro’ and cashew nuts. The father figure with a gentle pat on our head as we put our hand forward to kiss his ring, is what we treasured. The other memoirs are the sermons which at times seemed to be ending but would begin again – hi!

Goa was blessed to have a strong, grace-filled personality from the beautiful village of Bambolim, who gave its son to guide and rule the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman with wisdom and understanding. Those who encountered him personally experienced his compassionate love, as some of our old sisters have many good memories to share, about his prudence and counsel.

“I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding” says Prophet Jeremiah 3:15. Of such calibre was the renowned personality Goa Archdiocese had in the person of Rt. Rev. Raul Nicolau Gonsalves. A man of courage, wisdom and knowledge, by which he counselled hundreds of his fellow priests and used his ecclesiastical offices with sound judgement in accordance with matters of canonical discipline.

Archbishop Raul Nicolau Gonsalves, was a person like Joshua the son of Nun, whom God asked to take care of the People of Israel and bring them to the Promised Land after the death of Moses. After Vatican Second, it was indeed, the Lord saying to Archbishop Patriarch Raul: Be strong and courageous, being careful to act in accordance with all the law, do not fear, nor be dismayed, for I am with you wherever you go, you will be successful” Jos. 1:7,9.

His Lordship used his experience of service in different faculties where he availed himself as the Secretary at the Apostolic Nunciature in New Delhi – 1962-1964, as auxiliary bishop to Bishop Francisco da Piedade Rebello from 1967-1978, Apostolic Administrator in 1972, to prove his mantle though entrusted on young shoulders.

God does not call the qualified but qualifies those whom he called. The winds of change brought by Vatican II, wasn’t a cakewalk.

I came across a video which said: I asked for strength but God gave me difficulties to make me strong. I asked for wisdom and God gave me problems to solve. I asked for courage but God gave me dangers to overcome. I asked for love but God gave me troubled people to help. This must have been the case of His Lordship while shepherding the sheep at the time of paradigm shift. Vatican II had brought winds of change and He as a Shepherd indeed dared to be different. The Lord Almighty moulded him as clay in his hands to shape him into a beautiful earthen vessel, in return to bring in the needed reforms in the Church.

We the Sisters, of the Congregation of Holy Family of Nazareth, Sancoale, are deeply indebted to Archbishop Raul Nicolau Gonsalves. It was he as a prelate who approved the third text of our Constitutions in 1978. However, the promulgation of the new Code of Canon Law was updated in 1983 of the Constitutions and Directives and His Lordship forwarded the same to the Sacred Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples which later was approved by the Patriarch himself that was duly modified in keeping with the directions received from Rome in 1987, and is now used by the Sisters. We indeed cherish his acts of love and compassion towards the Congregation and each member, who stood by us and guided us on the right path.

Sr. Leonie, says that he even made his retreat staying with us, for he enjoyed our premises, the serene, calm atmosphere, and spent time praying at the Oratory of St. Joseph Vaz. Sr Valentine recalls his disciplinary and strong willed acts that demanded accuracy and prompt action.

The visit of Pope John II to Goa in February 1986, is a memoirs engraved in the blood of every Goan attributed to the Patriarch. There are many things done under his leadership which the archdiocese continues to uphold, such as Parish Pastoral Councils, Small Christian Communities, Diocesan Centre for Social Communications etc.

The Archdiocese of Goa and Daman, bid adeus to its first ever courageous archbishop on 4th July 2022, when he breathed his last on 1st July at 8.54 am at the JMJ hospital, Alto Porvorim, Goa, where he was being cared and treated with great love and service and was laid to rest inside ‘Se Cathedral’, in the place reserved for the Bishops.

The funeral was attended by a sea of priests and many women religious and people. The mass was celebrated by His Lordship and cardinal elect. Filipe Neri Ferrao and conceleberated by Anil Joseph Thomas Couto, bishop of Delhi, Dereck Fernandes, bishop of Belgaum, Alwyn Barreto, bishop of Sindhudurg, Theodore Mascarenhas sfx, bishop of Ranchi, Aleixo Das Neves Dias sfx, Emeritus bishop of Port Blair, Fr. Jose Remedios Fernandes, Vicar General, Fr. Neil Santos, Chancellor, Mumbai and Episcopal vicars, rectors and other priests.


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