A Humble Obituary to Archbishop Emeritus Raul

Death comes like a thief. As it snatches life out of our beloved, it leaves us cold and confused. The moment of death faces the finitude of life. when someone we love dies, we are haunted by the happy memories of the person who is dead. Knowing that we only have those memories to cherish mingles our sadness with joy. It is difficult to think that our beloved has become a memory. The memory of the dead loved one intensely holds its sway over us.

While we all know that one day we all have to die, life has a magical pull that attacks us to it and we long to live and the passing of any of our loved ones becomes an experience of little death to us. Yes, we too die a little in the death of the beloved. Death has its own way to let life miss life. This is exactly what happened with the sudden death of Archbishop Emeritus. Raul N Gonsalves. As the news began to spread thick and fast, a sense of gloom seems to have taken its hold over us. The hard reality slowly sunk in and we steadily came to terms with the fact that our former Archbishop who seemed to see death into its eye like St. Paul who asked: ‘death where is your sting?’ is no more. He is being a man of exceptional courage and fortitude looked deathless while he was in the pink of His life yet to death like all of us he too had to say his final ‘Amen’.

The fact that in death that He is no more brings us to human hope that believes that in death He has become more. Though he is no more to our physical eyes, He is more to us at several levels. He is more because we can trace his footprints on the golden sands of our time. Born in Bambolim, studied at Rachol and Pontifical Urbaniana University, ordained Priest 21St December 1950, ordained Bishop on 5th March 1967, appointed Archbishop of Goa and Daman 1978, retired 12th Dec.2003- Archbishop Raul lived a life worthy of His call all through His life till He breathed His last on 1st July 2022. While His life unfolded around the hinges of the dates that we just recalled, His grace lived gracefully shouldering His responsibility as pastor in chief at a very crucial time for Goa.

Goa at that time had just got liberated and Goan society was enjoying the advent of liberation and freedom. He had the burden of the first Goan Bishop to lead the Church in Goa into the post-colonial era. If the colonial Church happened to be where the rulers were, the Church under Archbishop Raul the Church went where people were. This is why Arun Sinha in his book, Goa Indica describes him as an activist Bishop.

He has several other laurels. These words are not enough to list them all. Maybe two milestones of his are worthy of being mentioned here. He brought the fruits of the Second Vatican Council to the Church in Goa and is responsible for the financial reorganization of the archdiocese that sought to look after the priests with justice and equity for their selfless service to the people of God.

Those who have met him in person do tell us about the softness of his person. He always appeared terse in his conversation and strict and authoritative in his attitude yet it is said that His heart melted when He came to understand the reality of the other. Like all of us, His Grace was unique and unrepeatable. His life and death continue to take us to God ( the life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ). Death is a great equalizer. It levels us all. It is our final way of being human. Archbishop Raul lived his life to the fullest. His life beckons us to live our life to the fullest by serving others. Archbishop Raul believed that He had come to serve and not to be served. Inspired by him let’s make our life service to humanity.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao