Anjuna storms heaven for its own saint

January 15, 2017 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Goa, January 15, 2017: The Church in Goa is already getting its faithful to storm the heavens for a first class miracle that will make the Venerable Fr Agnelo de Souza, ‘Blessed’, taking him one step closer to sainthood. The archbishop of the archdiocese of Goa and Daman has chosen ‘Inspired by Venerable Fr Agnelo, Let us witness the Mercy of God’ as the theme for this pastoral year.

At the chapel of St John the Baptist in Gaumvaddi, Anjuna, few metres away from the house where Fr Agnelo was born, novenas have already begun in anticipation of the 147th Jayanti of the Venerable Fr Agnelo on January 21. The room where he was born, which has the bed he slept in, his sweater tucked behind a framed photograph, sayings and rare pictures of the first professed members of the St Francis Xavier Society, has been open to the public for some years now.

“On Saturday, when busloads of people arrive to celebrate his birth anniversary, the family will throw open Fr Agnelo’s entire house to the public as they do each year on the occasion,” says Gustavo D’Souza, Fr Agnelo’s grandnephew who lives in the house along with his 91 year-old mother, Alda D’Souza. Other grandnieces and grandnephews of the Venerable Fr Agnelo are scattered across Anjuna, Calangute and Panaji.

Water from the family well is also taken to the chapel to be blessed and distributed in bottles on that day.

Down south, the room he used as spiritual director of Rachol Seminary from 1918 till November 20, 1927, when Fr Agnelo breathed his last, is in the process of being converted into a small museum in his honour and memory. An artist from Shiroda has begun working on 14 oil-on-canvas paintings depicting his life in the seminary.

The bed and table he used, as well as the big cross he wore at all times, are displayed for all the faithful to see.

Books about his life will be on display, and the room, which is being fitted with special lighting, is expected to be ready in a few months’ time.

At Rachol, the pulpit where Fr Agnelo suffered a cerebral stroke and collapsed while he was in the middle of his sermon during the vespers in preparation for the feast of the Sacred Heart, is also there for all to visit.

Vice-postulator for his cause, Fr Hilario Fernandes, refers to Fr Agnelo as “an exemplary and inspiring member” of the Society of the Missionaries of St Francis Xavier – also known as the Society of Pilar.

Fr Cosme Jose Costa, in his book ‘Venerable Fr Agnelo, An ardent pastor’, writes that Fr Agnelo lived a life of detachment and strived to practice Christian values in word and deed. “He preached the mercy of forgiveness of God in almost all the parishes of Goa as well as in Kumta and Honavar…(in Karnataka).”

For the first ten years of his priesthood at the Pilar Monastery, Fr Agnelo focused on meditation, prayer and penance. He was appointed Confessor of the Seminarians of Rachol and as auxiliary to the Missionary Vicar of Shiroda. He was then posted to the Kumta parish as parish priest, where he served for almost seven years, and, lastly to Sanvordem parish, where he was Chaplain-curate.

The Portuguese government had restricted the recruitment of new members to the Society of Pilar from 1910, and by 1927, members of the society had become old and were dying, except for Fr B R Rosario Gomes, who was in his forties when he was the Dean of Honavar in Kanara, in Karnataka.

“But his mind was assailed by doubts about the future of the Society. Since he was the only young member, he was tempted to leave this dying society and join the Jesuits. When he came down to Goa for his holidays in May, he went to see Fr Agnelo and opened his mind to him. After hearing his doubts, Fr Agnelo consoled him and prophesized emphatically: “Fr, Rosario, do not think of leaving this society; it has a great future. Indeed, the finger of God is here,” Fr Costa writes.

Only months after Fr Agnelo’s remains were brought from Rachol to Pilar, the society experienced its revival that he had prophesized.

The four century-old Pilar monastery has been restored the traditional way with lime plaster. The life-size murals depicting scenes from the life of St Francis of Assisi, St Joseph, St Claire and St Anthony have also been touched up. The room used by Fr Agnelo in the monastery has been identified, and will be opened to the public soon.

– times of india

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One Response to “Anjuna storms heaven for its own saint”
  1. Denis Khan says:

    The throngs of Mumbai’s Gujarati Catholics who frequent Fr. Agnel Ashram in Bandra, have long since canonized him. They pray to St.Agnel Baba!

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