IT'S ONE YEAR SINCE YOU LEFT US!
Dear Fr. Terence,
Since the early hours of this morning - when Fr. Changa gave me the sad news, that you had left us and gone to your eternal reward - I have been talking to you; doing my best to tell you so many things which you have meant to me and to so many others, during your journey here on earth.
It is indeed difficult to say everything, to put my “many hours” of talking to you into a few words; but I will do my best, and at least this time I hope your hearing will not be ‘selective’ or that you will turn a deaf ear to what I have to say!
I have been telling you about the legacy you have left each one of us. It is huge! And if I attempt to put them in bullet points, one can definitely describe your whole life into five major loves. They all complement one another. These loves are the sum total of your life: the way you lived it, the way you came across to so many of us. As you lie here surrounded by your brother Jesuits, brother priests, religious sisters and numerous others for whom you were a Good Shepherd, I would like to dwell a bit on these five major loves of yours:
- Your love for Jesus
There is no doubt about this. You loved Jesus with your whole being. He was the root of your existence and the centre of your life and this you communicated to all of us in no uncertain ways: to all the pre-novices who are just now in the pre-novitiate, to those who are no longer there (some have become novices or are now elsewhere). To Frs. Alpesh, Sudhir, Harry and myself – we were the ones physically closest to you these past three years and your closeness to Jesus has certainly meant to a lot to us. Often times, we found you “missing”, you just got lost - but when we looked for you, we would find you in the only place where you wanted to get lost: in front of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament , talking to him, praying to him, telling him about our many needs, our works. Yes, Terence, Jesus was certainly your first big love.
- Your love for Mary
Is there any reason dear Terence why you chose to go home in this month of October dedicated to the Holy Rosary? It all fits in so easily! Because you loved Mary with a deep tenderness and a total fidelity the same way Jesus loved his Mother. It was always heartening for us to watch you go round and round ‘Sughadpanth’ in the early hours of morning, in the heat of mid-day and even in the late hours in the evening with the Rosary in your hand. Did you recite a million Rosaries Terence? Or perhaps more! With the Rosary in your hand, you were just telling Mary, your Mother and our Mother, how much you loved her. And in your homilies, in your instructions, you never failed to tell all that we must love Mary and go to Jesus through her.
- Your love for people
Bishop Thomas has already referred to that huge poster that greeted us all as we entered the Church, your benign face with the slogan “A True Pastor” just below that and there is a smaller poster here at the foot of your coffin. It really sums up your life because you were always that Good Shepherd, moulded in the image, likeness and the heart of Jesus. You had a very personal approach to everyone and everywhere people recognized you as a really good pastor. You could remember Annama’s and Eleyamma’s families, their children and their anniversaries with the greatest ease as their Parish Priest. This morning, when Fr. Aubrey told the people of the slums outside the Technical School in Nadiad that you had gone home, they immediately ran and brought plenty of flowers be placed on you. A sign of their affection for you – and the pain they experience because you are no more. Be it Kalol or Vadtal, Surat, Bhavnagar, Sabarmati or Mehsana, you always cared for your people and (many are gathered here today) and they returned this gesture with much affection and gratitude. You made Kanjirapally your home for sometime and there were people who adopted you as their very own. On a personal note, you paid great attention when you visited my aged parents Cynthia and Conrad and always held them with much esteem – reminding me a thousand times over about their “greatness”. You were very personal with the people you met and you never ceased to communicate God’s love to each of them. Yes, Terence in every sense of the word, you were a true Pastor.
- Your love for vocations
Terence, all of us here are aware that you have been one of the finest vocation promoters both for the Church and Society. You enjoyed attracting young men and women to priestly and religious life. You had no hesitation to demand from a mother her only son in your typically ‘Terence-tial’ way ‘give me your son for Jesus’ and wow what a crop of fine men and women you have given to Jesus and the Church. Fr. P.T. Simon is here amongst us, Fr. Francis Pudicherry writes from Spain that he will miss you very much. There is Peter K and Jestin V who are Jesuits today. There are others who have joined the diocesan clergy and several religious sisters. You have been their fisherman, their inspiration and motivation. Each time you spoke to us, you insisted that we too promote vocations in every possible way. Your life Terence was a message and it was this message that attracted young men and women to priestly and religious life. Thank you Terence for this great service to the Church.
- Your love for the Society of Jesus
Those of us, who were closest to you this past year, will in some ways understand the depth of your love for the Society of Jesus. On the 20th of June this year, you completed (with a few others), your Golden Year as a Jesuit. What a day of joy it was for you! At the Eucharist that morning, you told us in the home community of the Prenovitiate, what it meant for you to be a Jesuit these past fifty years and how much you loved the Society. We, your brother Jesuits gathered around your mortal remains have absolutely no doubt about that. At every stage of your life, you had no hesitation as a loyal son of St. Ignatius from saying to the Lord ‘Take and receive’. We salute you Terence and we thank you for being a brother Jesuit to each one of us.
There is so much more to say, dear Terence as we bid you “goodbye”. You have indeed left us a rich legacy; a legacy of love: for Jesus, for Mary, for the people, for vocations and for the Society of Jesus. This, in more ways than one, has epitomized you and your life – a life of great love indeed!
We truly believe with Martha in today’s Gospel that you, dear Terence, are now enjoying the eternal life you have been called to - in the company of the angels and saints in heaven.
Thank you, dear Terence for being a wonderful human being, a true pastor, a great friend, a genuine brother and a loyal son of Ignatius.
Goodbye Terence, till we meet again!
-Fr. Cedric Prakash sj
(This homily was delivered at the Funeral Mass of Fr. Terence Lobo sj at St. Ignatius Loyola Church, Ahmedabad on 23rd October, 2013. The above text - form was written a day later.)
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