by BIS Correspondent
MATUNGA-MUMBAI, OCTOBER 20, 2014: Fr. Richard D'Souza passed away peacefully on October 17, 2014, at Don Bosco Provincial House, Matunga, Mumbai. He was surrounded by all the confreres of the Provincial House Community in his final moments, before he breathed his last and returned to his Heavenly Father.
Fr. Richard was born on January 29, 1929. He was the third child in a family of ten, with seven brothers and three sisters. Two of his brothers are priests, and one sister is a nun. Fr. Richard attributed his vocation to the religious ambient of his family, and to the lively faith and sacrifice of his dear parents.
Fr. Richard was at first a seminarian with the Diocese of Mangalore where his uncle – Victor Fernandes – was the Bishop. When he expressed his desired to join a Religious Congregation, his spiritual director – a Jesuit priest – suggested that he join the Salesian Congregation which looked after poor boys. He developed a greater knowledge of the Salesians by reading several issues of the Don Bosco's Madonna. Pursuing his desire to be a religious priest, he then contacted Fr. Joseph Careno, the then Salesian Provincial of Madras, and was admitted to Tirupattur a year later, after obtaining the consent of his Bishop.
Fr. Richard made his first profession at Kotagiri, in 1950, where he also completed his philosophical studies. On July 1, 1960, Fr. Richard was ordained a Priest at Yercaud by Bishop Selvanathan after having completed his ecclesiastical studies at the Sacred Heart College, Mawlai, Shillong. A few days later, he offered his first Thanksgiving Eucharist in Mangalore, with, "In Generosity Is Love" as his motto. After his ordination, he ministered in various Salesian schools and pastoral settings. His last two assignments were as Assistant Parish Priest at Our Lady of Dolours' Parish, Wadala, Mumbai from 1991 to 2001 and finally at Don Bosco Matunga from 2002 till he passed away. At Matunga, he regularly assisted in the Confessional Ministry in the Shrine of Mary Help of Christians.
Fr. Richard led a simple life with no demands and was very 'Salesian' at heart. He loved to be in the midst of the boys and was often seen walking around the school campus even in his old age. He had a very cheerful demeanour and brightened up every conversation with his witty statements. Fr. Richard was also known for his great faith in Our Blessed Mother and to anyone who came to him with their anxieties, he would repeat the recommendation of Don Bosco, "Have devotion to Mary Help of Christians".
During the last few months that Fr. Richard spent at the Provincial House, his health began to wane. His advanced age began to tell on his general well-being. His inability to eat anything substantial caused him to lose weight and suffer severe weakness. When his end was obvious, the entire Provincial House Community gathered around him in prayer to strengthen him in his last moments. Fr. Richard returned to his Creator on October 17, 2014 at 8.45p.m.
Fr. Richard will always continue to be loved and treasured by the confreres of the Mumbai Province as an exemplary Salesian, who lived his religious life with great fidelity. We pray that God may now grant His faithful priest eternal happiness.