The canonization of St Teresa of Kolkata has raised hopes of the beatification of a saintly Goan priest, Venerable Fr Agnelo de Souza, as thousands are set to gather here to pray for his cause. On every Thursday and especially from 11th to 20th November, many devotees flock to Pilar or climb the hillock to thank God for the favors received through the intercession by Ven Fr Agnel. Preparations to hold the nine-day novena for his 89th death anniversary on November 19 in a pandal outside the Church of Our Lady of Pilar are receiving final touches. This pastoral year June 2016 to May 2017 is also significant to his cause as Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao has dedicated it to the Anjuna-born priest and has exhorted the faithful to emulate his virtuous life.
The beatification process of Ven Fr Agnelo began in Rome in 1947, almost 20 years after his death. He was 58 when he breathed his last on November 20, 1927, at Rachol. Following his death, thousands of devotees began thronging the small cemetery at Rachol. Several received favours through his intercession and the Holy See declared him a ‘servant of God’. His mortal remains were shifted to the Pilar monastery in January 1939 for better access to the faithful.
“We have completed two of the four processes towards his canonization. Now, it is not in our hands but in the people’s faith and the will of God,” said vice-postulator for the cause of the canonization of Ven Fr Agnelo, Fr Hilary Fernandes.
His life is not known for anything spectacular nor extraordinary. “But he did ordinary things in an extraordinary way,” Fernandes added. The second step towards his sainthood was completed on November 10, 1986, after he was granted the title, ‘venerable’. The Rome-based Congregation for the Causes of Saints found that he excelled in the cardinal virtues of faith, hope and charity.
Hundreds of devotees still flock to Pilar to pray at Ven Fr Agnelo’s tomb. High church dignitaries have pleaded for his canonization, proposing him as a model of sanctity to all Christians and others. It’s been a 30-year wait for devotees across the world, but Fernandes said there are procedures and the Church has to be allowed to follow them. “It (canonization) will come in God’s time,” he said.
Fr. Agnelo was a good preacher. He preached novenas and retreats and it is said that his sermons were very simple and intelligible to all, which flowed from a very saintly and virtue practicing priest. Fr. Agnelo could probe the hearts and minds of the people who came to him for advice and counseling.
Fr. Agnelo was always a quiet, Simple and loveable person and he could never neglect those who came for his help. Today, Ven. Fr. Agnelo reminds us that we too should do the same in this era of hate and terrorism. Venerable Fr. Agnelo followed the advice of Christ by loving poorest of the poor. During his lifetime, Fr. Agnelo showed that he was a true disciple of Christ by loving God and his fellowmen.