Fr Patrick Rodrigues was a Close Friend of Team Mangalorean
“I admire the most in my Director is his determination, strength of mind and leadership role. He kept his goal insight and put all his energy and time into achieving them. He was disciplined and humble. He had the capacity to comprehend the whole situation and his skills in tackling the difficult situations, words of wisdom, genius outlook all speaks of his greatness. He had a vision and passionate love for the Institutions. He focused on it, dreamt it, built it, nurtured it and it has been a reality. He was a man of simplicity with high aspiration, moderate expectation and small needs, In health and sickness, he took everything as it comes believing God is the author of life. He alone knew what it means to live and work with pain. He was a man of prayer and strong will power” – Sr Winnifred D’Souza, Principal, Father Muller College of Nursing.
” More than my boss for nearly five years, he was my mentor and adviser. He was a person down to earth, very human. He was concerned about everyone, and loved people in need and those suffering; he loved to be in the human company and had several friends. Whenever I needed some clarifications or advise, Fr Patrick was always ready to help me out. He was a person who could win over anyone through his magnetic personality. What everyone admired in Fr Patrick was the unselfish dedication he had for persons and his work. Whatever he undertook to do he did it well. But he never made a show of it, in fact, he was very shy of publicity. What meant for him was his service. If someone he knew was sick he went to visit them and helped them too. All I can say is that Fr Patrick Rodrigues was a great Director, Mentor, Preacher, Spiritual Leader, Administrator, Thinker, Planner, and most of all, a Great Friend to all of us at Fr Mullers. I dearly miss, Fr Patrick-May his Soul Rest in Peace”- Dr Kiran Kumar Shetty, Medical Superintendent, Fr Muller Hospital-Thumbay.
My niece, Viola D’souza, (who was HOD of Radiology at Fr Muller Hospital, before she joined her husband in Las Vegas, USA recently) called and said, ” Fr Patrick Rodrigues manifested his spiritual strength in his sufferings. Never did he exhibit resentment or pain or negative feelings towards his sickness. There was pain and he never showed it at any time. Many times he was of great help when I had some doubts with my work, and he was always ready to solve your problems. He placed his life at the service of others particularly the people he served. In fact, he did just what Jesus did – reaching out to all. He was a great person, a wonderful human being. He was a person always duty conscious. He was at his desk at the regular time and was available on the phone. We all appreciated his regularity and service, and many would constantly ask for him and he was there for their service. The Community at Fr Muller will surely miss a great person, whom they loved and depended on him for many reasons. Gone is the face we loved so dear, Silent is the voice we loved to hear; Too far away for thoughts to reach, sweet to remember him who was here, who, gone away is just as dear. Sadly missed”
Mangaluru: Although I knew Rev Fr Patrick Rodrigues, the Director of Fr Muller Charitable Institutions (FMCI) since three years, it seemed like we knew each other longer than that. I became closely associated with him ever since I started covering the events that took place at Fr Muller’s to be incorporated in Mangalorean.com- and Fr Rodrigues always liked my reporting. We both cherished our friendship and always kept in touch through messages and emails- and he always reciprocated with his appreciation note for the reports published on our website. He always praised Mangalorean.com and Team Mangalorean for our work and professional journalism. “Great Write-Up”, “Awesome Report, Alfie”, “Article along with photos were simply outstanding. Keep up the good work that you are entrusted with” etc- these are some of the words of wisdom from Fr Rodrigues, which I will surely keep in my heart for a long long time.
The blow was hard, the shock was severe when I saw the news on our website about the death of Fr Patrick Rodrigues. Many did not know his death was near, but God knew that he was suffering and the hills were hard to climb, so he closed his weary eyes and whispered: “Peace be thine”. Many, who were close and dearer to him will miss him because he was warm and quick to make everyone feel comfortable. He had a special way that warmed the hearts of everyone who knew him, especially his colleagues, doctors, nurses and students at FMMC, and the qualities that made him the wonderful person he was, have left everyone with many beautiful memories. Fr Patrick did touch hearts of many through his politeness, graciousness and friendliness. The last time that I saw the smiling face of Fr Patrick was during the press meet on March 10, 2017, in the FMMC Conference Hall, where he briefed the media persons about the State-of-the-Art Fr Muller Convention Centre, which was his “Baby”!
As I was browsing through our website my eyes suddenly landed on the article:”This Thing Called Cancer” written by Shivani P Naik, which brought memories of Fr Patrick Rodrigues, who lost his life with cancer at the age of 66, a couple of days ago. Yes, we all know that Cancer is a brutal disease, where our young and old dear ones/friends have lost their lives battling the cancer disease. Cancer may have cut some peoples’ lives shorter than they would have been without having cancer. It may have prevented them from doing certain things while still living. Cancer may take away the joy we have from having these people with us on this earth longer than if they didn’t have cancer.
Some people fight cancer with everything they have, every day that they take a breath. While you have done reading this tribute article, please take a moment to pray for Fr Patrick, his old-age mother and his family members. No doubt he was a great man, a spiritual priest who served Jesus Christ and also the Fr Muller Community. We all know that Cancer had worn down his body since the day it affected him- the deadly disease exhausted his strength. And we all know it took his life. But cancer couldn’t dim his smile. And what a peculiar smile it was! Everything good, everything wholesome, everything pure about manhood was found in his unique smile.
But there was more—a hint of joyfulness and fun, a sense of self-confidence, an unmistakable kindness. It was the kind of smile that drew people to him. That smile was there the first time I met him a couple of years ago during a Fr Muller event at the Decennial Hall and that smile was still there the last time I saw him at the press conference on 10 March. The ravages of cancer, chemo and radiation could not wipe it from his face. He didn’t express any feelings of his suffering, instead, he stood strong and involved himself in all the activities of the institution, attending seminars, meetings, and chalking out plans for another project. If anything, everyone would agree with me is that his personality and smile was brighter and more joyous the last time we all saw him. Cancer was helpless against it.
Although his health was deteriorating day by day, but Fr Patrick was doubly blessed with his natural personality—inside and out. Cancer could do nothing to diminish either. It was his personality that shone through his eyes and smiles every day of his life. Cancer tried to take it from him but failed miserably. Cancer couldn’t steal his popularity. To know him was to love him and to root for him. We should all be so lucky to have as many friends as Fr Patrick did. He touched more people in his 66 years of life on earth than most of us could in 100 years. From his colleagues, doctors and nurses to his relatives and friends, no one entered Fr Patrick’s orbit without being inspired by him. Cancer was utterly helpless to interfere.
Cancer was unable to break Fr Patrick’s spirit. His zest for life and a competitive fire burned brightly to the end. His confidence and adventurousness were undimmed. He took everything cancer could throw at him and kept going. He endured the pain that would have hobbled the toughest adult. He found energy in the face of draining treatments. He maintained a positive outlook in the bleakest of situations. Where was cancer’s victory in that? Cancer ripped a hole in the lives of everyone who loved him. Cancer left us devastated and heartsick. Cancer robbed the world of someone who would have done great things—someone who would have made a difference. But cancer did not beat Fr Patrick. It never stood a chance.
Fr Patrick’s death has been an example to us all as he went through his cancer experience with courage, grace and dignity. Although I was not closer to him during his last stage of life battling with cancer, but people who were closely associated with him- the priests, doctors and nurses at FMMC, and his family members were blessed with the opportunity to share with Fr Patrick some highs and certainly some lows during the initial phase of his battle with cancer while he was bedridden in hospital. For many Fr, Patrick has been the source of warmth and comfort, their confidante, their support and encouragement, their help and adviser, their mentor and teacher. Ever since he took charge as the Director of Fr Muller Charitable Institutions, he initiated a number of development works in the hospital.
Born on 17 August 1951, to Raymond and Piad Rodrigues, Fr Patrick was ordained a priest in May 1978. After obtaining MA from Karnataka university, he secured a Masters degree in Public Health from New York University and also did his PG Diploma in Financial Management from the prestigious Harvard Business School in Boston, USA. He began his service as an assistant parish priest in Barkur (1978-81); and Kinnigoli (1981-84); after which he served as a parish priest of Sampaje (1984-85) and assistant Director of FMCI (1985-91), when Fr Peter Noronha was the Director. Later he took charge as the administrator of St John Medical College and Hospital, Bengaluru (1991-97); and went on to become its associate Director (2000-03); Later he served as parish priest of Kinnigoli (2003-07) before taking charge as Director of FMCI in July 2007. During his 10 years of service as Director of FMCI, he has initiated various new projects, and all the new infrastructure that you see around the FMMC campus are his master plans.
But sadly having diagnosed with cancer couple of years ago, his health gradually deteriorated and he became weak day by day- but still he involved himself in all the activities of the institution by participating in the meetings, seminars, conferences, etc etc. He kept himself busy to the best of his abilities. Now, he has gone away before us and is in Heaven interceding for us with Jesus. For us every death is painful. It is more painful when someone whom we love goes away from this world. For us, every death is an unexpected shock. True this death was expected in the case of Fr Patrick once many were told of his sickness, but not so quickly. If for the Psalmist the number of our days on earth is 70 years and 80 if we are strong, then 66 years was a good age to die. However, in this case, we can confidently say that humanly speaking his life was filled with the Divine Presence and he went to Him knowing well that his death was close by and he surrendered himself totally to the Lord.
For many, it is hard to realise that Fr Patrick is no more with them. The fact of death hits strongly into our minds and humanly speaking we know that there is no answer to this ‘why’ of death. God loved Fr Patrick, and he loves each one of us because, as St John says: “God loved the world so much that he gave his only son for our sake that we may have life through him.” In this death, the love of God is revealed to us. I truly believe that Fr Patrick is at peace and is united with her dear ones and friends in heavenly bliss. Finally what dominates our life are our memories. Fr Patrick is not merely memory; he is part of us, part and parcel of each one of us. He is inescapably built into our lives through his simplicity, love and charity. His smile, courage, laughter, expression, dedication, concern, care, Christian understanding, serviceability, limitless love, all have entered into our blood stream. He is the rose that is taken away by the Master to be placed in His garden to shine forever. Today he is in Heaven for us as a Saint, he is praying for us and interceding for us.
I end this tribute column with a quote, “Those who have lived a good life do not fear death, but meet it calmly, and even long for it in the face of great suffering. But those who do not have a peaceful conscience, dread death as though life means nothing but physical torment. The challenge is to live our life so that we will be prepared for death when it comes”. Fr Patrick is very much alive today, perhaps smiling at us and telling us as the poet would say cheerfully:
“Do not stand at my grave and weep, I am not there, I do not sleep, I am a thousand winds that blow, I am the diamond glints on now, I am the sunlight on ripened grain, I am the gentle autumn rain. When you awaken in the morning’s hush, I am the swift uplifting rush of quiet birds in circled flight, I am the soft stars that shine at night. Do not stand at my grave and cry, I am not there, I did not die.”