A good man goes away . . .  

by Carmo Azavedo

          A lineal descendant of Jose Maria Monteiro who was given a "brazao" (coat of arms ) by the Portuguese King Dom Joao VI in 1802 and himself honored with the honorific title of Monsignor by Pope Pius XII in 1957, he cared very little for such honours and to the very end preferred to be called Father Chico or rather Padre Chico, as from Portuguese times.

He suffered a lot on account of his political ideas, maintaining that he was a Portuguese citizen, even after the Liberation, refusing to quit Goa or report to the Police as a foreigner every six months, particularly when on losing his case, first in a lower court and then in the Judicial Commissioner's Court even with a Queen's Counsel,Edward Gardener expressly sent by Salazar, all the way from London, to defend him, he was first imprisoned in the Aguada Fort and then deported to Patiala.  But this suffering did not at all embitter him.

Eventually allowed to return to Goa through the Holy See's intervention as a quid pro quo for the release of Dr Telo Mascarenhas, then in jail in Portugal, he had to vegetate for a dozen years or so confined to the four walls of his palatial mansion in Candolim, without being able to hold any official position, after having been Prefect at Rachol Seminary and Director of Lar dos Estudantes in Panjim, respected by students as a strict disciplinarian and idolized by the youth for his role in the promotion of music and sports, especially as "treinador" (coach) and "arbitro"(referee) of the football and volleyball teams of "Associacao Academica", then champions in Goa.  But this period of forced inactivity did not dull his sharp mind.

Eventually rehabilitated and appointed Director of the "Lar dos Sacerdotes" (Clergy Home) when this was started at Alto de Porvorim in 1967, he worked tirelessly for the well being of the aged and disabled priests entrusted to his care and took his work so much to heart, frequently coming to the Goa Medical College or C.M. Menezes Clinic in Panjim, or going to Remanso Hospital in Mapusa for first aid or in emergency cases, it was after having gone on a motorbike under the scorching sun to bring a doctor, to attend on one inmate who had suddenly complained of giddiness that, he himself collapsed with a massive heart attack, before a doctor could render him any help.

A true and dedicated friend, he never allowed ideas, political as well as religious, different from his own, to come in the way of his friendship and even though I bitterly criticized him for his stand on the citizenship issue as a journalist, he remained on the most friendly terms with me, even when his friends and my enemies tried to create bad blood among us.

The Monteiros would celebrate with pomp every year the feast of the Patroness of their family chapel, "Nossa Senhora dos Remedios" on the proper day, September 15, followed by a sumptuous luncheon party in their palatial house, both the house and chapel flaunting the coat of arms, but though I had a standing invitation from him every year, I attended the feast only once on my own, but two or three times taking foreigners there, eager to see the beautiful chapel and the palatial house with the typical balcao at the entrance and the finely carved beams in the four corners of the vast reception hall.

Perhaps a bit old fashioned in respect of the opening of the Church and the innovations brought about the Vatican II Ecumenical Coucil, he could not, however, be said to have fallen a prey to the crisis of identity, recently depreciated by the Synod of Bishops in Rome, and in the midst of so many priests going about in secular dress and even flashy T shirts, he stuck to the traditional Roman collar always donning an immaculately white cassock

          In these few lines I pay my humble and heartfelt tributes to this exemplary and devout priest who would never fail to celebrate Mass at the Family Chapel, a dedicated social worker and above all, a truly good man overflowing with the milk of human kindness.  May his soul rest in peace.

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