Indian Archbishop Emeritus Raul Nicolau Gonsalves dies at 95

Archbishop Emeritus Raul Nicolau Gonsalves of Goa and Daman, the first native prelate, died in the western state of India on July 1

Archbishop Emeritus Raul Nicolau Gonsalves of Goa and Daman, the first native prelate, died in the western state of India on July 1.

The 95-year old archbishop died in a hospital in Alto-Porvorim in Panaji, the capital of Goa, where he was admitted ten days earlier.

His funeral would be held Monday evening at Se Cathedral Church Old Goa.

“I am saddened with the death of Archbishop Raul who was called by the Lord to his heavenly abode,” said Cardinal-elect Filipe Neri Ferrao, current prelate of Goa and Daman.

“The entire Church in Goa and Daman joins me in thanking the Heavenly Father for gifting Archbishop Raul to us, and in praying for his eternal repose in the arms of our Risen Lord, whom he served so faithfully and generously,” added the cardinal.

Archbishop Gonzalves took over the reins of the archdiocese following the Second Vatican Council.

Father Tomas Lobo, parish priest of St Thomas Church Aldona in Goa, said that among the contributions of the late prelate was the Archdiocesan Synod in 2002 and the Diocesan Pastoral Plan in the same year that gave an added thrust and renewed vision to the process of renewal in the local Church.

The nonagenarian had made Konkani the official language of Goa’s Catholic Church. The Holy Bible and other religious texts were translated into Konkani under his supervision.

He was a member of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People.

Born at Bambolim, Goa, on June 15, 1927, as the fifth of eight children of Marcos Vicente Gonsalves and Ermelinda Leonor Propércia de Souza in Bambolim, Archbishop Gonsalves was the first native archbishop of Goa after its liberation in 1961.

He led the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman for 37 years.

He joined the Patriarchal Seminary of Rachol for his philosophical studies. In 1947, he was sent to Rome for his theological studies and was ordained a priest in Rome on December 21, 1950.

He obtained a doctorate in Sacred Theology from from the Pontifical Athenaeum of the Propaganda Fide and a licentiate in Canon Law from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

On his return, he was appointed professor at the Patriarchal seminary and later served as secretary at the Apostolic Nunciature in New Delhi for two years from 1962.

On January 5, 1967, he was appointed the auxiliary to the then-Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese Francisco da Piedade Rebello. He was ordained bishop two months later in the Cathedral Church, Old Goa, by Archbishop James Robert Knox, the apostolic internuncio in India.

On June 30, 1972, he took charge of the office of Apostolic Administrator sede plena of the Archdiocese of Goa, being appointed Apostolic Administrator sede vacante on February 19, 1975.

Pope Paul VI appointed him Archbishop of Goa and Daman and Patriarch of the East on January 30, 1978. He became the first native to hold the post. He retired from the episcopal ministry on December 12, 2003. He was a priest for 71 years and a bishop for 55 years.

Related Stories