A Shepherd Sacrifices his life

By Fr. Joe Eruppakkatt SSP on 31-05-2010

The
37-year-old Catholic priest, Fr Thomas Fernandes Remedios,  associate
pastor of the Church of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Nuvem, Goa, India, lost his
life after he rescued three youths, swept away by high currents at a Goa beach
on 9 May 2010. About 60 people from his parish were having a day of
fellowship and entertainment at the beach. A group of youngsters had ventured
into the sea in spite of warning not to. As they were dragged in by the under
current, Fr Thomas ran to rescue them. After he had rescued all three of them,
he suffered a fatal heart attack and died. A statement about the incident
reads: “Fr Thomas is a shepherd who gave his life for his sheep.” The local
Church in Goa has termed this tragic incident as an example and testimony in
this Year of Priests.
    Fr
Thomas’ heroic death saddened me on the one hand and inspired and challenged me
on the other. His heroism brought me memories of the recent revelations of
child sexual abuse by some priests. It is indeed a matter of shame, sadness and
anger, especially for priests themselves, in this Year of Priests. But what
caused me more anger is the way the liberal media, hands in glove with the
vested interests, celebrated each revelation and used them against the Church’s
moral and religious authority. It created the impression that celibacy of
priests alone is responsible for all sexual crimes in the world. Every priest
was kept under the sword of suspicion and mistrust. It accused even the Pope of
conspiring to cover up some of the incidents. What the media conveniently
ignored is the fact that the erring priests are only a tiny minority. There are
hundreds of thousands of true and trustworthy shepherds like Fr Thomas
Fernandes Remedios, St. John Mary Vianney and St. Maximilian Kolbe who continue
to lay down their lives for rescuing others. Even as the action of certain
priests is disturbing and shameful to me, I feel myself privileged to be one of
the 400,000 plus priests who live, work and die for others as Christ himself
would do. It does not matter if the media ignores or distorts the good that is
done. What matters is that Christ becomes present in this world through his
unworthy servants called priests and that they have earned a place in his Sacred
Heart.

About The Author

Fr. Joe Eruppakkatt SSP

Fr. Joe Eruppakkatt SSP is a Catholic priest of the Society of St Paul. He has been engaged in media activities for several years as General Editor of ST PAULS Mumbai. He believes in God's gift of beauty and goodness in every human being, in nature and in every religious tradition, and shares his views and opinions with others.