Pe. Chico Monteiro



PE. CHICO MONTEIRO.

During the last few days I have been reading some mails in Cyber world about Pe. Chico Monteiro from Candolim. On 29th June Mr. Bernado Colaco?s mail in this forum on late Pe. Chico was very impressive. Since I was very closely associated with him in Candolim from very young age, I would like to pen down something about this holy priest. There is a Roman saying ?Never Talk Ill of the Dead?. Since I found nothing ill in Pe. Chico, how can I write ill of this holy priest? The House of Pe. Chico was very popular in Candolim. This House was protected by a decree by the Portuguese Government and to show the affinity between the Portuguese Government and the House of Pe. Chico there is a Plaque installed at the entrance wall depicting the Portuguese Government Emblem carved on a special stone. In Candolim there was a Traditional Saying which goes thus: ?If you want to get a good advice, you better go to Monteiros and you will be successful in life with their advice?. The house of Monteiros was known to give to Candolim village good people with good heart to see good of others. They were charitable people as well. Pe. Chico Monteiro was the pure example of the House of Monteiro for which that house was known traditionally. Pe. Chico as he was popularly known everywhere along with his elder brother Dr. Gustavo maintained and carried forward the great tradition of the House of Monteiros. His humility in life was such that though he was ordained as Monsigneur in the Church hierarchy he always volunteered to be simple in his priestly dress code and even preferred to be called as Pe. Chico only and not as Monsigneur. During the time of Portuguese rule in Goa he enjoyed excellent rapport with the Government holding a top post in Lar dos Estudantes, Panjim. Before the forceful annexation of Goa by Bharat of Nehru Government Pe. Chico went to Portugal where he met for 15 minutes with Salazar and attended some of the public functions one of them was the soccer match between visiting Brazilian Team Santos of Pele and Portuguese team Academica. After the match with very desparate efforts in the words of Pe. Chico himself, he managed to meet with Pele while Pele was coming out of the dressing room where Pe. Chico requested Pele to autograph his diary. Later on both of them started exchanging X?Mas Cards. Once he showed me these cards signed by Pele and he treasured them with highest esteem.

When the Bharati Government in Goa started challenging Pe. Chico Monteiro?s argument, Pe. Chico in the initial stages of this conflict wanted to give up the fight gracefully. However, one fine morning yet another great Goan priestly personality Monsg. Philiph Neri Mendonca popularly known as Fr. Mendonca the then Principal of St. Joseph High School Arpora, the first English High School of Goa, met Pe. Chico at Betim waiting for Ferry Boat to go to Panjim and calling him aside next to Police Station, silently whispered in the ears of Pe. Chico thus: ?Don?t Worry, Be firm, Government is in big dilemma. Fight out?. These few words from the master brain Fr. Mendonca were enough for Pe. Chico Monteiro to move ahead without any fear and he went ahead. When his case came up for hearing in Panjim Court, Justice. Jetley was tense to see the multitude of his supporters inside and outside of the courtroom. His first imprisonment was at Mapusa Police Station in 1963 where I as young student of Arpora used to go to see him where he was lodged in a decent cell. In the prison he was allowed all the facilities even to say Mass in the Chapel next to the Police Station. The Chief Jailer was very much known to him and both of them used to converse in Portuguese. Within short time he became the darling of all the prisoners who were with him and he mingled freely with them and they in turn with him. The prisoners with him received good advices from him and also they shared his food which was regularly brought to him from his home in Candolim. Earlier in one such case I noticed during the Portuguese time how the wife of Prof. Eduardo Desouza used to carry food tiffin to her husband to Aguada jail where Prof. Eduardo was lodged for long term sentence. The next prison for Pe. Chico was Reis Magos where he was also given some facilities and we used to go to see him there very regularly. By meeting with us every week he was showing the same enthusiasm and affection. Whether it was in Mapusa or Reis Magos prisons every week multitude of his friends and well wishers used to meet him and enquire about his health. During my regular visits to him I never found him broken hearted, always smiling and hearty, enquiring about our well being, our studies and health of our parents. He had very strong nerves blessed by firm spiritual power.

After returning from Patiala prison he took more active part in social and sporting work in Candolim. During the time of Portuguese rule in Goa he was confined to Panjim only where the activities of Lar took lot of his time. His majestic appearance, holy looks and charismatic smile once in a year for the feast of ?Remed Saibinn? Novenas and Feast in the Chapel attached to his house was welcomed by the multitude of devotees with great pleasure. I was one of the choir boys singing in that chapel for Salves as ?Anj Bhoddvo?. As a priest he started distributing holy communion to the sick and aged people specially around his locality where their family chapel was very popular. He volunteered to take care of the spiritual and material needs of the weak and poor in the village. Once in his village he challenged the wife of one old man when she put her aged husband in the ?Kombiancho Gudd?. When he got this news, he directly went to that place, I was with him, took the old man out of the ?Gudd?, washed him, cleaned him, bathed him and dressed him. Later on he brought food for him and this process lasted for long period till his wife changed for better. There are many such incidents he performed. He loved to care for the aged and abandoned. He used to spend lot of money from his own pocket for helping the poor and weak and yet he never made show of this. He did not believe in any human discriminations. He looked everybody with equal level. Many times he did not like his brother?s attitude of politicking in village affairs. He even once reprimanded his brother for not providing better facilities to their tenants. He wanted to make all his family ?Mundkars? as ?Bhattkars?. His brother Dr. Gustavo Monteiro was a pillar in the village and all the ambient places. He was a caring and devoted doctor, treated patients without even money as money was not his greed. He too did lot of humanitarian and social work inspite of his certain flaws which could be easily ignored. During Portuguese regime in Goa he was one of the nominated MLAs but unfortunately he failed to do justice for his job in the constituency.

As a lover of Sports Pe. Chico dedicated lot of his time for the promotion of sports in Candolim and surrounding places. Near his house he prepared especial volley ball court where daily matches were held under his supervision and before the end of daily schedule special milk and eatables were served to all the players, of course free of charge. During those days he helped the progess of Candolim soccer team by coaching and providing other guidelines for the village team players. To create good foot-ballers in the village he formed two soccer teams of young boys, one named ?Brazil? of senior boys and the other ?Apurbai? of younger boys. Some of the boys whom he trained later on turned out to be exceptionally talented. Coaching soccer teams was his especiality. For sometime he coached Sesa Goa soccer team free of charge except that Sesa had to provide him with transport to and fro Tivim. Earlier he coached Panjim Team Academica. When I won the individual championship at All Goa Inter School Athletics Meet by creating record for Goa in 100 metres dash, he was the only person in Candolim to felicitate me openly on Candolim Ground.

Though many people dubbed him as anti-Indian yet he never displayed any discrimination against non-Goans. He treated all the teachers from Candolim School with due respect and even once he told me thus ?we must treat them with due respect and not treat them badly just because they are non Goans?. During the time of the construction of Candolim School he very much associated with the late Pe. Alvito Vaz who was the person instrumental in raising that school. When Pe. Chico died I was in Goa during the time of invasion of Kuwait by Iraq. He was according to information from my home people was deeply sad to know we and many others were trapped in the war. Unfortunately, soon after my coming to Goa from invaded Kuwait while I was going to see him at Porvorim, I got the news that he died. Yes, he physically died but his great deeds will never die. His tireless work for the downtrodden will never die. His humble nature and mingling with lower strate of the people will always remain testimony of his humility. The memory of his fight against ?Bharat Serkar? will always remain alive. The Advocate Dr. Gardiner who came from London to fight his case even showed his total admiration for Pe. Chico. I had great opportunity to meet this lawyer on Candolim beach where along with him, Pe. Chico and few close friends of Pe. Chico were taken for a short boat ride on Candolim beach. I can still remember the silver hair of Advocate Gardiner. May the soul of Pe. Chico Monteiro Rest in peace.

A. Veronica Fernandes,
Kuwait.

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