Jesus, the Son of God, who lowered Himself and became the son of a carpenter and washed the feet of His disciples, repeatedly taught them that humility unites and pride divides. For, it is pride and competition that split the members of families, communities, and societies and cause jealousy and hatred not only to the extent of killing one another psychologically but also physically. Therefore, our Divine Master, the Teacher par excellence, says: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble of heart” (Mt 11, 29).
As we know, the all-loving Father had endowed Fr. Alfred Roche, the Servant of God, with several graces and blessings, among which, the graces of humility and simplicity were fundamental. His priestly personality was built upon these virtues on account of which he was loved and appreciated wherever he was sent by the major superiors. Mr. Peter Gonsalves, St. Anne’s Church, Binaga, Karwar, would like to bear witness to this: “Fr. Alfred Roche was a godly person, humble, meek, simple, and always smiling. First day itself he requested the parishioners to accept him as a family member.... An Orthodox Christian, Mr. K. I. Oomman, an administrative officer in the local Chemic Company, was impressed by Fr. Roche’s humble personality. He said to me: ‘Peter, I never want to see the face of a Catholic Priest. But when I saw & met this Priest, really something changed in me. What a bright face was that. Thank you Peter for bringing & making me meet such a wonderful Priest’” (Witness no. 18).
This is the secret of humility and of simplicity! Meditatively reading the Word of the Master day-by-day and trying to personalize the message, Fr. Alfred Roche gradually learnt this pedagogy from Him. Let us listen to Fr. Remigius Sequeira OFM Cap, one of the former Provincials of the Holy Trinity Province, who would like to confirm what has been shared by Mr. Peter Gonsalves: “To describe the personal qualities of Fr. Alfred, I would like to say that he was a humble and obedient friar. There was nothing showy or glamorous about it.... I would sum up the qualities of Fr. Alfred as a humble, patient, and peace-loving friar.” (Witness no. 61).
This spirit of humility and simplicity taught him how to be patient in certain trying situations, and even when he was badly criticised. Mrs. Stella d’Lima (Fernandes), St. Joseph’s Church, Lower Kasarkod, bears witness to this: “When there were different problems in the parish, and when he was criticised by some, without confronting them, without taking any authoritative action, he suffered all that silently.” (Witness no. 23).
Consequently, whenever the major superiors approached him with some request, he took up that mission joyfully, as his option was always to be with the poor and marginalized and to work for and with them. In the words of Pope Francis, he always preferred to be in the periphery and not in the centre (cf. EG no. 20). This spirit of humility deeply rooted in the spirit of prayer is the secret why the Sacred Congregation has raised him to the level of SERVANT OF GOD within seven years.