God the Father, in creatng each and every one of us and conferring upon us different graces and blessings, has implanted in us seeds of gifts and talents of different kinds. These are meant to be fostered and rightly made use of, in thanking and praising God and in loving and serving one another. St. Paul beautifully bears witness to this: “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1Cor 12:4-7).
Although every child of God is endowed with different graces and blessings, time and again, we see people who are not aware of these God-given gifts and talents. The Servant of God, Fr. Alfred Roche, had a special grace in descerning these God-given gifts and in orientating the young and the old during his pastoral service from place to place. He was encouraging and motivating even the elementary school children by giving them nice nick-names. Let us listen to Mr. Alex Crasta, Paradigm Excellus, Kadri, Mangalore: “In order to make these children more happy he gave new names to them: doctor, engineer, guitarist, lawyer, judge, secretary etc. Though they did not know the real meaning of those names, they were very happy and proud when he called each by the respective new name.... Fr. Santa Lopes, who was called secretary, and who is presently the vice-postulator for the Cause of Beatification of Fr. Alfred, bears witness to this.” (Alex Crasta, Alfred Roche: A Compassionate Pastor, p. 39).
Fr. Alfred was very kind and generous. Sr. Elveera D’Costa, Sacred Heart Convent, Brahmavar, shares her personal experience: “I was privileged to have Fr. Alfred as my Guru, learning things not so much by preaching as by example of life. The fragrnce of his saintliness spread around fast and many sought him in their need.... He encouraged students to work hard and study, bringing out their hidden talents. He gave always a positive stroke, showing how useful they were and they proved it to be.” (witness no. 62). Besides, he helped out younstgers to find proper jobs and a number of them went to foreign countries. As a result, there was economic progress in many families.
The approach of Fr. Alfred was holistic. Along with faith-formation, education, and employment of the youth, he fostered vocations for priessthood and religious life from place to place. His humble and simple life-pattern attracted many to be priests and religious. Let us listen to Mr. Maxim Furtado, Baikadi, Brahmavar: “If there are many priestly and religious vocations in our parish, he is the cause for it. In reference to my own family, it was he who gave proper names to my children. It was he who encouraged them in their priestly and religious vocation; then he was an exemplary guide of my entire family.” (witness no. 15).
We say there are very few vocations for priestly and religious life. Is it not owing to lack of witness value in the life of priests and religious?