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Remembering Msgr Hilary Rodrigues

Msgr Hilary Rodrigues, a pioneer of Inter-religious dialogue, worked with Alcoholics Anonymous for half a century, Executive Director, Catholic Nurses Guild of India and a Pastor for all peoples.

By Nirmala Carvalho

Msgr Hilary with his Doctoral Theses on ‘Idea of Grace in Ramanuja’ did Pioneering work in an untrodden field, preparing a solid path for Second Vatican II Dialogue with other Religions and specifically for us in India with Hinduism reflected Abp Felix Machado, secretary General of the CBCI.

“Msgr. Hilary prepared the ground and should be praised for what he did. He paved the way. St. Pope John Paul II came to tell us prophetically in Fidelis et Ratio the faith and reason encyclical. He tells Indian what you should have done and what you should do. This proves that Msgr. Hilary was far far ahead of his times. It is a great contribution and that lamp should not be put under the bed” said the Archbishop Machado.

Msgr. Hilary was Ordained Priest on the vigil of the Immaculate Conception in 1954 in Rome has been a zealous Missionary priest, faithful to Jesus Christ and the Church and to our Blessed Mother. Nearly ten years prior to the magna carta for dialogue Nostra Aetate was promulgated, Msgr Hilary Rodrigues in 1956 did his Doctoral Thesis “The idea of Grace under Ramanuja”. from the Propaganda Fide, Rome. Nostra Aetate’s amazingly prophetic imperatives to Catholics to ‘encourage, preserve and promote’ the spiritual values of other religions was preceded by Msgr Hilary’s study of the 11th century Hindu Theologian Philosopher Ramanuja.

Msgr Hilary Rodrigues shares about four parts of his Priestly Mission, through all entwined to the Love of Jesus, The Church and Our Blessed Mother. “The Rosary was our family devotion from childhood”. Msgr Hilary is the younger brother of Msgr Nereus Rodrigues.

  1. Msgr. Hilary was Secretary to the Bishop of Shimla for 4 & 1/2 years and later Vicar General of Shimla.

  2. Msgr. Hilary was Executive Director of the Catholic Nurses Guild, and was with the nurses guild for 21 years. He travelled extensively throughout the length and breadth of the country giving spiritual guidance to the Catholic Nurses, promoting Life, teaching Catholic nurses to defend life in all its fullness ,encouraging them to participate in many Church activities and outreach programmes to help the sick, handicapped and elderly and housebound and above all to give them the touch of Jesus through their healing ministry.

  3. For 50 years, Msgr Hilary worked with the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and served as their Spiritual advisor, he was a sponsor to many including numerous non Christians- who say they owe their sobriety and new life to Fr Hilary. Rangesh Iyengar, a Hindu Brahmin chemical engineer in a condolence message said, “I can say today that Fr Hilary played a very important role in my early days into the fellowship. I used to go every Sunday evening for almost two years. To be honest I have used abusive language with him. He used to smile and sit quietly. I remember one day in st. Andrews after my session with him I was walking out from his room with full of guilt about my rebellious actions, he called out to me and said GOD STILL LOVES YOU YOU CAN GO NOW .I was in tears and till today I feel that particular day and his words touched me to bring transformation within and remain sober till today”.

  4. Pastoral work. When Msgr was appointed Parish Priest of St. Andrew’s Church Bandra , he discerned the need for youth participation in liturgical services, he encouraged dramatization and audio visual presentation of Biblical themes as a regular youth activity in the Parish Hall. Msgr. Hilary invited the Neo-Catechumenate way to give catechesis and begin an adult Christian initiation in the parish through communities, and belonged to the 1st Community of St Andrew’s Parish.

Msgr. Hilary had a close relations with Mother Teresa. As Manager of St Andrew’s college, St Mother Teresa had blessed the foundation stone of St Andrews College in Bandra.

Msgr. Hilary lived a disciplined life, both in prayer as well as in his Priestly duties. He was very faithful to his prayer-life; very regular in praying the breviary and the rosary. He was always available for counselling.

For the past one year Msgr. Hilary was at the Clergy Home, Bandra, after undergoing surgery. His calm serenity in the face of pain was remarkable, He only said TRUST JESUS”. He continued his pastoral ministry at the Clergy Home, concelebrating daily Mass and was always available to people for counselling and confessions, and concelebrating Mass, He was shifted to Holy Family Hospital a few weeks ago. Where he entered tranquilly into His Father's will. Though frail and weak, he was alert to visitors, imparting his Blessings to all who asked for it.

Msgr. Hilary Rodrigues was A Priest Forever

Requiescant in Pace Msgr. Hilary


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