Retired Not Out - Bishop (Emeritus) Agnelo Gracias
In this series, we will feature priests who have served in the Archdiocese of Bombay - familiar to some, strangers to others. They have walked with us from birth to the grave: baptized us, married us, blessed us, admonished us, laughed with us, cried with us and helped us. Some of our retired priests still serve in parishes, others may be missing from parish life; this comes to let you know that though retired they are ‘not out’! Come meet the person behind the name.
Bishop (Emeritus) Agnelo Gracias
(Birth 30-07-1939 / Ordination: 21-12-1962)
When asked which was the most fulfilling moment as a priest, back came the spontaneous and heartfelt reply, ‘The day of my ordination!’ Through the course of an informal chat, His Lordship, Bishop Agnelo Gracias, shared his 60-year journey as a priest.
While talking about the Sacraments, His Lordship fondly recalls administering the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Matrimony. These, he says, are his favourites. He expressed his joy at witnessing a baby become a child of God and the special moment that is
the sacramental union of husband and wife.
Bishop Agnelo recounts his priestly vocation, telling us he received his call to the priesthood while praying at the Grotto and harbours a special devotion to Our Lady. As a priest, he pursued his Licentiate and Doctorate in Spiritual Theology in Rome, only to return to lecture not in his qualifying subject but on Marian Theology - a subject, he was self-taught! His Lordship has found in Mary a perfect example for the Church to follow - a role model Catholics can relate to, given her humanness and faithfulness to God.
The many happy years spent by the Bishop Emeritus in the Seminary - as a seminarian, faculty member, and Rector - makes the seminary a home away from home, and visits bring back fond memories. Under his Rectorship, Bishop Agnelo provided his students with the love and care that would evoke in them a reciprocal response. He explains people grow in such an atmosphere. The message by the bishop to those newly ordained was not to seek fulfilment in the priestly life but seek to serve. “Give yourself to Jesus and to others; fulfilment will come to you this way.”
Bishop Agnelo lives by the Scripture verses - Jeremiah 31:3 and John 15:15. In those days, John 15:15, “I no longer call you servants. I call you friends” used to be sung in Latin immediately after the ordination rite.
On a final note, Bishop Agnelo tells us that he obtains spiritual nourishment from spending time reading the breviary and meditating on its message – and the Eucharist.