Retired Not Out - Fr Joseph Pereira
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.
Fr Joseph Pereira
(Birth: 21-06-1945 | Ordination: 24-04-1976)
“You become what you say”, and this adage holds true for Fr Joseph Pereira, whose childhood dream was to become a priest. Endearingly known as Fr Joe in the parishes he served in the (Arch)dioceses of Bombay, Vasai, and Nashik, the dynamic cleric, has journeyed forty-six years in the priesthood. While Fr Joe was deeply inspired, at a tender age, by priests and their pastoral work, he became convinced of his vocation after a spiritual retreat in class 10.
Fr Joe reminisces, that over time, he devotedly applied himself to the service of the people, especially the poor. The experience of working in Sinnar, a far-flung village in Nashik, and living with the locals in their tiny makeshift houses are a few but many of the rewarding moments of his seminary life. Such was the fulfilment drawn during his regency at Nashik that after his ordination, Fr Joseph requested the then Archbishop, Valerian Cardinal Gracias, to delegate him to a mission diocese! To this, the Cardinal happily complied, and Fr Joe was posted at Korlai. The dream of becoming a missionary priest finally came to life and was strengthened by the simplicity of the lifestyle: Fr Joe spent two years in Korlai, diligently working for the marginalized. His love for God and the poor finds its root in Scripture, particularly the bible verse John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son.”
When asked about the Sacrament he loved administering, promptly came the reply, “Marriage”. As a parish priest at the Cathedral in Nashik, Fr Joe consolidated and rectified the marriage preparation process, often discounted by the faithful at the time due to sheer ignorance. Apart from educating people about the Sacrament of Marriage, while in Nashik, he directed the reconstruction of the Cathedral.
While Fr Joe admires the enthusiasm of the laity in Mumbai, his message to seminarians, in priestly formation, is to stay focused on their goal despite the many distractions.