3rd April 2018 was a sad day for the Diocese of Lucknow. Our dear Fr. Santhan Mathias, aged 77 years, passed away on this day after battling illness for over 30 years. The funeral was held on 5th April 2018 at St. Joseph’s Cathedral and he was buried in the ‘Cemetery for Priests’ at the Loreto Convent Campus in Lucknow. The Bishop of Lucknow Most Rev. Gerald J. Mathias, presided over the Funeral Liturgy in which about 45 Priests and many more Sisters and Lay Faithful participated and prayed for the departed soul. Fr. Santhan’s younger sister and a few nephews and a niece also were present at the funeral.
In the Eulogy that was read out, Fr. Donald De Souza, Chancellor of the Diocese, spoke of the many pastoral initiatives in ministry that were undertaken by Fr. Santhan Mathias during the first 20 years of his priestly life before he fell ill. He was ordained a Priest, to the great joy of his parents and extended family, on 20th December 1968 by late Valerian Cardinal Gracias in Bombay. Casting a glance at the priestly life of Fr. Santhan, Fr. Donald mentioned the various places and Missions where Fr. Santhan had worked: starting as the Co-coordinator of St. Francis Home in Nainital in 1969; then as Assistant Chaplain in Ranikhet in 1970; Assistant Chaplain in Kathgodam in 1971; Assistant Chaplain in St. Agnes’ Parish in Husseinganj in Lucknow also in 1971; Catholic Chaplain at St. Thomas Church in Amausi in 1973; Parish Priest at St. Alphonsus Church in Bareilly in 1980; Parish Priest at the then Don Bosco Church (now St. Mary Magdalene Church) in Mahmudabad in 1985; and finally, just before he got sick, as Chaplain at St. Francis Lake Church in Nainital in 1988.
Speaking about his illness, Fr. Donald said that around the year 1987, Fr. Santhan Mathias fell sick due to a rare condition of the weakening of the nervous system as a result of which he had to give up active ministry during the last 30 years, and was confined, during the past 12 years, to his sick bed at St. Francis Dispensary in Lucknow! He underwent all these personal sufferings with the same missionary spirit and obedience to God’s designs with which he had left, many years ago, his home and family to become a missionary Priest in the Diocese of Lucknow. He would have celebrated the Golden Jubilee of his Priestly ordination in December this very year”.
Fr. Donald concluded the Eulogy saying: “Dear Fr. Santhan Mathias, we shall miss you, especially your smiling face of younger days, your humorous stories and jokes, and also your huge, loud and piercing coughs of the last few years! We shall miss your little stories of missionary life in the various Missions of our Diocese which you used to narrate to all who cared to listen, for your guidance to the younger priests, your happy companionship to your peers, but above all, your person as an anointed Priest of the Lord, in your several years of fruitful ministry! May the Lord, we pray today, gift you, in his merciful love, with Paradise and the joy of entering God’s Kingdom unto eternity! Farewell dear Fr. Santhan Mathias!”