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Patru, My Guide

by Fr Nascimento Mascarenhas

If I am a priest today, I owe it in no small measure to the early guidance I received from Patricio A C Vaz, popularly known as Patru, from Donvaddo in Saligao. At St. Anne’s Chapel, not far from where I lived, whenever the twin-brother priests Monsenhor Cosme, Parish Priest of Santa Cruz, Ilhas, or Fr. Tome Cordeiro, Educationist in Carona de Aldona, from Mollebhatt; or Fr. Francisco dos Remedios, Vice-Rector of Damao Seminary, from Tabravaddo; or Fr. Eugenio Francisco Xavier Sequeira, Superior General of Pilar Society, from Donvaddo; or Monsenhor Valentino das Chagas Fernandes, Dean of Margao, and Fr. Faustino de Sousa, founder of the Congregation of the Holy Family of Nazareth, both from Mudd’davaddi, and other priests returned to their respective residences on holidays, we youngsters would assemble every morning in St. Anne’s Chapel (there were three altars then) to serve their Masses as altar boys.

Patricio Vaz would guide us in serving them at the Eucharist and if we went wrong at any point, he was always there to help us. He never shouted at us nor raised his hand in anger. He corrected us gently and patiently. He also made sure that we pronounced the words correctly in Latin, as at that time all Masses were conducted in Latin.

Patru loved us much and tolerated our mischief too. He loved us much and tolerated our mischief too. His kindness and courtesy were beyond measure. He often carried sweets and other goodies in his pockets, probably with the sole intention of sharing them with us. Somehow, whenever and wherever help was needed, Patru magically appeared. As a result, he was a household name in Saligao.

He was particularly fond of me and often narrated to me stories about the Saints, explained the meaning of the Mass, and told me the life stories of some exemplary priests – thus, I felt a flame burning in my heart to embrace the priesthood. This vocation was reinforced in my heart and mind by my family members also. May God reward them all.

From the organisation of the Sunday liturgy or the annual St. Anne’s feast, to giving final touches to the funerals of the dear departed, to using his influence in matters social, religious and even governmental, Patru was always at the forefront. The fantastic annual dances he organised on the occasion of the Church Feast, the football matches at which he officiated as a referee, can never be forgotten. Patru is also credited with having saved a woman from drowning, despite danger to his own health and life, and that too in the dead of night.

He served as an assistant sacristan in the Saligao Church and later migrated to Bombay in search of greener pastures. But Saligao beckoned him lovingly and insistently. He returned and set up his own bar near the old tinto, called Casa Vaz e Irmaos, which was very popular and successful up to 1961.

Patricio Antonio Caridade Vaz was the son of Sebastiao Caetano Vaz (Saligao) and of Ana Maria Mascarenhas (Siolim). He passed away at Donvaddo in Saligao on 2nd. October 1981. But, to quote the well-known epigram of Greek poet and scholar Callimachus, “A good man never dies.”

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