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Tilamola and Fr. Erlick de Souza of Saligao

by Fr. Nascimento Mascarenhas

Twelve years ago, on 12 February 2000, Goa’s then Archbishop-Patriarch Dr. Raul Nicolau Gonsalves blessed another new church in Goa. This time it was in south Goa at Tilamola in Quepem taluka. I was there to witness the three-hour-long ceremony at this new Goa church, which was both solemn and spiritually very enriching. The huge modern church was filled to its capacity and the faithful took part in the ceremonies with due respect and attention.

Someone quipped at the end: “We did not feel tired because our hearts are rejoicing today, the time factor of three hours did not disturb us. To place our ancestors and us under the protection of Our Lady, the Mother of the Poor, our Patroness, is a very significant event and today we again pledge our faith in the Lord Jesus and Our Lady to guide us now and in the coming years.”

Tilamola Church, GoaThe new Goa church has been built at the same site where the previous, small church once stood. It took some years to get it ready, and, fighting all odds, the people of the area got together to help either with financial contributions or by working for free at the construction site.

I think that a little bit on the history of Tilamola Parish would not be out of place here. The faithful of this hamlet belonged to the parish of Zambaulim (Do you remember Zambaulim and its famous Zatra?). “At the request of the parishioners of the old Goa church of Zambaulim, belonging to the parish of Sanguem, a church was being built at Tilamola in the property donated by Luis Isaac Caridade de Souza, from Aldona on 15 December 1875. This edifice was blessed by Archbishop D. Aires de Ornelas e Vasconcelos (1875-1879) on 16 February 1879 and elevated to the category of the Parish Church by on 14 December 1880,” says an old Directory of the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman.

From then on, the people of Tilamola had numerous Parish Priests. One of them was Fr. Ernesto Frederico Erlick de Souza (1917-1977) from Arrarim, Saligao. He was the son of Caetano Xavier Basilio de Souza and of Amarina Clotildes de Souza. He was born on 26 August 1917 and ordained priest by Patriarch D Jose da Costa Nunes on 24 April 1948, in the External Chapel at Paco Patriarcal in Panjim, Goa.

Soon after his ordination he was appointed as curate in Calangute, from 1948 to 1955, then became chaplain of Batpale Chapel in Canacona and worked there from 1955 to 1966. In 1966 he was appointed Vicar Oeconomus of Tilamola and stayed there until 1973. It was a vast parish geographically and he had to walk very long distances to attend to the various needs of his parishioners, administer the sacraments, apart from celebrating the Mass and taking care of his flock with pastoral zeal. He renovated the parish church and the parish house during his tenure and the parishioners installed a plaque in the church premises in recognition of his selfless service to the Tilamolians. This plaque now lies in a small museum built to preserve the old material of this parish.

When I attended the inauguration of the new Goa church in Tilamola, I met some older parishioners who still remembered Fr. Ernesto Erlick de Souza as “a saintly, helpful and dedicated priest who did so much for this missionary area.”

Fr. Ernesto Erlick de Souza’s final parish was Colvale in Bardez where he was the Parish Priest from 1973 to 1977 and where he died on 15 April 1977 all of a sudden. It was Easter season and the blessing of the homes was going on. He had finished blessing the last house when he suffered a massive heart attack and immediately rendered his soul to God being still in active service. The next day, 16 April 1977, he was buried at the Saligao Cemetery in the evening.

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