|Fr. Ante Gabrić (Metković, Croatia 1915 - Bengal, 1988) lived like a Bengali, and he worked tirelessly for the spiritual development of the Bengali community in India. People in Bengal consider Fr. Gabrić should be beatified like mother Teresa and all the people are praying for for this. He was very much related to Blessed Mother Teresa of Kolkata and they worked hand in hand.|
SJEĆANJE NA P. ANTU GABRIĆA, SJ - DRAGOCJENOG BISERA SUNDARBANA
Uvod u Oblast Južnog 24. Parganasa u Zapadnom Bengalu
Oblast Južnog 24 Parganasa smještena je na južnoj obalnoj strani Zapadnog Bengala. To je područje na ušću rijeke Gangesa sa stotinama otoka i brojnim rukavcima. Veliki dio te oblasti pripada Sundarbanskoj šumi, posljednoj mangrovoj prašumi na svijetu. Suptropsku klimu tog područja delte Gangesa obilježava visoki stupanj vlažnosti zraka (71-85%) i visoki godišnji prosjek padalina od 180mm.
Poplave, ciklone i glad vrlo su učestali u ovom području. Gotovo svake godine poplave i ciklone pometu čitavu oblast, uzrokujući mnoge gubitke života, kuća, zaliha hrane, sjemena i bilja. Plodna zemlja postaje neobradiva zbog visoke plime koja donosi slanu vodu iz Bengalskog zaljeva i prelijeva se po poljima.
Godine 1971. izbio je rat (Mukti Yudha) u Bangladešu. Ljudi u Bangladešu izgubili su svoje domove i posjede te su se kao izbjeglice sklonili u Indiji. U to je vrijeme bila velika glad te je i to doprinjelo još većoj oskudici. S druge strane velik gospodarski nazadak i ekonomska stagnacija bili su preduboki da bi se riješili. U toj oblasti većina stanovništva pripada kasti šudre i "Ostalim zaostalim slojevima". Prema dostupnim podatcima 56% stanovništva pripada kasti šudre, od kojih je 1% plemenskog stanovništva. Većinom su hindusi 65.48%, zatim muslimani 33.24% a kršćani su neznatna manjina. Ti su ljudi u najnepovoljnijem položaju u društvu.
Ukupni stupanj pismenosti u ovoj Oblasti je za muškarce 59%, a za žene 41% (prema popisu stanovništva iz 2001.). Broj osnovnih i srednjih škola ne pokriva potrebe stanovništva. Sasvim je normalno da je osobito seoska populacija nepismena i da žive u neznanju, imaju nisku razinu informiranosti i vođeni su različitim predrasudama i praznovjerjima. Glavni izvor zaposlenosti jest poljoprivreda, ali nažalost ona je jako siromašna jer nema sustava navodnjavanja i stručnog upravaljanja usjevima, primjerenog obrazovanja niti tehnologije. Ekonomija je stoga siromašna, a brzi prirast stanovništva još više ugrožava osnovne potrebe stanovništva.
Duh dijeljenja u ljubavi i duboka zabrinutost za najsiromašnije prijeko su potrebni, kao i nesebična ljubav i pomoć u radu kako bi se pomoglo ljudima Južnog 24. Parganasa.
P. Ante Gabrić, čovjek za svakoga
Čovjek samoće i zahvalnosti Bogu i ljudima živio je jednostavnim i poniznim životom kako bi druge ljude mogao dovoditi bliže Bogu i čovjeku. Do danas on je jedina osoba o kojoj ljudi govore u Sunderbanu, zbog njegova načina evangelizacije i dobrotvornog rada. Njegovo brzo reagiranje na prirodne nepogode kao što su oluje, nevremena i teške poplave, njegova spremnost za pomoć bila je trenutna.
Bio je veoma povezan s blagoslovljenom Majkom Terezijom iz Kalkute za njezina života, radili su zajedno i dijelili mnogo misionarskih poslova, a tražio je i više sestara za evangelizaciju. Majka Terezije običavala je govoriti svojim sestrama da je "o. Gabrić svet čovjek za Boga i ljude". Upravo te riječi odzvanjaju u mislima ljudi svih vjera - hinduista, muslimana i kršćana. Nakon Majke Terezije upravo je p. Gabrić onaj koji se brinuo za narod Sundarbana - hranio je gladne, oblačio gole, pribavljao zemlju za one koji ju nisu imali i kuće za beskućnike.
Njegov glavni apostolat bio je molitva s narodom, čak i kod javnih skupova, ako je zazvonilo zvono istog bi trena pokleknuo i izmolio Anđeo Gospodnji. Ljudi su doživjeli njegovu jednostavnost i svetost u svakodnevnom životu.
P. Ante Gabrić čovjek za svakoga
P. Ante Gabrić je svojim životom promijenio živote Dakoita, lopova i okrutnih ljudi. Svojim je životom svjedočio Božju ljubav tim ljudima, svojim načinom života naučio ih je da se klone nemoralnih aktivnosti. Tako su se mnogi obratili i počeli živjeti dobrim i lijepim životom.
Jedne noći četvorica Dakoita iz Tuskhalija došli su u župu Mariapally i tražili od p. Gabrića da prenoće. P. Gabrić ime je u svojoj dobroti pružio hranu i prenoćište. Tijekom noći htjeli su ga okrasti, ali kako nisu pronašli ništa vrijednoga za uzeti, osjetili su se posramljeni. Ujutro su zamolili oprost od p. Gabrića. On ih je blagoslovio i savjetovao da više ne kradu jer ih Isus bezuvjetno voli. Rekao im je također da ako budu u bilo kakvoj potrebi da će im se dati.
Gdje god je bio poslan promicao je pobožnost Prvih petaka i klanjanje Presvetom Sakramentu, te osobitu pobožnost Majci Mariji svake subote. Govorio je ljudima da časte Majku Mariju moleći krunicu svaki dan, ali nije im samo govorio nego je to pokazivao i svojim životom. Gdje god je bio, crkvu bi posvetio Djevici Mariji, kao crkvu Gospe Lurdske u Kumrakhali i crkvu Gospe Fatimske u Gosabi.
Neprestano je molio i činio pokoru, posteći i mrtveći se, što mu je davalo dodatnu snagu za odlazak u nove misije, a to nije bilo lako jednom stranom svećeniku. Već to je bilo čudo za sebe. Na mnogim je mjestima bio prihvaćen, ali na mnogima i odbijen. Međutim sjeme evanđeoskih vrijednosti je sijano posvuda i mnoge su zajednice nastale na raznim mjestima.
P. Ante Gabrić osjetljiv za druge
Ja, vlč. Sylvester, imao sam vrlo dobro iskustvo s p. Antom Gabrićem kao bogoslov na Maria Pally misiji za vrijeme mojeg mjesečnog odmora. Vidio sam da je bio vrlo vrlo ljubazan s ljudima. Za vrijeme mog boravka tamo vidio sam da pater mnogo vremena provodi pišući pisma, susrećući se s ljudima i pomažući im u njihovim potrebama. Tko god mu je došao, nikoga nije otpravio praznih ruku, uvijek bi im nešto dao a njegova kuhinja nikad nije bila zatvorena, jer kad god bi netko došao on bi ga nahranio i otpravio sretnog. Noću je molio Isusa upravljajući svoj pogled prema svetohraništu (budući da je iz svoje sobe mogao vidjeti svetohranište u crkvi). Molio je za razne nakane osobito za obraćenje ljudi s poganstva na katoličku vjeru. Danas mnogi muslimani i hindusi govore o životu p. Gabrića i njihovom iskustvu s njime.
Kasnije sam, kao upravitelj župe, opet bio nakratko s njime. Bio je misionar koji je naporno radio i nije mario za sebe. Nakon večernjih Euharistija po selima znao je tamo i prenoćiti, uz sklonište za stoku na raširenom ručniku. Budući da su ljudi Sundarbana bili siromašni i on je živio kao siromah ali je bio ojačan Isusom da evangelizira plemena toga područja, uz duga putovanja čamcima kroz nepregledne rukavce kako bi došao do Tuskhalija, Dautpura, Khulna, Balirkhala, Durgamandapa, Chottomollakhalija Boromollakhalija, Kumirmarija, Kanmarija i Chuchura. Danas imamo mnogo vjernih katolika u Dakhnamariju, Balirkhaliju, Tuskhaliju, Durgamandapu i Khulni. Obratio je mnoge na katoličku vjeru, ali nagli odlazak p. Ante Gabrića ostavio je veliku prazninu. Sjeme katoličke vjere koje je p. Ante Gabrić posijao ponovno polako izbija i osjećam da je Božja ruka nad svim tim novim misijama i da ih on sve blagoslivlje.
P. Ante Gabrić, svetac Sundarbana
Posljedni period njegova života obilježen je živim sjećanjem na prošlost. Spasio je mnoge živote seljana za vrijeme suše i prirodnih katastrofa bez obzira na stalež i vjeru. Osnovao je mnoge kolonije u različitim dijelovima Sundarbana, blokirajući dotok vode iz rijeka prema poljima.
I danas se ljudi sjećaju njegovih čudesnih pothvata. Ljudi općenito imaju i imali su veliko poštovanje i ljubav prema njemu. Tako ga možemo zvati i apostolom Sundarbana a mnogi ga i nazivaju Svecem Sundarbana. Njegova slomljena kičma i iskrivljena ramena nisu ga spriječila da se posveti svom svećeničkom služenju, naprotiv to je pojačavalo njegovu dobru volju da neumorno propovijeda riječ Božju. Jedva da se odmarao dva sata dnevno, svoje je vrijeme provodio u molitvi i pisanju pisama. U njegovim radostima i teškoćama Gospodnji duh ga je pokretao nesvakidašnjom snagom da se nosi s misionarkim radom.
Oproštaj p. Ante Gabrića od zemaljskog života i nebeski doček
U noći 19. listopada 1988 u 23.30 sati, p. Ante Gabrić i ja imali smo vrlo jake trbušne bolove. Ipak pater je uzeo nešto kruha za večeru a ja nisam uzeo ništa. Ali oko ponoći p. Gabrić me pozvao šapćući i rekao: "Oprostite oče što vas uznemiravam, biste li mi pomogli izmasirati prsa i trbuh?" Spremno i radosno sam to učinio, nakon 10 minuta htio je poći na zahod ali nije mogao, stoga sam ga posjeo na metalnu posudu i zatim oprao i vratio u krevet. Drugi put sam ga obukao u svoje rublje, jer je njegovo bilo ostavljeno za pranje, i položio sam ga na krevet. Sestra Sheena M.C. dala mu je lijekove koji nisu pomogli pa je pozvala liječnika g. Dulala ali on nije došao jer je bila ponoć a on se bojao Dakoita i ubojica.
Oko 2.00 sata u noći, 20. listopada, ustao je i otišao sam do umivaonika i oprao zube. Rekao mi je s velikim osmjehom na licu: "Oče, Isus zove i moram poći", a njegovo tijelo je bilo žute boje i prozračno. Nije mogao vratiti se sam do kreveta. Primio sam ga za ruku i posjeo ga na krevet, grčio se od bolova. Rekao sam mu da ga želim odvesti u Kalkutu zbog bolje njege na što je odgovorio: "Kako vi kažete". Pitao sam ga hoću li mu podijeliti posljednju pomast na što je odgovorio: "Kako vi kažete". Ti su mi odgovori dali do znanja da je izgubio snagu. Nakon toga se ispovjedio i posljednji blagoslov dao sam mu njegovim zavjetnim križem. Zatim je uzeo sve ključeve župe i predao mi ih uz riječi: "Brini se za ovu misijsku župu a moji ljudi će ti pomoći". Nakon toga je izrazio svoje posljednje želje, da ga pokopaju u Mariapallyju nedaleko od Gospine spilje iza crkvenog kompleksa na vrlo jednostavan način. A u grob da mu stave vodu i zemlju iz Hrvatske kao izraz njegove ljubavi prema svom narodu.
Posljednje putovanje p. Gabrića
U zadnji čas, pripremao sam p. Gabrića da ga odvezem u Kalkutu na bolju njegu nadajući se da će prizdraviti ali nije bio pri sebi što me obeshrabrilo. Ipak nisam gubio nadu. Sve sam predao u ruke Božje i odvezao ga ambulantnim kolima sestara Misionarki ljubavi u Kalkutu oko 4.30 ujutro, dok je on ležao na krevetu. Nakon 20 minuta pozvao me i zamolio malo vode. Dao sam mu dvije žličice vode. Opet nakon 20 minuta tražio je vode i dao sam mu jednu žlicu. Treći put kad je tražio vode, dok sam prinosio žlicu s vodom, otvorio je oči, pogledao me i zatvorio ih zauvijek negdje oko 5.30 sati.
U vozilu, oni koji su bili tamo, uključujući i vozača g. T. Naskara, svi smo zaplakali. To se dogodilo nakon križanja Rajbari koje je oko 4 km od Mariapally župe. Čuvši naš plač susjedi su izašli da vide što se dogodilo, i kad su vidjeli tijelo p. Gabrića svi su zašutjeli i bili su tužni jer je bio dobro poznat tim ljudima zbog svojih dobročinstava i prijateljskog ophođenja.
Kasnije mi je vozač rekao da ne može voziti dalje. Rekao sam mu da svi moramo jednog dana umrijeti. Pater nas je ostavio sada, a mi ćemo poći kasnije. Molim te vozi ambulantna kola, naša je dužnost odvesti p. Gabrića do Kolegija sv. Franje Ksaverskog. Stigli smo u Kolegij u 6.45 sati. Ubrzo nakon toga, biskup biskupije Raigunje, mons Alphonse D'Suza došao je u Kolegij i pitao zašto sam došao tako rano. Nisam mu mogao odgovoriti samo sam mu pokazao na kola. Biskup je ušao u kola i kleknuo pored p. Gabrića i molio. Nakon toga izrazio je svoju sućut i rekao: "Umro je svetac našeg vremena".
Vrlo me potreslo kad smo odlazili iz Mariapallyja i kad su se okupile sve majke pred crkvom i mnogo plakale. Čuvši plač svi su se seljani okupili i svi su bili ožalošćeni. Ali p. Gabrić sa svojim nasmješenim licem rekao je sljedeće riječi: "Odlazim i svima vam želim Joy-Jissu i kad budete odlazili u druga sela molim vas da prenesete moj Joy-Jissu svima".
Drugo, kad god je odlazio u misije običavao je kleknuti i tražiti da ga blagoslovim. Prvi put sam odbio. Tada mi je rekao: "Oče Silvester, vi ste svećenik i molim vas da me blagoslovite da bi moje služenje bilo plodonosno".
Na pogrebu p. Provincijal P.C. Mathew je rekao: "P. Ante Gabrić rodio se u Hrvatskoj, živio i radio u Bengalu a umro u župi gdje je najdulje živio. Živio je poput Bengalca, i čitav svoj život proživio sveto i neumorno radeći za duhovni napredak Bengalskog društva i čitave tamošnje zajednice. Danas smo svi zahvalni za njega, što je bio među nama i ostat će s nama zauvijek."
Ovdje ljudi drže P. Gabrića uz bok Majci Tereziji iz Kalkute, i narod bi želio da p. Gabrić bude proglašen blaženim kao Majka Terezija. Sav se narod moli na tu nakanu.
Vlč. Sylvester Xavier
THE PRECIOUS PEARL - FR. ANTE GABRIĆ S.J OF SUNDARBAN REMEMBERED
Introduction of South 24 Parganas District of West Bengal
The district of South 24 Parganas is situated in the southern coastal part of West Bengal. This area is at the end of river Ganges with hundreds of islands and bunches of rivers. The lion shares of the district occupied in the Sundarban is the largest mangrove forest in the world. The subtropical climate of this area of the Gangatic delta is characterised by high humidity (71-85%) and big annual rainfall of 180 mm.
Here flood, cyclone, and famine are very common in this district. Almost every year flood an cyclone wash away the district giving way for the loss of life and livelihoods, loss of livestocks, fisharies, crops and vegetables. The fertile land becames barren due to high tide with saline water of Bay of Bengal getting into the farm lands.
In 1971, there was a war (Mukti Yudha) in Bangladesh. The people of Bangladesh lost their homes and property and took shelter in India as a refuge. In that time there was a big famine which added to the shortage of food and broke down the livelihood. On the other side it was reeling under colossal backwardness and economic stagnation which are too deep to be removed. In this district where the people is predominantly inhabited by the schudle caste and Other backward classes (OBC) as per data available 56% of population of this area belongs to schudle caste community, and out of this 1% belonging to tribal community. Population of Hindu is 65.48%, Musim 33.24% and Christians are minority. This people are the most underprivileged section of the community.
The total literacy rate in this District for the male is 59% and for the female 41% (according to 2001 census). The schools and colleges in this district serve below the actual need. Quite naturally the people, particularly the rural, are illiterate and live in ignorance and the information level is very poor. They are guided by different superstitions and prejudices. Agriculture is the main source of the occupation in this district, but unfortunately agriculture is very poor due to lack of irrigation facilities and scientific farming with improved agricultural inputs, training and technology resulting in very poor economy and the rapid growth of bulk population lies in extreme level and deprived of all the basic needs of life.
The spirit of sharing love and deep concern for the downtrodden and underprivileged people needed with much charitiy and relief work for upliftment of the people of South 24 Parganas.
Fr. Ante Gabrić, the man for all
A man in solitude and gratitude to God and humanity lived a simple and humble life to bring people closer to God and humanity. Till today he is the only person people much talked about in the Sundarban for his way of Evangelization and charitable works. His timely response to natural calamities like storms, thunders and heavy floods, his preparation are entirely prompt.
He was very much related to Blessed Mother Teresa of Kolkata while she was alive and they worked hand in hand and shared a lot about mission works and he had requested for more sisters for Evagelization too. Mother Teresa used to tell her sisters that "Fr. Gabric is a holy man for God and humanity". These very words echo in the minds of the people of all religions, that is Hindus, Muslims and Christians. After Mother Teresa it is Fr. Gabric one who looked after the Sundarban people i.e. to feed the hungry, to clothe the clotheless, to give land to the landless and home for the homeless.
Praying with the people was his main apostolate, even in public gatherings if the Angelus Bell rings he would immediately kneel down and say the Angelus. People have experienced his simplicity and his holiness in their day-to-day life.
Fr. Ante Gabric man for all to all
Fr. Ante Gabric had changed the lives of Dacoits, robbers and uncharitable people by his way of life. Through his life he has spoken the love of the God for his people, he taught them not to involve in the immoral activities by his way of living. Thus many were transformed to live a good and beautiful life.
One night four Dacoits from Tuskhali landed at Mariapally Parish and asked Fr. Gabrić to stay overnight. Fr. Gabrić with his kindness gave them food and shelter. At midnight the dacoits wanted to rob his belongins but they did not find anything valuable as such, so they felt guilty of doing these mischiefs. After realising their mistake they asked pardon from Fr. Gabrić. He later blessed them and advised them not to steal any more because Jesus loves them unconditionally. He also told them that if they are in need of anything it will be granted.
Wherever he was appointed he had a great devotion for the first Friday adoration to the Blessed Sacrament and also special devotion to mother Mary on Saturdays. He taught the people to have devotion to Mother Mary by saying the Rosary every day not only he taught people but he also showed by his life. Wherever he had been he named the Church after mother Mary, like the Church of Our Lady of Lords at Kumrakhali, and Church of Our Lay of Fatima at Gosaba.
His constant prayer in doing Penance by fasting and doint mortification which gave extra strength to get into the new missions which are not easy for a foreign priest to do it. That was a miracle by itself. Many places he was welcomed and many places he was rejected, but the seed of the Gospel values are sown all over and many colonies have come up all over.
Fr. Ante Gabrić a many thoughtful for others
I, Fr. Sylvester had a very good experience as a seminarian with Fr. Ante Gabrić at Maria Pally Mission during my one month holiday, I found that he was very very kind to the people. During my stay I have experienced that father had been very busy in wirting letters, meeting people and helping them in their need. Whoever came to him, he never sends them back with empty hands, he always gives something for them and his kitchen was never closed because whoever came to him he fed them and sent them happily. During nights he used to pray to Jesus tracing his eyes to the tabernacle (as he could see the tabernacle of the church from his room) for verious needs, especially for the conversion of the people from pagan faith to Catholic faith. Today many Muslims and Hindu speak of Fr. Gabrić's life and their experience with him.
Later on as a curate of the parish I was with him for a short period, he was very hardworking missionary who never cared for himself. During the Evening Eucharistic celebration in the villages, he used to stay overnight near the cattle shed and sleeps on the floor with a towel spread. Since
the people of Sundarban were economically poor he too lived a poor life, but he was strenghtened by Jesus to Evangelize among the tribes of this belt by his boat journeying in the vast and wide rivers to reach Tuskhali, Dautpur, Khulna, Balirkhal, Dugamandap, Dhottomollakhali, Boromollakhali, Kumirmari, Kanmari, and Chuchura. Today we have very many faithful Catholics in Dakhnamari, Balirkhal, Tuskhali, Durgamandap and Khulna. He had converted many to Catholic faith, but the suddden demise of Fr. Ante Gabrić made a big vacuum. However the seeds of Catholic faith which Fr. Ante Gabrić had sown are once again sprouting slowly and I feel the hand of God is in all of the new missions and he had blessed them all.
Fr. Ante Gabrić, the Saint of Sundarban
The last part of his life was adorned with his living memories of the past. He had saved the lives of many villagers during droughts and natrual calamities without caste and creed. He founded many colonies in the different places of Sundarban even by blocking the river water coming into the land.
Till today the people of this area recall his marvelous works. People in general have and had great respect and love for him. Thus he could be called an apostle of the Sundarban and still many call him Saint of Sundarban. His broken spine and walk with bent shoulders did not bother his priestly
ministry. Rather, it all added much to his goodwill to preach the Word of God tirelessly. He hardly takes rest for two hours in a day, he spends his time praying and writing letters, in his joys and difficulties the spirit of the Lord moved him with extraordinary strength to cope with the mission work.
Ante Gabrić's farewell to earthly life to heavenly abode
On the night of 19th October, 1998 at 11:30 PM Fr. Ante Gabrić and myself had an acute stomach pain.
Though Father took some bread for dinner but I did not take anything. But at midnight Fr. Gabrić called me out in a whispering voice saying: "Sorry to disturb you father, could you please help me to massage my chest and belly?" I willingly and happlily did it, after 10 minutes he wanted to go to toilet but could not, so I made him sit on an iron bucket and later whashed him and put him on the bed. By the time two of his pants were already dirty and the third one was kept for washing. And so I clothed him with my pant and made him to lie on the bed. Sr. Sheena M.C. gave him some medicine but it did not help and I called for a doctor Mr. Dulala. But he never turned up as it was midnight and fear of Dacoits and murderers.
At around 2:00 AM on 20th of October he walked straight to the washing basin by himself and brushed his teeth. He said to me "Father, Jesus is calling I should go" with a big smile and his body was yellow in color and looked smart but he was not able to walk back to the bed. Then I took him by hand and made him to sit on the bed but he was crying with pain. Then I requested him that I wanted to take him to Kolkata for better treatment and his immediate response was "As you wish." Then I asked him whether I could give the last sacrament, that is anointing of the sick, and he said "As you wish." These responses made me to feel that he had lost his strength and later he made his confession and the final blessing was given by his own Final Commitment cross. Then he took all the keys of the parish and gave them to me with the words "Take care of this parish mission and my people will help you". Later he expressed his last wishes, to be buried at Mariapally near the grott at the back of the church compound in a very simple way. And in the grave the water and soil of Croatia to be put as a sign of his love for his people of Sundarban.
Last Journey of Fr. Gabrić
In the last movement, I was preparing Fr. Gabrić to be taken to Kolkata for better treatment hoping to revive his health condition, but he was not of himself, which discouraged me. But still I did not lose hope. I surrendered everything in the hands of God and took him by the missionaries of Charity ambulance to Kolkata at 4:30 AM as he was lying on the bed. After 20 minutes he called me and asked for little water to drink and I gave two tea spoons of water and again after 20 minutes he again for water and I gave him in the spoon and the third time he asked for water and I took the spoonful of water but he opened up his eyes and looked at me and closed forever at 5:30 AM.
In the vehicle those who were there including the driver mr. T. Naskar and all broke down and started crying. This all took place after crossing Rajbari which is 4 km away from the Mariapally Parish. By hearing the cry the neighbors came running to see what had happened. When they saw Fr. Gabrić's body all were silenced because he was well known to those people too for his charitable works and friendly relationships.
Later the driver told me that he cannot drive any more. Then and there I told him we all have to die one day or other. Father left as ealry and we have to go later. Please drive the ambulance and it is our repsonsibility to reach father Gabrić to St. Xavier's collage. The ambulance reached the collage at 6:45 AM. Soon after that Bishop of Rigunje Diocese Rt. Rev. Alphouse D'Suza came to St. Xavier's and asked me about my presence so early in the morning. I too could not respond but showed him the
ambulance. Bishop went inside the van and knelt down before Fr. Ante Gabrić and prayed. A while later he gave his condolence and said "A saint of our time is gone".
What was striking me most was while leaving Maria Pally all the mothers assmbled in front of the church and cried a lot. By hearing the cry all the villagers gathered there around and all were in sorrow. But Fr. Gabrić with a smiling face said these words "I am going and I wish you all Joy-Jissu and after going to the other village please give my Joy-Jissu to everyone".
Secondly whenever he goes to any mision he used to kneel in front of me for a blessing and I had refused. Then there he told me: "Fr. Sylvester, you are priest and please bless me so that the ministry could be fruitful".
In the burial ceremony Fr. Provincial P.C. Mathew quoted that Fr. Ante Gabrić was born in Croatia, lived and worked in Bengal, and died in Bengal in the parish where he lived last. He lived like a Bengali, and his entire life was very holy and worked tirelessly for the spiritual development of the Bengali community and he worked for the upliftment of the same community. Today we are grateful to him for being with us and he will remain with us forever.
Here the people consider Fr. Gabrić and Mother Teresa of Kolkata and the people want that Fr. Gabrić should be beatified like mother Teresa and all the people are praying for the same.
Fr. Sylvester Xavier
Homily on 20th Death anniversary of Fr. Ante Gabrić SJ on October 20, 2008.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
The day reminds me very specially the words of the Jesus from today's Gospel, "I am thee
resurrection and life. Whoever lives and believes in me will never die." (Jn 11:25-26) This is an incomprehensible remark: Jesus is the resurrection. Those who believe in him arise from death to life even now; thez have already passed over from death to life like Fr. Ante Gabrić. Anselm Grun, a Benedictine monk, reflecting on the Gospel passage quoted above says, "John thinks that many people are alive, yet dead. They aren't alive. They live only on the surface. But those who believe in Jesus, who understand who Jesus really is, rise now from the tomb of their fear and self-pity, from the tomb of their paralysis and their inhibitions, their darkness and weakness. Resurrection takes place in their everyday life. They arise from narrowness into broad space, from darkness into light, from rigidity into liveliness."
Jesus tells us a story to show what Jesus means by saying, "I am resurrection." Jesus rises up dead Lazarus, who had been lying in the tomb for four days. His feet and hands were wrapped in strips of linen; his face was weiled with a linen cloth. He was lying behind a stone and was already stinking. Those who lie behind a stone for the lack of relationships are cut off from life. For them everything rots away. Everything takes on a bad smell. They have a cloth over their faces. They were a mask. They are bound hand and foot. They are not really free. Resurrection means Jesus' words of love reaching his friend through a stone. A loving word brings a friend to life. It frees him from the mask behind which he hides himself. Resurrection of Lazarus makes it clear that one who believes in Jesus will live, even if he dies. Love will prevent him from falling victim to death. Love is stronger than death. It penetrates any hurdle and lossens up all rigidity.
Fr. Gabrić lived in love of Jesus which he showed through deep life of prayer, sacrifice and his deeds. Only those who experienced him from close by would understand the depth of the love he had for Jesus. He always paid attention to the needs of others. He had a great insight into their minds and hearts.
One day Fr. Gabrić had gone to Kalighat's Home for the dying to meet Mother Teresa. He found her looking after a Muslim who was in a critical condition. He started helping her. While they were busy doing the needful, Fr. Fallon came in with a young Hindu student. A few moments later, as they stood there wainting and watching, the sick man suddenly died. A stretcher was brought to remove the body. As the young student looked on, Mother Teresa, Fr. Gabrić and Fr. Fallon lifted the body and placed it on the stretcher. Fr. Gabrić noticed that the young man was hesitating. A struggle was going on in him. The sight of Fr. Fallon whom he greatly admired and of Mother Teresa whose praise was on every body lips lifting that dead body, had obviously made a deep impression on him. He now saw the two of them move to one end of the stretcher while Father Gabrić stood at the other end. They obviously were about to carry the body away. Something made him feel that he should offer himself as the fourth bearer. But there was in him that deeply ingrained fear of losing his caste: how could he, a Brahmin, carry a dead body? Fr. Gabrić saw clearly that inner confilict on his face. And then the young man suddenly made up his mind, came forward and asked: "Can I help?" Fr. Gabrić at once moved to one side, helping him to take the fourth arm of the stretcher. And so the four of them carried the dead man into a secluded place.
When they laid down the stretcher, Fr. Gabrić heard the young man have a deep sign and matter to himself: "Today I have become human!" And he meanat, of course, a free man, a man who had broken the slackenss of convention and prejudice that separate man from man.
This story certainly shows well how Fr. Gabrić was able to perceive the inmost feelings of people and to empathize with them.
No less revealing is what happened one day, when he happened to see a milkman pour water into his milk can. He smiled, stopped and asked the man: "Tell me, Dada (big brother), what are you selling, is it milk mixed with water, or water mixed with milk?" The poor man mightily embarrassed laughed and said: "What can I say, Father? You understand everything!"
Father had not said anything that could offend that man, had not made any direct reproach, and yet, in a friendly and brotherly way, he had brought home to him the injustice he was committing.
Father Gabrić was "a man of the heart," not intellectual. He read little, only spiritual books. Once he told us: "One wastes so much time reading books!" He lived for one thing: the growth and spreading of the kingdom of God wherever he was sent. He spent himself usparingly in the fulfillment of his various tasks as a pastor. Fater Gabrić - later Cardinal Picachy - who took over from Father Gabrić as parish Priest of Bashtani, onlce told us that, at beginning, he tried to follow the schedule of the apostolic trips of Father Gabrić throughout the district, but he soon had to shorten those trips, it required too much stamina.
Father Gabrić was always moving very fast, he was a man in a hurry, a man driven by the urgency of his task. He often came to Calcutta, but it was always for some apostolic task or other, some spiritual ministry (he gave quite a few retreats), or to fulfill the temporal needs of his people. He did what he had to do as quickly as possible and then back he went to his village. I remember his telling us that once, when he went back to Croatia, he only spent one day with his family and then went about preaching and telling people about his work. His priestly apostolate was his whole life. I have seen him burning with fever, hardly able to walk, and refusing to take rest or to go to mediacal care: there was work to do, work that could not wait. During the last years of his life his body became all-crooked, but he went on working, even at that time he went to America, to Australia and to Europe, where his compatriots wanted to have him for retrets or missions.
His austerity of life was as unassuming as it was thorough. He himself ate very sparingly, but his companions and guests were always well provided for at talk. He was firm believer in the need and faithfulness of fasting. I wonder who slept less, he or Mother Teresa? It would be interesting to make a comparison between those two - their prayer life, the instensity of thier spiritual life, their austerity, their zeal and charity. There was a great communion of heart between them and they haloed each other.
A straking feature of his character was his indomitable cheerfulness. Whatever were the difficulties and trials he had to endure - and there were many - he radiated joy, peace and fervour. He was so comforting, so inspiring to have him with us in Baitakhana. No meal or ever dull with him telling us about the little "happenings" of the day or of the month. After listening to him our hearts were strangely uplifted, stimulated. He truly was a man of the spirit, a charismatic.
Fr. Gabrić lives through the resurrection of Jesus. "I am the resurrectin and the life. Whoever lives and believes in me will never die."
Bishop Salvatore Lobo, India
Many thanks to Fr. Vatroslav Halambek, SJ, Zagreb, for submitting the text of the homily for the readers of the CROWN.
o. Ante Gabrić: O svom misijskom radu (Solin, 1976.) MP3 15:04
o. Ante Gabrić: O patnji i djelotvornoj ljubavi (Zagreb, karitativni tjedan 1984.), MP3 15:45
o. Ante Gabrić: Iz propovjedi (Zagreb, Karitativni tjedan 1984.) MP3 16:49
o. Ante Gabrić: Oproštajna propovjed (Zagreb, 9. studenog 1984.) MP3 15:01
Zahvaljujemo časnom bratu Ivi Domazetu, DI Zagreb, na ljubaznom dopuštenju da ove propovjedi budu dostupne čitateljima (i slušateljima!) CROWNa, te prof.dr. Hrvoju Domitroviću na pomoći. Popratna pjesma na tonskim zapisima je "Tamo gdje palme cvatu" (I. Žan i J. Vrdoljak).
Luka Rađa: Ono malo više : Ante Gabrić isusovac i misionar, Zagreb, Filozofsko-teološki institut Družbe Isusove, 1993.
Formated for CROWN by prof.dr. Darko Žubrinić
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