16 Obituary

posted Mar 14, 2018, 9:30 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 14, 2018, 9:31 AM ]

A Gentle Iron Soul

I met Fr Nelson for the first time at St Francis Xavier Parish, Vile Parle on June 1, 2006. 25 years senior to me as a priest, with his rich and varied experience in pastoral ministry, we became good friends. I had heard about him as an outspoken and strong-headed person. Yes, Fr Nelson was very strong-headed. He was a tireless fighter for truth and justice, irrespective of whom he had to face. Unlike those who are drawn to people highly placed and well connected, Fr Nelson was drawn to the powerless people and stood by them. He saw inequities in the parishes, and was on a mission to level the playing field.

He did not mince words to express what he believed to be true and just, and did not care if he had to pay the price of being sidelined or put down. Once he was convinced of something, nothing and no one could stop him. Fr Nelson had a special gift for pastoral ministry. His parishioners and friends remembered him for his gentle presence that extended beyond the altar and into their homes. He kept in touch with all in his own little way. He would call them up for birthdays and anniversaries, or give them a surprise visit early morning. He travelled only by public transport.

Just as God has a unique relationship with every individual, Fr Nelson made everyone he knew feel like he had a special relationship with them. He had a personal touch in his approach to people. He took interest in you, no matter who you were. He met you once, and never forgot your name, even after 20 years. His daily routine would begin by 4:30 am and end by 9 pm which included meeting people, going for blessings, chit chatting with friends. Every day, from 5 pm to 7 pm, he walked in the parish campus where he met people from all walks of life.