Udupi, Nov 11, 2019: In a memorable event for the Diocese of Udupi, it has been announced by Rev. Fr. Alwyn Dais, The provincial Minister of the Karnataka Capuchin Province that Barkur born, Rev. Fr. Alfred Roche, OFM Cap. (Jan 3, 1924 – Dec 31, 1996) popularly known as ‘Amcho Padryab’(Our Father) has been declared by the Roman Catholic Church in Vatican, Rome as ‘Servant of God’, in an official declaration, a matter of immense happiness for the people of the region.
Rev. Fr. Alfred Roche, OFM Cap., a distinct honor for Kanara, the Diocese of Udupi, the St. Peter’s Parish of Barkur, and all concerned. In particular, to rejoice, as a simple, humble and devout Capuchin Priest, who served in Farangipet, Brahmavar, Kasarcod, Binaga and so on is now officially on the path to sainthood in the Catholic church. Prior to this in 2008, the first Konkani Catholic to attain this honour is Rev Msgr. Raymond F C Mascarenhas(1875 - 1960) who was the founder parish priest of Bendur in Mangaluru City and founder (1921) of the Bethany Sisters (BS) based in Mangaluru.
Prayers granted, people healed, problems resolved, and witnesses to authenticate these good things in common man’s life, seen as miracles were reported through the intercession of this holy man. The official ceremony in the diocese of Udupi is to take place in due time.
The saintly life of ’Servant of God’ Rev Alfred Roche, inspires many, a great and noble soul has been a source of abundant. It may be pointed out that in the Catholic Church, ’Servant of God’ designates an individual being investigated, by the Church for possible canonization as saint. It is the first of the four steps in this process, followed by Venerable, next one Beatification with title Blessed and finally the canonization with the honor of Sainthood.
Brief about Fr Alfred Roche :
Fr Alfred Roche OFM Cap, was one of the exemplary friars of the Holy Trinity Province, Karnataka, India. He was known for his simplicity of life, zeal for faith-formation, education of children and youth, vocation promotion, and love for the poor and afflicted all through his fraternal service in different friaries as well as his pastoral ministry in different parishes for 45 years in the dioceses of Mangalore, Karwar, and Udupi.
He was popularly known as ‘bap Alfred’ (Father Alfred) and ‘amcho padriab’ (our Father). Wherever he was sent to serve, he was loved and respected by all categories of people: young and old, rich and poor, irrespective of caste and creed, owing to the simplicity of life and loving service. He is considered to be a man of God and an instrument of divine grace by a wide cross section of people.
In April 2010, a resolution was taken to initiate the process of beatification of Br. Alfred Roche OFM Cap. Accordingly the Provincial Definitory set a committee consisting of: Rev Desmond Rebello as Chairperson, Rev Santa Lopes and Rev. Dominic Veigas as members. rev Patrick Crasta as the coordinator. The committee has done good amount of work in collecting witnesses and making Fr. Alfred’s life and mission known far and wide.
When Fr Patrick Crasta, OFM Cap, in 2010 met Rev Dr Aloysius D’Souza, then Bishop of Mangalore, and told him that, as per the request of the provincial chapter, the cause of Rev Fr Alfred Roche OFM Cap, is sent to Rome. The then Bishop of Mangalore, which included Udupi prior to 2012 bifurcation. The Bishop said, to Fr. Patrick: “I am aware of Fr. Alfred Roche, and very glad that his Cause is sent to Rome. His person and mission have to be made known more and more, specially to the youth, and those who do not know his saintly personality and dedicated service by way of writing and using modern media”. Similarly when Fr. Patrick met his Lordship Derrick Fernandes, the then Bishop of Karwar, he said: “Yes, I know Fr. Alfred from many years. I am very happy to know that his cause has been sent to Rome. I shall make this good news known to my clergy. ”
Mile stones in the life of Rev Fr Alfred Roche OFM Cap., 1924-1996 :
• 3rd April 1924: born at Moodahadu Kudru, a small island near Barkur in South Kanara - Son of Isaac Roche and Carmine Monteiro.
• I2th April 1924:Baptized at St. Peter’s Church, Barkur, in the diocese of Mangalore, (presently diocese of Udipi),by Rev.Fr. Denis J. D’Souza. His baptismal name was Peter John Roche.
• 3rd Feb. 1944: Vested at Monte Mariano, Faragipet, in the diocese of Mangalore with the new name Alfred, according to the former practice of changing the name in religion. Fr Ambrose Rebello, OFM Cap was his novice master.
• 11th April 1945: First Profession.
• Philosophical Studies: At St. Antony’s Friary, Quilon, Kerala.
• 11th April 1949: Final Profession at St. Antony’s Friay, Quilon, Kerala.
• Theological Studies: at Amalarshram, Trichy, Tamilnadu, and at St. Joseph’s Firary, Kotagiri, Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu.
• 11th April 1952: Sacerdotal Ordination at St. Joseph’s friary, Kotagiri, Nilgiris, Tamilnadu.
• 14th April 1952: was appointed the vice-novice master at Monte Mariano, Farangipet, in the diocese of Mangalore. While assisting the novice-master in the work of formation, he rendered his pastoral service in the friary chapel and neighboring parishes.
-• 6th April 1956: was appointed the parish priest of the Holy Family Church at Brahmavar in the diocese of Mangalore (presently the diocese of Udupi). Fr. Alfred Roche was the first Capuchin to work in this parish. He rendered his dedicated service for 18 years. As the parish priest he encouraged vocation promotion and several young boys and girls became priests and religious. To mention a few Capuchins: Fr. Dayanand, Fr. Vincent Furtado, Fr. Reginald Furtado, Fr. Charles Furtado, Fr Francis Furtado. Seeing that the level of education was very low and that the youth were not able to pursue their studies due to economic reasons, he helped several of them with the help of the benefactors, both from India and abroad.
18th July 1972: He was transferred to St. Ann’s Church Binaga in the diocese of Belgaum (today diocese of Karwar) as the parish priest, his 3 years tenure was of great significance.
• 30th April 1975: He took charge of St. Joseph’s Parish at Lower Kasarkod, in the diocese of Belgaum (today diocese of Karwar).
• In June 1981 he was transferred to the novitiate fraternity at Monte Mariano, Farangipet as the superior (guardian) where he rendered his service for six years with his exemplary life.
• 1st June 1987: once again he was transferred to Lower Kasarkod as the parish priest of St. Joseph’s Church and the superior (guardian) of St. Joseph’s Friary. During this term of office for 6 years, while deepening the faith of the flock, bringing about concord and peace among the members of different families was one of the important missions of the good pastor. It was during this term of office that he built the new friary next to the church.
• In 1994, as a retired friar, Fr. Alfred was transferred to Holy Family Friary as the vicar of the fraternity and to help out in the Holy Family Church, wherein, in spite of his declining health, he rendered his generous service till the end.
• 31st Dec. 1996: at 5.30 am came the final call from above at Fr. Muller’s Hospital, Mangalore through a cardiac attack.
• 1st Jan. 1997: the Funeral Mass was celebrated in the Holy Family Church, Brahmavar. It was officiated by his Lordship Aloysius D’Souza, the Bishop of Mangalore, along with Rev. Fr. Vincent Furtado OFM Cap, the Provincial Minister, and very many priests and religious along with thousands of lay people coming from far and near. Good number of Hindus too had come to participate in the funeral rite and to bid good-bye to their “gurugalu” (respected teacher). Owing to the special request of the faithful of Holy Family Church, Brahmavar, the provincial definitory granted the permission to have the body of Fr. Alfred Roche to be buried in the Parish Cemetery of Holy Family Church, Brahmavar where he had served for 18 years. His tomb is visited by many, and he is now a saint in the making in this holy land of Kanara.