India – Death of Bishop Joseph Suren Gomes: a simple life of gentle service

21 May 2024

(ANS – Ranaghat) – Bishop Joseph Suren Gomes, S.D.B, Bishop Emeritus of Krishnagar, West Bengal, passed away on Saturday, 18 May 2024, at 5:55 a.m. in Manorama Hospital, Ranaghat, due to cardiac failure. He was 80 years old. Born on 14 February 1944 in Ashnabad, India (now in Bangladesh), Bishop Gomes dedicated his life to the service of God and the community.

Early Life and Priestly Ordination: Joseph Suren Gomes joined the Salesian Congregation, embarking on his religious journey at the apostolic seminary in Bandel in 1958. He completed his higher education at Salesian College in Sonada, where he also studied philosophy. For theological studies, he attended Kristo Jyoti College in Bangalore. On December 21, 1974, he was ordained a priest at Ranaghat Church for the Salesian Province of Kolkata.

Dedicated Service: Throughout his life, Bishop Gomes served in various capacities. He spent five years as Vice Rector at Bandel Seminary and later served as Rector at Savio Bhavan, Azimganj, from 1987 to 1993. He was the Rector of Don Bosco  Krishnagar from 1995 to 2001. He served in some Parishes as Assistant Priest. His commitment to the boys under his care was whole-hearted, and he was known for his creative and effective educative methods. As Vice-Rector in initial formation houses, he exemplified gentleness, loving kindness, and encouragement, challenging those around him to deeper growth.

A Humble and Pious Man: Bishop Gomes was unassuming and never sought credit or popularity. His simple living and piety endeared him to many. In hidden ways, he reached out to the last and the least entrusted to his care, embodying the spirit of service and compassion. Before his appointment as Bishop, he  asked many confreres: “m I worthy ? Will I manage?” Definitely he was worthy, knowing the Scriptural qualities he possessed, especially being “a man without guile”. And he managed in his humble ways, knowing and experiencing well that “every bishop's life is a crucifixion”, following the Master, as one priest commented.

Episcopal Ministry: At the age of 58, Pope St John Paul II appointed him the 7th Bishop of Krishnagar on 17 April 2002. His episcopal ordination took place on 31 May 2002. Bishop Gomes faithfully and in his simple and humble way, led the Diocese of Krishnagar for 17 years until his retirement in May 2019. During his tenure, he actively participated in the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CCBI) and served as vice president of the Family Commission.

Legacy of Faith and Hidden Sacrificing Love:  Bishop Joseph Suren Gomes leaves behind a lasting legacy of faith and service. His dedication to the Salesian mission and his unwavering commitment to the people of Krishnagar will be remembered by all who knew him. His life of service and dedication to the community through a simple life and pastoral ministry, will be remembered with gratitude. In his homily at the funeral Mass, Bishop Nirmol Gomes said: “Do not be sad, instead believe and trust in me…. There are many mansions in my Father’s house…. I am the Way, Truth and Life. He was Shepherd after my heart.” Someone wrote: “His death is a huge loss for the diocese, for the Church and for the congregation.”

The Bishop continued, “He had many human qualities: humble, ever smiling, a hidden life of sacrifice, gentle, compassionate, truthful and a childlike soul. He was an amazing person with a quality of the heart. He is an example for all.” Citing John Paul II, he said, “His life was “deeply spiritual”, a prayerful person, exemplary life of a pious, holy and poor man.  He lived a holy priestly life, an inspiring life. He is in heaven and praying for us. Through his hidden ways, little ways, with concern for the poor and the least, his was a life of a pastor for his flock. In short, his was an ‘eucharistic life’. Just before his death he indicated to the Doctor through looks and sign: ‘Jesus is by me’.” As we bid farewell to this good man, we trust that he will now intercede for us and continue to guide us in our Salesian journey.

The funeral Mass for Bishop Gomes was held on Monday, 20 May 2024, at 10:30 a.m. in the Cathedral of the Most Holy Redeemer, Krishnagar, in the presence of 5 Bishops, numerous priests, nuns and the faithful, and was buried, according to his wish, in the public cemetery of the Guadalupe Church Parish, Ranaghat, Nadia. The burial service ended at 4.40 p.m. – an indication of the presence of a huge flock who came to bid him adieu.

Soroj Mullick SDB


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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