At lunch time, I inquired from the formators whether there will still be goodnight talk tonight. I know that Fr. Mols, your preacher tonight is an engaging speaker, and I was afraid to speak after him because I would be in for a difficult task.
Anyway, I was told to give the talk just the same. And here I am. There you are. Corny.
They come in threes.
Fr. Gerry started the streak of paying Fr. George homage. Last night, we heard the paean of Fr. Nesty. Tonight, it's my turn.
Young Salesian I may be, I also have my precious encounters with Fr. George. Not with the ageing, bed-ridden priest the younger ones have come to know now, but the still robust, lucid and youthful octogenarian priest I first met ten years ago.
I was a first year seminarian when I was assigned to be the room cleaner of Fr. George. I recall that I would be delighted to clean his room notably because of two reasons:
- two pieces of candies await me each time I report for work—with the equally sweet note he hand-scribbled that accompanied it "For my room cleaner."
- his room is a concrete example of how it is to live a life totally detached all for the reason of serving the Lord.
He didn't want his room to be cleaned on Sundays. According to him, it's the Lord's Day and I should be resting. But since it was part of the seminary schedule, I would still go just the same. His room was always unlocked anyway. But on Sundays, strikingly, there would be no candies.
His kindness and warm smile would draw people to come towards him. He would have ready candies in his pockets. And his supply of the sweets is bottomless. He had tons stored in the physics lab. He might not have enough energy to carry out his apostolate, but his foresight would still enable him to be a Salesian in the midst of the young.
A confession to Fr. George in the confines of his physic lab means enjoying a reward of candies.
This made me entertain bad thoughts then, whether people really go to him for the sacrament or for the candies.
His devotion to the sacraments is unparalleled. He would be in the confessional box as early as 5.30 to hear our confessions. He would be in his post again at 7.00 in the evening during our spiritual reading and night prayers. Almost faithfully, he would be in the periphery of the gym for the EPC Masses whole year round.
Apart from these encounters, you may ask, what does Fr. George has left me with?
An example of faithfulness and dedication to the consecrated life I have chosen to live.
Fr. George is gone. He has gone ahead of us to the Salesian Garden Don Bosco promised his children.