For Mysore and Mandya people, Fr. Noronha was a ‘Father’ figure, who recently entered heavenly abode to serve at the lotus feet of Lord Jesus. Those who came across with his tender heart and feather touch, cannot erase the memorable love he bestowed upon them.
Thathayya, founder of ‘Anathalaya’, as a Journalist then, was in constant touch with earlier Bishops of Mysore during Nalwadi days. During 60s, severe drought swept across Mysore State. We, inmates of Anathalaya then, suffered heavy food scarcity. The then Bishop of Mysore Rev. Mathias Fernandes sent a plea to American CARE Aid Organisation to extend helping hands. Soon, huge shipments of nutritious food items like Wheat, Flour, Oil, Corn, Pulses, Curd made out of Groundnut reached Mysore District.
Rev. Fr. Fernandes and Fr. Noronha meticulously distributed these items to the citizens of Mysore through Churches, Societies, Orphanages, Hostels etc. At that time, both sent words to our Hon. Secretary M.S. Srinivasa Rao, who happened to be the grandson of Thathayya, to come to Bishop’s House and requested him to avail the benefits of CARE to the inmates and also to distribute the items to nearby poor and destitute people. The Secretary readily agreed and we the inmates started using the nutritious items apart from distributing them to the needy families judiciously with utmost care, maintaining stock register etc. People were happy and satisfied with us as well.
One day, a disgruntled fellow petitioned anonymously to the Bishop stating that the aid was being misused by distributing them to one community only! Soon Bishop Rev. Fr. Fernandes and Fr. Noronha paid a surprise visit to Anathalaya to oversee the distribution of items to the public.
We informed our Secretary who arrived immediately. Fr. Noronha saw the stock register, distribution mode by the students, enquired the beneficiaries with a smile and satisfaction. The Secretary showed them our cooked items made from the “aid” items and also offered them buttermilk prepared from groundnut curd. We used to distribute this buttermilk to devotees on Ramanavami and other festival days too, with a tinge of ginger and coriander leaves.
Our Secretary informed them that one of the inmates got first prize in Bible Essay Competition and showed them the Bible Book.
After tasting buttermilk, Fr. Noronha exclaimed, “What a tasty and healthy drink, bring another couple of buttermilk tumblers, let us drink, also let us order our people too to follow this method.” The Bishop positively agreed. We offered them sumptuously like we offer “Biksha” to our Swamijis. At this juncture, Fr. Noronha explained to Rev. Bishop about the contribution of Thathayya in the erstwhile Mysore State.
As they departed, Fr. Noronha told our Secretary, “We will come here quite often, of course to taste your wonderful buttermilk”, with a wink at Rev. Bishop! Thus the disgruntled man’s ill wish evaporated !
We students then, still cherish Fr. Noronha’s simplicity, humility, sense of humour and human touch. We felt as though we were in the company of our own Jagadgurus. This is my “Tribute of Flowers” to the Divine Soul.
– Dr. K. Raghu Ram Vajapayee, Senior Social Worker, Mysuru, 10.8.2018
Note: No wonder, when Fr. Noronha was shunted out of Mysore, a non-Christian admirer of Fr. Noronha told me that if Fr. Noronha had remained as a Priest in any of the Churches in Mysore, he would have been the unofficial Bishop for the people here. – KBG
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