Friday, February 03, 2006

Profile: Fr. Peter Machado Bishop-Designate

Fr. Loiola Pereira introduces Fr. Peter Machado, the new Bishop of Belgaum

Fr. J. Loiola Pereira, Archbishop's secretary and director of social communications, Goa, introduces to us his erstwhile companion at the Pune Papal seminary, the newly appointed Bishop of Belgaum, Fr. Peter Machado. Sharing from his close experience with him, he goes on to reveal the "down-to-earth" person in Dr. Peter Machado, who is now the third from a close circle of Priest-friends to be appointed a Bishop.

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI appointed Fr. Peter Machado, a priest of the diocese of Karwar, as the new Bishop of Belgaum. The official announcement was made simultaneously at the Vatican, at Belgaum and at Karwar at 4.30 p.m. of the 2nd of February, 2006.

The Bishop-Designate is not a stranger to Belgaum. He was born in Honavar in 1954, at a time when Honavar was part of the diocese of Belgaum. He joined the seminary for the diocese of Belgaum and I had the pleasure of meeting him as a young seminarian in the early seventies, when I was doing my college studies in that city. In a few years' time, I met him again, now as a colleague, studying at the Papal Seminary, Pune. Two years before Peter could be ordained a priest, Pope Paul VI created the Diocese of Karwar and Peter automatically came to belong to the new diocese. In 1978, therefore, he was ordained for the diocese of Karwar.

Father Peter was sent to Rome, where he completed his doctoral studies in Canon Law. But he never, never lost the simplicity, the accessibility and the 'down-to-earth'-ness that always characterized him. At least I don't remember him signing as Dr. Peter Machado. A great soul in a small body, indeed!

His election to the episcopate brings joy to the parish of Honavar, to the diocese of Karwar and, obviously, to the diocese of Belgaum, which was vacant since its former Shepherd, Bishop Bernard Moras, was transferred to the Archiepiscopal See of Bangalore. It also brings joy to the whole of the Konkan, as Bishop-Designate Peter Machado is the latest Konkani Catholic priest to be appointed bishop. He is immediately preceded by Bishop Alwyn Barreto, who was ordained Bishop of the newly created diocese of Sindhudurg (to the North of Goa) on 5th October, 2005.

Fr. Peter's appointment to the Episcopal College brings special joy to a particular group of priests from Karwar, Goa and Sindhudurg who, from the time they parted company as they left the portals of Papal Seminary, Pune, continued to meet every year, now in Karwar, now in Goa, now in Sindhudurg, for the "Papalite Meet." This group of friends, of which I am proud to be part, had a bishop member for the last 12 years: Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao, of Goa. He never missed the Papalite Meet, even after becoming a bishop and we would fix our date according to his convenience. But now that the 'episcopals' have become three (add Alwyn and Peter), we can clearly see difficult times ahead. Will it be easy to find a date convenient to all three??

Fr. J. Loiola Pereira (Goa).

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