Fr Felix Moras OCD A PIONEERING MISSIONARY!
Our dear Father Felix has taken the center stage here in our midst today. Obviously, our minds cannot think of anything else but of his person and what he has been for us, in little episodes, that knit around his life; as our hearts feel the piercing pain of his demise; and at his passing our irretrievable loss, helplessness and separation. We want to let him know what he meant for us; and what he has been for each one of us in our longstanding rapport with him throughout his life and his ministry.
Felix was born on 24 October 1948 in Kirem (Diocese of Mangalore), as the fifth child among 7 in the devout farming family of Mr. Marcel Moras and Lucy Aranha in Kirem. His eldest brother John surprisingly died 48 years ago on the very day Fr. Felix was taken from our midst. Then his three elder sisters Stella D’Souza whose son is Fr. Victor D’Souza, Alice Cutinha and Florine Patrao. Finally, behind Fr. Felix are two of his younger brothers Simon and Monthu. After his basic schooling in the locality Ellenje Church School, Damaskatte and High School at Pompei, Aikala, he was aware of God’s call for him to the consecrated life but was in two minds to decide if God wanted him to be a Franciscan or a Carmelite. The toss fell on the Carmelites. He came in as an aspirant in 1967, made his First Profession on 19 March 1970 and took the second name as Felix of St. Joseph and after years of studies and formation in Kerala made his Solemn Profession in 1976, and was ready for priestly ordination on 14 of March 1977.
A BUDDING CARMELITE:
His life as a Carmelite friar was of a true missionary enthusiastic about working for the poor and the spread of the Gospel. After his formative years as a young Carmelite priest, he was assigned for shorter duration in our communities in Margao and then in Mysuru where he secured Masters in English literature at the University of Mysore. He was then promoted to do specialization in his preferred subject of Liturgy at the prestigious Roman University of San Anselmo in the heart of the city. During this period, he was put in touch with Mons. Seti, parish priest of Gervasio and Protasio of Florence, who needed help for ministry in his parish. He offered this service off and on whenever he had time free from studies.
ON AFRICAN SOIL:
On completion of his studies, he returned to India and the young Indian Karnataka Goa Province had just embarked on a difficult mission in Tanzania in Africa and Fr. Felix asked permission and obtained it, to join the pioneers in Tanzanian mission. In no time he reached Mikumi parish in the midst of Mkumi national park, surrounded by forest and by all African wild animals including lions and elephants. Due to his pioneering work there along with the other Carmelite Friars, in Africa we were known as Mikumi Fathers. No sooner he mastered the local language Kiswahili, he again ventured into a remote village called Malolo some 70kms interior from Mikumi in the jungle. He stayed there alone for many years amidst the poor people who lived just with what they locally produced - maize and vegetables and once in a way, wild meat. They were malnourished, illiterate, ill clad and had no electricity, no phone, no clean water, had not even seen a bus or car in their life time till Fr. Felix stepped in there. He organized them, built a school, taught them better agriculture, catechized them, baptized many of them, built a big church, constructed a road that can be accessed by vehicles and finally a residence for African minor seminarians, and later a convent for the Holy Cross sisters.
The second part of his life begins in 1994 with his two years of respite in Holy Land where we have our oldest monastery on Mount Carmel. He rendered two years of spiritual ministry in Jerusalem as a chaplain to Christian pilgrims. In 1996 he returned to India and got fully interested and involved in the building of a fit edifice for the novitiate formation at Kushalnagar, in Coorg. His contacts abroad earlier came in handy to raise required funds for the project. Though he was elected one of the Councilors of the Province he relinquished the office in one year to do what he could do best, namely to garner support for the needs of the Province and the missions. With his earlier contacts in Florence, we were assigned a challenging parish of Empoli, Santa Maria in Ripa in the periphery of the Archdiocese of Florence. In that area people were anticlerical and least interested in spiritual matters due to communist influence. But Fr. Felix’s life there was exemplary both in his simplicity to get the Church and the premises cleaned by his own hands, to make it worthy of divine liturgy; as well as the adjustment to live with that poverty and very inconvenient priest’s residence, even with Indian standards. People were impressed and willingly came forward. A parish where not even ten people came to Sunday masses now had three masses each Sunday and the church was full. Having done his work there he moved to another parish at Ginestra Fiorentina and then to Pantorme where he single handedly served three parishes at a time. He was in Europe but at heart he was still the same hard-working missionary of Africa. In these parishes he established small groups of volunteers for the African mission, who used to collect clothes and other commodities and send them in containers to Africa. With support of his well-wishers, he could offer education and dignified life to so many African poor people. Actually, his generosity went much wider than our Province. He even helped the Ursuline sisters to get a foot hold in Florence to promote their mission and apostolic works.
A TIME OF TRIAL:
As he saw the local African Carmelites, fruit of his pioneering efforts, were able slowly to take responsibilities for the mission, he returned definitively to India and was assigned as superior of our community in Koteswar, Kundapur where he again joined with masons and laborers to build the required compound wall for our coconut garden. He planted trees, looked after the farm and assured that there is sufficient water. There he noticed his health was deteriorating steadily and hence was shortly assigned to Madanthyar community. On consulting the doctors, the grim truth that cancer had invaded his bowels was revealed. This however didn’t daunt his spirits even though he was not sure how long he would be around. Courageous and serene man that he was, he looked only forward and continued doing all the ministry he could at the Infant Jesus Shrine even a week before he was helplessly confined to the hospital bed. So faithful a priest and committed Carmelite that he was! He has behind him the golden 50 years of his consecration and 44 years of priesthood dedicated to the ministry spread in three continents Asia, Europe and Africa.
A Final salute
Dear Fr. Felix accept our thanks for your services and affection; and accept our accolades for your wonderful person and generous spiritual ministry as a priest and missionary; we admire in you what we ourselves may not manage to realize. Walking down the memory lane of life along with Fr. Felix, we realize first of all that he has been fighting the malady of dreaded cancer that caught up with him for six long years. Due to his stamina and courage nobody could even detect that he was a victim of cancer even till just a week ago. He knew the seriousness of his situation, subjecting himself to the required therapies and yet he was not broken or intimidated. He lived as if nothing was wrong. He was not depressed or frightened. It was five years ago he told me on a good Friday, “Joe I won’t be there for the next good Friday.” But he saw five more of them. He wrote to me recently a very encouraging message when I myself had to face some medical issues. Thank you, Fr. Felix for your wonderful witness of a courageous and serene soul looking calmly and yet resolutely at the precipice of your imminent death. May you now rest free from all pains that you endured due to your long illness. You loved being your unique proactive self wherever you went and whomever you met; you loved being a committed missionary priest of Christ in remote jungles of Africa and being a true brother to those poor people infested with Malaria, illiteracy and poverty; and above all you loved being a generous and happy Carmelite. You also made the Catholic community in Mangalore proud that a son of soil went far away to Africa and spent his life for the Gospel.
You gave everything you could, and we are indebted to your legacy. We salute you warmly. Your memory will linger very long in our midst as we see the good works you have left behind and as we miss your energetic person who enlivened our communities with your wit and passion. Dear Fr. Felix as you walk before us into the light, holding aloft the banner of the resurrected victory of Jesus Christ; may we your brothers and loved ones who are left behind find joy in their calling to be Carmelites and make our final leap into the merciful hands of God our Father. Dear Father Felix we bid you adieu here, yes literally we commend you tearfully into Gods hands and look forward to our meeting with you again when we finally meet together at God’s dining table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob for all eternity. Though it pains us much to see you go soon, we your brothers surrender in faith to God’s plan and offer you back to the Lord who gave you to us. May the good Lord who chose you to be his close friend and for whom you lived and whose apostle of Africa you were, may grant you eternal rest that you so truly deserve and let perpetual peace, happiness and light shine upon you forever. Adieu, dear Fr. Felix… till we meet again.
(Eulogy given by Fr. Joe Tauro OCD, at Infant Jesus Shrine, Carmel Hill, Mangalore at the end of the funeral mass on February 13, 2021)
Father's Name: Mr Marcel Moras
Mother's Name: Mrs Lucy Aranha
Brothers: John Moras, Simon Moras and Monthu Moras
Sisters: Stell Dsouza, Alice Cutinha, Florine Patrao
of Fr Felix Moras OCD
Pius Nagar and Carmel Giri, Alwaye, Kerala.1970 - 1973
St. Joseph’s Pontifical Seminary, Alwaye, Kerala.1974 - 1977
St. Joseph’s Pontifical Seminary, Alwaye, Kerala14 March 1977
Higher studies in Sacred Liturgy1981-1985
Missionary Journey Begins...1985-1988
Due to health reasons practically residing at Carmel Hill, Mangalore2017-2019
Final Days of Earthly Life...2019-2021
At Fr Muller’s Hospital, Kankanady, Mangalore.
Buried At: St Joseph’s Monastery, Carmel Hill, Mangalore on 13th February 2021.11 Feb 2021