Rev. Fr. Methodius N. Fernando (1930 - 2017)

Source: District of Asia

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. As to the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice, which the Lord the just judge will render to me in that day. 2 Tim 4:7,8

A man, it has been said, will die the way he lived. Why wonder, therefore that Father Methodius has left us unobtrusively for a better world on a Feast of Our Lady, when he was devoted to her very much? To the last, he remained without any fuss, faithful to the long solitude of a retired life but never for a moment forgetting the noble ideal that priesthood demands.

Fr. Methodius was born on 14th June 1930 in a small fishing hamlet of Kooduthalai. He was brought up by devout parents. They valued their faith as a greater treasure than all earthly goods. His mother trained her eldest son in the fear of God and taught him to love in a special manner His Blessed Mother. After finishing his early education in his village, he was sent to St. Francis Xavier School in Tuticorin. It was there that he discerned his vocation, and he owes a huge debt of gratitude to Msgr. Roche, who encouraged him to pursue the priesthood.

He entered St. Paul's Seminary, Trichy in 1952. Chosen to be the president of the Tamil Literature Society, Fr. Methodius as a seminarian penned and edited several articles in Tamil. There his mastery over the language was discovered and encouraged. He had a great knack for languages. He knew Tamil, English, French and of course Latin. He could easily keep up a conversation in French. He was ordained a priest on 6th April 1959.

After ordination, he was sent to various parishes and he served them well. He was a pious and zealous priest. Like his Divine Master, he went about saving souls. Gifted with a strong constitution, he would visit the numerous villages of his parish. His sermons were simple with suitable illustrations taken from the life of his people, and skilfully adapted to their needs and intelligence. Needless to say, they bore abundant fruit (especially among our children for many years). During a stay of seven years in a parish, Fr. Methodius had realised the need of a Catholic technical school for the Catholic children. It is thanks to his initiative that St. Francis Xavier Polytechnic was started to train Catholic young men in many different trades.

Unfortunately, like hundreds of other good priests, he too was swept away in the floods of novelty in the wake of Vatican II. It was only in 1990's that he re-discovered tradition, thanks to the Society of St. Pius X. "Late I loved you, Beauty so ancient and so new, late have I loved you," he exclaimed with great joy like St. Augustine. After his retirement, he discovered the SSPX and, for last 25 years was one of its greatest friends in India. He was cordial and sociable with the members of the society. He always obeyed the superiors of SSPX and would happily do whatever was asked of him. He has covered many missions for us especially in the last 10 years.

His simple, childlike, unassuming piety is a great example for both priests and laity alike. His intense love of God was revealed in his daily Holy Hour and frequent visits. His devotion to the Blessed Virgin is well-known among our faithful. Father has penned a few booklets on her. He had the good habit of reciting fifteen decades of the rosary every day. He had a great devotion to the Holy Mass. The thought of his being a priest and the remembrance of thousands of masses he had said were a source of consolation to him in his last days. The Good God who knows the secrets of the heart will handsomely reward this good and faithful servant in His own good time.

On 15th of September, he called me and wished me a happy feast and he assured me that he will (as he has always done) pray for the Society. And a few hours later, he unexpectedly passed away without any agony in his bed. A Solemn Requiem Mass was offered for the repose of his soul at our priory. A good soldier has gone to receive his rewards. A shining light has gone out. When will the Good God grant the mission another model of fidelity like Fr. Methodius?

Fr. Therasian Babu, SSPX