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A Prophet is never silenced
Teotonio R. de Souza
By the very meaning of the term a Prophet speaks for others, speaks for the silenced and
voiceless individuals and communities. All prophets suffered persecution and many were
killed. A prophet has a vision and the courage to relativize institutions and centres of power.
These tend to hate the prophets and seek ways of silencing the denouncer of injustices.
The Christian Bible is filled with such exemples, culminating with Jesus who became a victim of
the Jewish priesthood of his time. They joined the chorus of those who opted for Barrabas and
preferred to have Jesus crucified. He ressurected in the minds and hearts of those oppressed
by the regime and by the Jewish religious and social customs. That is what Christians
commemorate on the Easter day, a centre-piece of the Christian faith.
Prophets overcome death, because those who live and die for others remain forever alive in
the minds and hearts of those who experienced prophets dedication to their cause, while
those who live for themselves are already dead before their physical death.
It was touching to see the Facebook crowded with messages from the admirers and wellwishers of Fr. Bismarque. I too was shocked by the news of his death in mysterious
circunstances which leads one to suspect some foul play by many who hated Fr. Bismarque for
denouncing their anti-people, anti-environment projects. Unfortunately, he also invited the
wrath of the church establishment in Goa.
Fr. Bismarque lived his priesthood as an option to follow Jesus at all costs. Those in touch with
his activities often heard him repeating: Jesus is my truth and my witness, to translate his
original Konkani : Jezu mojem sot ani mozo govai. He believed in Jesus who had the courage
to denounce the high and low religious hierarchy of his time.
Fr. Bismarqye was aware that his faith in Jesus would lead to threats to his life. But if Jesus
promised that those who believed in him ( not in the institutional church that impersonates
Jesus) would never die, he lived his commitment until the very end, sharing with Jesus the
accusations of eating and drinking with the outcastes of his society, and was killed as an
instigator against the State and Church authorities.
My first contact with Fr. Bismarque Dias was in 1978 at the Loyola Hall, where he was enrolled
as a candidate for the Jesuit Order. The incipient Xavier Centre of Historical Research occupied
a wing of the premises before its shift to Porvorim. Fr. Bismarques clarity of his goals and
methods he would adopt did not probably make him eligible for the Jesuit Order. However, he
continued his contacts with the Jesuits, including Fr. Joseph Neuner, as his retreat directors.
He recovered me a year ago on the Facebook to seek my help to write what he called a
history from the common mans perspective, to counter a history written by bamonn and
chardde. He wanted a history without nostalgia or trumphalism. He lectured to me on the
insufficiency of Goan historiography. To quote him: History should have wings to fly forward
and not be caught in a quagmire. He challenged me to live with the mahars,the kunbis, the

gaudde, the kharvi and the render to undestand their problems. If that was not possible for
me, he wanted my help to find documents in Portugal to supplement his efforts at studying
the evolution of the oppressed social groups in Goa. He wished a history from below, what
historians today call a history of the subalterns.
When I told Fr. Bismarque once that the winter was severe in Portugal (it was on 12th
February last year) he wrote: a shot of Macieira will warm your spirit irmo. I sent him a
bottle of Macieira with a Portuguese researcher friend who was going to study Goan art
heritage. Fr. Bismarque thanked me for my thoughtfulness, and added: I do not drink, and
rarely sip my favorite urrak" in kottti (coconut shell). If you want i wont mind sending you
some pure urrak in return. These little details expose the false impression conveyed in the
press referring to a dozen beer bottles found on the river bank where he was found missing.
He made it clear to me that he was not fighting against the Church, but against its abusive
disposal of land to builders with no concern for the environment. He also raved against the
promotion of tourism in Old Goa during the recent exposition of the relics of St Francis Xavier.
His language was unsettling when he wrote to me that the Church cared less for the living
poor and more for a mummy.
I conclude my brief homage to Fr. Bismarque Dias by quoting the Apostle Paul writing to the
Corinthians: for Christs sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in
persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Rest, restless spirit rest. No more will we hear from you: oh its difficult fighting day and night
to save the land of Goa. Many will rise to carry forward the torch you lit.