I’ve known Fr. Carlos since the late seventies, when he was a seminarian – more than thirty six years ago. Fr. Carlos was born in a village called Vale do Pereiro, less than half an hour from the place where I was born. His Parish – Várzea dos Cavaleiros – is my neighbour parish; when as pilgrims we’d walk to the Shrine of Our Lady of Remedies (Nossa Senhora dos Remédios) located a bit beyond Várzea dos Cavaleiros, we would pass right in front of Fr. Carlos’ home, at Vale do Pereiro.
Fr. Carlos’ father (Elias Domingos) and mother (Prazeres Matias) were a very pious and religious couple whose family life was filled with Faith and devotion. Both parents died years ago, remaining only Fr. Carlos and his older sister whose children were very close to Fr. Carlos, especially his niece who is now a mother herself.
The parents of Fr. Carlos were a very welcoming couple, living a very simple lifestyle, filled with hard work in the fields during the day, and with religious devotions in the evening.
The Rosary was prayed daily after the evening meal, attending the Sunday Holy Mass would require walking several kilometres to the Parish church or to some Chapel. Then there would be the yearly devotions according to the seasons: The Lenten devotions, the 24 hour adoration at the local Chapel or at the Parish church, special retreats for the people filled with preaching, sacrament of Confession, Processions, religious feasts, etc.
Besides meeting Fr. Carlos when he was a seminarian, we started living in community as Consolata Missionaries in 1982 when he was studying Philosophy: after his two years of studying Philosophy I drove him, together with other two candidates, all the way from Portugal through Spain and France to Italy for his Novitiate. From then onward we met in Nairobi, where Fr. Carlos did his Theological studies, and in Rome, where he did his specialisation in History of the Church. We were at the same time in South Africa during three years but we never worked together in the same mission. The last occasion I spent time with Fr. Carlos was in November 2014, in Fátima: I had come to attend the Consolata Interchapter meeting (Consulta) and Fr. Carlos was preparing to leave for Ethiopia – what a joy: both of us being missionaries beyond our country’s borders, with Fr. Carlos being sent again “to the nations”, and we felt more united with each other through the gift of God in our vocation and mission.
In October 1985 I had the blessing of being charged with preparing Fr. Carlos’ Parish for his missionary mandate ceremony: It was a special blessing and joy because Fr. Carlos had been appointed to South Africa – from where I had come roughly two months before; it was something like an exchange. The Parish community came together, in great numbers, to pray and support one of her children being sent as a missionary – “what a privilege for the Parish of Várzea dos Cavaleiros!” Those were the words of Fr. Victor who, to this day, is the Parish priest of Fr. Carlos’ home parish. Fr. Victor was always very straight forward about his immense admiration for Fr. Carlos: his simplicity, his generosity, his intelligence, his dedication, his availability to do anything no matter how hard it might be, etc.
Once I was talking with someone, in Osizweni, about Fr. Carlos but the person, who was not able to link the name to the person, said: “Oh ngiyabona, uthi lowomFundisi osebenza kakhulu, angithi?”. Yes, that was Fr. Carlos, a man who, in the footsteps of Blessed Allamano, had a special love for manual work.
In our immense pain at the loss of Fr. Carlos we, Consolata missionaries, are truly blessed in having among us such a generous and committed missionary.
As people say in these occasions – imisebenzi yakhe ikhona, yabonakala ngokusobala – let us learn from Fr. Carlos’s example, and proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ with the whole of our being.