Humble Archbishop*

 

Emeritus Abp Pascal Topno SJ

 

BHOPAL – Thanks to God for keeping an All Saints’ Day through Catholic Church to reflect the life of people around us.  This all Saints Day made me reflect the life of a Humble Archbishop who tried to live an exemplary life.  The Archbishop emeritus Bhopal Archdiocese Dr Pascal Topno SJ is known for his humility. This is better explained in the words for former Governor of Madhya Pradesh, Dr. Balram Jakhar, when the former went to introduce his successor to the latter.  The Governor said, “Father Topno I see a true human being in you….. Your presence makes me feel God, don’t feel retired, keep coming to meet me”. The Archbishop responded it with a smile. Obviously, this ever radiating presence of God in him that kept all those people who met him inspired. So much so that anyone who met him once would never forget him ever.
He is the one who found goodness in everyone and in everything.  The Johannine prologue finds meaning in his approach towards others that everything was created through the Word because it also implies that everyone and everything ultimately reveals God. One can easily perceive the encouraging  love and prodigal generosity of God the Father in this man.
A saintly person makes it on his own and encounters God everywhere and affirms that God is present everywhere and in everything.  This simple approach of life the Archbishop had made him great among equals.  He sees God even where others do not, because he tries to look through the eyes of God.  He places his life in God and is able to be calm even in the midst of trials and tribulations.  He knows for sure that such events cannot derail the design of God, but can only bring out yet another dimension of his providence.
He never felt the need for advertising himself or his projects, but put his trust in God who worked His wonders in spite of the limitations of human agents and inadequacy of systems.  He never attempted to control God, but allowed himself to be enveloped by the divine providence.  Far from claiming to have a grip on God, he allowed himself to be gripped by God.
So God showered blessings after blessings on Archdiocese of Bhopal through him.  Even though he began his journey from debt stricken state, he reached it to a plentiful situation when he humbly left his seat. He never thought he has to plan everything sitting in his room but he found God’s plan in every proposal from others. It is this godliness that enabled him to see others as precious and valuable agents of God. Therefore he contributed to all plans and put it under divine providence. He placed the entire space at the disposal of the wonder-working God.  And God filled the space with numerous blessings through others whom he believed that God has blessed them. He is a hidden pearl among many pebbles, to know him is not an uphill task like searching a saint in every ordinary person.
*By Fr. Anand Muttungal of Bhopal

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