By this tribute to our late Bishop Anthony Theodore Lobo, I wish to remind us all of the person and priest he was, the leader and visionary he came to be, and the Bishop he died.
Son of a renowned Goan family, he was called to the priesthood at the young age of 23. His career at St Patrick’s High School, following the footsteps of Father Stephen Raymond was no easy feat.
Yet, Father Tony Lobo, as he was affectionately known, was up for the challenge, and became a fine principal in 1974. His experience and wisdom, coupled with an innate understanding of current affairs helped him guide the school to some of its most successful years. He introduced the coeducational system in A’ Levels and the St. Patrick’s Girls’ School.
Never one to back down from a challenge, Bishop Lobo saw many dreams transform into reality. He established the Notre Dame Institute of Education, by wooing the Australian Catholic University in 1991.
He also hunted down top educational facilities in Sri Lanka to harvest a formidable science teaching faculty for St Patrick’s High.
With an oxygen tank in tow, Bishop Lobo made remarkable, superhuman efforts to visit the sick in their time of need, and attend the funerals of old friends by sitting outside the church. This gentleman of the highest order was both humane and fearless. He was, in all truth, lion and lamb.
Once, after an irate father threatened to have me assaulted for not succumbing to his lofty demands, I approached his Lordship with every intention of demanding a fulltime bodyguard. Bishop Lobo, ever the seasoned debater, told me that I could, on any average day, be walking from the Cambridge Section to the Matric building , slip on a banana peel, hit my head on the asphalt and lose life’s battle. His message was clear – we are all vulnerable in an unpredictable world, and that providing me a bodyguard was hardly going to ensure my safety.
My son remembers how we would spend summer days at the renowned Paramount Book Fair, scouring for books to add to our students’ libraries, and inevitably we’d bump into his Lordship, a train of books in his entourage.
The day I heard of Bishop Tony Lobo’s passing, was a day I had never felt should come. It is true this man of zeal and zest, a Galahad on a Spiritual Quest, who got things done that needed to be done, when no one else could, saw his life ebbing away due to failing health, but his spirit never waned. That his wisdom and perseverance grew into things of legend was inevitable, but it is his humanity and spirituality that shall be most cherished.
I doubt I shall be ever able to say a final goodbye to Bishop Lobo. He shall always be remembered vividly. His firm yet gentle stature, his endearing smiling eyes from where his spirit shone through, the voice that could carry the Pakistani people, and did! Farewell, my friend, until we meet again! I shall never be able to repay you for all your guidance and shepherding, but, by this tribute, I hope to wish you an eternal rest of peace in the bosom of God, our Father! May the spirit that lies at the core of St. Patrick’s High School, the spirit to never give in, never surrender, guide our separate ways, out of the darkness, and into the Light!
The writer is a former headmistress of St Patrick’s High School O’ Levels
Published in The Express Tribune, March 13th, 2013.