BR. PIUS REBELLO (1937-1958)
On January 26, 1958, when entire India was rejoicing because of the ‘Republic Day’ celebrations, St. Fidelis friary at Monte Mariano in Farangipet was drowned in an unexpected shock and sorrow. It turned into bitter gloom due to a supremely unanticipated tragic event of the drowning of Brother Pius Rebello, a young novice under formation. The event, obviously, plunged the entire fraternity in great grief; for, it was the very first of its kind and Br. Pius was hardly 21 years old.
Geographically, Monte Mariano is situated on the bank of a winding river, called Nethravathi, which is seen to flow quietly during the greater part of the year except for the time of monsoon. The river, though, appears to be rather calm and serene is, in fact, strongly affected by the imperceptible under-currents of the ebb and flow of the tidal waves originating from the Arabian Sea that is hardly a few miles away. The brothers living in the novitiate were ordinarily accustomed to go down to the river, mainly to wash clothes, to bathe and to swim. On that fateful day, however, the novice Pius Rebello, while enjoying a swim happened to be inadvertently pulled away by the powerful undercurrent that he could not hold out and consequently got himself literally swallowed up by the deep river. There wasn’t a trace of him for a long time and only after a hectic and relentless search for almost an hour by expert divers, his lifeless body was found tucked away in the inner crevice of a huge rock. Once located, it was recovered by the divers, but not without considerable expertise and hard work.
The startling news of this unusual drowning tragedy obviously spread like wildfire and a lot of people from near and far came to inquire, console and offer their condolences both to the friars and the bereaved family. The following day after the funeral Mass celebrated with the entire grieving fraternity and his family, the body was laid to rest in the friary cemetery. Br. Pius had seen the light of day on August 19, 1937, at Kodmann village, near Farangipet and by baptism was known as Charles Rebello. The closeness of Kodmann to Farangipet and his own close acquaintance with the Capuchins were instrumental in bringing him regularly to the chapel of Farangipet, especially on Sundays to take part in the liturgy of the Eucharist. These visits not only made him familiar with the Franciscan religious way of life but also resulted in the gradual appreciation of the Franciscan ideals. He was particularly attracted to the simple and fraternal type of life lived by the friars. Being strongly attracted to the Franciscan way of life, he desired personally to live it. In 1955, on completing his high school studies, he came knocking at the door of the novitiate requesting to be accepted into the Capuchin Order. In order to undergo the preparatory religious formation and to endow himself with the knowledge of Latin language, which was an obligatory requirement at the time for priestly studies, he was sent to Bharananganam in Kerala. He was vested in the Capuchin habit on May 16, 1957, to enter the novitiate at Monte Mariano, Farangipet. Unfortunately, just halfway through the novitiate at Monte Mariano in Farangipet. The tragic death swiped away the budding novice from the Order but made him fit enough to enter the eternal abode! Br. Pius was a person of very cheerful character, humble and simple and ever ready to render any service. Hailing from an agricultural family, he knew hard life and was ready to replicate it in the religious house as well. As a novice, therefore, he was known to be hardworking and exemplary and for this reason, very dear to and loved by one and all. We believe that he is also loved by the Lord and now lives in the Lord, who said: “I am the resurrection and life. Anyone who believes in me even though that person dies will live; and whosoever lives and believes in me, will never die” (Jn. 11:25-26).
--- from the book ALIVE IN MEMORY - by ANDREW ANIL SEQUEIRA, OFM CAP ---