Hundreds attend the funeral of the country’s oldest priest – Krant

KARACHI: Rev. Father Melito Dias, the oldest priest in Pakistan, who passed away peacefully at the Holy Family Hospital on Thursday at the age of 97, was buried at the Christian cemetery here on Saturday.

The priest’s funeral at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, led by Karachi Archbishop Benny Mario Travas, was attended by Cardinal Joseph Coutts, priests, nuns, his family, religious friends and a host of people whose lives he touched during his 69 years long term of office. priestly ministry. During this time, he also served in the educational institutions of the Archdiocese of Karachi with important posts and responsibilities.

Born in Karachi on February 27, 1927 to Maria Amata and Joseph Edward Dias, he was the fifth of nine children. From an early age, his mother had a great influence on his religious upbringing, as she was very close to the Church and Catholic teachings. His father worked abroad for a British cable and wireless company in Bahrain.

Rev Fr Melito was educated at St Patrick’s High School in Karachi and was a star of the school’s hockey team. He was also a regular churchgoer and never missed first mass every day.

In 1946, Father Melito left for the Pontifical Seminary in Kandy in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), as this part of the world did not have its own seminary at the time. In Kandy, he not only proved to be a good student but also won the hearts of his teachers and fellow students through his dedication to studies and sports.

He was ordained on August 24, 1954 in Kandy by Bishop Glennie, an American Jesuit who later became Bishop of Trincomalee, Ceylon.

He returned to Karachi, which by then was part of a new nation: Pakistan. He returned without a passport because he had left when all parts of the subcontinent were still part of India. His first post was at the Minor Seminary in Quetta, where Rev. Joseph Cordeiro was principal and was also assigned to St. Francis’ Grammar School, where he coached the boys in hockey.

He subsequently served the people of Karachi in various parishes. He also served the parish of St. Joseph’s, Larkana, and was instrumental in the faith formation of many in the area.

In addition to his priestly duties, Father Melito was also an outstanding educationalist and served in various capacities many Catholic schools in Karachi such as St. Patrick’s, St. Paul’s and St. Lawrence’s. Needless to say, he performed all his duties with distinction and was known for his kindness, compassion, understanding, kind nature and humility. He also possessed a great sense of subtle humor.

Lately, Father Melito had been in and out of the hospital. In February he returned to the parsonage where he celebrated his 97th birthday in a simple but cheerful atmosphere where he thoroughly enjoyed himself.

Published in Dawn, April 21, 2024