Fr. John D’Mello was known as ‘Gamcha Father’ as he used to go around with a towel around his neck. He was also known as “Happy Birthday Father” as he used to wish everyone “Happy Birthday”. When someone said that it was not his/her birthday, he used to tell him/her to live each day as though it was his/her actual birthday, even though that particular day was not his/her actual birthday. Another explanation he used to give was that the birth of every day should be a source of happiness. We need to accept every day happily. Before starting the Funeral Mass, in order to honour this habit of Fr. John, the main celebrant of the Eucharist, Archbishop Emeritus Most Rev. William D’Souza, SJ, requested all the participants to stand up and sing Happy Birthday to Fr. John as he is celebrating his birth into eternal life.
Fr. John was a man of prayer. He had a great devotion to the Holy Eucharist. He never missed Mass even for a single day. He used to spend long hours in prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament. For him, prayer was talking to God, and meditation was listening to God in silence. He enjoyed reading spiritual books. He had a good collection of spiritual books and he was willing to share those books with anyone who wanted to make use of them. Fr. John was known for his sensitivity towards the poor. He used to collect whatever money he could and distribute them among the poor and the needy. While he was working at Holy Family Hospital, Kurji, Patna, his charity extended to poor patients, needy co-workers and other employees of the hospital. Fr. John was a very community-oriented person who valued community life. He was very lively during community recreation after supper, and he enjoyed a game of cards.
Jose Thayil, SJ