OBITUARY OF REV.FR. MARCEL LINCOLN SDB
“But God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself.” Ps 49:15
We the Salesians and the Salesian family members of the province of Tiruchy are shocked, and grief stricken at the sudden demise of a jolly good and loving confrere Rev. Fr. Marcel Lincoln sdb on 1 February 2023, 7.30 am. As the psalmist says, God has taken him to himself at the young age of 60. I am sure he was very much prepared to meet the Lord because he was always boldly saying, “God wants me.” Only we were not prepared to leave him because he was such a good confrere, able to relate with everyone with great enthusiasm and sentiments, pull the legs of everyone and challenge friends with arguments of different kinds. It was interesting to note the fact that he won always. I must say he won over all of us even to the point of his death. May the Lord grant him eternal rest and fill us with his consolation and courage to go ahead with the journey of life, relying solely on God’s providence and help.
LAST DAYS OF FR. MARCEL LINCOLN
Fr. Marcel was complaining of eye problems in Namakkal, and he was brought to Joseph’s eye hospital in Trichy, by Fr. Rex on 17 January 2023. After going through some tests, the doctors advised him that nothing could be done because of his high sugar. He remained for a day with us in the Provincial house. After dinner he was accompanied to his room but on the way, he collapsed in front of the chapel. All of us rushed and gave him first aid. He was taken to the Child Jesus Hospital and found that he had suffered a heart attack. He was admitted there and several tests were done in the following days.
The doctors are well acquainted with Fr. Marcel for the past 10 years and more and have a detailed medical history. He had been admitted in the hospital a few times before for the problems of kidney, a blood clot in the brain and high sugar. God’s providence was always with him, and he saw life once again after the treatment every time. He was asked to control his sugar level which he invariably did not follow all his life. This time when I met him, he told me that he was not taking medicines from January 2022 onwards. When he was admitted for cataract surgery last time, he was compelled to bring down the sugar level which he did because he had to undergo surgery. I guess after the surgery he followed his own advice because he always called himself as the chief doctor.
After all the tests, the doctors informed us that his condition was not good because many of his vital organs were damaged because of prolonged diabetes. Thanks to the doctors and sisters who took care of him well that he survived and was discharged on 26 January. He was advised to go through 5 days of observation and go for a review later. But he developed stomach pain on 30 January morning and was admitted again at the Child Jesus Hospital. He underwent scan and echo and the doctors found that he had a mild attack in the morning hours. Besides, the liver also had a tumour and that needs to be diagnosed. We were planning to shift him to Kavery Medical Centre and Hospital, so that constant psychiatric help also could be given him besides medical attention. But, at the insistence of Fr. Marcel, he was discharged on 31 evening and was brought to the provincial house for rest and observation. He was talking to us in his usual spirits and so we were relieved that he was doing well. Fr. Amaladoss checked on him a few times at night and in the morning.
He was having sound sleep till 7 am. At 7.45 am when they went to see him, there were no movements. Nurse was called to examine him and there was no pulse at all. We rushed him to the hospital so that we could revive him but alas, no effort could help, and the doctors declared him dead. He had breathed his last around 7.30 am on 1 February 2023. Sr. Ruby FMA, the younger sister was with him all these days and May God bless her for the love and care she showed towards her brother. We then requested the sisters to prepare the body of Fr. Marcel and informed the news of his death to his brother’s family in Delhi and to all the other relatives. The funeral was planned for the next day 2 February morning at 11.30 am at the shrine of Mary Help of Christians, AMSAM. The body was then kept in the mortuary at the hospital.
SALIENT CHARACTERS OF FR. MARCEL LINCOLN
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:7-8
I feel these words are true in the life of Fr. Marcel. He had done everything well to the best of his capabilities when he enjoyed good health. He was the second Vice Provincial of the province and held many other important responsibilities which he carried out with dedication and commitment. I like to present a few of his salient characters that were explicitly seen in his life.
- An Exuberant and Joyful Salesian
No one can deny the fact that Fr. Marcel enjoyed his life all the time. He was certainly joyful and exuberant in all that he talked and lived. Wherever he was present, there used to be laughter and fun. He was always humorous in his conversations. He used to pull the legs of the confreres of the community and allowed himself to be fooled as well. But he always had the final word. He was very strong and clear about it too. I remember several of the confreres going nearing him and tickling him and he used to shout in joy. The more he shouts, the more used to be the fun and happiness but all of them used to enjoy and he kept the community in good spirits. Keeping up to the recommendation of article 17 of our constitutions, “Because he is a herald of the good news, every Salesian is always cheerful. He radiates this joy and is able to educate to a Christian and festive way of life. ’Let us serve the Lord in holy joy,” Fr. Marcel used to explicitly show his happiness of life.
- A Man of Hard Work and Commitment
We used to wonder from where he would get the energy to do works and that too sitting at the desk for days and months, writing and compiling documents and articles. He was equally strong in the manual labour as well. God had blessed him with strong will and boldness to pursue any difficult task and he always persevered in them all. Such was his hard work and commitment. He would not give up anything because they were tough and impossible. Rather, he worked out plans and strategies so that everything would be possible and become a reality. That was the reason he was appointed the provincial secretary after his ordination, and he accompanied the extra ordinary visitor helping him
with the necessary documentation to perfection. I also remember his help and support to Fr. Antony Joseph, our former provincial in writing articles and setting up the archives, which he did with much dedication.
- A Creative Pastor and Administrator
AMSAM Parish can never forget the systems brought in by Fr. Marcel when he was both the Assistant Parish Priest as well as later when he became the Parish Priest. He was very creative in dealing with the leaders of the villages and disciplined them. He practiced punctuality and made the people to follow the same as well. He was courageous to solve the problems of various kind and there was peace and serenity at the end of them all. He introduced the family card and the subscription. He was interested in the youth ministry and helped many of the youth to study and get employed. He was always available and approachable but with discipline and firmness. He always gave freedom to others but never forgot the principles and values of life.
- A Poor and Disciplined Religious
Fr. Marcel was a person who had very little things with himself. He was very strict in following poverty in his life. He was never extravagant in spending or wasting resources of the congregation and the province. He was very careful and used to insist on the same to the clerics and other Salesians of the community. All of us know the value he gave for
punctuality. I remember when he was Vice Provincial, he used to say, “Consider me dead if I am late for 5 minutes.” It so happened that one day he was going to Manakkal for some animation. He was late for more than half an hour because of the traffic. When he reached the hall, a cleric remarked, “Come father Marcel, we shall have the requiem mass because you are late for half an hour.” All had a good laugh, but he asked pardon for being late and carried on the programme. When I met him recently, he was complaining about the punctuality of the Salesians for prayer and told me to remind the confreres about it. I guess he is punctual even at his death that he has reached heaven early at the age of 60.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4
Dear Fr. Marcel, we are grateful to the Lord for the gift of you to our province. You had lived up to the divinely call every moment of your life. I must say you have been adamant in meeting the Lord so early in life and you have achieved it, or rather God has been benevolent in granting your desire. I am sure you are cynically smiling at us all from heaven with your usual wits and humour. Remember us all and pray for us that we may be joyful and happy Salesians, doing everything with dedication and commitment and above all a good and disciplined religious like you. Enjoy your eternal life, Marcel. We shall meet you in heaven when the Lord calls us, and we will continue to have our good times as we had here on earth. Adieu.
Yours Affectionately in Don Bosco
Fr. Agilan Sarprasadam SDB
Provincial – Salesian Province of Tiruchy, INT.