You are always loved And never forgotten!
Fr. Domingo Fernandez de Mendiola Lopez de Gauna was born in 26th September in a village called Azaceta in Alava, Spain. His real name was Angel. Many called him with another name, Chomin (Txomin). His parents were Braulio Fernandez and Juana Lopez. He received his baptism just two days after his birth. He was given first Holy Communion and Confirmation at the age of three.
When he was eleven years old, he went to the minor seminary of Villafranca in Navarra. In 1939 he entered in the Carmelite novitiate and received the Carmelite habit on 26th October of the same year. When he was sixteen years old, he made his simple profession in Larrea in 31st October, 1940. His solemn profession was in the Carmel of Begona in Bilbao on 31st March, 1946. He completed his studies in Philosophy and Theology in different monasteries of Pamplona, Vitoria, Begona and Santander. He was ordained to priesthood by Msgr. Carmelo Ballester, Bishop of Vitoria on 29th June, 1948. Before his ordination he began to pursue his licentiate.
From the University of Comillas, he secured his first Doctorate in Dogmatic Theology, and in 1947 defended his thesis on “the Grades of Mystical Marriage”. Shortly after that he continued his studies in Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, in the stream of Ecclesiastical History, and in 1953 secured his second doctorate, defended his thesis on “John Valdes”. Meanwhile he studied French by staying in different monasteries in France. Then he went back to Spain and served as a conventual in Villafranca. Next year, he opted for Malabar Mission. Accompanied by Fr. Miguel Angel, the former Rector of Alwaye Seminary and Superior General, he left for India.
He reached in Bombay on 10th August 1954. In the Pontifical Seminary he taught various subjects such as Dogmatic Theology, History of the Church, Methodology, and Moral Theology. He was also the chronicler and secretary in the Carmelite community of the Seminary. He was elected as the vicar, councillor of the delegation and delegate provincial in the following years. In 1967 he was appointed as the Rector of the Alwaye Pontifical Seminary. He gave a new shape to the seminary formation. He had a foresighted vision about the church of Kerala. He laboured for the Pastoral Orientation Centre of which he was the president. On 22nd February 1972 Pontifical Institute of Theology and Philosophy was inaugurated and he was its first president. Until 1975 he was in Rector-ship, he remained in the seminary four years more to complete his classes.
He returned to Spain on 26th July, 1979 after twenty five years of service in India. He was appointed as the vice postulator of the cause of Venerable John Vincent. In 1981 he was elected as the Provincial of St. Joachim Province of Navarra. He was re-elected for the same office. In 1986 he was appointed by Superior General as the Rector of Teresianum, the international college of the Order in Rome. In 1988 he was nominated by the Holy See as the Consulter of Sacred Congregation of Cause of Saints. After all these offices he went back to Spain in 1991 as Master of Students in Vitoria. After two years he became the Provincial for the third time. From 1996 to 2003 he served as the superior of the community in Vitoria. He was also the president of the Historical Institute of Teresianum for 11 years and engaged in writing the history of the Mission of Malabar and Verapoly. He couldn’t complete the fourth volume of the history about the mission. He has authored 12 books and 103 articles on various subjects. He breathed his last on 15th May, 2021.
Fr. Dominic had a good number of friends. They called him lovingly as ‘chomin’. He welcomed everyone that he came across without restrain. Some of his colleagues still remember his homily that he delivered on the occasion of 50th anniversary of his priestly ordination which took place while he was there in Teresianum. That day he was seen very calm and serene. He insisted on simplicity and interiority rather than external celebration. He was fluent about simplicity, humbleness, and family spirit. He always spoke about mercy of god, how God had been present in his life, not only in forgiving sins but also He was a loving father all through his life.
Among the three vows, he loved poverty the most. He spent very little for himself at the same time he was generous to others who were in need. He always promoted fraternity and solidarity as the biggest values of Carmelite life. He was spontaneous in his conversation, made the people laugh and think. People were attentive to his homily. He was a good spiritual father to all those who sought his guidance.
Cardinal Mar George Alanchery, the ex alumnus of the Pontifical seminary, Alwaye expressed his sentiments in the following words. “It is with a heavy heart that I came to know of the demise of Fr. Dominic”. For about a quarter century, Fr. Dominic guided and presided over the formation of seminarians with the zeal of a great missionary creating a community of priests deeply devoted to Jesus and committed to their faith, the cardinal wrote in his condolence message. Erudite, gentle and affectionate, he endeared himself to all his students and the faculty. He was humble, unflappable, extremely courteous to all and sundry who came into contact with him. “The church in India is deeply grateful to his contributions”, the Cardinal said.
Fr. Alexander Karikkassery, a student of Fr. Dominic and a senior priest of Manjummel province still remembers him as a versatile personality. “Fr. Dominic was very energetic, he said, and a good companion to each student in the seminary. He was cautious to the modern situation of the society and tried to equip the young priests to face the challenges of the new world. He used to invite professional teams for friendly match in the seminary premises to give a boost to the students. During his term, the drop-outs from the seminary were very less.”
Fr. Antony Pulikal, who lived in the monastery of Vitoria in Spain, when Fr. Dominic was the Superior, expressed his memories about his paternal care. Fr. Antony even said; “I have not ever seen anyone like Fr. Dominic in my life”. He was caring each member of the community. He respected the emotions of the other. He exercised his authority to serve the brothers. He was always ready to help the Indian students, and even he mentioned his Indian stories and memories during his homilies. “No doubt that he was a holy priest”, Fr. Antony added.
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