During the lunch after the Mass he spoke to us and I am still under the powerful words he started his talk with: “Dying is as natural as you eating this lunch right now.” I was also overwhelmed by his persistence to give blessings to the people. I am not sure whether the cancer makes him not hungry or it is his desire to bring something good into the lives of others, but he didn’t spend much time at table eating. Instead he spent most of the time blessing people who approached him and a few hundreds did. Where does his strength come from? From the body being eaten by the cancer? I am sure that it is from Christ who stands next to him. Please say a prayer for Fr John as he doesn’t focus on himself. He is too busy to pray and bless others.
When, as a young man, he discerned he was drawn to the idea of becoming a priest he surprised his bishop who saw a teenager with very poor eyesight and with a semiparalysed left arm. The initial reaction the bishop was: “You will not be able to undertake the demanding regime of formation for the priesthood.” I believe that the Holy Spirit must have been working very hard on the bishop as he allowed John to begin his seminary formation in spite of the reservation he had. It was a spot on decision of the bishop. Fr John not only completed his seminary studies but he went on and obtained a PhD in Moral Theology. How he managed to read so much material for his doctorate I have no idea. When I saw him reading a piece of paper at the lunch, I thought he smelt it as he held it so close to his face. This fragile man also founded a hospice which he built from scratch. I can only think about the verse for the Second Letter of St Paul to the Corinthians where the Apostle recalls the words Christ spoke to him: “My power is strongest when you are weak.” That’s how you feel when you are around Fr John; you do feel the power of Christ manifesting itself.