“This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).
Fr Michael Makhan quietly walked home, today, August 25, 2021, to meet his Lord, confident in the knowledge that his preordained earthly existence, to serve humanity, was fully completed. Many knew him as a parish priest, high school teacher, a prison and a hospital chaplain, a social worker, a counsellor and a friend. He served his brethren, always, from a place of love and caring. Everyone who crossed his path was touched by his relentless availability to serve, his kindness, humility and generosity, in every capacity.
He was the dutiful son of Rita Makhan and Jaggernath Makhan. A devoted brother to Kattick, Pow, Ruth Railwah, Pat Poon Affat, Dr Ben Makhan, Chris Makhan, Reynold Makhan, Molly James, Dr Winston Makhan, Henry Makhan, Mickey Gonsalves and Marie Makhan, and an attentive uncle to his nieces and nephews. As our brother, our confidante and our friend, he impacted our lives and encouraged us to do better, to rise to our highest potential yet live fully grounded in our parents’ values of generosity, simplicity, and adherence to a higher power, always cognisant of helping our fellow man get ahead.
Fr Mike was the one you called when you felt most vulnerable, lost, disenfranchised, marginalised, overwhelmed, bereft and sometimes tossed out into the streets with no-one to turn to. He was always there beside you with a kind word of love and encouragement. He was the last resort. He possessed the unique gift of being an attentive listener without judgement. He accepted every task and assignment dispensed by His Grace the Archbishop and the Archdiocese, with a willingness and a dogged determination to serve humanity with all its precarious frailties, improve, and elevate whatever was asked of him, and to leave behind something better than the way he found it. He served tirelessly. He took his sacred contract to serve so seriously, sometimes to the detriment of his health and endured many hardships, as a young East Indian Catholic priest, in the post-colonial days.
As a young boy, he was quarantined at home because of a fever, and for subsequent years he sought comfort in his mother’s kitchen, where she taught him how to make dhal. He loved being in the company of his siblings, and knew that after a long day there was a little lunch in Ruth and Pat’s kitchen and a delicious dinner prepared by his brother, Reynold and his wife Leela, on a Thursday evening. He loved seeing the children’s faces light up when they rushed to greet him, hanging on to his hands and gown. He was Santa Claus; they knew that he had jubbies, tamarind balls and sugar cakes. As a young child, my sister Mickey and I looked forward to his coming home from the seminary, as his small brown suitcase was filled with sweet treats. I truly believed that the seminary was a parlour, full of goodies.
As a man of God, he was constantly consumed by his holy readings and praying. He took no prisoners if he saw, felt and believed that anyone was doing something incongruent to God’s plan for us. He spoke his truth. He saw through all of us with his heart, not his eyes, but his intention was never to embarrass or belittle us or diminish our self-worth, but to give us courage to seek higher ground and make better choices. He will be missed as our anchor and beacon.
Today the Makhan family thanks each and every one of you for being there for him along his life’s journey and for forgiving him his trespasses, because like everyone he had his idiosyncrasies.
May the Almighty Father in His majesty welcome home his humble and devoted servant Father Mike and may he find himself surrounded by light and joy, his loving parents, family, siblings and friends, and may he be found in the Savannah sitting under a shade tree, snacking on salted nuts, pholourie and chip chip and watching his favourite horses run. May God bestow blessings, mercy and compassion on those of us left behind. May we recognise Fr Mike’s presence in flowering plants, red roses, tropical birds and the smiling faces of children. May we be better human beings because of Fr Mike’s presence among us.