Rev. Fr. Anselm De Croos was called Eternal Rest in the Lord on 10th March 2015.
His mortal remains were brought to St. Thomas' Church, Kotte, on Wednesday, 11th March 2015 and his mortal remains were kept at Kotte Church until Thursday and thereafter his mortal remains were transferred on 12th March to the Sacred Heart Chapel at the Archbishop's House, Borella.
His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, the Archbishop of Colombo, presided at the Funeral Mass. Archbishop Emeritus Nicholas Marcus Fernando, Archbishop Emeritus Oswald Gomis, Bishop Emmanuel Fernando, Bishop Maxwell Silva and Bishop Raymond Wickramasingh concelebrated at the Mass together with the priests.
While His Grace the Archbishop Emeritus Oswald Gomis presided at the final service at the Chapel, His Lordship Bishop Emmanuel Fernando presided at the Service at Borella General Cemetery.
Preaching at the funeral Mass, His Eminence Cardinal Malcolm said, " When we reflect upon the life and ministry of our brother priest Rev. Fr. Anselm De Croos we cannot but be grateful to God for what He achieved in him. Fr. Anselm, truly was a reflection of how much a priest who is in profound communion with God can achieve in a life time.
Fr. Joseph Anselm Florian de Croos was born on 4th May 1933 to the family of Joseph Emmanuel De Croos and Mary Florencia de Croos. They belonged to the Grand Street Parish in Negombo. He had two sisters and a brother. Having had his scholastic education at Maris Stella College, Negombo, he joined St. Aloysius Seminary Borella in May 1950. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Colombo on 3rd February 1958 by His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Cooray. He had a chequered missionary life having worked not only in the parishes of Tudella, Welihena and Kandawala, but over 26 years in seminary formation, serving at the Kandy National Seminary as Spiritual Director, at St. Aloysius Seminary as Bursar and Spiritual Director, at the Mount Eden Seminary as Director and Spiritual Director and at the Propadentic Seminary in Haputale as Director. He also served in the staff of St. Joseph's College, Maradana from 1996 to 2008, which is twelve years. He was a member of the Priests Personnel Board of the Archdiocese, the Episcopal Vicar of the Kalutara Region and served in a number of Archdiocesan Committees in fulfilling various pastoral and administrative tasks. During all these years he was close to the Chief Pastors of this Archdiocese helping them and at times advising them. His reverent yet friendly and filial loyalty to the late Cardinal Cooray was known by all of us. The Cardinal consulted him often.
I came to know Fr. Anselm during my days as a young boy in the minor seminary way back in the 1960's. I consider it a grace of God that I enjoyed the joy of being closely associated with him all along this time. What I saw in him was an exemplary life formator whose words matched what he did. He had a vast knowledge of many subjects, was a keen reader and student, a priest profoundly in love with God and yet equally committed and concerned about his call to serve and make others happy. He was a keen gardener, sportsman, entertainer, teacher, administrator and a person who was willing to go out of his way to help others. Above all he was a great friend who knew how to discern the pains and sufferings of others, make himself available for them and committed to help them at times even bending all the rules for he believed firmly that love conquers even the hardest of problems. A born optimist he always flashed an encouraging and sincere smile which softened even the hardest of his detractors.
It is difficult to speak a little about him because there were many beautiful facets to his life. One of these that generated much joy, specially among his students of all ages, was the sense of humor and happiness he always displayed. He accompanied us so joyfully like an elder brother when we enjoyed now and then an outing with our friends to visit various places during our holidays, enjoying our company and giving us a sense of belonging. To many priests he was a confessor, advisor, spiritual guide, educator, consoler and friend. He was so also during his entire career as Director, Bursar and Spiritual Director in the various seminaries. Many priests found in him a person to whom they can open their hearts and who would speak on their behalf to the superiors. Indeed when I was called upon to bear the burdens of Episcopal office back in 1991,1 requested for permission from the Holy See to consult my Spiritual Director and he it was to whom I went. Indeed he encouraged me to accept telling me that what matters is only love for the Lord and the flock. He told me "if you have heart that loves that way, then accept".
Looking at all these and the intensely exemplary priestly and spiritual life he led with all these human and fraternal qualities the death of Fr. Anselm, is personally a great loss to the Archdiocese, to me and to many of us. We knew that the good Lord who fashioned and called him, had made him what he was and had given him to the Church and to us with such a full life, would receive him at the gates of heaven and pronounce those beautiful words; "well done good and faithful servant" [Lc 19:17].
And so, as we bid goodbye to you, dear Fr, Anselm - I hear you like St. Ignatius of Antioch slowly whispering: "it is better for me to die in Christ Jesus than to reign over the ends of the earth. Him it is I seek - who dies for us. Him it is I desire -who rose for us. Iam on the point of giving birth .........Let me receive pure light; when I shall have arrived there, there shall I be a man, a man in union with my God". [St. Ignatius of Antioch Ad Rom 6: 1-2: AF II 2, 217-220]. Let that be the heritage and final request he leaves for all of us: "0 my dear brother priests love the Lord and his flock as I too tried my best to do".
Dear Father Anselm, till we meet you again, there in that heavenly shore, may you rest in God's loving arms. Amen.