By Elias Mascarenhas, Puttur
" Go and spread the good News". This is what Jesus said to his disciples before ascending into Heaven. The Apostles, Disciples, Missionaries and Clergy carried this message from the A.D. era till today either in a patroned or hostile atmosphere. The media of communication also passed through different stages such as preaching in person, print and publications, dramatics, radio, television, music and lately by Internet.
Fr. Ivan Madtha
These days, we have heard of dynamic priest from Mangalore Diocese drawing attention nationwide by propagating the Gospel message with more appealing mode of communication to the modern world i.e. the Magic. So much so, he is nicknamed as the 'Magical priest of Mangalore Diocese'
He makes you to float in the air defying the laws of gravity, he cuts your body into two pieces and join it again, lock him with strongest chains and he is out in no time. He casts his spell and produces things, animals and persons from an empty box and vanishes the things that play on his palm. He makes the wand to dance in the air and changes the colour of your coat.
Some magical moments
This is how you introduce to Rev. Fr. Ivan Madtha, a magician priest of Mangalore Diocese. He was born in Puttur and is the eldest son of Late Fredrick Madtha and Mrs. Alice Madtha, a retired teacher. From his childhood days, he showed keen interest in nature, science, philately, ornithology, entomology, drawing, craft, dancing, acting and above all magic. He had his early education in Puttur and thereafter he joined seminary in 1981 and was ordained as priest in 1991. All these years along with the theological and philosophical studies, he learnt chemistry, physics, optics, audience psychology synchronizing them with sleight of hand, close up magic, conjuring, illusions and mentalist magic. He says " Science + Art = Magic." And three things are necessary to perform magic -"skill of the hand, skill of the hand and skill of the hand".
Fr. Ivan Madtha is not from the family of magicians, so he learnt everything from zero. On his magical journey, he gratefully remembers his mother who inspired him in every step he tread, his Bishop Rt. Rev.A.P.D'souza who gave him the opportunity with full support, Fr. Mathew Vas who inspired him to use magic for the Evangelization and Magician Alwyn Menezes who introduced him to the world of magic.
Fr. Ivan Madtha performed his first public magic show on 11th of January 1996 in the town hall of Mangalore and he has performed more than 500 shows in 5 years with an average 100 shows a year. He has a new record of performing 34 magic shows in a month and 12 shows in 3 days. On an average, an audience of 1000 people watches his magic at a time. So within a span of 5 years, he has reached over 5 lakh people. With his mission, he has travelled in many parishes, villages and schools of Mangalore, Chikamangalore, Mysore, Karwar, Belgaum, Shimoga, Kannur and Talacherry, Goa, Pune, Indore, Mumbai and Meghalaya covering the states of Karnataka, Kerala, Maharastra, Madhya Pradesh..
Fr. Ivan Madtha is more of an Evangelizer than a magician. So using magic just for the sake of entertainment is not his objective. He uses the medium of magic because it is unique, attractive, rare and novel in nature. That's why he takes the trouble to perform the Bible magic and value based magic in vernacular or local languages. At present, he is performing it in English, Hindi, Kannada, Konkani and Malayalam.
Fr. Ivan Madtha became the member of Indian Magic convention in 1997 and he has been awarded with the title " Professor of Magic" in 1998 by Federation of All Christians Students Council. Since then, with the skill of his hands, illusions and hypnotism, he has stunned the audience. He plunged the people into mystery by riding a bike blindfolded for 15 kms in the busy streets of Mangalore city and by escaping within 3 seconds from a locked wooden box. Fr. Ivan Madtha presents moral values and teachings with the help of magic. Though many magicians have used magic for entertainment and few have used them to educate the people, Fr.Ivan Madtha is a first person to synchronize the main essence of the Bible with the media of magic. His sister Doris and friends Flavia and Harin assist him in the magic endeavor.
Fr. Ivan presents the Biblical themes in his magic in a beautiful characteristic manner. He begins with the creation of the World and creation of Adam and Eve. By a skillful magic he depicts the Original sin to show how the humanity sinned against God. It is followed by some of the important wonders worked by God in the Old testament to bring back the sinful humanity by presenting the events like Call of Abraham, Sacrifice of Issac, Slavery in Egypt, Story of Moses, Crossing the Red sea, 10 commandments, entering the promised land of Canaan, promise of new life, etc.
In the New testament, mystery of incarnation, infancy narrative of Jesus, his first miracle followed by various teachings of Jesus such as arrival of God's kingdom, being the salt and the light of the world, love of neighbour, forgiving enemies, faith of God, storing heavenly riches, obedience, humility, truth, charity, prayers and talents, etc., are presented. Bible magic ends with the grand finale of Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus.
Fr. Ivan Madtha satisfactorily says " though magic implies regular practice and perseverance, it is my great happiness to spread the message of Jesus through the charisma of Magic. Yet I have to travel a long way. I have to go in search of new avenues, construct new illusions in the world of magic, strengthen the number and quality of my team. I know, one day it will be achieved with the support of my well-wishers.