Saturday, November 30, 2013

The New Provincial of Gujarat Jesuit Province - By Fr.Lawrence Dharmaraj

The New Provincial of Gujarat Jesuit Province

Fr.Francis Parmar S.j has been appointed as the New Provincial of Gujarat Jesuit province, on 30 November 2013 by the Superior General of Jesuit order, Rev. Fr. Adolfo Nicolas from Rome. He will assume charge  a little later.

Fr.Francis Parmar was born in Nadiad, Gujarat on 02-12-1950. He began his initial training in the Jesuit order at Mt Abu, Rajasthan. After finishing his theological studies at Vidya Jyoti, Delhi, he was ordained a priest on 05-05-1979.
Having completed his B.A in Gujarati-Sanskrit at Gujarat University, he studied for M.A in Socio-Linguistics at the University of George Town, Washington D.C. He had also done Masters in pastoral theology at Vidya Jyoti, Delhi. All through out his life in the Society of Jesus, he has held very many responsible posts such as Juniorate in-charge, Rector of the formation houses, Dean of the theologate and Principal of two colleges. He was twice elected as the Procurator of Gujarat and he took part in the meetings of the procurators of the Society of Jesus in 1999 and in 2012. The Gujarat Jesuit Province is really blessed in having the first local Jesuit to lead the province as the New Jesuit Provincial of Gujarat. The Gujarat Jesuit Parivar extends best wishes and prayers for a fruitful service in his new responsibility.
With best wishes and in Union of Prayers,
Socius- Gujarat Province
Fr.Lawrence Dharmaraj

Friday, November 29, 2013

Ending the Year of Faith in S. Gujarat By Fr.Vally de Souza

Ending the Year of Faith in S. Gujarat

To the sound of ALLELUIAS rising like a benign mushroom cloud into the atmosphere of South Gujarat,  the Year of Faith came to a glorious end. People of many faiths or no faith gathered in the thousands packing the large, colourful tent designed to accommodate ten thousand devotees.
 The star of the celebration was undoubtedly Fr Anil Dev whose  faith in and love for the Word of God gave life, joy and vibrancy to the occasion. He is the charismatic head of Matrudham Ashram in Varanasi where thousands, mostly Hindus, gather every week-end to listen to the Word of God free from the complexities of ritual and Canon law. (Watch him on U Tube or the TV channel ZeeJagran). He was ably supported by a team of lay preachers while a group of lay men and women prayed night and day out of sight in the chapel for the gift of the Spirit for preachers and faithful all through the event.
South Gujarat Catholics were well represented: devotees from 23 of 24 mission centres, from Jhalod in the North to Borpada in the South, made it to the festival of faith. Distance did not deter Bishop Godfrey and the Jesuit Provincial Changa from attending it. Accomodation was provided in the hostels of the school, and Mahila Mandal halls for those who stayed overnight. A community kitchen  on the grounds of Jagruti H. School  run by the  Christian Brothers provided meals, tea and snacks for those who attended the sessions. Snehdhara Hostel and Dispensary were constantly alert to the needs of the participants. 
Credit for the obvious success of the function goes to the members of the Parish Council of Mandal and their parish priest, Frs Kishore and Francis D’Sa who met every month for a year to plan the event. They had the generous help and experience of Fr James Vaz who had earlier staged the opening of the Year of Faith in Dadhwada. Those who had it generously lent their expertise to the different kinds of tasks that had to be done. It was  heartening to see the enthusiasm and joyous spirit with which the lay leaders, men and women, went about the tasks they had planned and taken responsibility for with a minimum  of supervision but with great joy and spirit.
Fr Francis D’Sa prepared a brand new choir of boys and girls and a group of altar servers that included girls in smart uniforms just for the occasion.. Fr Jelastin used his expertise in Charismatic preaching, prayer and singing to prepare the parish for the event with retreats in the villages and filled in for  the main preacher during breaks.
Some of the usual measurements of success of a mass meeting do not apply to a Bible Convention: attendance figures and  cash totals. Shared experiences after the Convention revealed the presence of unusual levels of joy, peace, kindness, sharing, and cooperation among the leaders and volunteers and the almost total absence of competition, in-fighting, envy and jealousy. It’s what made running such a large Convention child’s play and convinced the volunteers of the powerful presence of the Spirit at the Convention.  

An offshoot of the event was the interest of the missionaries of South Gujarat in the missionary methods of the Ashram in Varanasi so well adapted to the culture and  genius of the nation. Fr Anil has agreed to return in the very near future to train the missionaries and lay leaders of South Gujarat in the approach he has developed. He stressed the importance of breaking the Word of God for the continued development of the faith of the people. (Vally de Souza)

Friday, November 15, 2013

Pioneer Missionaries remembered - Fr.William Macwan

Pioneer Missionaries remembered

After publishing his “Catechist Smritigranth”, Fr William’s long-cherished dream and a keen desire was fulfilled when his new book ‘Gurjar Bhoomima Shubhsandeshana Chhadidaro’ was released by Bishop Thomas Macwan on 6 October in Mogri village, the cradle of Catholic Church in Gujarat. The volume pays homage to the pioneer missionaries, especially the Jesuits, who brought the message of Jesus to Gujarat The occasion was 121st anniversary of the first Baptisms confirmed on 18 neophytes in the village. The book contains write-up on 3 diocesan and 42 Jesuits (2 German and 40 Spaniards) who laboured in the Charotar vineyard of the Lord. In the preface a brief history of the “avela” Spanish Jesuits replacing the German Jesuits is also related. The book is a precious Jesuit missionary inheritance worth preserving and a glowing tribute to the missionary spirit of the Society of Jesus worth imitating. The matter is collected mostly from the available obituaries, conversation with the elderly Catholics who still cherish the happy memories of the deceased missionaries and some write ups by Jesuits of the Province.

On the following day, during a brief ceremony at Jeevan Darshan, Vadodara, Fr William presented Fr Provincial with the book and also gave it as a gift to all the Superiors of various Jesuit communities gathered there for their meeting. Fr William felt that something worthwhile was accomplished through him both as a director of Rishta - the Gujarat Jesuit Writers’ Cell and as a Jesuit member of the Province. The Jesuit Superiors served themselves generously from the boxes containing the books! Fr William, however, was relieved of his anxiety when the director of GSP informed him that he would pay the Anand Press bill! Fr William would like to expresses his gratitude to the manager of Anand Press who spared no efforts to get the book ready within a very short time. (Fr William)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Super Jubilarian - Fr.Jerry Sequeira

Super Jubilarian

Super Jubilarian Fr Pariza created history in Anand on 1 October 2013. It had been raining heavily during the week and it was impossible to plan any programme in the open for three thousand people. The Jesuit community of Anand and the parishioners planned to have the event on the ground floor of English Medium school extended by a water proof shamina. It rained till noon and then it brightened. All dark clouds disappeared from the sky and a bright sun dried up all the water from the area. At the function,.80 women of the parish felicitated Fr Pariza in Gujarati style with pots on their heads, called Samayyu. Two special horse carts (Bagi) were ordered by the parishioners. Fr Provincial and Fr Pariza sat in the front Bagi. Men women and children danced half a kilometre’s length from Pushpa Vihar Convent to St Xavier’s School. In the second bagi the bishop of Baroda Godfrey Rozario was accompanied by Frs Jerry Sequeira and Albert Delgado. The parishioners arranged devotional hymns so people danced to the tune of Bhajans. The dancing continued in the school compound and even some Jesuits were seen dancing.

Fr Pariza celebrated the Eucharist accompanied by the bishops of Ahmedabad and Baroda, Fr Jose Changanacherry and Fr Jerry at the altar. 50 priests concelebrated from all over Gujarat landed in Anand. There were more than 2500 people for the celebration. Anand parish choir rose up to the occasion. The voice of Fr Pariza was loud and clear.  After the Mass, Fr Provincial translated into Gujarat the English letter of Fr General congratulating Fr Pariza. The following morning Fr Pariza complained that he was not given the copy of the letter.  Fr Pariza has read more into the letter saying “Fr General is going to come to Anand when I celebrate my centenary in 2017.”  The youth of the parish prepared an exhibition about the life of Pariza which was kept open for a week. Anand Parish Council Members had collected Rs 3,00,000 and presented to Fr Pariza. This money is put in the parish scholarship fund. Every year the interest will be given to deserving students for their studies in memory of Fr Pariza. BBN carried video and pictures all over the world.

The programme was planned and executed within short notice. There was air of joy and happiness among the participants. We thank all those people came from far and near and graced the occasion. (Jerry Sequeira)

Monday, November 4, 2013

A Tribute to Fr.Terence Lobo - By Fr.Simon Thomas

A Tribute to Fr.Terence Lobo
By Fr.Simon Thomas

After Martin Luther King, Jr., the Afro-American civil rights movements’ leader was assassinated on April 4, 1968; his body was kept for public homage. Thousands thronged the venue to salute their slain leader. A black woman bearing a small boy in her arms could not control her sorrow. Crying uncontrollably she said to her son, “Son, look carefully at this man. He died for you!”

Dear sisters and brothers in Jesus Christ,
Fr. Terence came in the form of that black woman, stayed with us from 1987-1998 and told us the same thing directing us to the cross, what that mother told her son, “My son, my daughter, look carefully at this man. He died for you!” Thus, he went in every street of this parish, whether sophisticated or dirty, he visited every house, from the big bungalows to the huts, he interacted with every person, from the most pious to the so called worst sinners, and directed them to Jesus telling them, “My son, my daughter, look carefully at this man. He died for you!” Because of his burning zeal to mediate and bring back the lost sheep to their beloved shepherd Jesus, he is considered as one of the most successful pastors of his time and a great spiritual guide. And we were lucky to have him here with us for almost 11 long years.
I have neither come here to give a brief history of Fr. Terence Lobo, nor have I come here to do a publicity of his achievements because I don’t know anything about him since I was too young to evaluate. Probably many of our elders in this parish will know much better than me about him. But what I have come to share with you today is my experience of Fr. Terence that led me to the Society of Jesus.
When I think of Fr. Terence I am reminded of the character of John the Baptist who saw Jesus passing by and told his disciples, “He must increase, and I must decrease and so go and follow him.” The only desire of Fr. Terence was to lead people closer to Jesus through the intercession of Mother Mary. Today this parish has 4 masses on Sunday with quite a sizable number of people attending every mass, this parish takes pride in having a very good choir, a vibrant youth group, an altar boys association, a regular Sunday catechism classes, and many other such religious activities which makes it one of the best parishes of the diocese. The Diocese of Ahmedabad and other religious congregations not only look upto this parish because of its efficient lay participation in the church activities, but also for the many vocations that this parish has given in service of the Lord. We can be proud of having send almost 7 young men and women in service of the Lord in the near past which no other parish has given; 4 in the Jesuits, 1 for the diocese, 1 for the VC, and 1 in the Congregation of St. Ann’s of Providence. Dear sisters and brothers, we are enjoying the fruit and we are proud of the rich harvest that we have at present, but mind you, the seed was laid in 1987 and Fr. Terence worked tirelessly for 11 long years in the initial growth of this parish. The one quality of Fr. Terence that inspires me a lot is that Fr. Terence never gave up for the sake of Jesus. And because he never gave up for HIS sake, Jesus continued to work in and through him. He continued to try his best in whatever ministry that was assigned to him, but simultaneously he also had the humility at the end of the day to tell Jesus, “Lord, I have tried enough, but finally not my will, but thy will be done.” 
I have some very vague memories of the parish before Fr. Terence came. I am sure many of our elders seated here would agree with me that the attendance for mass in those days was less; only one mass and the church would not be packed like it is today. And Fr. Terence came, God knows how he found out all the addresses of all the Catholics in the parish, and he went in search of them the lost sheep and brought them to church. As soon as he came to know about a new Catholic family in the parish, the next day he would be there in their house, interacting with them and influencing them to come for mass. On his miserable cycle he used to visit every Catholic house, irrespective of how clean or how dirty the street may be, irrespective of how posh or how poor the house may be, irrespective of which ethnic group they belonged to, he said a short prayer in each of the houses, he ate what they gave him, he became part of their family matters, acquainted himself with all their relatives, fired them if they didn't come for mass, and finally brought a spark of smile on each of their faces and left the house to visit another house. A typical Fr. Terence indeed! Not only that, in his usual style of looking at the people a little above his specs, the next Sunday he will search whether the family has come, if yes he will go and meet them after mass, and if not the whole cycle of visit is again repeated till the family shows the face in the church. Ttell me which family will not come looking at the love and concern of their pastor. Fr. Terence never gives up for the sake of Jesus. And Jesus too never fails him for his hard work and perseverance.
Gradually since the attendance began to be more than the length of the church, he decided to build a new church and not only that we began to have more than one Eucharistic celebration on Sunday. Fr. Terence had a special love and concern for the poor belonging to any ethnic group in his parish. The Tamil Medium school  that began during his time, and the financial and moral support that he was giving to the poor and downtrodden were signs of his preferential option for the poor. For me that is the most beautiful sign of incarnation: God becoming man. Fr. Terence, a well educated Goan priest from the prestigious institutions of St. Paul’s and St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, leaves his Goan culture, his affluent family, his job with a lucrative salary, and comes to Sabarmati in search of lost sheep, becomes one like us, mixes with us and accompanies us in journeying back to Jesus, our divine master. I experienced, that for this pastor there was neither any official timings nor any prior appointments that need to be taken in order to meet him. His house was always open and anybody could come into his house to see him and have a chat with him. I was amazed to see many non Christian parents of our school coming and seeing him and going away with content in their heart.
When we were altar boys, we were free to go into his house and have whatever we wanted from his kitchen. Many a times I saw Fr. Terence going into the kitchen and coming after almost half an hour. I used to wonder what this bugger is doing in the kitchen for so long time, maybe cooking something special and eating alone. One day I spied him and went after him in the kitchen, and then he opened the interior room of the kitchen which is usually a go-down, but what I saw in that go-down is that he had made it into a small chapel in which he spend hours praying and especially he had a special devotion to Our Lady. It was an inspiring scene for me and I said to myself that I wanted to become someone like him. I saw him often times sitting at the confessional listening to the confessions of so many parishioners and guiding them to experience the unsurpassing love of Christ.
Fr. Terence also never gave up in getting vocations for his Lord. As a young boy I just happened to tell him that I was interested in becoming a priest. That was it. From that day on-wards he made a special intercession to Mary about me so that she may lead me to Jesus , he used to give me books on the Jesuit lives of saints, he send me for many camps, and when I went to Loyola he already contacted a priest there who was supposed to be my spiritual guide. Dear friends, I joined because I saw the inspiring life of a priest, I saw that priest was very much interested in my life and he never gave up in leading me to Jesus, and I could see the hand of God in bringing me to the Society of Jesus through the mediation of Fr. Terence. I suppose the others who joined from this parish would also affirm what I have said about Fr. Terence.
Today we have gathered here not to mourn the death of Fr. Terence, but to thank Jesus for sending Fr. Terence in our parish, in our families, and in our lives. Fr. Terence, who never gave up, but through his untiring efforts and inspiring life led us closer and closer to Jesus. I am sure he has touched each of our lives and that’s why we have gathered here in big number to thank him for introducing us to Jesus. While going to his heavenly abode, the one message that Fr. Terence leaves for us behind is this: Never give up for the sake of Jesus. He loves you and he is with you. And always go to Jesus via Mary our mother, the first and the most beloved disciple of Jesus.

Our faith tells us that death is not the end of life, but it is the gateway to a greater life with Jesus, our master. I am sure, impressed by his pastoral work here on this earth, Jesus has invited him to be the parish priest of a greater parish in heaven, but I suppose he may not have any work there since there are no lost sheep.    

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Governor visits Jesuit Mission - Sch. Arul Rayan

Governor visits Jesuit Mission

In the history of Adivasi Sevalaya Education Trust, Vijaynagar, 8 October 2013 will remain as a red letter day. We were privileged to host the Governor of Gujarat Smt. Dr Kamala Beniwal on her visit to the Adivasi Sevalaya Ashramhala run by the Jesuits. The Governor keenly listened to the efficient introduction by Fr Sobers who elucidated the educational and social activities of the Society of Jesus in general and that of the Jesuits at Vijaynagar in particular. In her speech the governor said that she was pleased to see that a lot of good is done to the people in a place that is blessed with natural beauty. Fr Vincent Vaghela thanked the governor and the officials on the dais for their visit to our institution. Besides, it was also a first-hand experience for all of us here to see how efficient government officers can be when they have to be; they left no stone unturned to welcome the Governor. (Sch. Arul Rayan)