Fr. Tom Cassidy writes from India where he is assisting with formation and administrative tasks:
Monday was the last day I would spend at the novitiate as this morning I left for Gorantla at about 9:30 a.m. Last night the novices and postulants put on a party — for SCJs old enough to remember we called it a “convivium.” As our cake pictured above states, it was a welcome to “Dear Fr. Tom” and a “Happy Birthday to Dear Deacon Bhaskar and Chitti Babu,” “Chitti” is pronounced as it looks and has a nice ring to it. In English it means little boy. Our “Chitti” is a postulant.
Deacon Bhaskar is one of the three deacons to be ordained to the priesthood on October 28th right here in Gorantla by Bishop Gali Bali (another nice sounding name). Dn. Bhaskar spent a few weeks at the novitiate to prepare for his ordination. He spent most of his diaconate in a parish setting.
Most of the day until the evening meal the novices spentin silence. Having reading at breakfast and lunch brought back memories of my own novitiate and college days when we had table reading. Following Vatican II many changes in formation took place and table reading was one of many things to disappear for us. Many Benedictine Monasteries still continue the practice at least for some of their meals.
A novice’s day also includes classes in religious life and topics specific to the SCJ history and charism as well as the life and writing of our founder Leo John Dehon. There is time in the day for work and play (sports). There is, as you might imagine, also lots of time spent in chapel for different religious exercises such as Mass and Adoration, the latter a very integral part of our charism. Finally, when evening comes conversation returns to the supper table followed by an hour’s recreation.
Our party took place after supper. Pictured here (though a little dark) are the novices doing a group synchronized routine. It was rather well done, I might add.
In addition to various routines done by novices and postulants the two birthday boys and Iwere given testimonials by one of the novices or postulants. We were then invited to say a few words. Mine centered on how I always marvel at the SCJ hospitality that I’ve experienced in many parts of the world. We take no courses in how to do it and yet it is so much a part of the fabric of our community life and spirit.
Finally, toward the end of the evening the cake was cut and served along with ice cream. I think there’s an art to eating ice cream in India. I could summarize that art in one word: “FAST!” As in “eat it FAST” because of the heat, and also, I think because of the way it’s made here, the ice cream lends itself to rapid melting much like back in Milwaukee where frozen custard seems to melt faster then regular ice cream. In any case, don’t wait too long or you’ll drink your ice cream rather then eat it!
All good things must come to an end and so about 10:15 pm the party ended and off we all went to get a good night’s sleep before it was time at 5:00 a.m. to answer the alarm and start a new day, a day that would bring to a close my all too brief visit to Nambur.