After a week in the Philippines, where he will return in a few months to assist with the ESL program, Fr. Tom Cassidy, SCJ, is back in his second home of India. For the past two years he has done extended stays in the country assisting the SCJ district with administration and formation. He writes after taking the train from Chennai to Vijayawada Junction.
“This is the first train trip in India that I’ve taken by myself,” writes Fr. Tom. “I’m was an AC six-tier bunk car sharing it with two men and a family of three. These sleeper cars are not all that comfortable for daylight travel but everyone makes the best of it.
“My flights from Manila and Singapore to Chennai went very well. We landed in Chennai about 20 minutes early and getting through passport control and customs was a breeze.
“Fr. Vimala Thiyagarajan Soosainathan, SCJ, superior and formator of our Dehon Jyothi community, was there to greet me, along with a young potential candidate from Sri Lanka. The three SCJs who live at the district house were all gone so the task of collecting me fell to Fr. Vimal. The two of them stayed overnight at the district house and brought me to the train, well actually put me on the train, earlier this morning. I’ll see Fr. Vimal next week when the district council meets with Fr. General and Fr. Stephen Huffstetter, SCJ, the general councilor chosen to be responsible for India._
“The drive from our district house to the central train station took about 45 minutes. Traffic was light as today is a holiday. According to Fr. Vimal it is a day when animals are dressed up. I don’t mean put clothes on them but rather some artistic touches are given to the animals along with a good bath.
“As many of know, Chennai was hit by terrible flooding last December; the water is long gone but the scars for many people are still there. I was reading in the paper this morning on how hard hit day workers were due to lost wages along with little or no assistance coming from the government. Thanks to a generous donation from our general administration and a number of provinces, including the US, the district will be helping people near our two communities in repairing their homes due to the water damage they received.
“The roads around our district house were never very good and have certainly gotten worse from the floods. Fr. Vimal explained that the reason the district house suffered from flooding even though it is on relatively high ground was due to the need to release water from a nearby lake or reservoir that then inundated the district house neighborhood.”