Fr. Tom Cassidy, SCJ, writes from India:
On Monday, Wednesday and Friday the brothers [seminarians] take turns giving the homily. On all weekdays a brother will also give the introduction. It is a common practice in India for the celebrant to give a brief introduction about the day’s readings at the beginning of Mass. Yesterday Br. Mary Babu, SCJ (2nd year) was responsible for the homily. Mary Babu is from Andhra Pradesh where long homilies are the. He and others claim it’s because the people have been influenced by Protestants and complain if the celebrant does not speak for an extended period. By “extended” I do mean between 30 to 60 minutes! That’s not the rule in other parts of India, certainly not in Kerala and Goa, two states where I’ve experienced Sunday parish liturgies. There it is more like 10 to 15 minutes.
Mary Babu is also one of the house barbers and the one I like to use. It’s very common in seminaries (as it was in my early seminary days) for one or more of the students to pick up the scissors and learn how to cut hair. Some become quite good at it and I would include Mary Babu in that camp — I even had one of the SCJs when I returned home last October comment on what a good hair cut I had received.
I suspect that Br. Thambi Joseph, SCJ, learned his electrical skills from his minor seminary days, probably passed on by one of the older students or maybe an SCJ. My own seminary skill that I’d claim came from my days at our college seminary (Kilroe Seminary in Honesdale, PA) is house painting. I became a pretty good trimmer, if I do say so myself.
All the students seem to be very good at ironing their own clothes. Washing clothes does not take much talent but there is certainly a skill to pressing shirts and pants. As I’ve noted in the past, the students do their washing by hand. The house does have one small washing machine that is used for certain house items. One of the perks of being the “house elder” is that one of the students is responsible for my room and laundry. Age garners respect in India!