Fr. Tom Cassidy writes from India:
Yesterday was ordination day for four of our deacons to the priesthood and two SCJs as deacons. Bishop Gali Bali of Guntur said this was the first time that he has ordained both orders together. It did add a bit of time to the ceremony but I don’t think it really would have alter the three hour ceremony by very much if at all.
Fr. Michael Benedict, scj, the district treasurer, made plans to feed 1,000 people and he told me near the end of the evening that the catering company had to prepare additional food. When we began the Mass at 5:30 pm, I was not sure we’d be feeding 500 people let alone 1,000 but slowly the place filled up so that by the time we reached the end of Mass sometime after 8:30 pm the chairs were full and some had already begun lining up to eat.
Many of our students from Eluru made the trip though they had to take the public bus. That can turn out to be a three-hour trip depending on what bus they are able to catch. It also meant they had a three-hour trip back at the end of the evening. With that in mind except for those brothers staying for Sunday’s Thanksgiving Mass for Frs. Kishore, scj, and Suresh, scj in their home village of Kanaparru the rest left soon after finishing their meal. I think it was around 9:30 pm, which would get them to Eluru around 12:30 am unless they caught an express bus.
It’s now 6:00 pm as I didn’t have time to finish this before we left for the Mass of Thanksgiving by Fr. T. J. Kishore Babu, scj and Fr. G. Surest Babu, scj who hail from Kanaparru about 90 minutes from here. Traffic and the number of small villages we had to go through is what makes for the time rather then any real long distance — more about their Sunday celebration tomorrow.
As for the ordinations, they went well. I did notice four things that we would not see in an ordination done in the US. First, the procession in was led by a drum group from the village of Fr. Dumala Raju, scj, and it was loud and large! Second, the offertory procession included not only the bread and wine and cup to be used at the Mass but many people brought fruits, rice, vegetables, communion wafers, etc., as offertory gifts. Third a small group of sisters did a dance offering, light (a candle), incense and flowers at the end of the Eucharistic prayer and before the Our Father. Fourth, before the Mass ended there were many thanks to be given out and guests honored with flowers and a shawl. Finally another dance, this one coming out of the Hindu tradition was performed in front of the honored guests.
After the Mass the mass feeding began. I was asked to have supper with Bishop Gali Bali and Fr. General and Fr. Steve Huffstetter, scj, along with Fr. Thomas Vinod, scj, (district superior) and Fr. Jesús Manuel Baena, scj (rector) of Dehon Premanilayam, minor seminary (Gorantla).
Bishop Gali Bali is two years past retirement age and has been patiently waiting for a new bishop to be appointed. It’s not an easy process in India as so many factors have to be taken into account such as languages, cultural differences, even issues of castes, etc. Fr. General and Fr. Steve will be wrapping up their visit tomorrow. There will be a meeting with the district council in the afternoon and then in the evening they’ll take the overnight Chennai Express train to connect with their flight to Latin America.