Fr. Tom Cassidy writes from India:
Yesterday three of the four newly ordained priests came to Christu Dehon Nivas to celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving with our community. Too bad our superior, Fr. Louis Mariano Fernandes, scj, had to be away in Goa as he taught these three men when they entered the minor seminary and began their long journey to becoming, first an SCJ, and then on February 6, 2016, ordained as priests. They will continue serving in the parishes where they have worked as deacons until May when they’ll be given their first assignments with the community.
For the last few weeks they have been traveling around the district celebrating in our various communities a Mass of Thanksgiving. Fr. Kishore has worked at our minor seminary in Gorantla and Fr. Ravi at our minor seminary in Kumbalangi and having them come home is always a big moment for the students. It likewise was an honor and a joy to have the three of them come to our community. They are not strangers to our brothers either as their paths have crossed numerous times during their years of formation.
Depending on what community the newly ordained celebrate their Mass of Thanksgiving, various parts of the liturgy are divided up between them. For our celebration Fr. Ravi was the main celebrant, Fr. Kishore gave the introduction and Fr. Suresh the homily. Fr. Suresh worked as a deacon at our own Sacred Heart Parish in Vempadu and consequently had lots of interaction with our brothers as a number of them do their Sunday ministry at Sacred Heart or one of its substations.
Normally we have Mass in the morning but today in joining with our newly ordained brothers it was moved to 6:45 pm with dinner set for 8:00 pm. It also gave John, our cook, and his wife, Rekha, the opportunity to attend the Mass. I’m sure it was a proud moment for the two of them as he and his wife are important formators in their own right through their service to the community by not only putting food on our table but by their steady witness to their own life of faith.
It was good that we planned the Mass to take an hour giving us a few minutes to spare before dinner at 8:00 pm. It also gave John time to do a few last minute details needed to get the food on our buffet line. As you might imagine for a special occasion like this fish was the order of the day. However before the fish, biryani rice, vegetable and soup could be served we had to honor custom.
As the senior priest in the house with Fr. Mariano still in Goa I had the duty to welcome our guests to our table and begin the HEARTY WELCOME that includes, as any long time reader by now knows: (1) a short speech, (2) song, (3) cake cutting and feeding, (4) flowers, and (5) instead of a card we had gifts for each. Many of the brothers then either took part in the right of cake feeding or a “manly embrace” (or both).
Sometimes I feel we play guess what cake is coming to dinner? Fr. Joseph Gopu Reddy, scj, or Br. Meghanand Chakravarthy Bandanadham, scj, are responsible for buying the cakes we use for birthdays and other celebrations. I’m never sure what they’ll taste like as it depends on what bakery they use and what type of cake they decide to purchase. Once in a while it’s an ice cream cake. Today it was what I’d call an American wedding cake, i.e., the flavor often favored at US weddings.
A custom in the district at special occasions like this is to have the guest or guests serve the ice cream for desert. Our three newly ordained did not disappoint and a heaping bowl of ice cream was provided for one and all. I believe the flavor was almond — quite good, I might add.