Fr. Tom Cassidy writes from India:
Just before we begin Holy Week the Church takes time out from the solemnity of Lent for a day of joy in celebrating the feast of St. Joseph. I was surprised to read this morning that devotion to St. Joseph really began in earnest only in the 16th century when the Church officially encouraged his cult, as St. Joseph began to figure as an ideal ‘provider and protector of the Holy Family. Pope Pius XII added a second feast that of St. Joseph the Worker on May 1st._
We have four members of our community named Joseph, but at least one of the brothers is named after an Indian Joseph who is venerated but I don’t think has been beatified, i.e., Br. Mahesh Gotikala, scj (1st year). Actually I would not have known he was a Joseph as the Indian District personnel directory does not list his Christian name.
Many of our brothers do not use, or certainly do not list on any official document, their Christian baptismal name (if they have one). It is harder to do work with the government if officials (especially those with strong Hindu basis) are aware you are a Christian. Names have also from time to time caused brothers grief in applying for a passport or driver’s license. It is very important that all your documents line up with the exact same name and any variance can cause difficulty.
I was made aware of some of the hoops Indians have to go through that I would never face. For example, when one applies for a passport and you give X as your home address the police will be sent to check that this is indeed your official residence. I know of at least one brother who was denied a passport because when the police came to his house he was not home and the neighbors (trying to be helpful I think) gave his nickname to the police officer and since it was different from what was on the officer’s sheet the passport was never issued.
Sticking with applying for a passport, Fr. Louis Mariano Fernandes, scj, had to go to Goa [where he is from] to apply for the renewal of his passport while all I have to do is fill out the form and mail it to the government passport center (if memory serves me it’s in Pittsburgh), or if I’m out of the country and it came time to renew I just go to the nearest US embassy or consulate.
Since the district council decided that third year theologians must get their passport and license the brothers all said “Let us do this at home as it will be much easier then trying to do it here in Eluru.” By the way, I will have to clarify for myself what is meant by license (motorbike or car). Not everyone in the district drives a car but almost every house has a need for at least one car. Certainly at a minimum a license means the ability to legally drive a motorbike.