House blessing in India

Fr. Tom Cassidy writes about doing a house blessing for the mother of one of the SCJ students in India. Benefactors from the US Province funded the construction. 

I recently took part in a house blessing for the widowed mother of Br. Thambi Joseph, a third-year SCJ theologian. Funding for the house was through the US Province; Pam Milczarski of the Province Development Office was instrumental in connecting donors to the project. Br. Thambi, along with nine fellow students and other SCJs, traveled three hours to be present at the blessing.

Br. Thambi's mother, Fr. Suresh, Fr. Michael Augustine and Fr. Tom cutting the ribbon for the new house.

Br. Thambi’s mother, Fr. Suresh, Fr. Michael Augustine and Fr. Tom cutting the ribbon for the new house.

The celebration was done in a mix of English and Telugu. Br. Thambi is fluent in English, but his mother is not. Br. Harish (Hari) Kumar Barigala (4th year) translated my brief remarks as well as read the Telugu version of the blessing ritual. After the ribbon cutting, and sprinkling each of the rooms with holy water, we celebrated Mass. Our SCJ students provided the music and various ministerial parts. Fr. Michael Augustine was the celebrant and Fr. Suresh Gottom, assistant priest at Sacred Heart Parish, Vempadu, preached. The Mass was in Telugu.

As is the custom just before the final blessing, Br. Thambi thanked everyone involved in making the day a memorable one. He also, through me, offered his thanks to the US Province, Pam, and those benefactors who contributed the funds needed to construct his mother’s new home. The family moves from what I’d call a hut with palm leaf roof into a house that can withstand monsoon rains and provide a safer and more secure environment for her and Br. Thambi’s two younger brothers. It is a small house with two bedrooms, a small kitchen and a living/dinging area. While I don’t have the exact figures with me, a house like this typically costs around $5,000.

As is tradition, a meal followed the event. We ate in what is the living/dining area the new house. The meal begins with washing of your right hand, the one used for eating, as well as some water to rinse off your paper plate. Glasses of water are filled and then the food comes. Today we had fried rice and white rice along with beef, chicken and fish dishes topped off with curd and bananas.

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