Category Archives: Fr. Tom Cassidy

Back in India!


The community welcomes Fr. Tom back to India

Last week Fr. Tom Cassidy returned to his second home: the District of India. There, he spends several months of each year assisting with the formation communities. While in India he maintains a daily journal. Periodically we will share excerpts from it on our province blog. The following is a snippet from one of Fr. Tom’s first journal entries:

Our usual breakfast routine was broken up this morning with a breakfast that would be well known to Americans: Rice Krispies and Muslix along with bananas and juice. I’ve never been able to find Rice Krispies in India though most other cereals are available so I brought with me a family size box for the students to try.

Today is a free day for the students and it started with late rising and breakfast at 8:00 am. I had to rise earlier as I had the 7:00 am Mass for the Holy Family Brothers, picking up my routine from earlier this year of celebrating Mass for the brothers on weekends.

One reason for making today a free day was all the activity of the past week in getting ready for and then hosting the district’s ongoing formation program. That ended at noon yesterday and then last night we all went to Sacred Heart parish Vempadu for the first Friday evening service that our students conducted. The service is done in a manner similar to a revival in the Pentecostal style — a lot of  “Praise the Lord Hallelujahs” thrown in from time to time.

First Friday

There is, of course, a Catholic twist to it all. The service began at 7:30 pm with exposition of the Blessed Sacrament followed by a praise and worship service. I call it the warm up act. Last evening it was led by Br. Jesu Prasad Siddela, SCJ (thirdrd year). This portion of the service ran about 45 minutes and is designed to prepare the congregation for the sermon. Last evening it was delivered by Br. Chitti Babu Nandipamu, SCJ (second year) who spoke for 45 minutes. While this was going on Fr. Michael Augustine, SCJ, heard confessions underneath the bell tower. The service ended with benediction but very different from what Americans experience. In this service the priest goes around to each person and blesses him or her with the monstrance. When the Blessed Sacrament is returned to the tabernacle and the priest leaves the alter there is no closing hymn. The people simply get up and leave the church. We finished around 9:15 pm and went from the church to the parish house for supper before heading home.

I don’t know all that well the history of the development of the Catholic Church in Andhra Pradesh but it certainly is the most Pentecostal compared to Goa or Kerala, two other areas of the country that I have spent time in. Kerala and Goa have a much bigger concentration of Catholics and that may have something to do with it. I have been told by our Andhra Pradesh brothers that the people have been heavily influenced by Protestantism where preaching is the central part of worship. Certainly in Goa and Kerala a homily of 15 minutes is the norm but here in Andhra it is generally 30 minutes or more.

Birthday rituals in India



Fr. Tom Cassidy, who assists in the Indian District for several months each year, writes about a recent birthday celebration in India:

Birthdays are important events anywhere in the world and are certainly celebrated by our Indian SCJs. There is a house ritual to the experience. It starts with door decorations, prayers at Mass and morning prayer for the birthday honoree, and concludes with the presentation of a cake, flowers and hugs from all, along with the traditional birthday song. It kicks off with a few words from the rector (or in his absence, his delegate) on some of the positive qualities of the honoree in helping to build and live our SCJ community life.

In the past, celebrations have included ice cream at supper provided by the honoree but that may have been suspended due to last November’s financial crisis or perhaps dropped all together, I’m not quite sure. Today we honored Br. Ravindra Uppuluri, SCJ (3rd year) who celebrates his 26th birthday. He comes from a nearby village no more than an hour from here.

Br. Ravindra receives birthday wishes

Br. Ravindra receives birthday wishes

I first met Ravindra when he was a novice in Nambur and at that time I knew him as “Emmanuel.” Soon after I got here he told me he preferred to be called “Ravindra.” Much to my surprise this morning the cake had his old name, a name I have not heard for almost three years.

Part of the birthday ritual is for the superior (or his delegate – me, in this case) to cut a small piece of cake and feed it the birthday honoree and for him to feed the superior, much like at a wedding in the United States.

Unfortunately, the cake was kept in the freezer and was as hard as a rock. Ravindra and I managed to cut small pieces and carry out the ritual as prescribed. We then sent the cake back to the kitchen to thaw and will enjoy it with lunch. Normally the cake would be sliced and served at breakfast.

Br. Franklin Victor, SCJ (3rd year), one of Ravindra’s classmates, confessed that the frozen cake was his doing, something got lost in translation. The instructions were to put the cake on top of the refrigerator but he took it to mean to put it in the freezer compartment at the top of the refrigerator. No harm done, just a delayed treat.

Funeral traditions in India


Fr. Tom Cassidy writes from India, where he spends several months of the year assisting with formation and administration in the district:

Yesterday our entire community, save two brothers not feeling well, traveled to Br. Sekhar Adam Nandudri’s village of Lingapuram for his mother’s funeral. It was scheduled for 3:00 pm but as we arrived late, and I’m sure a few others as well, including the assistant parish priest, the funeral did not begin until about 4:00 pm.

Our trip was dictated by the theologate schedule. Our brothers were excused from the last hour but by the time they all biked home and we had our lunch it was closer to 1:00 pm before we got underway. We managed to fit everyone into our van, truck and two motorcycles (one of ours and the other belonging to Fr. Jojappa Chinthapalli, pastor of Sacred Heart parish, Vempadu, who took on one of our brothers for the three-hour journey.

Funeral and burial customs vary around the world, and I’m sure even in India itself. Here in Andra Pradesh things are simple.

The mother’s took place around 6:30 in the morning and by late afternoon her coffin would rest in the earth. Between her death and the funeral Mass she was prepared for burial and while I’m not sure by whom I would suspect women relatives did so, perhaps assisted by women of the village. As India is a hot country a refrigerated glass casket is used to place the body in for what back home we would call a wake. This is placed just outside the house as houses are very small and could not accommodate the crowd.

When the assistant parish priest arrived we had a short prayer service and the placing of her body into a simple wooden casket covered with white cloth and black trimming. A garland of flowers was around her neck much like we place rosaries in the hands of our deceased Catholics in the States.

Most of the priests went to the church before the procession from the house to what really is called a sub-station chapel. It did not take long to hear them coming. Led by our two brother servers and accompanied by the beating of drums and the setting off of firecrackers the mourners moved slowly from the house to the chapel. The use of drums and fireworks seem to accompany almost any type of procession.

The Mass was what we would be used to in the States with a few minor differences. An introduction to the Mass is a regular feature of an Indian Mass. As Fr. Jojappa is our best Telugu speaker he gave it. The main celebrant of the Mass was our formation house rector, Fr. Michael Augustine. One surprising element was the lack of a homily. I was told that the people begin to relax once the body is in the ground.

In seven days there will be a memorial Mass at which time more family members and friends who could not make it to the funeral (as it was on the day of death and therefore very short notice) will be in attendance. The family will also be in a different stage of grieving then. I’m reminded what a good friend of mine Leo Graham, a psychologist, often said: Death is always a surprise.

The burial of Br. Adam's mother

The burial of Br. Adam’s mother

Adam’s mother’s death is a case in point. She had been bed ridden for over seven years and had been in declining health in recent months. Adam went home the day before her death and still it came as a surprise when she took her last breath around 6:30 am yesterday morning. Adam told me he was up with his mother all night and around 5:30 am fell asleep himself, he woke just before she breathed her last. Adam has several brothers and sisters including one brother who basically has been taking care of his mother since an accident crippled her.

The procession to the cemetery did not take long. I was a bit surprised (though probably should not have been) that traffic did not stop nor for that matter slow down as we walked down the highway with drums beating and fireworks going off in front of the procession and honking horns from in back as drivers impatient to be on their way whizzed by.

The burial service was conducted by Fr. Jojappa. At its conclusion but before the casket was closed for the last time Fr. Michael placed a second garland of flowers in the casket, and with the lid nailed shut several men lowered her into the ground. All present took a clump of dirt and threw it into the grave. Completely covering the grave would be left to others as the mourners left to take part in a simple meal.

Two interesting customs not found in the States caught my attention. Except for immediate family no women come to the cemetery. Consequently the crowd of mourners were men and young boys. There is, by the way, no attempt to shield the reality of death from the young. Second, upon arriving back at the house buckets of water were placed so the mourners could wash their legs and feet. This custom, as explained to me, is a precaution against any disease that might be present in the cemetery.

The meal was served as usual with the priests and religious sitting at a long table and men dishing out the rice and side dishes. There was not enough room for all at the table so many of the brothers sat wherever they could find a comfortable spot. Eating with hands and holding a plate is actually rather easy to do.

With the meal ended we said our goodbyes.


Pongal: a celebration of thanksgiving in India

Fr. Michael with members of the Franciscan Sisters of Aloysius Gonzaga during the Pongal celebrations

Fr. Michael with members of the Franciscan Sisters of Aloysius Gonzaga during the Pongal celebrations

Fr. Tom Cassidy is back in the Indian District where he spends several months each year assisting with formation and administration. As in the past we will share excerpts from his journal on the US Province blog. On Sunday he wrote:

Saturday was a day of mixing ancient and modern traditions. For me it began with Mass at the Holy Family Brothers’ minor seminary just down the road from us. I usually say Mass on Saturdays and Sundays since I now have an international drivers license and can drive myself to and from. It was good to get back as I enjoy the enthusiasm and fine singing of the young men, probably ranging in age from early to late teens. Following Mass and breakfast (my usual Indian breakfast of bread and peanut butter) I headed out for my walk. Getting it in early was a necessity given the plans for the rest of the day.

The community was preparing to celebrate the Tamil Nadu Pongal festival. [Pongal is a festival of thanksgiving] I believe it’s the first time our Christu Dehon Nivas community in Eluru is celebrating it. Fr. Michael Augustine, SCJ, our rector, was born and raised near Chennai in the heart of Tamil Nadu (the state). I’m not entirely sure we would have gone to the effort if it were not for the sisters’ postulant community next to our Nambur novitiate as both Sister James and Sister Augustine (the house superior) and their postulants come from Tamil Nadu and did much of the necessary work that goes into this harvest festival. While the feast comes out of the Hindu tradition, Christians have made adaptations to it.

Our local Pongal celebration began just a tad late as the sisters took the opportunity to visit the Holy Land, a local representation of the important religious sites and events in the life of Christ, run somewhat like an amusement park or museum. Our own Fr. Joseph Kasmir, SCJ (assistant novice master and treasurer of our Nambur community) served as their driver and took part in our house celebration.

Making the Pongal rice

Making the Pongal rice

Usually Catholic celebrations begin with Mass but the most important event of Pongal is the cooking the Pongal (a rice dish). A special pot just for the occasion is prepared and decorated; our own Br. Mary Babu Kota, SCJ (3rd year) decorated our pot with floral designs. As the Pongal cooks to perfection participants do a dance around the Pongal pot and when all is ready our Pongal pot was led in procession as the community processed into our temporary chapel. The Mass was celebrated in Tamil with Fr. Michael as our principal celebrant. It followed the Indian Rite.

Fr. Michael is the only Tamil-speaking priest in our local community but he was able to get some of the concelebrants to dip their tongue into Tamil during the division of parts that take place in the Eucharistic Prayer. The introduction to the Mass was prepared by Br. Shaba Dennis, SCJ (3rd year) who also speaks Tamil while the homily was shared by the postulants of the Sisters of Aloysius Gonzaga. They prepared (in English) a brief history of the Pongal feast while Fr. Michael added how it has been adapted by Christians. A good example is that that Sun God is seen as Jesus the Light of the world and just as the sun is necessary for human existence so Christ is to the salvation of the human family.

Upon the conclusion of Mass it was time to eat our Pongal and begin our cultural program. It was a departure from our usual performances as we not only had dances and skits by our Christu Dehon Nivas brothers but also by the Franciscan Sisters of Aloysius Gonzaga postulants.


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.

Welcome Fr. Jim!

Fr. Jim and Fr. Tom as welcomed with flowers and coconut milk

Fr. Jim and Fr. Tom as welcomed with flowers and coconut milk

Fr. Tom Cassidy writes from India soon after welcoming Fr. Jim to Chennai. Fr Jim will be in India through October to give several presentations and workshops.

OCTOBER 5 – Fr. James Schroeder, SCJ, and I arrived via Spice Jet on a flight from Chennai to Kochi. Chennai is the fourth largest city in India after Mumbai, Kolkata and New Delhi followed by Kochi. By our prop jet it’s just about an hour flying time from the east coast of India (on the Bay of Bengali) and south across India to Kochi which rest on the west coast (Arabian Sea).

The hour went by fast and before we knew it, it was touchdown and our six-day-visit to Kerala was underway. Br. Sajeevan Marcelin, SCJ (treasurer and formator) was there to greet us along with Anu, one of the philosophy students. Our Dehon Vidya Sadhan philosophy house of studies isn’t too far from the airport, certainly closer than it is to our minor seminary at Kumbalanghi. We enjoyed the Indian ritual that welcomes guests, especially newcomers to a community. At DVS the ritual was complete, leaving out only the use of incense. We were greeted with a song, given a hearty welcome by Fr. Christy Peter Chittapanezhikathuvila, SCJ (superior of the community), handed flowers and then garlanded, and offered coconut milk.

The milk I usually only take a sip of as I’m not a fan of coconut milk or for that matter, many other ways coconut is served. Having said that, I should note coconut and coconut milk are often used in Indian cooking and I have no difficulty with its use or flavor. With a handshake and introduction with each of the students the two of us were shown our rooms and invited to the SCJ rec room for the short period remaining before dinner.

As our guest, Jim was given the main guest room that was at one time used by Fr. Thomas Fix, SCJ, when he was on staff. I stayed in that room on my first visit to India in 2011. Fr. Fix is revered in India and anyone who had him as a formation director or more important, spiritual director, speak of him in saintly terms. Both Jim and I certainly concur with their assessment.

As a travel day we were pretty much given the rest of the day off. It gave Jim a chance to begin to get himself organized as he’s going to be kept busy and has lots of talks to give. He’ll give an hour’s conference to the postulants and philosophy students on Saturday evening. The philosophy students are away at the moment on retreat and will return sometime on Saturday.

St. Joseph's under construction

St. Joseph’s under construction

OCTOBER 6 – The trip to visit our two parishes in the diocese of Punalore was, to put it bluntly, long and tiring! Here it’s best to forget how far away anything might be but rather ask: “How long does it take to get there?” If you asked that question my answer for Punalore would be: “Almost five hours to get there and four hours to get home!”

Because of the length of the trip Br. Sajeevan Marcelin, SCJ, the treasurer and a member of the formation team at DVS, was joined by Br. Xavier Viju, SCJ, who belongs to the Punalore SCJ community living with Fr. Colin Nepolian, SCJ, parish priests at St. Joseph Church, Soorarnaad. Both brothers drive. Keep in mind that not all Indian SCJs drive cars though most, if not all, drive motorbikes. It also helped that Xavier has lived in Punalore for several years, first at John Paul Bhavan, Koodal and now with Fr. Colin.

Sajeevan and Xavier are the only two finally-professed brothers in the district. Both can trace their SCJ roots almost to the beginning of our presence in 1994. We had a good discussion about the meaning of the brotherhood and the importance of it as a vocation. In many ways it is very important to a mixed community like ours as it is a constant reminder that we are religious first.

Our talks helped to while away the five hours it took us to get to John Paul Bahavan where Fr. Issac Sunil Roma, SCJ, is parish priest and Fr. Siju Solomon, SCJ, is the the assistant.

The church is just down the hill from the community house. The four of us were guests for dinner prepared as a joint effort between their cook and the two of SCJs. Many of our SCJs know how to cook, often a skill they first learned at home and perhaps improved during their seminary years. For example, this morning eight of the students were on breakfast detail making chapatti and on Sundays the students always take care of breakfast.

Fr. Sunil, while showing us the small parish church, told us that the entire parish is getting ready for their three-day-festival in honor of their patron, St. Jude, whose feast is celebrated on October 28. Fr. Jim asked him if his use of the term parish festival meant this was a fundraising activity of the parish, as would be common in the States. No, replied Fr. Sunil, it is simply an opportunity for the parish to pray and grow together as a community. It will include prayer as well as a parish meal to cap off the celebrations, and I think he said a procession as well.

We then headed to our other parish in Sooranad. I was particularly interested in visiting as on my one and only trip to Punalore a couple of years ago we did not have a chance to visit. Br. Xavier lives at Sooranad along with Fr. Colin Neapolitan, SCJ, the parish priest. He and his people have been struggling to find the funds needed to complete the new St. Joseph’s parish church. The original built in 1919 is too small for the number of Catholics. The plan is to turn the old church into a parish hall/center.

Getting the funds has been a struggle. I think, and this is from memory, they still need about $$78,000.00 to complete it. For now work goes on as funds become available. The new church is a lot larger then the one built in 1919.

We did not have all that much time to spend at Kollam. We did manage to get a taste of Br. Xavier’s homemade altar wine that he makes for our various communities. It’s not bad as altar wine goes, certainly as good as what was used in Italy during my time in Rome.

Is there a patron saint of copy machines?

Fr. Tom and the students after the blessing

Fr. Tom and the students after the blessing

Fr. Tom Cassidy writes from India:

In the Catholic Church there seems to be a prayer and a blessing for everything and everyone (including animals who will be blest in many parts of the world on the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi on October 4th).

Yesterday our new copy machine was delivered. The house has been without one since before I first came to Christu Dehon Nivas in 2013. The brothers [students] who get 300 rupees a month [about $4.50) pocket money to take care of personal needs, recreation, etc., have been paying 1 rupee a page for anything they need copied for school. At the first community meeting before the opening of the school year the request was made for a house copy machine.

To make a long story short I heard about the need and when I was given money from two residents at Sacred Heart at Monastery Lake for India I suggested to Fr. Michael Augustine, SCJ, (our rector) that it be used towards the copy machine. Their gift came to just under 50,000 rupees [about $750].  Fr. Michael Benedict, SCJ (district treasurer) said that the district could cover the difference.

Indian Catholics believe in having just about everything blessed, especially if it is new.  Thankfully, as I noted at the beginning, there is a blessing for almost everything, and if you can’t find one you can create one.

Since it was our donors at SHML who were instrumental in getting the new copy machine Fr. Michael asked me to bless it. In the Church ritual book there is actually a “Blessing of Technical Installations or Equipment.”

Fr. Tom blesses the new machine

Fr. Tom blesses the new machine

I asked Br. Manish Nayak, SCJ (2nd year) to do the reading as he and I were going to do the blessing of the new clothing shop in Vempadu, during last week’s inauguration of the our new house but that got postponed as the room wasn’t ready. It’s now on our future to-do list when called upon. There was a rather long reading that Manish prepared for the occasion and since he didn’t get a chance to deliver it in Vempadu I thought it fitting he do the reading for our copy machine blessing.

I’ll briefly quote from the blessing service’s introduction: “Through the work of our hands and the help of technology we cooperate with the Creator to improve the earth as the dwelling place of the human family. By our efforts to bring the work of creation to perfection, we contribute to the advancement of society and carry out Christ’s mandate to follow him in serving one another in love. Let us, then, bless God as we use these products of technology [our new copy machine] for our advantage and never forget to offer praise to him, who is the true light and the fount of that water which springs up to eternal life.”

Though I won’t mention the names of our two benefactors from Sacred Heart at Monastery Lake here, I did let the brothers know who they are and asked them to pray for them and their needs. So often our generous benefactors are like ghosts to are the recipients of their kindness, i.e., unknown to us.  When you can put a name or a face to the generosity of others I think it is more meaningful.

The machine is located in the brothers computer room; all four computers are wired to it. The next model up allowed for a wireless connection but the expense was beyond our capabilities. Laptops can be brought to the room and manually connected when printing is needed.

So in closing, we are most grateful to the generosity of others for making life and education here at Christu Dehon Nivas not only better but in ways that will aid in our spiritual, educational and human interaction and communication.

Celebrating Onam


Fr. Tom (middle) and his “sous-chefs”

Fr. Tom Cassidy writes from India about the celebration of “Onam,” one of the largest festivals celebrated in the State of Kerala, India. To start the day, Fr. Tom was the breakfast chef. He writes:

I woke up this morning at about 4:50 am to get ready for kitchen duty as our crew of four brothers and myself agreed to begin preparations for breakfast at 5:30 am. Breakfast was scheduled for 7:45 am so that gave us sufficient time for all the cooking and preparation that had to be done. This is, of course, the feast of Onam and as I’ve said celebrated in India but especially in Kerala. Here is a brief synopsis from Wikipedia:

Onam (Malayalam: ഓണം) is the biggest festival celebrated in Kerala, India. It is also the State festival of Kerala with State holidays on 4 days starting from Onam Eve (Uthradom) to the 3rd Onam Day.

The festival falls during the Malayalam month of Chingam (Aug – Sep) and marks the commemoration of home-coming of the mythical King Mahabali. In Kerala, it is the festival celebrated with most number of cultural elements such as Vallam Kali, Pulikali, Pookkalam, Onathappan, Tug of War, Thumbio, Thullal, Kummati, kali ,Onathallu, Onavillu, Kazhchakkula, Onapottan, Atthachamayam etc. Onam is reminiscent of Kerala’s agrarian past, as it is considered to be a harvest festival.

One of the traditions of Onam and, I think, at other important events is the floral arrangement that Brs. Libin Paulos, SCJ (2nd year), Franklin Victor, SCJ (3rd year) and Alex John, SCJ (1st year) worked on from about 11:00 pm until early morning. They were putting finishing touches on it when I walked outside my room to head to the kitchen at about 5:20 am this morning.

Our schedule for the day runs like this:

6:30 am rising

7:00 am adoration and morning prayer

7:45 am American Breakfast (the ‘odd man out brigade’  from Tamil Nadu, Mumbai, Orissa and Wisconsin)

11:30 am Indian Mass 

1:00 pm Onam banquet (prepared by the brothers from Kerala)

3:00 pm Traditional Kerala games 

8:00 pm Supper (prepared by the brothers from Andhra Pradesh)

The fourth year students actually had class this morning at 9:00 am. We are in Andhra Pradesh and the meaning and practice of Onam is limited to Indians originally from Kerala. As I noted yesterday we did not celebrate it during the time Fr. Louis Mariano Fernandes, SCJ, was rector as he was from Goa.

Scrambling the eggs for an American breakfast!

Scrambling the eggs for an American breakfast!

As far as breakfast is concerned it went over well. Not one of the brothers had ever tasted scrambled eggs. At least in our houses when you say egg it’s either hard boiled or what the call an omelet, though it is a bit different from what we’d find in the States and certainly different from those served on Eggs to Order Day at Sacred Heart at Monastery Lake. 

My crew showed up on time with Br. John Benedict Vinoth Kumar Antonyraj, SCJ (4th year from Tamil Nadu) was technically about three minutes late, but for him that’s like being on time. We spent the first hour getting all the preparation work out of the way, especially peeling and slicing potatoes for the fried potato dish and peeling and chopping onions for both their fried potatoes and scrambled eggs. Yes, tears were shed over the onions but they were happy tears. Our last task were to cut up the tomatoes and that job was expertly handled by Brs. Manish Nayak, SCJ (2nd year from Orissa) and Sajeet Pillai, SCJ (2nd year from Mumbai) Both John and Rekha (the our cooks) came and gave us some assistance, especially in lighting the grill, making the coffer and assisting Vinoth with frying the potatoes and onions.

Br. Shabu Dennis, SCJ (3rd year from Tamil Nadu) was helping me with the scrambled eggs (we added onions and cheese for this recipe) but somewhere along the line Br. Franklin Victor, SCJ (3rd year from Kerala) stepped in and took over for Shabu, who didn’t seem to mind. With everything well in handy we managed a ten minute coffee break before starting to cook the eggs and potatoes.

We were able to finish everything and have the meal out and ready before the brothers came from either chapel or in case of our basketball team from practice. If I were to jude the quality of the meal only the fried potatoes were a disappointment to me (not to the brothers since it was new to them) they could have been cooked a bit longer. I think we had too many people at the grill turning them too often. The flavor was just fine but I’d call them a bit undercooked.

The eggs on the other hand came out perfectly. I told Shabu, that once we had cracked the eggs his job was to beat the bejesus out of them to get as much air into them as we can. Shabu performed his task admirably!

SCJs in India celebrate Mother Teresa’s canonization

The banner designed by Br. Hari Kumar Barigala, SCJ, for the celebration of Mother Teresa's canonization

The banner designed by Br. Hari Kumar Barigala, SCJ, for the celebration of Mother Teresa’s canonization

Fr. Tom Cassidy writes from India:

Yesterday was a very special day for Indians with the canonization of Mother Teresa of Kolkata in St. Peter’s Square by Pope Francis. The ceremony was broadcast on a number of channels.

September 5 will from now on be the yearly date to celebrate the life of Mother Teresa.

Indian SCJs watch the canonization on TV

Indian SCJs watch the canonization on TV

We joined with the religious of Eluru for a Mass of Thanksgiving and the first Memorial Mass in honor of Mother Teresa. The Mass began at 6:00 pm, or rather the preliminaries began that included a welcome by the rector of Vljnananilayam Institute of Philosophy and Religion, Fr. Lourdes Showry, OFM Cap, followed by a short video on the life of Mother Teresa ending with Pope Francis’ proclamation of sainthood from the morning Mass in St. Peter’s Square. After the video the priests vested and the Mass began. Vljnananilayam auditorium holds at least 600 people and though not all the seats were taken I’m guessing we had about 500 participants. Among the communities of women religious were two sisters from the Missionaries of Charity, the congregation founded by Mother Teresa in 1950. It certainly was a proud moment for them and the men and women religious of her congregations serving in over 100 countries around the world.

Pope John Paul II established a house within the Vatican for her community called “Gift of Mary” to provide a homeless shelter for women and also operate a type of soup kitchen for the many street people of Rome. For those who’ve been to Rome it’s at the corner of Gregorio VII (Vale Vaticano) and Largo de Porta Cavallegeri. Though I had many walking routes in Rome my favorite took me from our Generalate down to St. Peter’s and each day I would pass by the entrance and watch mostly men line up waiting for something to eat and perhaps some clothing as well. It was often a barometer of who were the recent migrants and refugees arriving in Italy and at the bottom of the social ladder. When I first began my walks in 1991 they were for the most part men coming from Africa as time went on the makeup shifted to men from Eastern Europe looking for a better life and economic opportunity. There were, of course, “true” street people men and in some cases women, who for a various reasons lived, or were forced to live, on the streets._

A number of religious communities contributed to our celebration. Two of our SCJs participated in the choir as they often do at special school functions. The servers and deacons were from the Capuchins, who own and operate Vljnananilayam Institute of Philosophy and Religion. Others were responsible for decorations and liturgy planning etc. As is the custom in India all were acknowledged at the close of Mass.

When all was said and done we headed home in our van, truck and motorbike by about 8:40 pm. Two of our students were left behind but a quick phone call and our motorbike went to pick them up to arrive just in time for the start of supper.

Our cooks, John and Rekha, provided ice cream for the community in honor of their daughter, Shasikala’s, birthday. We, of course, did a modified version of birthday greetings carrying out the ritual minus the cake.

Thus ended a very busy and a very proud day for Indian Catholics and truly for all Indians for Mother Teresa, for this little woman with a strong will and a strong heart who did so much for the poor first in India and now around the globe through her priests, brothers and nuns, all true missionaries of charity.

Busy weekend, including a canonization!

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Fr. Tom Cassidy shares his journal from India:

SEPTEMBER 1, 2016 – This Sunday India will be celebrating the canonization of Mother Teresa of Kolkata. With Europe closer to us then the States the time difference is not so great and both CNN and BBC will telecast it live starting at 1:00 pm Indian time.

To prepare for Sunday’s canonization we’ve begun a Tridiuum (three days of prayer). The days are being organized by the students; each day has a theme:

Thursday: Mother Teresa, as a Mother of Profound Prayer
Friday: Mother Teresa, as a Mother of the Poorest of the Poor
Saturday: Mother Teresa, as an Angel of God’s Merciful Love

The celebrations will be capped off with a Solemn Eucharistic Celebration at Vijnananilayam (school campus) in honor of India’s new aaint. It has been organized by CRI of Eluru (the conference of men and women religious) and will be presided over by Bishop Matthew Cherienkunnel, PIME, the bishop emeritus of Eluru. I believe this will be my first meeting with Bishop Matthew as he had retired before my first stay at Christu Dehon Nivas.

M TheresaLater on this afternoon our volleyball team will visit the VincentiansDe Paul minor seminary (Plus II) and college to play a friendly match. They played in last year’s tournament and won the trophy but were voted out of this year’s tournament since they are not a seminary/religious community. In addition, the school has about 2,000 students – far larger the any of the religious communities attending Vljnananilayam Institute of Philosophy and Religion. It certainly will be a good test of our skills as we prepare to meet the winner of today’s All Franciscan semi-finals.

Since we will be playing this match at 4:00 pm I took my walk this morning and went to Vilnananilayam walking through their campus and found my way to the Sisters of St. Lucy compound where they also have a large school. One building celebrates the “giants” in India History and their fight for independence. It also features other important figures, including Mother Teresa who you can see in the upper right hand corner of the top floor of the building.

SEPTEMBER 2, 2016 – Now as for our busy weekend it gets off with a roaring start! This afternoon we have the bible competition pitting the various religious communities against each other to see which one knows their bible best. This year the sisters communities will be on equal footing and not have a separate match but will compete instead with their male counterparts on an equal footing. Our team consists of three members from last year’s quiz whizzes: Brs. Mary Babu, SCJ (3rd year), Mahesh Gotikala, SCJ (2nd year), Meghanandha (Mega) Chakravarthy Bandanadham, SCJ (2nd year), plus Sajeet Pillai, SCJ, (2nd year) Moses Sayala, SCJ, (1st year) the team’s two rookies. While the event is scheduled to begin at 4:00 pm the actual contest won’t start for another hour or so.

This year the area of the scriptures to be covered is taken from the prophetic literature namely: Isaiah and Jeremiah (major prophets) along with the minor prophets Jonah, Zechariah, Daniel and Zephaniah: We’re only allowed to bring three fans to watch (last year it was open to all) I intend to go but don’t know if we’ll stay until the end as we must travel to Sacred Heart parish Vempadu in the evening.

Christu Dehon Nivas (CDN) has agreed to participate this school year in First Friday extended Adoration at Sacred Heart parish that tonight is schedule to begin at 7:30 pm and go until about 11:00 pm. Last month it really didn’t get started until around 8:30 pm so perhaps we’ll be able to finish the bible quiz as well.

Tomorrow, thanks to the fact that some of the students have an exam in the morning, our activities will be limited to class Masses in the evening. I will be doing it with the fourth year (there are six in the class). This is the group that will graduate in November with four of them waiting to learn their regency assignments while Tinu and Vinoth who have already had their regency will upon the vote of the council make their final vows on December 8, 2016, and then await the date for their ordination to the diaconate and their deacon assignment, usually to a parish for a year before priesthood ordination in 2018. I will actually celebrate two Masses tomorrow as I have the 7:00 am Mass with the Holy Family Brothers community as well.

On Sunday most of the brothers will go for their ministerial assignments in the morning. I believe all of the fourth year brothers have finished ministry work as they now turn their attention to preparing for their comprehensive exams in November (classes end next month). Most of the brothers will be back in time to watch the canonization of Mother Theresa that will be broadcast on CNN and BBC TV and I’m sure there will be some local channels televising it as well. I suspect we’ll watch it in English given the various languages spoken in the house.

Finally, as I’ve mentioned in a previous journal entry there will be an evening Mass for the religious of Eluru with Most Reverend Jayarao Palemero, bishop of Eluru, along with his predecessor Most Reverend Matthew Cherienkunnel, PIME, bishop emeritus._ No doubt this Mass will be very well attended and I pray we don’t have any rain.