THE TOMB IS EMPTY - OUR HEARTS ARE FULL!
The greatest love is Jesus Christ who died for us, then was raised to life and is alive today and lives in our hearts. Our debts - now all paid to give a new start!
Easter celebrates the Resurrection of Christ and his Promise of Eternal Life. Easter, is not simply a Feast, but it’s the "Feast of Feasts," the "Solemnity of Solemnities” as it marks Christ’s triumph over death – “a new birth into a living hope." Christ died for us on the cross to forgive the sins of mankind.
This Easter season invites and instructs us to choose to enter more fully into our relationship with the Lord. The Lord gives us time as a gift. Through time, the Lord offers us the privilege of discovering His plan for our own life pilgrimage. Through time, He invites us to participate in His ongoing redemptive plan, through His Son; Jesus Christ who has been raised, by living in the full communion of His Church which is the seed of the kingdom. It's a time to reflect on Salvation, Redemption and the Future coming of Christ's kingdom.
The Easter story is a movement from tears to joy and touches Christians very deeply when they hear it. It is about the struggle between good and evil, or light and darkness and the final victory of good over evil. It is the story of how God showed that he was involved in human struggles and suffering and how God promises life after death. Christians all over the world will be honoring Jesus for His sacrifice - for His unfailing love and for the gifts of grace, forgiveness and fellowship with our Heavenly Father. The celebrating of the empty tomb - the Resurrection - the Good News that death no longer has any power over us!
The Lord came to earth with a life, to give, so that each one of us may continue to live. Let the joy of Resurrection lift us from weakness and despair to strength and happiness. Let us prepare ourselves for the returning of Christ with renewal in our hearts. Happy Easter!
JAMBOREE – 2016
The MISSION OF DAMAN conducted its annual mega-programme, this time for the children. A huge Jamboree for children from Class III to IX was held on 12th November at Khanwel. About 2400 children and 450 teachers took part. Besides there were Volunteers, Fathers, Brothers and Sisters who attended the same. It was well planned and executed under the able leadership of the Mission Superior.
The highlight of the day was the Priests' Band – ‘THE FATHERS’, who kept the children enthralled. The youth of Khanwel gave movements to the songs. Children from all over the mission took part, some coming all the way from Diu. The day began with ‘THE FATHERS’ setting the tone with their welcome music. The lovely prayer service was the right preparation for the day. The main celebrant for the con-celebrated mass was the youngest priest, Fr. Selfron Gracias. The Gospel was enacted by Fr. Joseph Fernandes, SAC. which was well appreciated. The interactive homily by Frs. Ashley and Joel, OFM Cap., kept all the children glued and interested.
After the mass, teachers of a group of parishes were assigned one class. The children from all parishes of that class were brought together - English, Marathi and Gujarathi speaking children. The teachers had been given an event of the Bible earlier. They
had to choreograph the entire event for a 12 minute presentation with about 300 children for each class within an hour given to them. The teachers had prepared and brought the music, costumes, props etc. with them. Masks and props had to be painted in that hour as well. But it was a challenge to get the children sorted out, assigned and made ready for the items within an hour. Appropriately, this even was entitled “Chaos to Creation”.
The Creation Scene, Noah's Ark, Crossing the Red Sea, Finding of Jesus in the Temple, Sermon on the Mount, Sower and the Seeds and the Loaves and the Fishes were the Bible events enacted. It was a real challenge to the teachers to get all the children involved and to get them ready in the short time.
The presentations, in street theater style, were very good, and much appreciated. ‘THE FATHERS’, led by Fr. Ashley, Fr. Walter, Fr. Johnson, Fr. John, Fr. Wilson OFM Cap., Deacons Seneto and Benson and Scholastics Peter Martin and Mcsteein entertained the audience with their Gospel Songs in between the presentations, to the delight of the young children who loved to see the white-clad fathers belting out songs in style.
It was a programme, well appreciated by one and all was indeed unique. Kudos to Fr. Seby Mascarenhas, the Mission Superior and the team of Khanwel Fathers – Fr. Francis, Johnson and Ashley - supported by Priests, Sisters, Lay Leaders and the Catechists of the whole mission area, for making the event a grand success. It was great to see 2400 children from our villages coming together and taking part enthusiastically.
INSPIRED BY VEN. AGNELO, LET US WITNESS TO THE MERCY OF GOD
The Pastoral Year 2016-2017 is especially dedicated to Ven. Agnelo by the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman with the Theme, “Inspired by Ven. Agnelo, Let us witness to the Mercy of God”, keeping in mind Pope Francis Jubilee Year of Mercy.
This year is a grace filled occasion for the Catholic community. This is an occasion to focus again on the Corporal and Spiritual works of Mercy in our lives and to bring God’s compassionate love closer to those in need. This is an opportunity for us to be Prophets and beacons of hope in the service of Church renewal and for a new humanity.
Let us take a glimpse on the life of Ven. Fr. Agnelo, who is the Face of Mercy in this jubilee year and let us build our lives following the example of Ven. Agnelo.
Fr. Agnelo de Souza, S.F.X. ( 21st January 1869 – 20th November 1927) was a Roman Catholic Priest of the Society of the Missionaries of St. Francis Xavier, Pilar who worked as a Missionary and Pastor in Goa and Karwar.
He was born in the village of Anjuna to Miguel Arcanjo de Souza and Maria Sinforosa Perpetua Magalhães. His parents had nine children, among whom Agnelo was the sixth child. Even as a small child, all were impressed by his behaviour. From a young age, he would remember sermons heard at Mass and would teach catechism, to other children, some even older than him.
He was 11 years old, when his parents died. As his mother was dying, she entrusted her children to the care of the Blessed Mother. Little Agnelo’s faith grew through all these early childhood trials. He came to believe that God is our loving Father, who can give us both the Father’s and Mother’s love in a much greater way and he experienced the strength of the Father’s loving embrace.
He was austere by nature, simple, humble, lover of silence; peace loving, his austerity and unfailing obedience to his superiors Inspite of his weak health were his hallmarks. He was a man of prayer and mortification. He proved to be a shepherd after the Heart of Jesus. He would spend hours on his knees, in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.
He had a great devotion to our Lady of Sorrow as instructed by his own Mother on her deathbed, “Turn to Our Blessed Lady as your Mother”. Keeping this in mind, he grew in love for Mary, trusting her and being inspired by her. By praying the Rosary with great faith, he received special graces to remain faithful to his vocation. Our lady was so dear to him, that he even published a leaflet on the Seven Sorrows and propagated it among the Seminarians and to the people in general.
Ven. Fr. Agnelo was blessed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. They are:
1. Proclamation of the Word of God
Fr. Agnelo went on preaching at Novenas, Feasts at Missions, Retreats, Churches and Chapels. He would take care to prepare his sermons by writing them down. His sermons would contain the word of God as well as quotations from Church Fathers and Saints. Before going to preach, he would spend hours on his knees, in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, interceding with Jesus to touch the minds & hearts of his listeners. He would proclaim the Word of God with great depth, making it relevant to the people thereby touching their hearts.
2. Healing Doctor – Confessor
Through his sermons, Fr. Agnelo would touch the lives of the people and lead them to receive God’s mercy and healing in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. With compassionate heart & great tenderness, he would forgive sins with Father’s compassion and offer them right direction in life thus, bringing healing to the people.
3. Spiritual Director
He was a Father, Teacher, Friend and Guide to those who came to him. His spiritual direction & teaching would encourage in the seminarians the desire to be Saints. He thus prepared the future generation of Priests, among whom many became well known Preachers & Zealous Pastors.
Let us endeavor to be agents of such culture of mercy in our Society and let the life of Ven. Fr. Agnelo be an inspiration to all. Let us imitate him in our day to day lives by being people who give & receive forgiveness and to help those in need. Let us all pray fervently to Our Father in heaven, through the intercession of Mary, Our Mother, that the process of canonization of Ven. Agnelo may gain strength and speed and that he may be soon raised to the honors of the Altar.
CHILDREN – THE VALUABLE ASSETS OF OUR NATION
This month we celebrate Children Day’s on 14th November 2016 in loving memory of Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of our country. This celebration also reminds us to spread awareness about the rights and to promote the welfare of the children worldwide.
Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru was a great man with qualities of a statesman, scholar, politician and freedom fighter. He was fond of children and had great affection for them. For him children were ‘God incarnate’ and ‘divinity in flesh’. Children used to call him “Chacha Nehru” with love and respect. As a tribute to this lover of children, the nation started the custom of celebrating his birth anniversary as Children’s Day, to enlighten India as a day by making each and every child’s future bright.
Throughout the life, he has done various things for the betterment of Children’s future. People celebrate this occasion by remembering his great sacrifices, contributions, achievements in International politics and peace efforts for our country. On this day, various cultural programmes are organized and performed by the students in their schools and colleges.
John Kennedy, 35th US president has rightly quoted, “Children are the world's most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.” Even Chacha Nehru always believed that children decide the future of any Country or Civilization.
According to Pt. Nehru, Children are precious gifts of God. They are like buds in the garden and should be grown or treated with love and care. They are like wet clay and can be molded in any way. Proper guidance and education should be the top most priority for them as they would lead our country in future and can take it to the heights of success.
The occasion of children’s Day is not only an opportunity to celebrate and enjoy, but it reminds us of the Mission and Message of Nehru. His wishes for the children all over the world were to grow, get education and prosper in life.
Therefore, amidst all the celebrations we should not lose sight of Nehru's real message. It makes people aware about the real status and importance of children in the country. That is providing our children with a safe and loving environment to grow as well as giving them ample and equal opportunities through which they can take great strides and contribute to the progress of the nation.
This day serves as a reminder to each and every one of us, to renew our commitment to the welfare of the children and to teach them to live as per Chacha Nehru’s vision and example.
PILAR MISSIONARIES STEP INTO AFRICAN SOIL
Two Pilar Fathers – Fr. Eusebio Gomes, sfx and Fr. Vincent Lobo, sfx landed on African Soil for a pioneering Mission in the Diocese of Nouakchott in Mauritania.
Before leaving for Africa, Fr. Eusebio Gomes, sfx from Velsao was the Editor of “Vavraddeancho Ixtt”; Konkani Newsweekly of the Society of Pilar and served as a Missionary in Northern India and Nepal. Fr. Vincent Lobo, sfx from Mangalore was ordained as a Priest in May 2016 and begins his Priestly Ministry as a pioneering missionary.
Before arriving in Mauritania the duo stayed in Paris for a Three-month Course to learn French, one of several languages spoken in the West African nation.
The landing of Pilar Fathers in Africa as Missionaries coincided with the celebration of “Mission Sunday” a very good beginning for the Society of Pilar whose aim is pioneering evangelization.
The Two Pilar Fathers were welcomed by the Bishop of Nouakchott, Bishop Martin Happe and there was a thunderous applause from the congregation. The Bishop thanked the “Society of Pilar” and the Superior General, Fr. Francis Carvalho, sfx for this first venture of the Society in his Diocese and in the African continent.
Pilar Fathers will head for their destination which is offered to the Society i.e. the Mission of Kaedi, a city in Southern Mauritania from January 2017. Until then, they will stay at the Catholic Mission in Nouakchott and continue to improve their French language and study more about the local culture and traditions. On 5th May 2010, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples made an appeal to the Society of the Missionaries of St. Francis Xavier to take up an area of the nature of a ‘missio sui iuris’ as part and parcel of their missionary Society's participation in the universal mission of the Church.
This invitation should be seen in the light of the Society’s maturation and growth resulting in its being granted the pontifical right status on 4th December 2010.
The XVIII General Chapter 2012 in actualization of its theme "Breaking paths, Crossing horizons, in Communion" authorized the General Administration to explore the possibilities of taking up a mission field outside India as a spark from this General Chapter! The recommendation besides taking a step towards actualization of the request made by Sacred Congregation also comes in the light of the Society's celebration of its 75 years of Reorganization.
His Excellency Bishop Martin Happe of the Diocese of Mauritania made a request to the Society to take up a mission in his Diocese, which is in dire need of missionaries. He made a personal visit to Pilar and met with both the Vicar General and the Chairperson of Central Mission Commission of the Society.
In response to the recommendation of XVIII General Chapter 2012, the Two Pilar Fathers have landed in Mauritania for an Apostolate of Presence in this Islamic Republic.
We wish and pray that the Missionary work in Mauritania may bear much fruit!
DIWALI - THE FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS
India is a land of Festivals. Many festivals are celebrated here with great pomp and show. Each festival has a religious significance behind it. Diwali is one of them. The word Diwali comes from the Sanskrit word “Dipavali” meaning “row of lights.” It is the festival of lights. It is celebrated every year with great joy and enthusiasm. It is an ancient Hindu festival which symbolizes the triumph of good over evil that is the victory of Rama over Ravana.
Our Hindu brethren regard it as a celebration of life and use the occasion to strengthen their family relationships. It is the celebration of goodness and renewal. The lighting of lamps also has significance. Light refers to knowledge, wisdom and prosperity. Darkness refers to ignorance and evil-forces. This, lighting of lamps during the Diwali festival signifies the prevalence of knowledge and wisdom over ignorance.
It is the commemoration of the light of wisdom in our lives. Lamps are lit on this day not just to decorate homes, but also to communicate a profound truth about life - when the darkness within is dispelled through the light of wisdom; the good in us, wins over the evil. It gives a message of love, brotherhood and friendship. Life has many facets and stages to it. It is important that we throw light on all of them, for life to be fully expressed. The rows of lights remind us that every aspect of life needs our attention. Diwali is celebrated to encourage the light of wisdom in every heart, the light of life in every home and to bring a radiant smile on every face.
Jesus once solemnly declared in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” Here Jesus is the light of the world. By his life and message, he helps the community and individual to discern between good and evil and choose the path that leads to life in abundance. Let the lamps lit on this Diwali be a reminder of Christ’s presence.
This Diwali let us pray that, there be prosperity in every corner of the world – let all people experience love, joy and significance of Christ’s light in their lives. Happy Diwali!
GANDHI IS ALIVE AND STILL RELEVANT
We celebrate Gandhi Jayanti on 2nd October every year. Mahatma Gandhi, one of the most Prevalent (widespread) image in the minds of those who think about great leaders, in the movement for Human Rights and Non-Violence. This day is also termed as International Day of Non-Violence. Respectfully we call him ‘Bapu’ or ‘The Father of the Nation’ who played a stellar role in India's freedom struggle.
The life-story of Gandhiji as a man; is of great relevance to every human being. Gandhi’s approach to himself and to life in general, was a seeker of truth and a votary of non-violence. He followed the principle to establish the truth of the law through love and non-violence and to return good for evil.
The words which Jawaharlal Nehru uttered for Gandhiji and found to be prophetic are, “The light is gone and yet it will shine for a thousand years.” Today Gandhiji may not be among us, but he manifests himself through many individuals in our society.
When we think of manifestation, we instantly think of Martin Luther who was greatly influenced by Gandhiji’s thoughts. He used this tool effectively to fight racism in his own country. Aung San Suu Kyi was inspired to fight for democracy in her own country, Myanmar.
Mahatma Gandhi not only lived to what he preached others but he had in him the ‘Divine Touch’ to make others to do so.
CELEBRATION OF FESTIVALS
This month, Our Hindu brethren will celebrate the Festival of Ganesh Chaturthi on 5th September 2016. Ganesh Chaturthi, probably one of the liveliest festivals that is being eagerly awaited and celebrated with great devotion and enthusiasm. Ganesh is known to be the symbol of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune. This festival promotes family bond as members come together to celebrate this occasion. It reminds us of the Great Freedom Fighter Lokmanya Tilak, who reshaped the annual Ganesh Chaturthi Festival from private family celebrations into a grand public event in order to promote unity and national integration.
The day also coincides with Teachers Day. In India, year after year, 5th September is celebrated as Teachers Day as a mark of tribute to the hard work and devotion of the teachers to educate children and to craft their minds. It is said that Teachers are the cornerstones of our future – (backbone of our nation) and act as a foundation for creating responsible citizens and good human beings. This day is celebrated to show our acknowledgement and recognition of the hard work put in by our teachers towards our development. A teacher inspires us to proceed forward, to build our ethics, imparts immense knowledge and wisdom and prepares us to withstand obstacles in our lives. “A teacher’s purpose is not to create students in his own image but to develop students who can create their own image.” It is said that “A good teacher is like a candle. It consumes itself to light the way for others.” Let us also remember our Teachers who after contributing to the Education of hundreds of Students are in the evening of their lives. May they enjoy good health and be comforted in their old age and continue to smile as always.
THE SPIRIT OF OLYMPICS LIVES ON……………
STORY OF COMPASSION, COURAGE AND INSPIRATION – THE REAL HEROES OF RIO 2016
The 2016 Summer Olympics officially known as the Games of the XXXI Olympiad and commonly known as Rio 2016 is a major International Multi-Sport Event was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 5 August to 21 August 2016. More than 11,000 athletes took part in this summer events.
During the ongoing session, the most inspirational moment of the Games so far, heart touching and eye pleasing to watch was the sisterhood of sportswoman ship of the two athletics : New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin and US‘s Abbey D’Agostino. They tripped over each other in the women's 5,000 Metres, the two urged each other to move on. There was a positive feeling and words of encouragement said by Abbey D’Agostino “get up, we have to finish this!”.
Moments after the two athletes had started running again, Abbey D’Agostino began faltering, her right leg badly injured as a result of the fall. In severe pain, D’Agostino fell again to the ground, crouching on all fours on the Olympic track, her face showing she was in pain. Nikki Hamblin stopped running and turned to Abbey D’Agostino, reaching for her with two open arms.
After finishing the race, both embraced each other and then Abbey D’Agostino was taken away in a wheelchair for treatment.
Both the athletes have been praised for representing Olympic spirit after they stopped to help each other. Inspite of finishing in two last places, both runners were promoted to the final.
The above story represents the true power of Olympics to inspire hope, confidence and courage.
FASTING AND FEASTING
An Eventful June is drawing to a close……. Yes indeed June is a month that is special for many reasons. “School bells are ringing loud and clear; vacation’s over school is here.” During the month, students are gearing up for the New Academic Year. Students are excited about getting upgraded to a new class with new things to learn and fun to have with old buddies - New students, new dreams, new aspirations! The Muslim also celebrates the Holy month of Ramadan. Ramadan is a period of Fasting, Reflection, Devotion, Generosity, Practicing Self-Discipline, Purifying the Souls and Sacrifice. It starts from 6th June and ends on 7th July 2016.
Through fasting, a Muslim experiences hunger and thirst and it reminds them not to be wasteful and at the same time feel empathy for those who face hunger on a daily basis. Through increased devotion, the Faithful feel closer to the Creator, and recognize that everything we have in this life is a blessing from Him. Through increased charity, the Faithful develop feelings of generosity and good-will towards others. The Prophet Muhammad once said, “A man's wealth is never diminished by charity.” Through self-control, the Faithful practices good manners, good speech, and good habits. Ramadan is not merely physical, but is rather the total commitment of the person's body and soul to the spirit.
In Goa, Christians celebrate “Sao Joam” in a unique way, the feast of ‘St. John the Baptist’ also known as John the Baptizer - A prophet who foretold the coming of the Messiah in the person of Jesus, whom he baptized later. Christian scripture tells us of John the Baptist leaping for joy in his mother’s, (Elizabeth) womb when she was told of Jesus’ birth. John the Baptist later went on to baptize Jesus in the river Jordan. The well is considered to be a representation of Elizabeth’s womb and a jump into it a sign of joy for the birth of Christ.
The Feast brings together two opposing symbolic elements: Water and Fire. Water symbolizes purification through Baptism while Fire symbolizes light. He is the only Saint (apart from the Virgin Mary) whose date of birth is celebrated rather than his death. He was a man of humility and emptied himself willingly and was thus able to reveal Jesus to others. Let us pray to the Lord to cleanse us from the impurities and may he grant us to experience the joy of his light; let us pray that we ourselves may become bearers of his light, and that through the Church, Christ’s radiant face may enter our world.
EASTER ROLLS AWAY THE STONE!
“Easter spells out beauty, the rare beauty of new life.” Easter is the feast of a new creation. Jesus is risen and dies no more. He has opened the door to a new life. He has taken mankind up into God himself. On Easter Sunday, we remember the One who gave His life so that the whole world could be saved from sin and hell. His name is Jesus Christ! A magnificent Savior! The miraculous lesson of Easter is that through Jesus' death on the Cross, we have been granted a second chance - permission to leave our old lives behind and stand before the pristine, unmarred canvas of a new day, with all its potential for joy and choices that honor God. Easter celebrates how Jesus dies and rises in each of us – in our personal lives and in the community of the church. Easter is the perfect time to ask Him into your heart and your life. Stop reliving the past, beating yourself up over all the mistakes you've made. The slate has been wiped clean! Paint a new life for yourself, bright with the colors of redemption, grace and renewal. Let us pray to the Lord at this time that he may grant us to experience the joy of his light; let us pray that we ourselves may become bearers of his light, and that through the Church, Christ’s radiant face may enter our world. “We are an Easter People and Hallelujah is our Song!” Jesus loves you! Happy Easter!
LOVE ENDURES ALL THINGS - Fr. Tony Fernandes, sfx
We have entered the season of Lent. Once again the Liturgical cyclic time which has Christ at the axis, gives us an occasion to reflect and meditate on the Suffering, Passion, Death and the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and the reason is just because God’s love endures all things and everyone.
Lent in the annual time to renew grace and to experience God’s immense love in spite of our sinfulness. In Lent, as selfish as it sounds, it’s just me and my God, to think of all that Jesus has endured just because He loves me; that’s the real beauty of the season. While we have some magnificent liturgical moments, the devotion to the Way of the Cross, every Friday is another means to reflect on the Love of God that endured so much to redeem us. Then especially during Holy Week, we are lead deeper into the mystery of Love of God. Lent must be the most creative time of year in terms of spiritual growth and renewal.
If God has loved us so much and continues to love, it is important for us to decide what we are going to do to reciprocate God’s love. Our present Holy Father Francis has already given a clarion call to the Universal Church that during this Jubilee Holy Year, “Be merciful as your Heavenly Father is merciful” (Lk6:36), and says, that we should allow ourselves to experience what God is doing for us.
This Lent, I would suggest that we reflect and meditate more on the very essence of God that is his Merciful Love. If God is merciful and Christ is the revelation or the Face of God’s mercy than the Church too, the bride of Christ has to be merciful. Indeed, many people experience the Church as very rigid and lacking in mercy and personal touch. For this reason, at the opening of the Second Vatican Council, St. John XXIII said that the Church must, above all, use the medicine of Mercy. St. John Paul II took up this declaration in his encyclical Dives in Misericordia and devoted the entire chapter to the topic “The Mercy of God in the Mission of the Church. He emphasized that it is the Church’s task to give witness to divine mercy (7). Having experienced his forgiveness and pardon, let us be ready to forgive all those who have done harm to us and caused much suffering in our lives.
Therefore let us pay heed to the means that Pope Francis gives us to practice mercy in our lives by practicing the Spiritual Works of Mercy, Seven Corporal and Seven Spiritual. Only in this way will we be able to participate fully in the joy of Easter of the Jubilee Year. May Mary, Mother of Mercy, guide us in this Lenten journey, a journey of authentic conversion to the love of Christ that endured all things.
PILAR FATHERS IN GERMANY
- Fr. Niclas Luis, sfx
The mild winters of Germany provide the best backdrop for people living here to take refreshing strolls along the dew-clad green meadows which otherwise are decked with snow. This year's unusual warm temperatures greeted only a few radiant faces since many waited expectantly for their annual white Christmas. Nevertheless for the Inder (the Indian) rendering pastoral services to his flock, it was easy to move from one church to another on Christmas night without the fear of cold feet getting the better of him. Nevertheless, possessing quick and warm feet is the need of the hour in a changing pastoral scenario in many a diocese in Germany. Sombre Church attendance has compelled Church authorities to reduce the number of services in Churches, which once attracted a chunk of faithful. These reasons, compounded with the constant fall in number of clergymen due to sickness and old age, departure from the clerical state, or due to lack of vocations, has ushered in the new concept of the Pfarreingemeinschaft abbreviated P.G, namely, Cluster of Parishes. This new concept has brought in minimum 5 - 7 and maximum 12 parishes under the pastoral and juridical care of one Parish Priest. This would include the Pilgrim and filial churches in some cases. Pilar Fathers' Dormus Formata: A 'Dormus Formata' means that a society of consecrated life has been officially erected as a community in the diocese. The terminology finds mention in the old canon law of 1917 but not that of 1983. In December 2006, Nihil Obstat was granted to the German Pilar Community to pave the way for erection as a 'community' in the diocese of Augsburg. The seat of the Dormus Formata is in Dirlewang, where Fr. Eleuterio Fernandes, the Local Superior is the Parish Priest. The story of Pilar Fathers in the Diocese of Augsburg goes back to 1995 though, when Fr. Norman D'Souza came as pioneer, deputed by the then Superior General Fr. Tiburcio Ferrao to work in the Diocese of Augsburg. He was ably followed by Fr. Steevan D'Souza in 1997. Today the Pilar Fathers are catering to the pastoral needs of two sets of Parishes. Fr. Eleuterio Fernandes as Pfarrer (parish priest) and Fr. Daniel Fernandes as Kaplan (assistant pp) reside in the central Parish of PG Dirlewang. They cater to 5 Parishes and in the coming years another two parishes will be added to their pastoral care. Fr. Joaquim Fernandes, Pfarrer, and Fr. Niclas Luis, Kaplan, reside in the main pilgrimage Center of Vilgertshofen, which forms the second PG. They cater to three Parishes, attached to which are three affiliate churches.
In the near future three more Parishes with four affiliate churches will be entrusted to their care. Fr. Julius Ferrao, who joined the band of the Pilar Fathers in 2014, resides in the community of Vilgertshofen, but works as Kaplan under a German Priest, who is entrusted 6 Parishes. In a few years' time three more Parishes could be added to their fold.
The Patron's Day on 3 December has been marked as the day of Dormus Formata. The feast of Goencho Saib, St. Francis Xavier, brings together parishioners, friends and well-wishers from different parishes together as a Pilar fraternity. The organization of the Liturgy is the onus of the Parishioners, which indicates the ability of the Pilar Fathers to exhibit team spirit irrespective of their allegiance to different parishes.
Shepherding the Flock: In a land characterized by strong Christian traditions and customs, it is a delight to work to uphold the same. The Pilar Father as pastor and missionary, or rather as missionary pastor plays a pivotal role in bringing vitality to the Church's paradigm shift in this part of the world in the pastoral areas. It is fulfilling to assist the faithful in learning and living the rich Christian traditions and customs. Although the Church attendance is far less compared to Goa, the manner in which the Liturgy is celebrated evokes a spirit of oneness and celebration.
Neuevangelisierung – New Evangelisation is the catch word not only in clergy circles but also among the faithful. It devises ways and means to make the faith more meaningful to those, who although having been baptized, have lost the spark of their faith in course of time. Mind you, there are a number of Christmas and Easter Church-goers, who rarely make it to Church on Sundays. Adding to the already existing pastoral challenges is the feature of the increasing number of Muslim refugees. To a people with strong Christian roots, especially in the villages, it is a new challenge to come to terms with an emerging new world order and to fraternally accept people belonging to other religions and cultures. The overall adventure in proclaiming the faith in this part of the world, namely in a developed country like Germany, requires an organized and dynamic approach. A Pilar Missionary carries Francis Xavier and his Spirit in proclaiming Jesus. Perhaps this helps him to carry forth the message of Christ as the Patron once did on the soils of Goa.
The warmth, as sweet reward from a sick visits, renders the cold weather which otherwise has the capacity to penetrate the bones, ineffective. The Pilar Father is challenged to brave the hostile weather, the difficult German language, the well-organized road and work structure, and to shake off indolent habitual demeanour, a hallmark of our 'susegad' life style. He is called to be a man of prayer and to have a heart for a society which is growing older. His vocation is to be another Christ in the changing scenario of society and church. He can do so only if he is a man of sacrifice who does not shy from work, does not shun responsibilities, and is open to the challenges of changing times as a natural phenomenon, to which no age and no human is an exception.
Jesus Is The Reason For The Season! Rejoice!
“The Son of God became a man to enable men to become the sons of God.” It's the time of year again, December has come and with it all the joys of Christmas. Yes, Christmas can be a season of great joy. It is a time when God shows His great love for us. It can be a time of healing and renewed strength. Christmas is the time when we celebrate the birth of the Christ child. God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world. His birth brought great joy to everyone. Shepherds, wise men, and angels all shared in the excitement of knowing about this great event. They knew this was not an ordinary baby. The prophets had told of His coming hundreds of years before. The star stopped over Bethlehem just to mark the way for those who were looking for this special child. The true meaning of Christmas is the celebration of this incredible act of love. The real Christmas story is the story of God's becoming a human being in the Person of Jesus Christ.
God's Son became human and came to earth to save us. God had promised to send a Messiah, one who would save His people.
God gave His only Son to die in our place so that we, in all our brokenness, could know forgiveness. He came so that we could know what love feels like, real love – love that never leaves, love that never disappoints and love that is never betrayed. He sent His Son into a corrupted world to bring us hope.
We can truly be happy this Christmas! We all know that we are His children. We then become sons and daughters of God. Heaven will be our home one day.
Look at Christmas in a new way this year. This is the year to invite Jesus into your heart. You will then have a "Holy Christmas." The joy and peace you will receive will last all year as you look to God for all your needs to be met.
Jesus Is The Reason For The Season! Rejoice!
It is Jesus Christ’s birthday once again.
To remind us that God is always with us,
So Let us celebrate Christmas with hope in our heart,
As our Messiah will be always present to guide us
“Merry Christmas & Hope- filled New Year 2016”
THE SEASON OF ADVENT: ANTICIPATION AND HOPE
Advent is a beautiful season. It is the road of spiritual life which all of us must start. It is a time for renewal; it is especially a time for forgiveness because God brings His forgiveness to us in the shape of His Son. The Church year begins with the first Sunday of Advent. From its earliest days, the Christian tradition has spoken of Christ as the “Light” of the world. For Christians, the candles and lights of the season symbolize the Light that has come into the world. Like Lent, Advent is a preparatory season. It has significance because it is a season of looking forward and waiting for something greater; both for the annual celebration of the event of Christ's birth, and for the time when Christ will come again. The liturgical color for this season is purple. The word Advent is derived from the Latin adventus, meaning ‘coming’. During this season we remember the two-fold Advent of Jesus Christ: he has come to this world as our Saviour and he will come again to be our Judge. We therefore prepare ourselves to celebrate Our Lord’s first coming – his Birth and to expect his second coming. Advent is a season observed only in the Western Church. It dates back to the fifth century and originally there were six Sundays in Advent. These were reduced first to five and then to the four Sundays before Christmas Day. Expectation, joy and penitence all intermingle during Advent and are reflected in hymns and readings. In keeping with the penitential aspects of the season, the liturgical colour is purple. Many churches have an Advent wreath with five candles – three purple and one pink round the outside and a white one in the centre. The circular wreath symbolizes God himself who always was, and always is, and always shall be. The use of evergreens for the wreath symbolizes the new life which God offers us here and now through prayer and the Sacraments, and the opportunity he gives us of eternal life with him in Heaven. On Advent Sunday one purple candle is lit. On the second Sunday in Advent two purple candles are lit.
The third Sunday is known as Gaudete Sunday because traditionally the Introit at the Eucharist begins with the words "Rejoice (Latin, Gaudete) in the Lord always". It marks the half-way point of Advent and there is joy that the celebration of Our Saviour’s Birth is getting very near. On the fourth Sunday in Advent three purple candles and the rose candle are lit. The white candle in the centre represents Christ, the Light of the World, and this is lit at Christmas. The purple and rose candles are replaced with red or white candles for the Christmas season. Advent is the perfect time to clear and prepare the Way. Advent is a winter training camp for those who desire peace. By reflection and prayer, by reading and meditation, we can make our hearts a place where a blessing of peace would desire to abide and where the birth of the Prince of Peace might take place. Let us celebrate Christmas the way it was meant to be celebrated: in thoughtful remembrance of Jesus’ first coming as a baby in Bethlehem and in eager expectation of his coming again to judge the living and the dead, where his kingdom will have no end.
Stanislaus Jovino Rodrigues from Valkanni Sanguem Goa was born on 7th May 1970 at Curdi Sanguem Goa to Peregrino Rodrigues and Rosada Cardozo. He was baptized on 30th May 1970, at Miracles Church Sanguem. He joined the Pilar Seminary after completing his SSC in June 1987 and entered the novitiate in 1990. He made his first Profession on 9th June 1991 and after completing his Philosophy studies he did his regency at Karasganv (1995-1996). He joined the theology at Pilar in June 1996 and made his final commitment to the Society on 3rd July 1999. Archbishop Raul Nicolau Gonsalves ordained him a Deacon on 18th December 1999 and he was ordained a priest by Auxilary Bishop Filipe Neri Ferrao at Our Lady of Valankanni Chapel, Valkanni, Sanguem Goa on 25th November 2000. He was first deputed for Gujarati language studies and was then appointed assistant parish priest at Sacred Heart Church, Vadtal in June 2001. From 2004-2008 he was assistant Parish Priest, Advisor to LDS, Manger of Hostel and In - Charge of social work at Kempur. He was back at Sacred Heart of Jesus Church Vadtal from 2008-2011 as Parish Priest and Local Delegate Superior of Vadtal Community. From 2011 onwards he was at Sacred of Jesus Church Dapada giving services as its Parish Priest, LDS of Dapadda Community, Manager of ISU HRUDYA Gujarati School, Manager of Sacred Heart School, Dapadda and Superintendent of Isu Hruday Hostel, Dapadda. He was also the Second Councillor Khanwel Local House from 2012-2015. Fr. Stanislaus leaves us at a young age of 45. But “Righteous people, however, will find rest, even if they die young – Wisdom 4:7.” Stanislaus died with his shoes on. He now enters the glories of heaven. Adeus till we meet again.
NAGAR-HAVELI, THE FIRST MISSION OF THE REORGANIZED SOCIETY
On 2nd July the Pilar community celebrates its Reorganization Day. The Society had two important moments in its history: the Founding in 1887 and its revival or Reorganization in 1939. In this article Fr. Cosme focuses on how the Reorganizers revived a dying Society by giving it a new vision of its scope. They not only made smart moves to ensure stability and growth but also soon launched into pioneering their first mission in the Union Territory of Nagar-Haveli in 1940. The Society of Pilar was a response to the need of missionaries and an outlet to the suppressed religious life in the Goa Archdiocese from the second half of the nineteenth century. The Portuguese Government in Goa had banned all Religious Orders from 1835. Yet, Fr. Bento Martins a Goan from Orlim, Salcete, quietly founded a missionary Society in 1887 with the approval of Archbishop-Patriarch D. A. S. Valente. On the death of this Prelate in 1908, the Portuguese Government started persecuting the members of the Society and stopped them from recruiting new candidates. Thus, the number gradually dwindled till 1939 when there was only one survivor. But Divine Providence saw to it that the Society would not die. Meanwhile in the seminary of Rachol there was a movement called the Liga Xaveriana led by Rev. Conceicao Rodrigues and Rev. Francisco Sequeira who had a dream of starting a missionary Society for the evangelization of India in the spirit and under the patronage of St. Francis Xavier. However, the then Patriarch D. Teotonio suggested that they revive the dying Society of Pilar of Fr. Bento Martins which by then had only one surviving member in the person of Fr. Remedios Rosario Gomes. The young priests accepted the proposal and went to the monastery of Pilar where they were warmly welcomed by Fr. Gomes. Frs. C. Rodrigues and F. Sequeira envisaged forming a Religious Society with Novitiate, Vows and Community life. The Patriarch accepted their proposals and designated Fr. M.J. Barreto, a professor at Rachol to be their Novice Master. The group began their Novitiate in Pilar on 2nd July 1939. After completing the year, Fr. Barreto too joined the group. The old Society of Pilar was thus radically revived and Fr. Gomes became the first Superior. The event saw the fulfilment of the prophetic words of Venerable Fr. Agnelo uttered just before his death in 1927, “The Society will not die; it has a great future.” Nagar-Haveli became the first mission venture of the Reorganizers. The choice was facilitated due to the fact that one of its members, Fr. Joseph Albuquerque had been working in that area before joining the Society. Hence, soon after their Novitiate, Frs. Albuquerque and Fr. T. Cabral were appointed by the Patriarch to pioneer the Society's mission at Dadra & Nagar-Haveli. They resided in the village of Dapadda. Subsequently in 1943, with the appointment of Fr. Albuquerque as Dean of Khanwel [which encompassed the entire territory separated from Daman] they opened a unit in Khanwel and Massate where they were joined by Bro. Peter Mascarenhas. The Mission steadily expanded and today we have eight units in the Territory, with several parishes, schools, social work activities, etc. Nagar-Haveli is predominantly a tribal area comprising three main groups, the Warlis, Konknnas and the Doddias. Their principal occupation is agriculture with 22800 hectares of land under cultivation. While some owned small fields a good many live as landless labourers – tenants of big landlords. The latter exploited them easily as they were poor and ignorant. Bonded labour, credit of cereal at almost 100% interest was not rare. Such practices gradually dwindled due to the proactive measures taken by the missionaries on behalf of the adivisis. They organized rice banks and other social welfare schemes. The tribals, especially the Warlis were strongly conditioned by a fatalistic mentality. The incentive 'to save for a rainy day' or plan for the future is lacking. In times of abundant harvest, the accruing windfall income is squandered in feasting and drinking. In the subsequent months they had to lead a miserable hand-to-mouth existence. Like all folk religion, the religion of the adivasis is fuzzy with a good dose of animism. Homage to the deity was more of appeasement. Each village has its deity that has its annual feast celebrated with night-long merry-making. Tribals and rural folk relish a colourful and uninhibited expression of their religious sentiments through music and drama. This feature led the Pilar Fathers to introduce indigenous cultural elements in the Christian liturgy to attune it to tribal sensibilities. The last seventy five years of the Society's presence in the Region has certainly brought about a sea change in the social life of the adivasis. It did not take long for the Fathers to realize that the prevailing appalling level of illiteracy and ignorance not only enslaved them, but worse, made them unaware of or immune to their subhuman and miserable existence. Social change for the better could begin only by educating the masses especially the youth. In the first twenty years or so, twenty two primary and middle schools were opened besides some arts and crafts schools all over the remote villages of the Region. The opening of hostels has helped children from the far places to avail of education and also created a conducive environment for them to pursue studies and to learn basic Christian values of life. Today, Nagar-Haveli is a flourishing mission with eight residential units and several mission stations. Almost all of them have schools. At present over 5000 students are adivasis and dalits. About 20 members are serving in the Union Territory in different capacities – as pastors in churches and chapels, as managers and principals in education, and as directors of social work schemes among the adivasis.
FR. PETER RAPOSO RECEIVED HIS CALL TO COME BACK TO THE LORD
Fr. Peter Raposo, sfx a Member of The Society of Pilar was laid to rest on 24th March, at Pilar. A dynamic priest Fr. Peter was pursuing Doctoral Studies at Ohio University, USA where he received his call to come back to the Lord. He had completed his Masters in Organizational Communication and Training and Development at DePaul University at Chicago on 10th June 2012. Earlier he served in Juhu, as Assistant Parish Priest. Editor of Vavraddeancho Ixtt and was Secretary to Cardinal Telespore Toppo of Ranchi. Soon after the news of Fr. Peter’s untimely demise Tributes started pouring in....
As a Goan bureaucrat Elvis Gomes, who has known Father Peter very closely for 12 years states, “I had great respect for Peter’s clear understanding of various issues. He loved whatever he did, and showed courage in standing by what he believed in. The ever smiling face, the concern for the Church, community, poor, and helping ordinary Goan folks in distress abroad were some inherent traits in Peter that won the admiration of many. His nature was such, that he could hardly have any enemies.”
Cardinal Toppo in his condolence message had this to say “He came to us like a stranger, a God sent angel at a time when I needed him most. But within a few days he had adjusted himself and became one of the house: such was his simplicity and ability to adjust. He was upright and honest an excellent example of credibility in Religious life. He was dedicated, reliable and efficient. For four years a Secretary in the Archbishop’s house he set standards of work ethics that are difficult to emulate. His pleasing personality, his calm and joyful demeanor helped the house community to bond together. Peter Raposo was extremely generous with his time and energies which along with his sensitivity to the needs of others made him a dedicated priest and an excellent pastor”. Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, the auxiliary bishop of Ranchi sums up his intimate friend’s life, “His heart was filled with love for God, his eyes full of compassion for the poor and the suffering, his mind ever brilliant with ideas, his feet always wanting to go somewhere, his hands raring to serve, his life an epitome of generosity. I mourn him as an irreplaceable friend but I grieve for the Church and the Society of Pilar whom he loved till his last breath.”
In 2007, Frederick Noronha interviewed Peter. For the final question about what his plans were for the future, Peter left us with a pearl of wisdom, “I have lot of dreams but no plans. All plans are in the hands of the Almighty.”
Fr. Feroz Fernandes, Former Editor of Vauraddeancho Ixtt, a very close friend of Fr. Peter Raposo said “The sudden departure for the company of heaven was least expected. Peter’s sudden departure is a loss to our motherland, a piercing wound for family and friends which only God in mercy can heal. Wishing him RIP (rest in peace) is superfluous for Peter is indeed RIP (risen in priesthood).”
Fr. Kyriel D’souza, sfx, Provincial of Goa Province whose’s association with Peter became quite strong when he was living with him in the Pilar Animation Community said.
At a very young age he was selected to be the Editor of ‘ Vauraddeamcho Ixtt’ and the intelligence and the rapport he had with other journalists made him a well- known figure not only in Goa and India but even internationally for he participated enthusiastically in international meetings like ICPA. It was during his tenure that ‘ Vauraddeamcho Ixtt’ started having the annual day with the prize distribution that was particularly done to encourage young writers in Konkani and to promote Konkani. He had a great hunger to learn new things and he would discuss with me many matters before writing his editorials, etc. I discovered his intelligence and the nobility of his character during these discussions.
Fr. Dominic Alvares, Chairman of Central Mission Commission reflected thus: Fr. Peter was doing his Higher Secondary when I was ordained and each time I go through my Ordination Album, I see Peter in the background with a big smile which never faded till the end. I have great memories of shared moments on stage, on the Football field and Music and Film shooting...... At his behest I could compose some memorable songs. When I went to condole his family, his brother Francis said to me “It is a great loss for you, for The Society of Pilar.... Indeed The Society of Pilar was looking forward for his return, to avail of his expertise in communication for Evangelization. But God had other plans, who plucked Peter for his garland while in full bloom. It is my ardent prayer and I am confident that his life will inspire many young men to join The Society of Pilar and fulfill his dreams for the Church and Society.
SIGNIFICANCE OF LENT TO OUR SPIRITUAL LIVES
Lent is a holy season of 40 days set aside by the Church so that the Christ’s faithful should prepare for the celebration of the Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection. During this grace-filled season, the Catechumens prepare for Christian initiation, and the baptized Catholics prepare for Easter by a recalling of Baptism and by works of penance (prayer, fasting and almsgiving).
The word Lent is derived from an Anglo-Saxon word lengthen or lencten meaning "spring." Spring is the most important season for a farmer, for it determines what crops he will plant. He prepares the soil with much toil and sows the seed vigilantly, with great hope that the seed buried deep in the soil will produce fruits in abundance. As the Lord was speaking about his suffering and death, he assured his followers that “unless the grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat. But if it dies, it produces much fruit. The man who loves his life loses it, while the man who hates his life in this world preserves it to life eternal. If anyone would serve me, let him follow me; where I am, there will my servant be.” (Jn 12: 24-26). The liturgical season of Lent coincides with the season of spring, calling to mind the new life and growth, the hope and change that characterizes this holy season of prayer, repentance and change of heart.
The season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday with the clarion call to “Repent and believe the gospel” (Mk 1:15). During these holy forty days, we Christians willingly submit to penance and self-denial in imitation of Our Lord’s forty-day prayer, penance and fighting the evil one.
In this grace-filled season we have the opportunity to make an annual spiritual “check-up”, a 40-day retreat with Our Lord. Let this Lenten spring give us the strength to die with Jesus to our sinful self and rise with Christ to new life thus becoming that grain of wheat that falls in the soil, dies, rises to give abundant fruit.
TRANSFER OF FR.AGNELO'S BONES TO PILAR
Venerable Agnelo de Souza said in his teachings “ There is nothing better than to be a saint, even the bones of the Saints are venerated.Every year on the 10th of January we remember the day his mortal remains were brought to Pilar. Yes it was on 10th January 1939when as it were Fr Agnelo returned “home” to the Pilar Monastery where he had spent 10 years of his life as a member of the Pilar Society.