Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sumedha Centre Hosts Salesian Brothers

Sumedha Centre Jeolikote was the venue of the Annual Meeting of the Salesian Brothers of the Salesian Province of New Delhi from 23rd to 25th of this month.

On the first day, Fr. A. U. Thomas, the Province Delegate for Social Communications, shared with the Brothers the Congregation’s vision for the Social Media, and showed the Brothers how to access the wealth of information, both Salesian and other, available on the Net, and how to make use of the Salesian Internet sites to enhance their ministry. In the evening Fr. Jose Mathew, the Province Economer, discussed with the Brothers some matters that needed attention in the financial and accounting sector.

On the second and third days, the Provincial Fr. P. J. Michael and the Vice Provincial Fr. Shilanand Kerketta shared with the Brothers some of the concerns of the Congregation in regard to Religious Life and Discipline, vocational fragility and ongoing formation. The Brothers had ample opportunity to share their own views on these matters.

The Brothers also had an enjoyable tour of the nearby tourist town of Nainital before winding up their meeting and stay at Sumedha Centre.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Sumedha Centre Hosts Bareilly Priests’ Retreat

Sumedha Centre, Jeolikote, was the venue of this year’s Bareilly Diocese Priests’ Retreat which concluded this afternoon.

This is the first time Bareilly diocese is here for a programme after the Pastoral Centre of the Diocese at Jeolikote was handed over to the Salesians in June last year. The Salesians now operate Sumedha Centre for Psychology and Spirituality from the Pastoral Centre.

Thirty eight priests and the bishop attended the retreat. It was led by Fr. Fernando da Costa, a priest of the diocese of Pune and a former Chairman of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in Pune diocese. He was assisted by Mr. Francis D’Souza, member of the National Catholic Charismatic Renewal team.

The focus of the retreat was on holiness of life, especially on the call to renewal of life of holiness in this year of the priest. Fr. Da Costa emphasised that priests have been empowered by God to promote holiness among his people. For that they themselves have to strive for holiness. As years pass by the initial fervour and enthusiasm coming from that empowerment can disappear and priests can settle down to a comfortable mediocrity and a mundane life, failing in their call to be burning torches. He used the metaphor of coal covered with ashes to convey this reality. No matter how much incense you pour on that ash covered coal, there will be no fragrance. The only thing one has to do is to brush of the ashes and the embers will light again and the room will be filled with the fragrance. “That,” he said to the priests, “is your challenge. You have to brush of all that diminishes your priesthood, so that the fire of holiness can burn bright again and set the world on fire.”

Mr D’Souza said this was the first time he was preaching to priests. He was very appreciative of the receptiveness of the priests to a layman’s preaching. He was also very appreciative of the facilities and care provided by Sumedha Centre. “That helped the retreat immensely,” he said.

During these five days of the retreat Sumedha Centre was alive with the sound of music. The singing of the priests, especially the Hindi bajhans, was melodious and moving and the musical accompaniment soul-stirring.

God appears to have been showering his blessing on the priests throughout the retreat. It poured and poured! The rain was incessant during the five days, and the mist pervasive, depriving the priests sight of the lovely mountains and the lush greenery, except for some rare glimpse when the weather gods chose to be kind! However, the increased cascade of the nearby stream was delightful to the ear.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

John's Birthday

This evening we had a belated birthday celebration for Br. John Minj. His birthday is August 28. However, the Salesians were having thir annual retreat at the time, and we could not disturb their time with God and with themsleves with a noisy celebration!

Sisters from the two convents next door, the parish priest and Fr. Gregory, Fr. Johnny and Fr. Pius from Kathgaodam graced the occasion. We had tanduri chicken and appam and curry... and of course a nice birthday cake!

John has become quite a celebrity in Jeolikote. Everybody seems to know him! He is a great gardner, and the surroundings of Sumedha Centre are looking quite different (and beautiful) with his vegetable and flower gardens.

John has also begun English classes for the children of the neighbourhood. He started with 12 students about three weeks ago, and today he has about 50 boys and girls as students, and his popularity, in terms of number of studens who attend his classes, is ever on the increase. Infact, now he does his classes in two batches, one for the girls and one for the boys. That was a start move, because he did not want the boys and the girls to be busy with anything else than learning English in his class!