Just back from St Ann's Ahmednagar where the Diocesan Altar Servers Rally was held yesterday, 22 November 2009, Feast of Christ the King. About 250 altar servers attended from all over the diocese, including the Nashik parishes of St Patrick's, Devlali, St Ann's, Jail Road, and I think also Holy Cross. Unfortunately our own parish was not in attendance. It seems that the letter of invitation did not reach. Pity, because I think we missed a great opportunity for strengthening the commitment and faith of the altar servers, and helping them to raise the question of vocation.
St Ann's Ahmednagar wore a festive look. The chief organizer, Fr Anton D'Souza, SDB, was helped by his parish team consisting of Fr Bento D'Souza, Fr Prakash Rumao (MSW student from Vasai diocese), Deacon Briston Britto and Bro Rixson Nigrel (theology student from Poona), but also by a group of 40 Salesian Cooperators. The Salesian Cooperators were everywhere, from the planning and organizing to the making of the lovely poha for breakfast and serving the biryani for lunch. Fr Michael Bansode, Deac. Briston and Bro Rixson gave inputs: how to serve at the altar, and so on. There were also lighter moments, such as games, but also planning for strengthening the servers groups, and this planning was done parish-wise, with the animators who were in attendance.
The Rally was declared open by Fr Ravi Tribhuvan, Vicar General of our diocese, and Mr Karat, the Deputy Collector. The children were given hydrogen balloons and of course there was all sorts of confusion, but it was a colourful and a fun sight to see the balloons going up (I tried not to think of the pollution!) and also the kabutars.
In my homily at the Eucharist I recalled the scenes of the boy Jesus in the Temple and the adult Jesus with his mother and brothers outside: the discovery and the affirmation that his real Father is God. That is a discovery that each young person has to make: God is my real Father, God is my first Father, and he has first rights over me. Not an easy discovery - but it is a momentous and faith-filled discovery. From here all vocation stems.
And everyone has a vocation: every young person is called to take his or her place in the church. Some as priests and religious, others as lay leaders, animators, catechists, or whatever charisms the Spirit inspires for the good of the Church and of the world.
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