Wednesday, 30 December 2009


We have the annual Christmas Youth Get-together this evening, at Divyadaan, beginning at 1800 hrs and going up to 2100 hrs. The event is organized this time by St Ann's Parish Youth, and the entry fee is Rs 50 per head.

Today is also the wedding anniversary of Mabel and Norbert de Souza. I hope I don't get brickbats for mentioning this - only, this anniversary is something personal for me, because Mabel and Norbert got married in Mae de Deus Church, Saligao, Goa, exactly 3 days after my ordination way back in 1987... And Neville Luis and I were there, concelebrating (barely, because the main celebrant wouldn't hear about it) at the mass... So happy anniversary, Mabel and Norbert!

Some of you might not know that Denzil Pinto (Satpur) is getting married in Thane, on 16 January 2010. Denzil used to be a very active member of the Satpur youth group.

Of course, Beverly Homan is getting married right here in Nashik on 9 January 2010.

The Parish Christmas Get together is, I think, on 2 January, at L'Ecole Silver Oak, Chandsi. Entry fees are Rs 100 per head for adults, and Rs 50 per head for children under 12.

The Catechism Children's Christmas Tree instead is on Sunday, 3 January, from 1500 to 1800 hrs. Please note that there is no entry fee for this!

The Satpur sector Christmas tree was held last Sunday; it was well-attended, also by the kids from the various Oratories in and around Satpur.

And if I have missed out anything, this is an interactive thing, so do feel free to send in the missing info, or to just add in a comment!


I have heard that Fr Kenny will be around these days in Nashik - perhaps in Divyadaan....

And Fr Matthew is also down - they have long winter holidays up north in Shillong, so Fr Matthew has been assigned to our parish in Yerwada, Pune, during this time. But he promises to drop in some time in Nashik.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Mr Robins in an accident

Mr Robins Susainathan met with an accident on 23 December 2009. A four-wheeler grazed his two-wheeler and sent him flying. His whole left side is badly bruised, so much so that he could not even make it for the Christmas services. Thankfully there are no other major injuries.

Prayers for Mr Robins' quick recovery.

Catechism and growth

Every now and then I find some young boys quietly creeping away from the parish after Sunday school, trying to bunk Mass.

I guess it is part of the growing up thing! So I try to keep calm, look stern, and send them packing for Mass.

Patience. And faith in the power of the relationship: that is what, people like Michael Warren and John Powell assure us, will remain, long after what we teach in catechism has become vague. At some moment in later life, someone will remember, there was this teacher, this brother, this sister, this priest, who was kind to us and who we loved.... That is how the faith passes on. That is how God works.

So all you Sunday School teachers, do your best, but don't get discouraged!

Mervyn Goveia's wedding

Mervyn Goveia gets married this evening in Mumbai. Prayers for Merwyn and his bride for a happy and holy married life!

Sunday, 27 December 2009

New Year services

Don Bosco sector

31 Dec 2009
2200 hrs: Adoration
2300 hrs: Midnight Eucharist

1 Jan 2010
0800 hrs: Eucharist
No evening Eucharist.

Dominic Savio sector, Satpur

31 Dec 2009
2230 hrs: Adoration
2300 hrs: Midnight Eucharist

1 Jan 2010
0900 hrs: Eucharist

Family, faith, and generosity

Today is the Feast of the Holy Family. I cannot help recalling how Pope Benedict XVI told the Salesians gathered at their last General Chapter that today youth ministry is not possible without family ministry. How true!

The Feast of the Holy Family is an occasion to invite all our families to grow in faith and in generosity.

Dear married people of our parish, allow the Lord to enter into every nook and corner of your lives - especially where you find it difficult to allow him. So often we feel that the faith is boring, and that the mass and the homilies of our priests do not touch our lives. Well, they do, but then the going becomes difficult. The faith touches, for example, your decisions about the size of your families.

I once asked a priest colleague of mine in Rome how he would handle married people in the confessional who spoke about family planning. He gave me a very beautiful answer which I want to share with you. Don't speak to them directly about the law of the Church, he said; they know that very well, otherwise they would not be coming to you. Speak to them, rather, of the need to grow in faith and in generosity. Because that is the real issue: faith and generosity.

We need faith when we decide about the size of our families. Faith that life is a gift of God, that life is not in our hands, and that children are very special gifts of God. That standard of life is not everything. That allowing God to reign in our lives is really the thing.

We need generosity to accept the children that God gives.

We need faith to enable our children grow in faith. Parents are the very first faith educators of their children. Your attitudes are caught by them, they pick them up, with the mother's milk.

And we need faith, above all, to let our children find their vocations. The gospel of today is powerful: the boy Jesus has discovered his real Father, and he tells his mother and Joseph that there is no question about it, he has to be about his Father's business.

The poet Kahlil Gibran said so beautifully: Your children are not your children. They are children of life's longing for itself. They are arrows shot from your bow; but they will travel where you will not be able to go. Let them. Allow them.

Your children are not your children. They are children of God. Allow them to travel their own paths to God. And if today they hear, like young Samuel, the voice of God, do not harden your hearts: allow them, encourage them, to say Yes, Yes, Yes.

Today is my 22nd ordination anniversary, and I can't help thinking of my own parents. I am the eldest in the family. When I decided to follow my Salesian vocation, my dad was about to retire, and my brother and sister had not yet begun working. It was certainly an extremely difficult moment, but my parents did not balk. They never said a word asking me to stay back; instead, from them I have received and continue to receive only encouragement. I realize now that they made a great act of faith. Faith in the God who is the giver of Life. Faith in his generosity and his providence.

My parents are not saints by any means. But when the moment of their testing came, they were found ready. I praise God for such acts of faith and for raising up such faith among his people. And like my own parents, I know there are so many others. The parents of our young brothers, for example: so many of our brothers are now either only sons, or even sometimes only children. But their parents have made their acts of faith. God be praised.

Kavivarya Tilak Puraskar for Fr Nelson Falcao

Fr Nelson received the Kavivarya Tilak Puraskar for his work on the Khristapurana on Christmas Day, 25 December 2009, at a function at Holy Cross Church.

The function - Vishwashanti Prarthana and Krutajnata Sohala - is held every year on Christmas Evening. It is organized by the Nashik Ekatmata Samiti, the organization that works for unity and harmony between religions and communities.

This year the Adhyaksa / President of the function was an interesting individual called Narayan Guruji, who is the former Chairman of Excel Industries, Baroda, and who is well-known as a management guru who has incorporated the wisdom of the West with the wisdom of centuries found in India in the Vedas, the Upanisads, and the Bhagavad Gita. Narayan Guruji shared also how he had had a vision of someone he took to be Ved Vyasa, but then later he was enabled to realize that this was actually Jesus. A very open, warm, loving human being, Narayan Guru. Good to have people like that still around in our country.

The Puraskar was awarded to Fr Nelson by the Jesuits of Holy Cross Church, the main mover being Fr Tony George, the Parish Priest, and himself a Marathi scholar, who has just completed a doctoral dissertation on the Autobiographies of Marathi converts in the Pre-Independence era.

The Collector of Nashik, and Vanadhipati Vinayakdada Patil, who were both scheduled to come, were not able to be present, and sent their wishes.

There was a good crowd at the function which was held inside the Church - mostly parishioners from Holy Cross and Satpur, with a few also from the Don Bosco sector, and a fairly large number of non-Christian friends and well-wishers. I was struck by the number of non-Christians paying a visit to the Church, and especially to the crib and to the statue of Our Lady - which, interestingly, seems to be a statue of Mary Help of Christians.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Only the Lover Sings - A Christmas Meditation from Fr Joaquim D'Souza

The great African Bishop and Father of the Church, St Augustine of Hippo, expressed the insight in his inimitable, crisp Latin: “Cantare amantis est” (Sermon 336), It belongs to the lover to sing, or in other words, Only the lover sings. In fact, only a lover can sing, only one who loves and is loved has the right to sing. When love finds its way into a heart, it breaks into song. That is why most songs in any language are love songs, expressions of the heart that exults.

Christmas is usually associated with songs, hymns and carols. At the birth of Jesus, angelic choirs sang in the heavens (Lk 2,14), the shepherds returned to their flocks praising and glorifying God (singing all the way back, I imagine) for what they had seen and heard (Lk 2, 20) and Mary sang in her heart as she meditated on all these things (Lk 2, 19). It was inevitable that singing should be part of Christmas from the very beginning, for Love was born on Christmas night.

Among the favourite and enduring Christmas carols in the English language, from the heavenly, Angels we have heard on high, to the homely, Come, come, come to the manger, and the sublime, almost ethereal, Silent Night, Holy Night, one that is most popular is, The Twelve Days of Christmas. The tune has a lilt about it that immediately catches the ear, but the words are another matter. One wonders what reference the words have to Christmas, except that they count the twelve days from Christmas Day to Epiphany. I thought it was a charming but farcical carol until I discovered quite recently that it had a secret meaning written in a coded language. The context is the great persecution that King Henry VIII unleashed on the Catholic Church after he had set himself by an Act of Parliament as Head of the Church. From 1558 to 1829 the Catholic faith was persecuted in England and its practice was severely forbidden. In this tragic situation an unknown Catholic composed this carol to teach children their Catechism and pass on to them the fundamentals of the Catholic faith. Through this ingenious way the carol could be sung openly without inviting suspicion, while only the initiated would understand the true meaning behind the lyrics. If you do not know the words of the song, you can find it on the internet, but here is its hidden meaning:

1 My True Love refers to God: The partridge in a pear tree refers to Jesus Christ
2 Turtle Doves refers to the Old and New Testaments
3 French Hens refers to Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues
4 Calling Birds refers to the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
5 Golden Rings refers to the first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which gives the history of man's fall from grace.
6 Geese A-laying refers to the six days of creation
7 Swans A-swimming refers to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments
8 Maids A-milking refers to the eight beatitudes
9 Ladies Dancing refers to the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
10 Lords A-leaping refers to the ten commandments
11 Pipers Piping refers to the eleven faithful apostles
12 Drummers Drumming refers to the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed

What is truly wonderful about this carol is that it was written and sung in a time of terrible persecution for Catholics. Notwithstanding the immense sufferings of the poor Catholics of that time, their joy bubbled over into song that expressed their steadfastness in the faith. They sang this ingeniously coded carol cheerfully, because they experienced the love of the Lord in the midst of suffering. Only the lover sings in the midst of suffering, because the love that permeates his heart triumphs over the pain. His faith and the experience of being loved are victorious over suffering and death. That is why he sings.

If this be true, then this carol tells us something very profound about Christmas. From the beginning, Christmas is inextricably bound up with suffering as it is with singing. Jesus was born in a stable on a cold wintry night and kept warm in a manger of straw in the company of Mary and Joseph, “because there was no place for them in the inn” (Lk 2,7). The hurried flight into Egypt and the ruthless massacre of the Holy Innocents are as much part of the Christmas story as are the angelic choirs with their singing. While angels sang on high, and the shepherds rejoiced and Mary contemplated in wonder, the little Babe of Bethlehem suffered rejection and became the object of a sinister assassination plot to exterminate him. “He came unto his own and his own received him not” (Jn 1,11). The shadow of the Cross already fell on the Crib, and Calvary was joined to Bethlehem.

But isn’t Christmas supposed to be about unsullied happiness and joy and peace and friendship and all the good things in life? Undoubtedly so, but at a deeper level than one imagines it to be. We are so accustomed to associate Christmas with buntings and lights, presents and sweets and Santa Claus, that we tend to forget that Christmas has a message deeper than that. There is a truer joy and peace than what appears to be so at a superficial level. It is a joy that shines in the midst of tears, a peace that endures through the pain. It comes from the realization that God has entered our broken world and taken upon himself our pain, in order to give us a peace that the world cannot give and a joy that none can take away. And it is this kind of love in the midst of tears that floods our hearts on Christmas Day and remains with us long after the buntings are taken down and the coloured lights are put out. And so we can truly sing our hearts out with all those who suffer pain, loss, disappointment and defeat: “On the first day of Christmas, my true Love gave to me a partridge in a pear tree” – Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ!

Thursday, 17 December 2009

150th anniversary of the founding of the SDBs

Tomorrow the Salesian Congregation celebrates the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Congregation.

On 18 December 1859, Don Bosco and 17 others - mostly young men - gathered together to pledge themselves to form a new society - the Society of St Francis de Sales. Thus was born the Salesian Congregation.

Tomorrow, 18 December 2009, Salesians all over the world will be commemorating the day by renewing their vows, and perhaps also in other ways.

In Nashik, the SDBs will celebrate the Eucharist together at 0630 hours at Divyadaan, and will renew their vows during the Eucharist.

The 'external celebrations' will be on 31 December 2010.

Do keep all of us in your prayers, dear parishioners.

Prayers requested

Please pray for the brother-in-law of Mr Hugh Mascarenhas (brother of Mrs Jenny Mascarenhas), who has been ailing for a long time. Mrs Mascarenhas has, in fact, been at his bedside taking care of him, practically the whole of the last year, in Bangalore.

Friday, 11 December 2009


It was good to see Ross Lewis going around collecting carols, and getting new carol sheets ready for the carol singing which is going to begin Monday, 14 December. Together with him there were also Jackson, Rochelle and Ansilon.

I will be accompanying the singers 14, 15 and 17 December. Fr Robert will accompany them 16 December. Fr Nelson, who will be with the Satpur group 14-17 December, will be with the DB group 21-22 November.

The areas are being marked out. I have heard that the singers will be visiting D'Souza Colony and Uday Nagar on 14 and 15 December, and perhaps some houses of Akashwani area.

SCC meetings, Zone A

Yesterday, 10 December 2009, the St Dominic Savio Community (Uday Nagar) met at Mr Hugh Mascarenhas' house at 1900 hours for a prayer meeting. Besides Hugh, there were also Mr Robin and Ms Juliana John and myself. Mrs Robin was unwell; Anita, Rocky and Rose were in Mumbai for a wedding.

The passage chosen was the gospel of the coming Sunday, Lk 3, 10-18: the preaching of John the Baptist and the feeling of growing expectancy, amid which John declares that he is not the Messiah.

The next meeting has been fixed for Thursday, 14 January 2010, at Juliana's place.

At 1930 hours the Mary Help of Christians Community (D'Souza colony) met in the house of Edward Lewis. There was a goodly group here: Eddy, Blessy and Ross; Mr Shepherd; Rita D'Souza; Carol Lobo; Meena Bansode; and Henry Menezes. I reached after they had finished the meeting. The next meeting is yet to be finalized, but the place will be Eddy Lewis' house, to make it convenient for Mr and Mrs Shepherd to attend.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Bosco Carvalho's Marian Song

Marian Song composed by Bro. Bosco Carvalho, SDB, and performed by the Divyadaan Choir on 8 December 2009 during the Marian Academy:
Life is a blessing
Celebrate it dear
Pain is passing
Have no fear
Cos you are given a mother
Who holds you by the hand
Remember you are not alone.

Look at her she smiles at you
She'll drown you deep down in her love
Her warm bright gaze reflects Jesus when she says
Child you are my delight.

Hope lights candles
Take it dear
Curse not the darkness
Bring that hope near
Coz you are given a true hope
Who leads you to the Lord
Remember Mary's there with you.


Bridge: The sky seems brighter
Faces happier
When I see Mary smile at me
I know she's my delight and I'm hers.

(repeat chorus 2x)

Sr Dominica's dad unwell

Sr Dominica’s dad is not well. I hear he has been in the ICU. Prayers for him and for the family.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Provincial meets parish council

The provincial met the Parish Council of the DB sector yesterday at 1700 hours. The chief topic for discussion was the request made by some parishioners for allocation of a plot of land for a self-standing parish church. There was a very straight and frank discussion. The upshot was that letters to the provincial should be sent through the parish council meeting under the presidency of the parish priest. The opinion of the house council also would be sought. The provincial had, nevertheless, replied to the private letter sent to him; he was still awaiting a firm and official reply.

In his letter, the provincial had asked some questions, chiefly about who would finance the building of the proposed church.

In his dialogue, the provincial also said that he would first like to see the parish community built up, and church collections and church support increase. The parish councillors - and other parishioners who had joined the meeting - pointed out that this was already taking place.

The provincial concluded by thanking those present for their frankness.

Salesian cooperators meet the Provincial

The Provincial, Fr Michael, met a small group of Salesian Cooperators and aspiring Cooperators at 1630 hours yesterday, 6 December 2009. Among the professed Cooperators present was Mrs Lucy D'Souza; her husband Dominic works on Sundays and was unable to come. Mr and Mrs Robin Susainathan had excused themselves. Among the aspiring Cooperators were Mrs Lily Nirmal, Mrs Letitia John, and Mr Shyju Babykutty.

The Association is not new to Nashik: there used to be a fairly consistent group some years ago. Lucy said that the group disbanded when one of the Salesian animators discouraged the seniors, with the intention of encouraging youngsters to join.

Fr Michael has been inviting each Salesian house revive or begin a unit of the Cooperators.

Don Bosco wanted to have full-fledged Salesians 'living in the world'. He called them 'extern Salesians.' When this was not allowed at that time by the Church authorities, he founded the Association of Salesian Cooperators.

The Cooperators take a promise, in contrast to the SDBs and FMAs who take public vows, and the VDBs (Volunteers of Don Bosco) who take private vows.

We pray that this small group that met with the provincial on the second day of the triduum of the Immaculate might flourish and be blessed with enthusiasm and growth.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Provincial visit

Fr Michael Fernandes, SDB, Salesian Provincial, is here for his annual official visit to our parish. This morning he celebrated the Eucharist in Marathi for the people of Satpur, a commendable effort because he is fluent in Gujarati, and this is only the second time he has celebrated in Marathi. He also met the parish council briefly, visited the sick, and inspected the old chapel in Anand Colony.

At 1630 hours this afternoon he meets the Salesian Cooperators, old and new, and at 1700 hours the parish council of the Don Bosco sector. At 1830 he presides at the Sunday evening Eucharist.

Yesterday Fr Michael presided at the Saturday evening Eucharist (which was also the first day of the triduum of the feast of the Immaculate Conception).

The parish blog

At the wedding yesterday I met Mrs Rita D’Souza, just back from the UK where she spent some months with her daughter Sheila. I was thrilled when she said to me: You know, I didn’t miss the parish, because I was following all the happenings on the blog. Wonderful! I guess distance makes the heart grow fonder. And feedback like this encourages one to go on!

So do feel free with your feedback. We value it!

Roshan and Larina are married

Roshan Rebello and Larina Sequeira exchanged their marriage vows at Don Bosco Church, Nashik, yesterday, Saturday, 5 December 2009. I reached just in time to wish the newly married couple as they were posing for photos before the grotto – and had to pose for a photo myself under duress, unshaven face and all, after my long journey from Goa to Nashik.

The parish priest and I joined the reception at Tiger Hill Lawns on the Mumbai Nashik Highway. Huge crowd, beautiful decorations, and good fun. The new couple was beaming with joy - though perhaps there were also many tears behind the scenes, going from the fact that the sado ceremony took so long! The two pairs of parents were also very happy.

Wishes and prayers to Roshan and Larina as they begin the adventure of their married lives. May they always remember that they build on the Rock that is Jesus, and may they be always open to Life and to Love.

Fr Wyman's mum

I just heard yesterday that Mrs Hazel Gonsalves, Fr Wyman Gonsalves' mum is not well. She had undergone an operation recently, and then the stitches had come loose, and she had to undergo another surgery. She is in the ICU, and Fr Wyman, who had just returned from the Provincial Community Day celebrations on 3 December, had to rush back to Mumbai to be with her. Prayers for this good lady.