“You will be ordained to be priests of the Church, in the Church, and for the Church, according to the heart of the Church,” said Bishop Virginio Bressanelli in his homily for one of two August ordination ceremonies in India. “Remember always that you are children of the Church. You were born to her, she confirmed your call, and she today makes you sharers in the priesthood of Christ. Love the Church with all your heart. You are not meant to be priests on your own and for your own purposes, you will be ordained as parts of a body whose head is Christ and we are the members.”
A total of 11 Indian SCJs were ordained in the young District of India. The ordaining bishop, Bishop Bressanelli of Neuquén Patagonia-Comahue, Argentina, was superior general of the Priests of the Sacred Heart when the congregation began its presence in India.
“In the year 2000 I had the grace to visit this place for the first time on the occasion of the groundbreaking ceremony of the formation house ‘Dehon Prema Nilayam,’” said the bishop. “Let me thank heartily the local Church of Guntur who, with much love and trust, received us and allowed us to establish here our formation house and our novitiate. Today Guntur opens the doors of the cathedral to consecrate to the service of God’s Kingdom this beautiful group of new Dehonian priests. For this I say ‘Thank You’ to this Church of Guntur and to her Bishop.”
Click here to read the full text of Bishop Bressanelli’s homilies.
Fr. McQueen Mascarenhas, one of the first Indian SCJs to be ordained, reported on this year’s ordinations:
The Indian District experienced great joy as eleven brothers were ordained as priests in Kerela and in Andhra Pradesh (Guntur).
On August 10 the ordination of Ajit. K. B., Christy P., Colin Napolean., Martin A., and Rinu took place in Kerela. On the previous day Bishop Virginio Bressanelli, our SCJ bishop from Argentina, and the five deacons stayed at the bishop’s house in Cochin. On the morning of the 10th Bishop Bressanelli was accompanied by Very Rev. Fr. Anthony Tachara and the deacons to our house at Kumbalanghy, before proceeding to the church.
At the church the bishop was received by Fr. Thomas, coordinator of the SCJ District Board, who placed a garland on Bishop Bressanelli. A band and a group of children dressed as angels greeted him and Fr. Tachara and the deacons. The master of ceremonies, Fr. Jose Richard, read a brief biography of each deacon while the procession of more than 40 priests began from St. Joseph’s Chapel. There was a wonderful choir lead by Mr. Bonny including our own Fathers Jijo and Abraham. The altar was beautifully decorated and the liturgy was well planned. We were blessed to have Fr. Sugino, our general councilor, representing the general administration. In addition, we were blessed with the presence of Fr. Tom Cassidy, Fr. Hadrianus Wargito (both members of the general administration during the time of Bishop Bressanelli), Fr. Sebastian Pitz (the first novice master of India), Fr. Danny from Indonesia, a diocesan priest from Brazil and a lay women from Brazil.
The Indian SCJs present were Frs. Thomas Vinod, Louis Mariano, Michael Benedict, Sunil Roman, Jose Richard, Jijo, Abraham and Br. Xavier. In addition, brothers from our houses Dehon Bhavan (minor seminary) Dehon Jyothi (senior aspirants) and Dehon Vidya Sadhan (philosophy house) were also in attendance.
It was a great joy for the families. It was a landmark in our short Indian SCJ history to have our first priest from Jarchand. Many of his family traveled three days by train from north India to be present, including his grandmother. At the conclusion of the mass Bishop Bressanelli asked each of the newly ordained to give him his blessing. We praise and thank God for this beautiful celebration in front of a packed church. Many greetings were sent to the newly ordained and a special greeting came from Fr. General and Fr. Kus.
The celebration continued as the communities in Andhra Pradesh prepared for the second ordination liturgy. On the 11th Bishop Bressanelli, Fr. Sugino, Fr. Thomas, Fr. Louis Mariano, and our other guests arrived. They were greeted by Fr. Sunil (rector of Chrisu Dehon Niwas), Fr. Jesus and Fr. Jojappa. There was a solemn welcome to Andhra Pradesh at the Sacred Heart Ashram with garlanding and song. In the evening a small cultural program was held to officially welcome our guests. The next day, we had a solemn adoration remembering the anniversary of the death of our founder, the Venerable Leo John Dehon, and special prayers for the deacons to be ordained. The same morning we also welcomed the family of Fr. Vimal. At 10:00 a.m., Bishop Virginio Bresanelli, Fr. Sugino and Fr. McQueen visited the Bishop of Guntur, Most Rev. Dr. Gali Bali.
In the afternoon Bishop Bresanelli, Fr. Sugino, Fr. McQueen and the six deacons left for the bishop’s house to prepare for the ordination. From there the group, accompanied by Bishop Gali Bali, went to the school at Phirangipuram were they were welcomed by Fr. Jayaraj, the parish priest, his assistants, Frs. Dharma and Naveen. All were treated to a beautiful band performance. Later, Fr. Mariano, along with Frs. Tom Cassidy, Wargito, Sebastin, Dany and two Brazilan guests (Fr. Rogero and Fatima), and our postulants joined the ceremonies.
The program continued with the garlanding of the bishops, general councilor, special SCJ guests and the deacons by Frs. Mariano, McQueen, Dharma and the postulants. Then the procession proceeded to the church led by the band. At the church most of the priests, sisters, brothers and people were waiting. Shortly afterwards the liturgy began with music led by Fr. Thomas and the diocesan musicians and choir.
There were about 90 priests in addition to the two bishops. In the sanctuary were seven SCJ priests and five from the diocese. A brief biography of the six deacons was read by Fr. Pravenone, one of the assisting priests. It was a solemn celebration with a warm introduction from the bishop of Guntur. He expressed his joy to have six deacons to be ordained in the parish and to have Bishop Virginio Bresanelli present. He had met Bishop Bressanelli when he was superior general and had stayed at our generalate in Rome.
Fr. Sugino from the general administration gave a short reflection. He expressed the feelings of the general and his administration at this special moment in our district history. He also remembered Fr. Kus, the district superior, Frs. Martin, Pedro, Guntor, and Kristianto. He reminded the deacons of their call to be holy and faithful priests. There was also a short talk by Fr. Rajesh, another assisting priest.
Following the homily by Bishop Gali Bali, Bishop Bressanelli began the ordination ceremony. He was assisted by Frs. McQueen and the two masters of ceremonies.
Perhaps the most touching moment was the anointing of the hands. The bishop wrapped the hands of each new priest in a cloth after pouring the oil while saying the prayer of anointing. They wiped their hands dry with this cloth and will keep it for the rest of their lives. Bishop Bessanelli still carries the cloth from his own ordination 45 years ago. He actually used this cloth to wipe his own hands at the conclusion of the anointing.
The celebration ended with the blessing by each of the new priests to the people. The new priests were then congratulated by the two bishops, all the priests and the guests from abroad. We praise and thank the good Lord for all these blessings as we continue to attend the first masses of thanksgiving in both Kerela and Andhra Pradesh.
In conclusion, many thanks to the general administration, district council, advisory board, family members and all the confreres, both in India and abroad. May the Sacred Heart of Jesus be praised, loved and glorified all over the world.
Fr. McQueen Mascarenhas, scj
August 15, 2011