My Dear Confreres,
Fraternal greetings to each one of you in the name of the Lord!
“When we die to something, something comes alive within us. If we die to self, charity comes alive; if we die to pride, service comes alive; if we die to lust, reverence for personality comes alive; if we die to anger, love comes alive.”
Archbishop Fulton Sheen
As we are in the holy season of Lent, I would like to offer some helpful thoughts on our path of conversion and renewal as individuals and as communities. These insights are inspired by the words of Saint Paul: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake, He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich.” (2 Cor 8:9)
Lent (Latin: Quadragesima; English: Fortieth) is a solemn religious observance in the liturgical calendar of many Christian denominations that begins on Ash Wednesday and covers a period of approximately six weeks before Easter Sunday. Coming from the Anglo-Saxon Lencten, meaning “spring”, Lent originated in the ancient Babylonian mystery religion. “The forty days’ abstinence of Lent was directly borrowed from the worshippers of the Babylonian goddess…Among the Pagans, this Lent seems to have been an indispensable preliminary to the great annual festival in commemoration of the death and resurrection of Tammuz.” (The Two Babylons). Tammuz was the false Messiah of the Babylonians – a satanic counterfeit of Jesus Christ. The Feast of Tammuz was usually celebrated in June (also called the ‘month of Tammuz’). Lent was held for 40 days before the feast, “celebrated by alternate weeping and rejoicing”. It took place from spring to early summer.
Lent began as a way for Catholics to remind themselves of the value of repentance. The austerity of the Lenten season was seen as similar to how people in the Old Testament fasted and repented in sackcloth and ashes (Esther 4:1-3; Jeremiah 6:26; Daniel 9:3).
According to the Catholic Encyclopaedia, “the real aim of Lent is, above all else, to prepare men for the celebration of the death and Resurrection of Christ…the better the preparation the more effective the celebration will be. One can effectively relive the mystery only with purified mind and heart. The purpose of Lent is to provide that purification by weaning men from sin and selfishness through self-denial and prayer, by creating in them the desire to do God’s will and to make His kingdom come by making it come first of all in their hearts.”
Lent is a time of renewal for the whole Church, for each community and for every believer. Above all, it is a “time of grace” (2 Cor 6:2). God does not ask of us anything that He Himself has not first given us. “We love because He first loved us.” (1 Jn 4:19). He is not aloof from us. Each one of us has a place in His heart. He knows us by name. He cares for us and He seeks us out whenever we turn away from Him. He is interested in each of us. His love does not allow Him to be indifferent to what happens to us.
Usually, when we are healthy and comfortable, we forget about others (something God the Father never does); we are unconcerned with their problems, their sufferings and the injustices they endure… Our heart grows cold. As long as I am relatively healthy and comfortable, I don’t think about those less well off.
Today, this selfish attitude of indifference has taken on global proportions, to the extent that we can speak of a globalization of indifference. It is a problem which we, as Christians, need to confront. When the people of God are converted to His love, they find answers to the questions that history continually raises.
Indifference to our neighbour and to God also represents a real temptation for us Christians. Each year during Lent, we need to hear once more the voice of the prophets who cry out and trouble our conscience.
God is not indifferent to our world; He so loves it that He gave His only Son for our salvation. In the incarnation, in the earthly life, death and resurrection of the Son of God, the gate between God and man, between heaven and earth, opens once for all. The Church is like the hand holding open this gate, thanks to her proclamation of God’s word, her celebration of the sacraments and her witness of the faith which works through love (cf. Gal 5:6).
But the world tends to withdraw into itself and shut that door through which God comes into the world and the world comes to Him. Hence the hand, which is the Church, must never be surprised if it is rejected, crushed and wounded.
God’s people, then, need an interior renewal, lest we become indifferent and withdraw into ourselves. As a way of overcoming indifference and our pretensions to self-sufficiency and as we are in the Year of Formation for the Mission of Mercy and Compassion, I would like to invite everyone to live this Lent as an opportunity for engaging in what Pope Benedict XVI called a “formation of the heart” (cf. Deus Caritas Est, 31).
A merciful heart does not mean a weak heart. Anyone who wishes to be merciful must have a strong and steadfast heart, closed to the tempter but open to God – a heart which lets itself be pierced by the Spirit so as to bring love along the roads that lead to our brothers and sisters – and ultimately, a poor heart, one which realizes its own poverty and gives itself freely for others.
During this Lent, then, brothers, let us all ask the Lord: “Fac cor nostrum secundum cor tuum” – “Make our hearts like Yours” (Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus). In this way, we will receive a heart which is firm and merciful, attentive and generous, a heart which is not closed, not indifferent, and not prey to the globalization of indifference.
It is my prayerful hope that this Lent would prove to be spiritually fruitful for each of us and every community of ours. May the Lord bless you, Our Lady keep you and our Patron and Founder guide and inspire you.
“Let us live this Lent then, as a ‘Eucharistic time’ in which, welcoming the love of Jesus, we learn to spread it around us with every word and deed.”
Pope Benedict XVI
A HOLY & FRUITFUL SEASON OF LENT!
CELEBRATION OF THE YEAR OF MISSION 2015 IN SOUTH-EAST INDIA PROVINCE
“Ours is a call… to seek and initiate ever new and creative ways to be effective missionaries for the sake of God’s kingdom in season and out of season.”
Responding to the call of our beloved Superior General, our South-East India Province inaugurated the Mission Year and Year of Consecrated Life 2015 with the theme, “OUR CONSECRATED LIFE FOR THE MISSSION 2015” displayed in all our communities and centres. As the first programme, the Core Committee of CLM organised recollections in all our Apostolic Communities based on the special themes given for the year. This activity is being followed every month in all our Apostolic Communities. In view of acquainting the people with the missionary spirit of our Patron and our Founder, we organized the celebration of Mission Sunday in all our Parishes and Institutions. For this, a special Sunday Liturgy was prepared and sent to all the centres. The celebration of Mission Sunday really brought to fore and shed light on the true Gentleman Saint.
In our Formation House, monthly recollections are organized based on the themes, pertaining to the Missionary zeal of our Founder, Fr. Mermier and our heavenly Patron, St. Francis de Sales and Salesian Spirituality. Once in two months, a veteran Missionary is invited to address the students with the motive of infusing them with the thirst to become effective missionaries. A notice-board is set apart as a Fransalian Corner wherein the students display the sayings, quotes, letters, drawings, etc of SFS and Fr. Mermier. This activity really inspires our students to come out with more creativity and the knowledge of SFS and Fr. Mermier. This also inspires even those who visit the young Fransalians. Once a month, Skit and Essay Competitions are being organized on different themes and on the Life of Fr. Mermier and SFS.
In view of concluding the Year of Mission and opening the door of the Year of Formation and taking to the people the ever fresh memories of the lives of our heavenly Patron and our Founder and the history of our Congregation and Province, we translated the English version of the lives of our heavenly Patron and our Founder and the history of our Congregation and Province into our vernacular language Tamil and published it in a booklet form and gave to the parishioners of every centre with the view of conducting Quiz Competition in all our Mission Centres. The Quiz Competition is in full swing in all our Mission Centres right now. It certainly brings light in the lives of our Parishioners about the lives of our heavenly Patron and our Founder and the history of our Congregation and Province. Thanks to the hands that joined together for this work.
“Hark… Now hear the sailors cry…
Smell the Sea…
And Feel the Sky…”
Fr. D. Sheen Prisal Singh
INAUGURATION OF THE YEAR OF MSFS FORMATION FOR MISSION OF MERCY & COMPASSION 2016 ON THE FEAST OF ST. FRANCIS DE SALES
‘Aggiornamento’ (A bringing up-to-date), ‘Throw open the windows of the Church and let the fresh air of the Spirit blow through’, declared the former Pope St. John XXIII before the great Second Vatican Council. ‘In today’s world open a similar door of mercy’, proclaimed the present Pope Francis as the hallmark of the Year of Mercy and Compassion. The Year of Mercy and Compassion is enriched with a special focus on formation by our Superior General. And therefore, the inauguration of this special Year of MSFS Formation for the Mission of Mercy and Compassion took place in SFS Minor Seminary, Pudukkottai at 6.30 p.m., on 24th January, on the Feast of our Patron, St. Francis De Sales.
Rev. Fr. Noel Rebello, the General Secretary for Formation, Rev. Fr. Anthony Dharmaraj, our Provincial and nearly thirty priests belonging to our province and other provinces were present at the Holy Eucharistic celebration, presided over by Rev. Fr. Provincial. Fr. George Kootinal, the Rector of SFS Minor Seminary, Pudukkottai, during introduction, welcomed all the fathers and guests, and highlighted Jesus as the perfect epitome of mercy and compassion in His words and deeds, and also exhorted the participants to imbibe the same tender mercy and compassion of Jesus to manifest themselves as the true disciples of Jesus. Fr. Noel, in his homily, presented two realities: one is our pride as a province and congregation in achieving greater realities and the second the challenges awaiting the future young missionaries especially in terms of forming oneself against all odds distorting the society and Kingdom of God. Rev. Fr. Provincial, on behalf of the Province, thanked Rev. Fr. Noel for his readiness to be part of our growth and celebration. He also stated that it was in his presence that our province inaugurated the Year of Mission last year.
After the Holy Eucharist, the website of our Province was officially launched in the presence of all our confreres and guests in the seminary auditorium. Rev. Fr. Provincial thanked Fr. G. David, the Web-manager of our province and all who helped him to make it a reality. The function came to an end with dinner.
Fr. S. Prem Kumar
SOUTH-EAST PROVINCE WEBSITE LAUNCHED
Responding to the needs of the time and growing global trends, the South-East Fransalians launched a Province website on 24th January, on the Feast Day of our Heavenly Patron, St. Francis de Sales. It contains detailed information on our centres and their activities, basic details of the members and some information on our province and congregation. The name of the province website is msfssoutheast.org. The launching function was set up in the auditorium in SFS Minor Seminary, Pudukkottai, where the confreres gathered after the Solemn Feast Mass. Fr. G. David, the Web-manager of the province, welcomed all for the website launch and Rev. Fr. Noel Rebello, the General Secretary for Formation, officially inaugurated the website.
Rev. Fr. A. John Peter (Sr) gave a few information on how to use and benefit from our website. He also encouraged the confreres to send Sunday homilies to msfssewebmanager.com which can be posted in the website. More than 30 of our fathers had gathered for the event and Fr. G. David thanked all the fathers, who helped him to collect and correct the data to upload in the website. He also thanked Rev. Fr. A. Dharmaraj, the Provincial, for entrusting the task to him and for helping him in every way.
Fr. G. David
ANNUAL MEETING HELD FOR REGENTS
Regency is a period full of challenges and with lots of experiences. The annual meeting of the Regents of the year 2015-2016 was held at our Provincialate. It commenced at 6.30 p.m., on 4th January, 2016. Fr. S. Deivasakayaraj, the PCIC of Formation, extended a warm welcome to Fr. A. Santhiyagu, the resource person. Fr. A. Santhiyagu focused on ‘Significance of Appreciation in Life’. He shared practical tips to face the real circumstances wherein a person is not appreciated or recognized. His sharing remained thought-provoking in a simplified manner.
The following day, we had Eucharistic Adoration followed by Holy Mass presided over by Fr. C. Sebastian Raj, the PCIC of Education. He enlightened us to focus on our goal in life. Rev. Fr. Anthony Dharmaraj, our Provincial and Fr. S. Deivasakayaraj were present at the open sharing and discussion. The Regents shared their varieties of experiences and thoughtful insights. Bro. Emmanuvel Sathish thanked Rev. Fr. Anthony Dharmaraj, the Provincial, Fr. S. Deivasakayaraj, the PCIC of Formation and everyone who helped in one way or the other for the success of the meeting.
Bro. D. Emmanuvel Sathish
MEETING HELD FOR FORMATION FORUM
The Formation Forum meeting was held at our Provincialate on 6th January, 2016. The main agenda was the discussion on the outcome and proposals of the Extra-ordinary Regional Formation Forum Meeting held at Vinayalaya, Bengaluru on 18th and 19th December, 2015. This year being the Year of Formation, the Regional Forum has proposed different activities, which are to be appropriated by each province in their own set up. Therefore, this meeting concentrated more on the execution of the proposals. Rev. Fr. Anthony Dharmaraj, our Provincial, was present at the meeting and rightly stated in his message that this Forum is the backbone of all the other Forums but often faced with burdens and discouragements. He also encouraged the members of the Forum to be holistic in their idea of formation as human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral. The meeting was attended by fifteen members of the Forum. The Forum came up with concrete proposals to be carried out in this Year of Formation and sought clarity with regard to the Postulancy programme. The meeting came to an end just before lunch.
Fr. S. Prem Kumar
MEETING HELD FOR SOCIAL & INNOVATIVE MINISTRIES FORUM
The Social & Innovative Ministries Forum meeting was held at our Provincialate on 6th January, 2016. The meeting began at 3.00 p.m. with a short prayer said by Fr. A. Jeyaseelan. The meeting was presided over by Rev. Fr. Anthony Dharmaraj, our Provincial Superior and attended by 15 members of the Forum. Fr. A. Jeyakumar, the PCIC of Social & Innovative Ministries Forum, welcomed all the members to the meeting and Fr. A. Jeyaseelan, the Secretary, read out the minutes of the last meeting.
Rev. Fr. Provincial expressed his happiness over the manifold contributions made by the Social & Innovative Ministries Forum of our province. The members were called upon to share the present stage of their ministries. One of the decisive discussions was on the Province Magazine “SEED”- South-East Enlightening Disciples. Fr. C. Sebastian Raj and Fr. A. Christu Raj presented their view-points on the magazine. This quarterly bilingual magazine would focus on all the ministries of the province. Fr. G. David, the Web-manager of our province, spoke on the website of our province and documentation of our centres. Fr. A. Jeyakumar spoke on Mermier Mission, a newly ventured ministry in our Province. Fr. C. Sebastian Raj spoke on his De-addiction ministry and informed that the laying of foundation-stone for De-addiction Centre would take place in Dharmapuri on 5th March, 2016.
The functioning of other innovative ministries like Friendly Home, Mayoraz Children’s Home, Youth Ministry, Legal Cell, Kalai Ulagam, Printing Press, Co-ordination of Projects as well as Jobs were shared by the members concerned. Rev. Fr. Provincial, appreciating the members, called for more strengthening of the Social & Innovative Ministries. Fr. A. Jeyaseelan thanked Rev. Fr. Provincial and all the members. The meeting came to an end at 5.00 p.m. with a concluding prayer said by Fr. A. Jeyakumar.
Fr. A. Jeyaseelan
MEETING HELD FOR EDUCATION & STEWARDSHIP FORUMS
In the presence of our Provincial, Rev. Fr. A. Dharmaraj, the members of Education and Stewardship Forums gathered together for their meeting at our Provincialate at 9.30 a.m., on 9th January. The meeting started with the words of welcome said by Fr. D. Amirtha Rajan, the Secretary of Education Forum, who also expounded on the deliberations of FEFR. Fr. C. Sebastin Raj, the PCIC of Education, moderated the meeting further as the Forum took up various points for discussions. Fr. K. Ignacimuthu contributed a lot to the discussion from the legal side by way of suggestions and advice. The last part of the meeting was dedicated to Stewardship Forum wherein Fr. M. Nicholas, the Provincial Bursar, opened up the discussions on the financial matters and need for having budget system in our province. Finally, Rev. Fr. Provincial exhorted the gathering by sharing his observations and suggestions. The meeting came to an end at 4.30 p.m.
Fr. V. Yesuraja
MEETING HELD FOR MISSION FORUM
The Mission Forum meeting was held at our Provincialate on 19th January and most of the members made themselves available to attend it. It began with a prayer led by Fr. P. Felix and words of welcome expressed by Fr. A. Edward, the PCIC of Mission. It was decided that the Fransalian Associates is to be started in all our parishes by the month of April. The Fransalian Sunday is to be celebrated with all earnestness and enthusiasm. It was suggested that the quiz programme in the name of our patron, founder and congregation has to be arranged, which is already done by Fr. D. Sheen and it was appreciated by all. Another suggestion was that the Mermier Mission has to be preached during Lent in all our parishes.
In order to conclude the Year of Mission in a meaningful way, it was decided that a day be set apart. Mission Sangamam was decided to be celebrated on 22nd April by gathering representatives from all our MSFS parishes in order to evaluate the pastoral activities of our confreres and march forward with more vigour and enthusiasm. A core team, comprising Frs. A. Edward, S. Alexander, P. Johnson Jeyabal, S. Soosai Raj, S. Sahaya Wilson and S. Prem, was appointed to organize it.
Frs. A. Edward and M. Maria Francis Britto accepted to translate the Prayer of Glorification of Fr. Mermier into Tamil. Fr. M. Nicholas, the Bursar, gave a few important notes and explained the financial accountability in the parishes. The great contributions rendered by most of our parishes to our flood affected parishes in Chennai was well recognized and warmly congratulated by the Forum. The Vocation Promotion in our parishes was decided to start from 31st January onwards.
There were some proposals that came up for the Year of Mercy. They are: 1. A Prayer Book is to be prepared for the Divine Mercy. 2. Special prayers on Fridays and Confessions could be arranged. 3. Once a month, a confessor could be arranged to administer the Sacrament of Reconciliation. 4. First Fridays and Saturdays could be dedicated for recollection and confessions. 5. Seminars for the BCC leaders and other animators could be arranged during the Year of Mercy.
Before the conclusion of the meeting, Fr. S. Soosai Raj was elected the new convener of the Mission Forum. Rev. Fr. Provincial and the members congratulated him. The meeting ended with a prayer said by our dear Provincial.
Fr. S. Soosai Raj
ON HOME HOLIDAYS FROM ABROAD
Fr. A. Jaya Raj (Italy) – From 02nd January to 17th February 2016
Fr. S. Antony Rajesh (USA) – From 13th January to 18th February, 2016
Fr. S. Antony (Jr, Germany) – From 19th February to 17th March, 2016
We wish them a good time with their dear and near ones.
PERPETUAL PROFESSION AT JANAMPET, ELURU
The Fransalian family at Janampet, Eluru joyfully celebrated the Final Profession of Bro. D. Jaya Kumar on 20th January, 2016, on the Feast of Sts. Sebastian and Fabian. Bro. D. Jaya Kumar made his perpetual commitment to God by professing the Religious Vows during the Solemn Holy Eucharist, celebrated by Rev. Fr. Jolly Chakkalakkal, the Rector of M.S.F.S. Study House, Janampet, along with Fr. Augustine, the Spiritual Director. Fr. Jolly, the Provincial Delegate, received the vows of Bro. D. Jaya Kumar and during the homily, he emphasized on the value of living out the religious vows professed and being inspired by the lives of the martyrs, Sts. Sebastian and Fabian. After the Eucharist, the community wished the professed member.
Bro. C. Berin
DIACONATE ORDINATION AT JANAMPET, ELURU
22nd January, 2016 was a great day for the two provinces – South-East and Vizag, as they witnessed two main events on the same day: the Priestly Ordination of three deacons (one of MSFS and two of MF congregations), and the Diaconate Ordination of six of our MSFS confreres of which four belong to our South-East Province, namely, Bro. D. Jaya Kumar, Bro. L. John Peter, Bro. S. Antony and Bro. S. Ashir Johnson. All of them were ordained as priests and deacons respectively by His Lordship, Rt. Rev. Dr. Jaya Rao Polimera, the Bishop of Eluru. In his homily, the Bishop powerfully inspired and encouraged all by preaching on the privileges and the challenges of priestly life and the expectation of the Church from a religious. The event was graced by more than 450 priests and religious and a large number of relatives and other faithful. Fr. S. Deivasakayaraj, the PCIC of Formation of our South-East India Province, was also present at the event. The Eucharistic celebration was followed by a short felicitation of the newly ordained priests and deacons. The event ended with a grand fellowship meal.
Bro. C. Berin
ANNUAL FEAST CELEBRATED AT OTHAIYAL
On 24th January, while our MSFS congregation celebrated its Heavenly Patron’s Feast, the parish of Othaiyal celebrated its Annual Feast. The solemn Feast Mass started at 6.30 p.m., presided over by Rev. Msgr. Jaya Raj, VG of Madurai Archdiocese. Many of our neighbouring confreres from Pandiyan Nagar and Nalattinputhur were also present. After the Holy Eucharist, ‘Infant Jesus’ Hymn Book was released by the VG, after which there was prize distribution for the parish competitions. There was a procession with 8 chariots. It was conducted according to the village tradition by offering New Shoots (Mullai Paari) to God. There was a great crowd from our substations. It was a good celebration. All were happy and everything went on well.
Dn. L. Jaya Raj
MISSION SANGAMAM ARRANGED AT SFS SEMINARY, PUDUKKOTTAI
In order to conclude the Year of Consecrated Life for Mission in a meaningful way, the Mission Forum, in its recently held meeting on 19th January, 2016, has decided to organize a day to bring together the representatives from our parishes to evaluate the pastoral activities of our confreres and march forward into the future with renewed spirit and new vitality. A core team, comprising Frs. A. Edward, S. Alexander, P. Johnson Jeyabal, S. Soosai Raj, S. Sahaya Wilson and S. Prem, is appointed to organize it. The evaluation will be conducted through a questionnaire prepared by experts in pastoral activities.
Mission Sangamam, the first of its kind to be arranged in our Province, is scheduled to be held at SFS Seminary, Pudukkottai from 9.30 a.m. to 5.00 p.m., on 22nd April, 2016. The details about the whole day’s programme will be sent to you little later.
NB: Confreres working in Parishes are requested to spare that day to attend the meeting without fail and bring five representatives from their respective parishes.
Fr. S. Soosai Raj
LET US PRAY FOR THE SICK
- Franklin underwent a minor surgery for sinusitis on 5th February, 2016.
- Arockia Samy, aged 47, the Father of Bro. A. David Amalanathan, is suffering from heart failure and being treated for the same.
- Sebastian, the Father of Fr. S. Soosai Raj, had a minor accident last month and fractured his legs and he is being treated for the same.
- Rakkini, aged 90, the Mother of Fr. G. Viswasam, is unwell due to old age related problems and she is undergoing treatment for the same.
Let us keep them in our fervent prayers.
LET US PRAY FOR THE DEPARTED
- A. Soosai Manickam, aged 50, the elder Brother of Fr. A. John Peter (Sr, USA), expired on 20th January, 2016.
May his soul rest in peace!
|January & February|
|27th Jan – 28th Feb||Canonical Visitation to Germany, Italy & Holland|
|05th||Laying of Foundation-Stone for De-Addiction Centre in Dharmapuri|
|06th||Canonical Visitation to Sendurai|
|07th||Canonical Visitation to Thavasimedai|
|09th||Canonical Visitation to Ravusapatty|
|11th – 12th||Provincial Council Meeting at Provincialate|
|14th||Canonical Visitation to Nalattinputhur|
|15th||Canonical Visitation to Kadayal|
|19th||School Day Programme, SFS Public School, Nagamangalam|
Yours Fraternally in Christ,
Rev. Fr. Anthony Dharmaraj, Msfs
Charity is a bond and a bond of perfection. A person who has more charity is more closely united and joined to God.
(TLG, Book-VII, Ch.3)