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Showing posts from September, 2011

Priestly Ministry

Sometimes in my vacant moments the thoughts would come to me whether I did accomplish anything in my life.As a priest, I was a silent wayfarer in this long march of humanity. For most of the people, they have families to think of .Through their work and sacrifice, they struggle hard to form future generations.Their children carry the imprint of their lives for generations to come.Their sacrifices and their struggles bear fruit in the lives of their children.Others through their positions of political or social prominence have left their impact on the society.What about us , priests? What are our legacies?

The word s of Gerard Manley Hopkins in one of his sonnets known as the Terrible Sonnets do beautifully express my misgivings about priestly life. Speaking of the birds,he said, they build.At least they build their nests.But priests--What do they have?Nothing. Moving from place to place, having no roots, they leave no foot prints behind.

Our impact on people is easily forgotten.People m…

President Carter and President Clinton

President Carter came to St.Matthew's Cathedral along with the Vice President and many senators at the funeral mass for George Meaney , one of the great labor leaders of the States.I was a concelebrant at the mass and after the mass, as we walked down the aisle, President Carter was walking just behind us. After exchanging a few words with the Pastor, he walked out of the Cathedral.
I had a chance to shake hands with President Clinton when I was working at St.Patrick's church.
He came for the inauguration of the new CIA building which is just a block away from St.Patrick's.Our Pastor , Msgr.Vaghi gave the invocation.All of us priests were invited for the function.After the inaugural function, The President greeted all of us who were there.
I had a chance to see President Reagan after the election when he came to visit the Republican Head Quarters which was across the street from St.Matthew's.It was a view from a short distance as I was returning from my classes at the Ca…

Mother Teresa

After my M.A. examination in 1970, along with a priest-friends of mine form the college, I went to Calcutta with the desire of seeing Mother Teresa and knowing more about her work.We stayed at St.Xavier's college,Calcutta and fro there went to see Mother teresa's lace.We were disappointed when we found out that she was not there.But we spent time with the sisters there and visited the places where the infants and the dying people were nursed and cared for.We some to some of the sisters. There was only one foreign-born sister and she was form Germany. She was young sister and we asked her how she joined the Congregation.She then narrated her story.She came as a visitorfor the Eucharistic Congress in Bombay and at one of the receptions given by the Bombay Archdiocese, she was sitting opposite to Mother Teresa.She noticed that Mother was looking at her specially at the time of the meal.After the meal was over, she walked over to Mother Teresa and inquired why she was looking a…

Meeting with John Paul ll in D.C.

One of the happiest moments in my life came with the arrival of Pope John Paul ll in Washington D.C. in 1979.The Holy Father said mass at St.Matthew's Cathedral for the priests and invited guests.After the mass, he had lunch with the Cardinals at the rectory.Nine of us priests who worked at the rectory were told that we would be able to meet the Holy Father as he came down the stairs after the lunch.We were waiting at the foot of the stairs .The Holy Father was going from there straight to the white House. Archbishop Marcinkus who was coming with him stretched out his hand in front of us saying that the Holy Father had no time as he was getting late for the meeting with the President.But , then, Cardinal Baum, took the Holy father, behind the outstretched hands of the Archbishop and introduced all of us to him. When he came to me, he asked whether I was from India and I kissed his hand and said :"Yes."That was the first time in my life , I have ever come closer to a Pope…

The people I met in the U.S.-3

Bennet WilliamsBennet Williams was one of the top defense lawyers of the U.S. What impressed me most was his presence at the mass.On Saturdays, the priest himself would open the door of the church for the morning mass at 7a.m. at St.Matthew's Cathedral. Every Saturday, when I opened the church, the first person,I would meet was Bennet Williams. This was a great source of inspiration. There is a big law firm carrying his name in Washington D.C. William Conway Bill Conway is the M.D. of the Carlyle corporation and was a a regular attendee at the morning masses at St.Patrick's church.One day after the morning mass, as I was greeting the people, he came towards me told how appreciative he was of my short homilies focussed on Jesus at the morning masses. He helped the Syro-Malabar Diocese several times through his generous contributions. Fr.Paul Liston and Msgr.Michael Farina They both were good friends while I was working as an Associate Pastor at St.Patrick's.We had very lively…

The people I met in the U.S.--Senator Patrick Moynihan

Senator Patrick MoynihanSenator Moynihan was a regular participant at the Sunday masses at St.Patrick's church,Washington D.C.He as formerly a Professor at Harvard University and later, the U.S.ambassador to India. I have always been impressed by the faith and humility of Moynihan.If any usher was absent, Moynihan would come forward to take up the collections during the mass.After the Sunday mass, Moynihan would stand up and face the organist and listen to his playing of the organ after the mass. When I was standing in the vestibule of the church after the mass, greeting the congregation, he would come and express his appreciative comments about my homilies.One sunday , he came to tell me that one of the quotes I used for the homily at the mass , was penned by one of his friends at Harvard. As I did not get a chance to bid goodbye when I left Washington for Chicago, I sent him a note thanking him for his appreciative comments.But soon after, he got sick and passed away .One of the …

The people I met in the U.S.--Sargent Shriver

Sargent Shriver was the Director of the Peace Corps and the brother-in-law of the late President John F.Kennedy. The first time I met him was at the RFK stadium,Washington D.C. I had gone there to watch a football game with Msgr.Louis Quinn, the Pastor of St.Matthew's Cathedral.The box in which we were seated was next to that of the Kennedys. There I met Ethel Kennedy, the wife of late Senate Robert Kennedy.Sargent Shriver , when he heard that I was from Kerala, spoke about the political situation of Kerala and about the communist rule in Kerala through elections. Later, when I was at St.Patrick's church, Sargent Shriver and his wife, Eunice Shriver ,were seen coming for the masses in the evening.One day, he came after the mass and asked me whether he could receive communion as he was late to come.I offered him communion even though it was not a practice at St.Patrick's. Eunice Shriver has often showed her appreciation for the homilies I preached at the masses.

People I met in the U.S.--Msgr.Louis Qinn

Msgr.Louis Quinn of St.Matthew's CathedralAs I was finishing up my first year Catholic University, I was looking for a parish to work during the summer as the dorm where I stayed would be closed for the holidays.It was one of the Malaylee families that suggested to me to contact St.Matthew's Cathedral.One day, I called for the Pastor and talked to him expressing my desire to wrk there for the coming summer if there was a possibility.He graciously invited me for dinner .I accepted the invitation and went there one evening.I was totally surprised in seeing more than eight priests, all clerically dressed for the dinner.When they heard that I was doing my Ph.D. in English, one of them asked me about a recent novel that became a hit--The Thorn Birds. Fortunately, I read the novel while I was in New York , the previous summer. I saw people reading the novel in the subways and at various reception counters.I thought then of reading f the book , even though I had heard about the bo…


The Fusellis
When I was working as a substitute for Fr.Mathew Muthuplakal at St.Michael's church, Bronx, I was living on the 24th floor of one of apartments in Co-Op city, Bronx.Opposite to our floor was the one occupied by Joe Caputi. When Joe was going to the hospital for a surgery, he asked me whether I could water the plants in his apartment. But his surgery became complicated and hence his daughter Anne Fuselli came to be with him for a few weeks.Anne was at the hospital when I went to see Joe. That was the beginning of my friendship with the Fusellis. Anne and her husband, Nat later invited me to spend the Thanksgiving at their house in my first year at the Catholic University. From that time onwards, they became a family for me and they had invited me to their home for several of their Christmases and other celebratory occasions.I have also stayed a few times at their summer apartment at the Ocean city.That apartment had a beautiful view of the ocean. When I broke my arm, sli…