06 Four New Priests for Bombay Archdiocese

posted Apr 4, 2019, 9:53 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Apr 4, 2019, 9:54 AM ]

Ordaining Prelate: Cardinal Oswald Gracias

April 6, 2019

Leon Viegas

Parents: (Late) Ignatius and (Late) Glenda Viegas

Parish: St Pius the Tenth, Mulund

Motto: Called to be a disciple. Sent to make disciples. "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men" (Mt 4:19)

Thoughts about the priesthood began after attending a Jesus Encounter Retreat, where I had a deep experience of God's love for me. After this Retreat, there was a hunger to study God's Word and to intercede for others. Soon, I began to feel that God was calling me to be His priest. At that time, I was not ready to accept His call; but the thoughts would not go away. I approached the late Bp. Ferdinand Fonseca for guidance. He felt that I had a genuine call to the priesthood. (I was hoping that he would say I didn't have a call.)

I started reasoning out that these thoughts were probably coming to me, because maybe I was not happy with my job or my salary. I bargained with God, saying that if you are really calling me to the priesthood, get me a new job in a multinational firm and double my salary. Within a month's time, I joined a multinational firm with my salary doubled. I still kept denying that this had anything to do with God. The company wanted me to move to Hyderabad. However, since my dad was unwell, it was difficult to move. So I prayed the same prayer again, and soon I got a job with another firm, and again double the salary. This was just impossible to put down to chance.

But in spite of getting what I desired, I still felt an emptiness within me. I went back to Bp. Ferdinand, who advised me to go for the Seminary interview. He told me if you are selected, then that is God's will for you, and you can consider joining. I went for the interviews, was selected, joined the Seminary, and was at peace, knowing that this is where God wanted me to be.

Now at the threshold of priestly ordination, there is a deep sense of peace, knowing that God is with me. My seminary experience has been a wonderful time of discovering myself, and growing in my relationship with Jesus through the four pillars of seminary formation - human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral. During seminary studies, we learnt the opinions of various theologians. This has led me to seek and discover what the Church really teaches, which in turn, has led to a greater love for the Church. As a disciple of Christ, I want to help others have a personal relationship with Jesus, and to grow as disciples of Christ, through service and witness to the Faith.

Ashwin James Castellino

Parents: (Late) Kenneth and (Late) Bridget Castellino

Parish: Our Lady of Mt Carmel, Bandra

Motto: "Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord" (Romans 12:11)

The seed of my vocation was nurtured by my parents. My mum and dad were God-fearing parents, who brought me up well in the faith. I still remember the words of my father, "Without Jesus, life has no meaning." This is what I carry with me all through my life.

But as I grew older and entered my youth, the idea of the priesthood just disappeared. I found myself caught up with all the youthful passions. I was good in my studies, and after I graduated, I got a good job in an international bank. I lacked nothing in life. I would go for Sunday Mass, and was also involved in the Charismatic Prayer Group, and that was it. But even though I had the money, the luxuries of life, there was no inner peace. There was absolute zero satisfaction. I knew my life was incomplete; I was missing something in my life. It was during this time of restlessness, I remembered the words of my father, "Without Jesus, life has no meaning." That seed of my vocation now came to my mind, and this is when I seriously started giving it a thought. It was difficult, because it meant giving up a lot of things - like my job, my family, my lifestyle, etc. But I realised that by holding on to these, nothing ever gave me satisfaction or peace. So it was worth taking the risk.

What helped me make a decision was personal prayer. I would sit in the chapel and really ask God if this was His will in my life - to be a priest. Secondly, I spoke to a priest, about what I felt, and he was able to guide me. In prayer, there was this deep sense of joy and inner peace in serving God. God speaks in the silence of your heart. God also confirms His call through people we meet or the ones who give us counsel. I remember, on many occasions, when I went to visit people who were sick or aged, they would ask me, "Are you a priest?" I was stunned and told them, "What makes you think so?" These helped affirm my decision to walk towards the priesthood.

At this moment, there are mixed emotions; feelings of great joy to serve God in the ministry of the priesthood and also a humbling experience, as I look back and see how God has been working in my life, in spite of my many weaknesses and limitations. My vision for my pastoral ministry is to be available to God's people, and to do my best in whatever capacity I can.

Omar Fernandes

Parents: Yvonne Therezinha and John Dominic Fernandes

Parish: Our Lady of Mt Carmel, Bandra

Motto: "I in them, and you in me - so that they may be brought to complete unity." (Jn 17:23)

As a child, I was very involved in Church activities, but as a youth, I began to make more time for my friends and hobbies, and less and less time for God. Mass was just a 'Sunday obligation'. After college, I pursued a career in aviation, and worked for Kingfisher Airlines. Eventually, I was informed that I was going to get promoted, but for some reason, that news didn't bring me joy. My mother was our Parish SCC Coordinator at the time, and she told me to carry a pocket Bible along with me to work, and read it between flights to get some peace of mind. I followed her instructions, but decided to go one step further, and reflect and pray with Scripture. One fine day, as I sat down to pray, I was shocked that I had spent two hours in prayer; it felt like just two minutes. After this experience, along with personal prayer, the Eucharist also became very meaningful to me. I felt God calling me to be a part of His Mission. After discerning with the help of my Spiritual Director, I finally answered God's call. From flying with "the king of good times" to fishing for the One True King!

I owe a lot to St Pius X Seminary for helping me discover my talents, and getting me out of my comfort zone. Courses in Theology and Philosophy helped me understand my faith better. Moderator groups, manual labour, horticulture, sports, weekend ministry and the various spiritual exercises in the Seminary catered to my holistic formation.

I love sports! If I'm not playing, then I'm watching. I had the honour of being part of St Andrew's College, Bandra's first and only team to win the University football title, and later the Senior and Super division MDFA leagues with Companeros SC. Over the years, we've been able to form an extremely good Seminary football team as well. The people who inspire me are not restricted to the saints alone, but also athletes like Muhammad Ali, Ayrton Senna, Georges St Pierre, Nemanja Vidic, Arthur Ashe, Valentino Rossi and Usain Bolt, to name a few. Music is a big part of my life as well. As my Ordination day arrives, I ask the good Lord to always accompany me on this fabulous and life-changing journey ahead.

Renold D'Souza

Parents: Roque and Gretta D'Souza

Parish: Our Lady of Fatima, Ambernath

Motto: "To be an instrument of Christ's Love"

"The priesthood is the Love of the Heart of Jesus." These words of St John Marie Vianney aptly explain my vocation to the priesthood. My parents' simplicity, sincerity and selfless service inspired me. Their love for the Sunday Eucharist, the Bible, the family Rosary, the priests and religious, and also for the poor and needy, shaped my vocation.

My ambition in life was to become a doctor. I could not see this dream through, but my liking for medical sciences led me to complete my post-graduation in Clinical Research. It was during these years that I started reflecting deeply on my vocation. I underwent many ups and downs and turbulent moments, during which I began questioning God, love, faith, marriage, the purpose of my life itself. My search for answers ended in frustration. I came to a point where I could no longer find joy in anything around me.

It is said, 'Our disappointments are God's appointments.' A turning point came in my life when, out of sheer desperation, and at the incessant request of my close friend, I attended a prayer meeting. It was during one of these prayer meetings that I heard a voice within me saying, "You will receive the fullness of peace, when you receive me in the Eucharist." And these words rang true when at the Christmas midnight Mass, I experienced the Eucharistic Lord as never before. This experience was the answer to all my questions. The Lord restored to me everything I had lost. Broken friendships were restored, hurts were healed, forgiveness became the key to unlock the many blessings God had kept in store for me. Life became passionate; the love of God inspired me to give myself in service. My purpose in life from then on was to lead others to Jesus to experience His love. And eventually, this desire blossomed into a call to the priesthood.

As I enter into my priestly ministry, my desire is to reach out to broken families and those under pressure. No matter how hopeless the situation may seem, I am convinced that the love of Christ can bind and heal all relationships. I believe that the Sacraments are true conduits through which God heals, restores and strengthens the bonds of love and unity in family life, and the community at large. I pray that I may remain faithful to the mission that the Lord has entrusted to me.