19 Close Enough to “Smell the Sheep”; Bold Enough to Spread the “Fragrance of Christ” -Fr Aniceto Pereira

posted Apr 5, 2018, 9:25 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Apr 5, 2018, 9:25 AM ]

On Saturday, April 7, Aarey Road from Goregaon Station to the Seminary will have additional traffic adding to the usual rickshaws, buses and cars jamming the 30-foot road, because of the Ordination service of three deacons to the Priesthood at the hands of our Archbishop, Cardinal Oswald Gracias. Priests who studied in the Seminary in the 1960s (soon after it was built) speak of Aarey Road as a secluded trek in a wooded region with no lights! I suppose this far-flung distant suburb was chosen, because a seminary had to be built in a surrounding "far from the world", where the Spirit of God could mould the hearts of seminarians ready to be sent "back into the world"! Over fifty years later, when we see modern-day Goregaon, it is clear that the world has caught up with the Seminary, which finds itself now right in the middle of high-rises, traffic jams and garbage dumps! And modern-day seminarians are all too happy not to be far from mobile towers!

Perhaps we are taking Pope Francis very seriously! After all, hasn't he asked priests to "have the smell of the sheep"? What better way of doing it than not having a Seminary "far from the world"? So while the academic programme makes use of the silence in the campus, the greenery is conducive to spiritual growth and the community develops human personalities, every seminarian can easily insert himself on a regular basis in the rich variety of pastoral situations the city offers, so that he can definitely have "the smell of the sheep"! The three deacons who are to be ordained at the end of the Easter Octave have made best use of all that has been offered to them during their years of formation. They are eager to mingle with parishioners, visit the sick, identify the marginalised, welcome the shelter-less and listen with ear and heart to their cry of distress.

In his address to the young people gathered in Rome for the Pre-Synodal meeting from March 19 to 24, 2018, in preparation for the Synod on 'Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment', the Holy Father completed this imagery of smell by reminding priests and religious that "Today's young people demand closeness from us: Catholics, Christians, believers, and non-believers. Everyone." And to this end, one young person enthusiastically recounted his attendance at various meetings with these words: "Among us young people, the most important thing is the presence of religious as friends who listen to us, know us and advise us. Consecrated men and women who are close to us. They listen; they understand, and to those who seek counsel, they give advice." It appears that while these newly ordained priests (and others too) would have to be where they can sense "the smell of the sheep", they will also have to be bold to spread the "fragrance of Christ"! Pope Francis continues: "Because it is in Jesus and in the Spirit that the Church finds the strength to continuously renew herself, carrying out a living review of her way of being, asking forgiveness for her frailties and inadequacies, sparing no effort in placing herself at the service of all, with the sole intention of being faithful to the mission that the Lord has entrusted to her: living and announcing the Gospel."