Issues Vol. 169‎ > ‎

Vol. 169 No. 38 • SEP 22 - 28, 2018

01 Cover

posted Sep 19, 2018, 9:14 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 20, 2018, 11:10 PM ]

03 Index

posted Sep 19, 2018, 9:13 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 19, 2018, 9:14 AM ]

04 Official & Engagements

posted Sep 19, 2018, 9:11 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 19, 2018, 9:11 AM ]

05 Editorial - The Simplicity of Saint Vincent de Paul

posted Sep 19, 2018, 9:07 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 20, 2018, 11:11 PM ]

St Vincent De Paul's extraordinary life began in 1561 in the village of Pouy, France. He had humble beginnings as the child of peasant farmers. After spending two years as a slave in Tunisia, he returned to France, and became a missionary to prisoners in Paris and Marseilles. He began hospitals, he founded communities where the poor could work to support themselves, and set up homes for orphans. As a result of his devotion to the poor, the sick, and the imprisoned, he is the patron of charitable organisations and is called the 'Apostle of Charity'. One might assume, then, that charity was the virtue St Vincent De Paul valued most in his life, but it was not. He often said that simplicity was his "gospel." How can we imitate this virtue of holy simplicity in our own lives?

The word 'simplicity' has different meanings, and it seems that St Vincent embraced three of them. Each of these meanings is important if we are to understand why St Vincent esteemed simplicity so highly.

Simplicity as having a single aim or purpose - St Vincent wanted his priests and nuns to be simple in the sense that they did everything out of love of God. He did not want them to do things to impress their superior or out of human respect. He wanted them to be single-minded in their intentions and in their pursuit of God's will. Too often, our intentions are not pure, and we act according to our own will, instead of God's.

Simplicity in material possessions - St Vincent asked his priests not to have any superfluous things in their rooms, and to avoid owning anything useless. He knew that possessions bring attachment, which hinders us from living for God in complete freedom. St Vincent wanted to imitate Christ in everything. How can we live this kind of simplicity in our lives? Are there unnecessary purchases we could sacrifice, and instead give that money to the poor? Are there items in our homes that we do not use that could be donated to someone who could use them? If we want to imitate Christ the way St Vincent did, we must be willing to go without, in order to help those who are in need.

Simplicity as sincerity - Above all, simplicity for St Vincent was sincerity in one's words and actions. He tried to always say things as they truly were, to avoid any duplicity or deceit. He said that God speaks to the simple, and that simplicity is the spirit of Jesus. He wanted his communities to practise this virtue, because the world is filled with so much duplicity. Of the three, this may be the most important form of simplicity for us to practise today.

We live in a society where it is considered normal to present an image of ourselves that is not authentic. Just as in St Vincent's day, this is an obstacle for evangelization and service to the poor. We must have the courage and humility to be seen as we truly are, to speak the truth in love. Then we will be effective in sharing the gospel and in helping the poor, the way St Vincent De Paul was.

Christ was the source of St Vincent's tenderness with the prisoners on the galleys, living in horrible conditions, when he cleaned their wounds; it was Christ living in St Vincent when he went out into the streets of Paris at night, looking for the children who had been abandoned. Just like the Good Shepherd, St Vincent would pick the children up, wrap them in his cloak to keep them warm, and carry them to his orphanages. If simplicity made it possible for Christ's tenderness and compassion to fill St Vincent's heart, and if it was the spirit of simplicity that allowed Christ to work through him, I hope and pray that each of us can learn to live this beautiful virtue, so that Jesus can do the same for us.

Sarah Metts is a freelance writer and an aspiring Spanish historian.

06 The Founding Members of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul (SSVP) - Dominic Pinto

posted Sep 19, 2018, 9:05 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 19, 2018, 9:05 AM ]

In the early 19th century, there was social and political unrest in Paris. Religion was on the decline, and atheism was gaining ground. Many agricultural workers were leaving their fields in search of work in the large cities where most found only unemployment, minimal salaries, or factories closed due to political conflict. A cholera epidemic broke out. Many people were dying, and in the slums that had formed around the outskirts of the city, many lived without resources, some in total destitution. Frederic Ozanam (1813-1853), then a young student, who came from an outstandingly religious family, had to pass through the poorest neighbourhoods in order to attend his courses at the University. He became profoundly affected by the despair of families decimated by the epidemic. Ozanam and some friends – who together took part in History Conferences where they debated world events – decided to get together as Christians; not to talk, but to act: to set up a Conference of Charity.

The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul was formed on April 23, 1833, on the birthday of Frederic Ozanam. The first meeting took place in the office of the La Tribune Catholique newspaper, of which Emmanuel Bailly (42) was the chief editor. Frederic Ozanam (aged 20) gathered around five students between 20 to 23 years of age. They were Francois Lallier (20), Jules Devaux (22), Felix Clave (22), Augustine le Taillandier (22) and Paul Lamache (23).

The new group began to function along with Emmanuel Bailly as its first President, under the patronage of St Vincent de Paul, whose spirit and example inspired them. Thus, the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul came into existence. The zeal, commitment and dedication of these seven founder members is noteworthy.


07 Channels of Charity! - Julius D’Souza

posted Sep 19, 2018, 9:04 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 19, 2018, 9:04 AM ]

Say, "Society of St Vincent de Paul, or just SVP," and immediately leaps to mind an image of the poor or of individuals helping them. Period! We present to you some facts about our patron, St Vincent de Paul, our founder, Blessed Frederic Ozanam, and the Vincentians in Mumbai.

St Vincent de Paul was born on April 24, 1581, in France. An intelligent child, his education was entrusted to the Franciscans. There, a lawyer, Monsieur de Comet, inspired Vincent to become a priest. Vincent was ordained at 19, and graduated in 1604 from the University of Toulouse. From 1609-1617, he craved for wealth and position. He travelled widely, was taken prisoner, sold as a slave, escaped and went through a lot of hardships.

Ultimately, in 1617, Vincent experienced his conversion. A few days later, on the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul, he preached an electrifying sermon called "the first sermon of the mission" on how to make a general confession. His next undertaking was to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the poor. Eight years later, he founded the Congregation of the Mission, and established in and around Paris, associations of lay women, called Confraternities of Charity, who took care of the sick. He then co-founded with St Louise de Marillac, the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul. It was 1633.

Both the Congregation of Missions and Daughters of Charity expanded, and were in demand. There were no seminaries. Priest aspirants would intern with local bishops, and were then ordained. Vincent established the first-ever seminary, and in total, established 18 seminaries in 1636. Everything that he said and did originated from the spirit of charity preached by Our Lord, that Vincent diligently practised. He died in 1660, and was canonised in 1737.


09 Green Parishes for a Green Diocese - Fr. Luke Rodrigues SJ

posted Sep 19, 2018, 9:02 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 19, 2018, 9:02 AM ]

Caring for Creation has always been a part of the Church's mission, but it has now clearly come centre stage, after the Encyclical Laudato Si'. In it, Pope Francis called for a new and universal solidarity, so that all could cooperate as instruments of God for the care of Creation (cf. LS 14). He also urged Christians to go deep into their tradition and discover therein the faith convictions that propel us towards ecological commitments (cf. LS 64). Responding to this call in our Archdiocese, Cardinal Oswald Gracias has initiated a process by which the Archdiocese of Bombay will become a 'Green Diocese'.

Cardinal Oswald launched the 'Green Diocese' initiative on September 1, 2018 (World Day of Prayer for Creation), nominating Bishop Allwyn D'Silva as his delegate to take forward this initiative. All of us are called to discern and put into practice concrete ways of greening our Archdiocese. Given below, under five broad categories, are some suggestions which can be implemented in our parishes, and also adopted at a personal level. We remain mindful, of course, that this is a long term initiative that we must work on over several years.

1. Spirituality

It is of prime importance to build up an inner attitude of love and respect for Creation. Our efforts to care for the Earth will surely meet with several obstacles and disappointments. The strength to persevere has to spring from a deep spirituality – a spirituality that affirms the essential goodness of Creation and the inter-connectedness of all beings. To nurture this spirituality, we must seek ways to have direct contact with Nature. Nature walks, hikes and camps enable us to experience and deepen our bond with Creation. It would be very fruitful to encourage hobbies related to Nature, such as gardening, hiking, bird watching etc. Meditations and exercises of praying with Creation help us discover the presence of God in Nature. On specific occasions, the parish community can pray for Creation, lifting up in prayer the suffering Earth, the poor and all those who are engaged in ecological restoration. The Season of Creation (Sept. 1 – Oct. 4) is a good time to introduce such prayer services in the parish, but there are many other suitable occasions as well. Our parishioners can also be encouraged to participate in Eco-retreats, which are gradually becoming more available.


10 Being biblically good citizens - Eddy D'Sa

posted Sep 19, 2018, 9:00 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 19, 2018, 9:01 AM ]

I am so ready for the elections to be over. I'm tired of all the political mud-throwing, fact-checking, partial truth and bold promise ads. It reminds me of the 4-year-old who asked, "Daddy, do all fairy tales begin with 'Once upon a time?' He responded, "No, sweetheart, most fairy tales begin with: 'And when I'm elected…" Because of this prolonged season of politicising, it is easy – very easy – to tire of politics, sour on political involvement and despise politicians. If Christopher Columbus were around today, he could be the greatest politician of all time. After all, when he left, he didn't know where he was going; when he got there, he didn't know where he was; when he came back, he didn't know where he had been. And he did it all on someone else's money!

And all of this is unfortunate, because it warps our view of a Christian's role and responsibility in the political arena. To begin, let's ask: WHY SHOULD CHRISTIANS BE INVOLVED IN THE POLITICAL ARENA? First of all, we need to be involved because successful government depends upon it. Consider that government is one of only three institutions God established; the other two being the family and the Church. As Paul wrote in Romans 13:1, "…there is no authority except that which God has established." In fact, President George Washington said that the twin pillars essential for supporting a successful society are morality and religion. Second, Christians need to be involved in the political arena, because God commands it. In essence, Jesus' response to that trick question was that we owe our worship to God alone, but must not neglect our obligations to our rulers and government.

HOW SHOULD CHRISTIANS BE INVOLVED IN THE POLITICAL ARENA? First and foremost, PRAY. Listen again to Timothy: "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority…" What is the very first thing we are to pray for? Those in authority – not for a good day, or for our friends or family, but for those in authority. Pray that they will be filled with divine wisdom, that they will lead according to the will and way of God. Bottom line: The burden for the health of our nation does not rest on the PMO or on Parliament, but on the Church; it rests on you and on me. Unfortunately, the times are desperate, but the Church is not. We need to cry out to the Lord on behalf of our nation and its leadership, and "get desperate" before the Lord. Prayer that lines up with the will of God, prayer that reaches the heart of God, prayer that moves the hand of God. If we do not pray for our nation and our leaders, not only will we continue to have little impact on the direction of India, but we are going against God's desire. Next, as we've already heard in Jesus' words, PAY TAXES. It's a direct command of Scripture. The government supplies basic necessities of community life – sewer, police and fire protection, a court system, and so forth. The quality of these services may leave a lot to be desired, but since we do not live in isolation and we have a responsibility to our nation, we are to participate in sharing the load.


12 Health Promotion Trust (HPT) - Fr Rocky Banz

posted Sep 19, 2018, 8:59 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 19, 2018, 8:59 AM ]

Grassroots-Centred Preventive Health Outreach

Thousands of tribals, farmers, fisherfolk, senior citizens, youth and others from urban and rural communities in Mumbai, Thane and Raigad are more empowered about disease prevention than ever before. HPT's mobilisation of "barefoot health workers" at the grassroots through collaboration with 55 community-based organisations (CBOs) has yielded tremendous fruit. In addition to its two-year health worker training, HPT continues to create and implement new and ongoing health education and awareness programmes promoting alternative "Nature-based" treatments.

Advanced Health Worker Training: 22 health workers from Mumbai and Thane, and 17 from Raigad have been identified for a one-year advanced training programme. These sessions are instrumental in helping HPT decentralise its services, because advanced trainees not only conduct health education sessions in their neighbourhoods, but in nearby communities as well in lieu of HPT staff.

Study Visits: Till date, HPT health workers have visited the National Institute of Naturopathy and the Medical Missionaries Centre for a Psycho-Nutrition course at Pune and the Comprehensive Rural Health Project (CRHP) at Jamkhed, Ahmednagar.

Annual Health Workers Rally: Approximately 450 health workers from Mumbai, Thane and Raigad gathered at Holy Name School hall in February to share their positive experiences through skits, dances and songs. HPT has successfully celebrated six rallies since 2009. Newly trained health workers received their Barefoot Health Worker certificate at this event.

Herbal Gardens/Herbal Remedies: These have been extremely effective in enabling HPT to promote natural and sustainable treatment options to combat common illnesses, ranging from joint pain to hair loss and weakened immunity. HPT presently supports herbal gardens at Jivan Vikas Kendra, Tara; Jeevanalaya Centre, Kolkhe; Institute of Social Service, Kolad; Amardeep, Mangaon in Raigad district. The health workers are trained to prepare herbal remedies from plants grown in herbal gardens. These remedies also serve as an income generation venture, since they are marketed and sold locally, and in other outlets such as the extremely successful Bandra Fair stall.


13 Book Review

posted Sep 19, 2018, 8:56 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 19, 2018, 8:57 AM ]

An Experience Beyond Bandra

Edwin Fernandes 

(published by Fredrick Noronha)

Today, I took a trip down memory lane, or more specifically, down the bylanes of Bandra – those 'gallis' – a labyrinth of little streets, exploring the past, on a bicycle, then on a motorbike, and somewhere beyond Bandra, in a time confined to the realm of the present generation's imagination, I even took a ship. The journey was an enthralling one – encountering moments of sheer hilarity, passion, love, and even death. It was an invigorating experience to say the least, and it was spurred by Edwin Fernandes' latest book – Beyond Bandra.

This book is an anecdotal compilation of Edwin's vast collection of 300 blogs, showcasing the vicissitudes of life. The cherry-picked stories document his variegated experiences, woven by a common theme – life and its phases – youth, adolescence, adulthood etc. But despite Edwin being the central figure throughout the narrative, the reader is not overcome with a sense of isolation. Instead, it evokes a feeling so familiar, almost déjà vu. And for all purposes, it could well be true. For everyone at some stage can recount and reminisce on the time they received their first bicycle – the whirlwind of electrifying emotions that engulf the body and the long standing desire and craving to make one's journey.

What is so unique and special about this book? 'You' become the hidden character – hiding in obscurity, determined not to take the limelight away from the author. And yet, much of Edwin's experiences soon become your own. His past is your past, your story, your journey. Where his story ends, yours continues. The story goes Beyond Bandra, and beyond Edwin's own experiences and extends to you.


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