‘The CROSS is Our Pride & Joy which Unites Us’- Bishop at Senior Citizens’ Ecumenical Lenten Meditation

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‘The CROSS is Our Pride & Joy which Unites Us’ Bishop of Mangalore Diocese Rev Dr Peter Paul Saldanha, during the Senior Citizens’ Ecumenical Lenten Meditation’ organized by Mangalore Christian Council; Senior Citizens’ Welfare Association-Bejai; Commission of Ecumenism – Diocese of Mangalore; All Karnataka United Christian Forum of Human Rights -Western Zone held at St Francis Xavier Bejai Church Hall, Mangaluru

Mangaluru: Senior Citizens’ Ecumenical Lenten Meditation – 2024, organised by Senior Citizens’ Welfare Association Bejai, Commission for Ecumenism in the Diocese of Mangalore, Mangalore Christian Council (MCC), All Karnataka United Christian Forum for Human Rights (AKUCFHUR) Western Zone, was held at Bejai Church Hall, Mangaluru. Following a prayer by the Seniors’ Welfare Association Bejai, Mangaluru, the welcome address was delivered by Young, Energetic and Bubbling, Vintage Reveler, Ms Juliet Mascarenhas, who proves she is the perfect example of “Age Is Just a number” at her Golden Ripe Age.

The program was inaugurated by the Bishop of Mangalore Most Rev. Dr Peter Paul Saldana, along with the Bishop of CSI Karnataka Southern Diocese Rt. Rev. Hemachandra Kumar, the CCBI Secretary for Ecumenical Commission Rev. Baptist Pais, Parish Priest of Bejai Rev. JB Saldanha, the Secretary for MCC and Diocesan Ecumenical Commission Rev. Rupesh Madtha, another Secretary for MCC Rev. Prabhuraj, the Secretary for AKUCFHUR Mr Alfred Manohar, Rev. Sandeep Theophil, Bejai Senior Citizens’ Welfare Association President Mrs Juliet Mascarenhas and Secretary Mrs Concepta Noronha. The inauguration was done by lighting the lamp. Mrs Juliet welcomed the gathering and the esteemed guests with flowers.

In his Inaugural address, Bishop Peter Paul Saldanha said, “Till next year I won’t fall into your Senior status, but I feel proud of the energy and enthusiasm you all have shown in organizing this Lenten Meditation. We have a couple of speakers who have come here to motivate you all in our spiritual needs. This initiative by the Bejia Church seniors is the work of the Holy Spirit, which will unite all of us. We need to believe in the Trinity Father, Son and Holy Spirit to unite us. The Cross is our Joy and Pride. When we hold the Cross in our hands the evil and the devil vanish away. Age doesn’t matter when we pray-young and old, all can pray. Let us be united together in the name of the Holy Trinity The power of evil can die through the power of the cross. The Cross of Christ is the symbol of God’s love for us. It is not a sign of defeat but of victory. The Cross of Christ should inspire us to lead a good Christian life.”

Following the Bishop’s speech, the first speaker of the day was Rev Fr Rocky D’Cunha, a capuchin priest for 27 years with an MPhil and PhD in philosophy from Gregorian University Rome. Teaches philosophy in various major seminaries in India including St Joseph’s Seminary Mangalore. Was a rector for six years in Capuchin Major Seminary, Bogadi, Mysore. Author of books and articles. Currently Superior of St Anne’s Friary Bejai and president of Konkani Natak Sabha(R) Mangauru. Fr D’cunha said: When we pray we should bother about the size of the Cross used to pray- smaller or bigger sizes all equal. We all are the people of the cross. It’s always worth honouring and respecting the Cross. Christ is a Paradox and our religion is a paradox.”

Fr D’Cunha added, “With what hatred and communal tension is going on in the world, the tears of Humankind are way more than the water in the sea. The phrase “To live is to suffer but to survive; well that’s to find the meaning in the suffering” reflects the idea that suffering is an inherent part of life, but finding purpose and meaning in that suffering is what allows us to survive and thrive. Instead of spreading hatred let us spread love and wipe away hate from society. Christ suffered in three ways- Mentally, Physically and Spiritually. This lenten time lets us make a difference in our lives and the lives of others.”

The second speaker, Rev Binu John after completing his M Th served several CSI churches in DK, Udupi Mysore. Presently he is in charge of Csi St Paul’s church in Bangalore and Csi St Peter’s church in Kasargod. He is a faculty at KTC Mangaluru, and he is also the Hon Director of the council in the centre at KTC Mangalore. He is pursuing his Doctorate in counselling. He is happily married to Ruby and has two children. Fr Binu John said, ” Ageing is a season of transformation. The elderly experience changes in their life situations and struggle to cope with them. It is also a season of anxiety and loss. They lose our health, dear ones, social significance etc. They are anxious about themselves, their future, children’s lives, As our present generation is worried about Parenting their Parents, the church has a significant role in developing appropriate support systems for the senior citizens.”

Bishops in their brief messages highlighted the significance of spirituality in the lives of senior citizens, and also the need for Ecumenical Prayer Services today. Fr J B Saldanha- the PRO of Mangalore Diocese and Parish Priest of Bejai Church said, “The Bejai parish senior citizens are indeed vibrant and dynamic. They join for monthly meetings, indoor and outdoor activities and various games. I am truly glad that the senior citizens here in Mangaluru are getting opportunities to meet one another. The Ecumenical programme is more of sharing faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a moment of encountering the Lord in the season of Lent. May it help to look forward to many more social and spiritual activities.”

Rev. Rupesh Madtha introduced Fr Rocky D’Cunha and Alfred Manohar introduced Rev Binu John. Rev. Baptist Pais- the National Secretary for the Ecumenical Commission extended the greetings of the day. Other guest priests were Rev Hemachandra Kumar-Bishop of CSI Karnataka Southern Diocese; Rev Sandeep Theopil- Faculty, KTC, Mangaluru; among others. Mrs Daisy D’Souza of Bejai Seniors eloquently and meticulously compered the program, Rev. Prabhuraj proposed the vote of thanks, and Rev. Sandeep Theophil prayed grace before meals.

The senior citizens of Bejai conducted singing, action songs and enactment of skits under the guidance of, Rev. Suraj Lobo and Dn Leston Lobo SJ. Even the Bishop Rev Dr Peter Paul Saldanha could not resist shaking his hips and arms for the action songs performed by the Bejai Seniors, with Ms Juliet Mascarenhas as the choreographer. The seniors from different churches of Catholic and CSI communities gathered around 400 in number to make their day fruitful. The Principal of Lourdes Central School Rev. Robert D’Souza, Fr Vincent Sequeira, and the Vice President of Bejai Ashok Pinto were also present.

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