Dear Fathers, Sisters and Brothers,
I wish and pray that you are keeping fine. The spread of Corona virus is not yet under control and the number of the infected and dying is on the increase in our District and State. As we know, the Central and State Governments have ordered the sixth lockdown for the entire month of July. ‘Stay home and Save lives’ has become the slogan of the day. Besides wearing masks, we are obliged to keep social distancing and hand hygiene in order to protect ourselves and others around us from the infection. Against this background, I sincerely thank you for your pastoral zeal and generosity to reach out to the people in need. At the same time, I kindly request you as responsible people to observe the prescribed precautions for your own safety and for the safety of others.
After much difficulty and postponements, the ordination of three of our diocesan deacons to priesthood was held in a simple celebration with participants in the Bishop Arockiaswamy Animation Centre, Bishop’s House on Sunday, June 21. We thank God for blessing us with these energetic and enthusiastic young men to serve in our diocese and their parents for the gift of their beloved sons to the Church. On behalf of our diocese, I wholeheartedly welcome them and wish them God’s blessings and all the best for their future priestly ministry.
As priests at the service of the Reign of God, the present pandemic has posed an array of questions and challenges to all of us to ponder and duly respond both personally and collectively. Particularly, leave alone the lay faithful, some of our priests feel seemingly ‘jobless’ without the celebration of the holy mass with the faithful with full attendance in the churches. Even though we are given some guidelines to follow with regard to the liturgical activities in this period of crisis, yet it is quite discouraging to note that some of us go ahead with liturgical celebrations as we wish. I believe this period of lockdowns is a God-given opportune time to introspect our own spirituality. Certainly the Eucharist is the centre of our Christian life and spirituality. It is the highest form of worship in the Catholic Church and no doubt that the celebration of the Holy Eucharist with deep devotion and preparation is an important and sacred duty of the priests. However, we should not think that it is the single identity and only spiritual activity of the priests. There may be other concerns that need to be attended and addressed to at this time of crisis.
I wish to recall the words of Pope Francis in his address to priests of Bosnia and Herzegovina on June 6, 2015: “The priest, the consecrated person, is called to live the anguish and the hope of the people, to work in concrete circumstances often characterized by tensions, discord, suspicions, insecurities and poverty. Faced with these painful situations, we ask God to grant us hearts that can be moved, capable of showing empathy. There is no greater witness than to be close to the spiritual and material needs of the faithful.”
Seeking God’s Blessings!
In the mind of Christ
Bishop Nazarene Soosai
(Bishop of Kottar)