By Martin D’Souza | Opening Doorz Editorial | December 20, 2021

Going to Church to participate in the Celebration of the Holy Eucharist has to be a one-on-one experience with the Risen Lord. At least that is what I feel. The Priest Celebrating the Holy Eucharist takes the place of Christ. One cannot be accosted by a grumpy priest who expects the congregation to say, “Good morning, Father,” in unison, just as we did in school as the teacher entered the class. People come to Church with their baggage, to find solace and cast it unto the Lord! (1 Peter 5:7). 

The Mass has to have meaning and much of it depends on the Celebrant. Yesterday, it was a pleasant surprise when a young Salesian Priest, Fr Sunil Pinto, hit the ball out of the park, literally. Invited to celebrate the 9.15 am Sunday Mass at St Dominic Savio, Church, Wadala, he helped the congregation storm the heavens with his Divine singing. There was purpose in his body language, meaning in his celebration and power in his Homily. 

For me, he rocked me off my feet and got me into His mighty presence on Holy ground. That is what we need when we enter the Church. Not a sermon from a Priest who uses the information he has from parishioners to run another parishioner down and make the person leave the Church. Even Jesus forgave the prostitute who was brought in His presence and helped the thief on His right-hand storm the heaven, on that very day! Remember Zacchaeus? And what did Jesus tell the mother of James and John who was getting into politics? “But the places at My right side and at My left side are not Mine to give. Whoever My Father says will have those places.” (Matthew 20:23). He nipped politics in the bud.

Fr Michael Payapilly a Vincentian priest (left) and Fr Sunil Pinto a Salesian priest (right).

Fr Sunil Pinto brought into focus how God uses the despised and downtrodden and lifts them for His kingdom’s purpose. He dwelt on the Gospel of the day, Luke 1:39-45. The meeting of Mary and Elizabeth and the meeting of Jesus and John the Baptist in their respective mother’s womb; he broke the Word and fed us the Bread. Manna… for the day…

Long after the celebration was over, I dwelt on the humility with which he celebrated the Mass and the goodies he sent me and the others home with. He got us on board the Zion Express.

Thank you, Fr Sunil Pinto, may your tribe increase.

New Priests in the Salesian congregation

Speaking of the Salesian tribe, I was fortunate to witness the ordination of two young priests at the Shrine of Don Bosco’s Madonna, on Saturday, December 18, 2021. Fortunate because I went to attend the Mass and instead was blessed with this ceremony. Both the newly ordained priests Fr Chris Ferreira and Fr Joyston Machado exuded spiritual awakening. I pray that this glow remains on them always as they step into a very challenging ministry—that of feeding hungry souls. I pray that they keep their focus on the work of the Lord and go in search of that one soul, leaving behind the 99. It was good to learn that Fr Blany Pinto, my classmate at Don Bosco, Lonavala, has played a role in nurturing these new priests. Fr Blany’s teaching on the Gospel of the Talent last November, has been an eye-opener. I was looking for my classmate, however, I found an anointed priest.

Fr Chris Ferreira (left) and Fr Joyston Machado at their ordination at the Shrine of Don Bosco’s Madonna.

Fr Chris’ ordination motto is John 1:38: “Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” For Fr Joyston it is 1 Corinthians 9:22: “To the weak, I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people that I might, by all means, save some.” 

I’m sure these newly-ordained priests will go a long way in serving humanity and the Salesian community. After all, vocations to the priesthood are now a rarity and if these two have chosen to say “Yes” to God’s work, it means they know what they are getting into. My prayer for them is God’s promise in Joshua 1:5: “No one shall be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.”

Then there are other places the hungry are fed…

Since the pandemic and when Masses went online, I have been spiritually enlightened by Cardinal Oswald Gracias. Without so much as a fanfare, he breaks the Word, because there is so much of the Word in Him. It comes effortlessly. “If you abide in me and my Words abide in you, ask for anything and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7). Fr Jose Vettiyankal is another priest (Vincentian) who has the sheep flocking to his services online at 3 pm, every day. Then there is Fr Michael Payapilly, another Vincentian priest, currently in Dovetown, Australia, who enlightens and brings the flock closer to Jesus. He juices out the Word so much that a hungry and thirsty soul is satisfied.

Cardinal Oswald Gracias whose breaking of the Word has helped many a souls during the pandemic.

Importantly, I love the prayer Fr Michael asks the congregation say for priests which is replicated below. My prayer is that you make this a daily habit, praying for our priests, who need as much healing and prayers as us, ordinary folks.

Prayer for Priests

O Jesus eternal priest, keep all the priests within the shelter of your Sacred Heart where none may harm them. Keep unstained their anointed hands which daily touch your Sacred Body. Keep unsullied their lips purpled with your precious blood. Keep pure and unearthly their hearts sealed with the sublime marks of Your glorious priesthood. Let your holy love surround them and shield them from the world’s contagion. Bless their labours with abundant fruit, and may the souls who they have ministered to be their joy and consolation and in heaven their beautiful and everlasting crown. O Mary, queen of the clergy pray for us obtain for us many holy priests. Amen.

Also Read: Fr Glenford Lowe… a gift from God

Also Read: “Forgiving and praying can turn all our enemies into good friends.”

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