The early Sunday morning air (15 September) had the fragrance of fresh flowers circling the parish church of St. Mary’s, Calcutta. The bell rang to announce the feast day of the parish dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Soon the rush to complete the last minute preparations; after all, the Archbishop was to arrive for the Trilingual Mass at 9 a.m. It would be a concelebrated high Mass.
The Catholic spirit of love showed itself in the unlikeliest of places. An infirm lady was carried up to the first floor for the Mass. A gentleman told his wife on the steps of the church as they waited for the Bishop’s arrival: “Let’s have a simple breakfast when we go home.” He then turned around and put a fifty-rupee note in the hand of a destitute woman with a child.
It was a sentiment the catholic parish could endorse. Crowds of parishioners filled the pews. The church looked beautiful with colors adorning the altar and with women and girls turning out in multi-colored saries, dresses, jeans and kurties along the polished pews, while the men wore strong sprays of musk and deodorant. Surprisingly, the catholic communities were very noticed in their respective places – all prepared to join in the Bengali, Hindi and English hymns.
The entrance hymn was followed by the welcome address given by Father John Mohandas, the parish priest. The Archbishop, Thomas D’Souza spoke a few words in his soft and serene voice. He was happy, he said, to be at the parish Feast Day. (See pictures).
Symbolic offerings were given to the archbishop from the various parish groups: the altar-servers, the parish council, the catholic women, the Sunday-school children, the S.V.P and the C.A.B. among others. It was a welcome surprise when the first parish newsletter was released by the Bishop.
At the end of the High Mass a special gift on behalf of the parish was presented to His Grace by Melvyn Brown, founder of the Ambassadors For Jesus.
This year’s parish Feast Day was an awesome gesture of pastoral spirituality.