More than 60 parishioners, young and not-so-young, were confirmed this morning at a long ceremony by Abp. Felix Machado. The Abp. gave a long but stirring homily to an attentive and participative congregation. He questioned the candidates during the homily, and was more than satisfied with their responses, and congratulated the parish priest, Fr Nelson, and all those who had prepared them for the sacrament. It was good to see the youngsters answering without hesitation about the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit, and so on.
The Abp. preached about Our Lady and her Assumption, but also equally passionately about Independence Day. The gist of his preaching was that we Christians are not in any way second-class citizens: we are assal citizens and assal Christians at the same time. (Don Bosco's honest citizens and good Christians - or, as Vigano' used to say, good citizens because good Christians). Shri Uttamrao Kamble, leader of the Oppositiion in the Nashik Municipality, also graced the occasion, and warmly encouraged Christians to participate in citizenship, politics and government. He said there were so many government schemes available, which we Christians do not make use of. He said he was ever ready to help, but so few approached him. The Abp. reciprocated by warmly appreciating Shri Kamble for his involvement in politics and government, and held him up as an example to the congregation.
The young choir sang the Holy Holy so well that a little boy in the front row spontaneously burst into a very filmi dance till his young neighbours stopped him.
It was most moving to know that the Mahila Mandal had given a whole week of shramdaan, cleaning up the church compound as well as the church itself. Cleaning up the church compound meant using sickles to cut the grass and weeds. No mean job when you think about it.
The most beautiful thing about the whole morning was the palpable enthusiasm among the people. The ceremony was interminable for those who had watches, but when one goes to Satpur the best thing is to keep your watch at home. I did not hear anyone complaining about the length except yours truly!
Underlying all this, of course, quiet tragedies go on. I met a family I know. 5 daughters, none working, the father is ill, the family survives somehow on the meagre earnings of the mother. The other evening there was the other family we visited: 4 children, none working as yet, 1 in college, 3 in our Don Bosco English medium school, the father sickly but attempting to hold a job all the same. I have never heard this family complaining. They come regularly for Mass. Life goes on somehow. We have to do something about this kind of situation. We need a Vincent de Paul Society in our parish, and we need to tangibly reach out to the very real poverty that our brothers and sisters are suffering. Not all the poor come to our doorsteps.