OFM Franciscans - India

News & Events

REACHING OUT SPIRITUALLY – COVID TIMES

The Covid pandemic has hit us hard and in a very sudden and surprising manner. None of us was prepared for lock-downs, work-from-home, online meetings and classes, wearing masks, social distancing and the like. Initially what seemed like a joke-in-passing, has turned out seriously to be the new normal! The first lock-down in March 2020 gave us plenty of time at hand. The first initiative I undertook, was to bring out a Children’s E-Magazine under the title, JC4ME Children’s Corner (JCC). With the help of a few laypersons and friars, we began to write articles on various themes and published these through our whatsapp groups, through email and facebook. What began with just four pages soon grew to thirty-two pages within three months. The aim was faith formation and new evangelization. The target reader was children in the age group of 9-16 years. JCC now has a band of thirty writers, ranging from 18 -80 years, with different backgrounds and experiences. Today in the 16th issue, it has a global circulation-reach of over 3000 readers.

The second initiative was the online Bible Study Fellowship Evening (BSFE). Teaming up with Br. Rajashekar Gopu, we launched out an evening of reading and studying the Word in preparation for the Sunday Eucharist. We jointly prepared the study notes and took turns in animating the one-hour study every Thursday evening. The number of participants was in the range of 25-60 persons. The BSFE ran from the 11th Sunday to the 34th Sunday of 2020. With the lifting of the lockdown, we began to revert to our normal time-tables. We hope to resume this service again.

When the second wave of the pandemic struck, it seemed more deadly than the first. The news was filled with horror stories of people falling sick, rush at the hospitals, shortage of oxygen and medicines, more people needing the ICU and lots more deaths than earlier. We were again in lockdown. Not knowing how to respond to the situation, I felt inspired to support people through prayer. With this inspiration began the Book of Life, an initiative to invite prayer requests from people with a promise to pray for them before the Blessed Sacrament and at the Eucharist.

I was totally unprepared for what was to come. I thought some hundred or more people may request for prayers. But my messages began to go viral and I soon had over 1500 new contacts (from all over) sending me prayer requests. I started responding to these requests (which often took me over 3-4 hours) with emojis promising prayer. This initiative was noticed by Communio India (​CCBI) who put up my mailer on their website. From this initiative an intercessory team has now been born, volunteers from various parts of India coming together to form the Book of Life Intercessors.

At the same time (29th April 2021) I also felt inspired to begin an online Prayer Service for Protection and Healing, with the blessing of salt, water and oil. The news about these prayer services spread like wild fire. Every evening people would wait for the link to attend and participate in this service. With the help of simple prayers and scripture texts, people were helped to seek the Lord’s protection and healing in a holistic way (body, mind and spirit). Salt, water and oil are natural elements which helped communicate God’s sacramental grace. Soon people began to give testimonies of healings taking place in their lives. These testimonies have been published and circulated among my contacts. Till date we have completed sixty-three Prayer Services and published eight Testimonial (A4 size) sheets with testimonies from people.

Among those who had sent us prayer requests, I began to notice that number of deaths was being reported. I observed a sense of helplessness among people, who felt abandoned and did not know what to do when their loved ones died. The families could not receive the bodies, nor perform the funeral rites. In many cases, the families were not allowed to be present at the funeral and some had to be cremated. Churches being under strict lockdown restrictions were not able to cater to the funeral rites of the dead and the customary grieving (7th, 40th day) rituals for families. This inspired me to start offering online Memorial Masses for the Dead. This circular too went viral. From around 10th May 2021 till 21 June 2021 I have completed celebrating twenty-nine memorial masses for 737 souls. I still have a wait-list of over 300-400 souls, for whom masses have been requested by their loved one.

It is amazing to see how God uses us to reach out to His people. All we need to do is to make ourselves available for His service. All the above services are provided free of cost. Beside they need a good investment of my time and energy. But the returns are bountiful and most rewarding. It fills me with much joy when people praise and glorify God for the healing they or their loved ones have received. Some have returned from the jaws of death, after being in the hospital and ICU for 30 days!

These services are also an opportunity for me to exercise my ministry as a Missionary of Mercy priest. Supporting, encouraging, motivating, comforting and consoling people in their lowest and difficult moments of life (sickness and death). The Memorial Masses for the Dead have been a unique experience for me. It is amazing to see how so many people have been healed of their deep emotional woundedness. Many were able to bring to closure the unfinished business of the funeral of their loved ones.

I thank God for this wonderful opportunity to exercise my priestly ministry, despite of the limitations imposed on us by the lockdowns. As commonly said, when one door is closed, the Lord will open another one – when the churches have been closed the Lord has opened the online church to her people! This time of serving people has made me realize that God’s grace must reach people, and God will open the way to journey with his people as a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.

Br. Trevor D’Souza

 

ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI

ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI

ST. FRANCIS

ST. FRANCIS

FRIARS' BIRTHDAY (August)

Date

Name of the Friars

Events

Year

01

Richard D’ Silva

Balaswamy Gundiga

Entry

Birth

1952

1978

02

Portiuncula

Feast


03

Julius Arul Rayan

Birth

1974

04

+ Bernard Henrietta

Praveen Roshan Toppo

Ravi Bara

Home

Birth

Birth

1981

1982

1995

06

Benedict Gomes

Augustine Tirkey

Birth

Birth

1977

1989

08

+ Marianus Kadasani

T.S.Leo Max

Home

Birth

2004

1995

11

+ Clare of Assisi

+ Sanctes Molenkamp

Feast

Home


1990

14

Jesu Maharaja

Pasala Showri Raju

Birth

Birth

1975

1987

15

Arok Sundar Sebastian

Charles Bernard

Felix Gassam

Francis Kaviyil

Chinnappan M. Devaraj

Amaldas Belevendran

Bobby V.T.

Birth

Solemn Vows

Solemn Vows

Solemn Vows

Solemn Vows

Solemn Vows

Ordination

1951

1990

1990

1992

1992

1992

2000

18

Jamesmon P.C.

Ordination

2001

19

John Chrysostom

Ordination

1995

21

Vijay Amirtharaj A.

Birth

1979

22

Bhaskar Reddy

Birth

1973

23

Stephen Arun S.

Birth

1994

25

King Louis IX

Arun Devasia Nattalil

Akshay Showry Raj

Feast

Birth

Birth


1991

1994

27

Joseph Kishan

Birth

1995

28

Fidelis D’ Lima

Birth

1939

30

Arockia Raj R.

Birth

1959

31

+ Christopher Coelho

Home

2007