I’m almost over the jet lag after a 15-hour non-stop flight from New Delhi to Newark – not counting the nearly 3 hours of flight from my home town to New Delhi. I’m thankful to God for this first home visit I was able to make since the start of the pandemic. Though a short visit of about three weeks, it was a hectic time with visits, trips, celebrations, etc. The weather was good with slightly lower temperatures at about 90° due to the frequent monsoon rains (90 is pretty mild compared to the summer’s 100-110 degrees!!).
But the joy of being with my aging mother, as well as enjoying the company of all my siblings and their children, was worth going through any sacrifice. I had a memorial Mass at my home for my dad whose funeral and the first anniversary, as you know, I was unable to attend. Then there was the extended family get-together: Thirty-three of my cousins and their families came together for an evening of fellowship, prayer and food at my brother’s house – a monthly practice our family has kept up. I also had to preside at celebrations of First Holy Communion and baptism as well as a wedding in the family – not counting a couple of funerals (not of my family but of the parish acquaintances) that I had to attend.
All these may sound like I was not having a real vacation in the way we understand. But being with family and extended family whom I had not seen for a long time was vacation. It makes me conscious of the bonding not only with the extended families but also with the entire parish and village community where I grew up. This communitarian dimension of life is something many of our parishioners can relate to from their own various cultural roots.
I am lucky that I could be away without worrying about St. Matthias – thanks to Msgr. Seamus Brennan who oversaw the parish with the help of our wonderful parish staff. But he deserves extra gratitude for taking care of all the sacramental needs himself. As announced last Sunday, Msgr. Brennan is now in Ireland, with his family, for a well-deserved vacation and to celebrate his 50th anniversary of the Ordination to priesthood – in the very shrine church he was ordained 50 years ago.
Tomorrow (August 15) is the feast of the Assumption of Mary, which is usually a Holy Day of Obligation, but it is not this year since it is falling on a Monday. You can read more about the Holy Days of Obligation in this bulletin on page 6. But I would encourage and invite us to attend the 8 am Mass on the feast of the Assumption – if you can. Otherwise, at the end of the day, as some do, watch it online from our St. Matthias YouTube channel.
Your brother in Christ,
Fr. Abraham Orapankal