Missionary activity renews the life of the church,
revitalizes faith and Christian identity
and offers fresh enthusiasm and new incentive.
Faith is strengthened when it is given to others.
- Redemptoris Missio
Dear Religious Family,
With great joy we want to share with you some activities we have been able to do in Bombay India, here in the Province of Our Lady of Sheshan.
Several of our seminarians here in the Philippines are from India, hence we have started to have some lay people, families and friends who want to share in our spirituality and charism. Because of this, we had the great opportunity to visit Bombay and held some activities proper to our Institute, as the Spiritual Exercises.
Fr. Diego Ibarra and I (Bro. Kayne Alfred from Bombay) set out to the land of many cultures and languages – INDIA. Our trip of one week was short, but yet fruitful and promising. We set out on Jan 21 and arrived there on the same day.
We began our trip by taking the foreigner out for a Mumbai Darshan (meaning Sight-seeing in the local language). We visited some famous tourist attractions, monuments and churches built during the British era.
We then headed to meet the family of one of our novices, Jomine Jojo, who belongs to the Syro-Malabar right. Fr. Diego had the opportunity of visiting his parish and meeting the parish priest and the parishioners, who were very happy to receive us and made us feel at home.
In the Parish, Father spoke about the institute, its charism, the purpose of our visit to India and the necessity to foster and pray for vocations. All the parishioners gathered around us to click photographs and to ask questions about the Institute. They gave Father more insights into the Syro-Malabar rite and its origin. We proceeded to the Jomine’s home to gorge on some authentic Keralite food. The Syro-Malabar Christians hail from Kerala, a province in the southern part of India, and hence all the parishioners were originally from this province.
On the second day, we visited some families and presented the Institute to them, and got to know more about the church in India. We also visited the retreat house to prepare and set it in order for the upcoming spiritual exercises.
On the third day, we met the Bishop of the diocese of Vasai, which is one of the suffragan diocese of the archdiocese of Bombay. Vasai is a situated 30 kms from Mumbai and has a strong catholic presence due to the evangelization carried out by the Portuguese from the 16 and 17th century. The Bishop was very happy to receive us and was surprised on hearing that our institute has 800 plus members in just 34 years. He even offered his residence to use as a base, the next time we visit India. We also visited the fort in Vasai, which was built by the Portuguese and housed the first Indian to attain sainthood- St. Gonsalo Garcia, who was martyred along with 25 others in japan in the 17th century.
In the evening we had a meeting with lay people who were interested on the Institute. To them we introduce the third Order and the role that it plays in our religious family, as well as the 40-hour devotion, specially to some families who know our Institute and helped us organize the spiritual exercises.
On the fourth day, after dinner we began the first Ignatian Spiritual Exercise preached by The IVE in India. By the grace of God, we had a total of eight retreatants.
The following day, that is, the second day of the exercises, Father met the Archbishop of Bombay, His Eminence Oswald Cardinal Gracias. He presented the Institute to the Cardinal who was very happy to know that in spite of not having a foundation in India, by the grace of God, our Institute has received vocations from India. He gave us valuable suggestions along with his paternal blessing.
The Exercises ended with the Mass and the solemn blessing, and all the retreatants were overjoyed with the outcome of the Exercises. It was a novel experience for them as the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises are not the common form of retreat preached in India. Many of the retreatants said that they would spread word about IVE in their communities and urge others to participate in future retreats.
After a fruitful visit – which promised a positive future of our Institute in this land of many peoples, religions, languages and cultures – we headed to the airport to return home. We thank God who in his infinite mercy had provided for the trip and recommend the future of the Institute in India to the intercession of our Blessed Mother.
God bless you!
Bro. Kayne Alfred, IVE