OBJECTS AND STORIES – The Choir Dress of H.E. Oswald Cardinal Gracias

December 13, 2006 – The buzzing engine of the fire-red Mumbai Rajdhani Express pulled into the ever-teeming Terminus of Mumbai Central. Amidst the chaos of coolies, commuters and compartments stood a familiar figure cloaked in a simple white cassock with a pectoral cross around his neck. The Archbishop waved and greeted the elated people with a beaming blessing. The homecoming of this native prelate will always be hailed by the Archdiocese of Bombay.

Born in Mahim, Mumbai (then Bombay) to Jervis and Aduzinda Gracias on the eve of Christmas 1944, Oswald Cardinal Gracias was raised in a warm and pious family. The early seeds of his vocation centered not only around the Church but also within the family with ‘priest in and out of the house’1. The dawn of the Space Age from Sputnik to Apollo intrigued his young mind with a quest to go beyond. The winds of change were blowing in the Church post Vatican II. Inspired and guided by the Parish Priest, Oswald Gracias joined the Bombay Seminary and was ordained priest by Valerian Cardinal Gracias on December 20, 1970.

Having served as Chancellor and Secretary to Bishop Joseph Rodericks S.J. of Jamshedpur from 1971 to 1976, Fr. Oswald Gracias was sent to Rome for further studies. By 1982, Fr Gracias obtained a Doctorate in Canon Law from the Pontifical Urban University as well as a Diploma in Jurisprudence from the Gregorian University. On his return to Mumbai, Fr Gracias, a sharp and brilliant theologian went on to serve his Archdiocese as Secretary, Chancellor, Judicial Vicar, Consultor of Canon Law and as an endearing priest.

June 28, 1997, Fr Gracias was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Bombay and Titular Bishop of Bladia by Pope John Paul II (now saint). He adopted the motto ‘To Reconcile All Things in Christ’ – a pledge he lives by till date. At the turn of the century on September 7 he was appointed Archbishop of Agra, the oldest diocese in northern India.

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