confessions of a pastor- Feast of Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles

Seven years ago, I was appointed as priest in charge to St Jude’s Church in Malad East. The parish lies bang smack in the centre of Mumbai’s growing suburb, but has a tiny Christian community as compared to the several sister churches on the west. We don’t call ourselves a parish for we believe we are a family; a family of 880 people, many for whom the daily necessities of life can be a challenge. This is my home, these are my family members and I feel blessed to be a pastor here.

It took me some time to get used to it all; after all the lifestyle of Bandra has a way of impacting your perspective. But something struck a chord in my heart when I got here; there was love. You could touch it, see it, experience it and most of all, it is freely offered. But soon I discovered that this love comes from faith in Jesus, a faith that I don’t dare glibly put down to a lack of a choice caused by poverty, as some suggest; Malad East has genuine faith in Jesus, for the parishioners are married to the Lord in good times and in bad. 

We were taught in the seminary to grow in awe and wonder of the mysteries of the sacraments that we celebrate. I can’t speak for others, but I can confess that at times my body was physically at the Eucharist while my mind was in space. Looking up I would become aware of a face lost in prayer or a tear fall from a cheek, a smile on the birthday child or the fear of someone about to lose a child to the clutches of death, and I would be reminded of what I am presiding over. 

We are never ordained only for personal sanctification but for the sanctification of the community. Without a faith community, the sacraments would be empty rituals; how poor is a priest without his people. The parish community has so often reminded me of these sacred mysteries that I am privileged to celebrate on their behalf. 

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