Tag Archives: Priests

Mother Teresa Beyond Women Priests

Priestly cassock as part of Mother Teresa's religious habit for MCs.

KOLKATA, (C.M. Paul) – Setting aside theological controversies Mother Teresa of Calcutta went beyond the demands of women who clamour for the ordination of women in the Catholic Church. She chose white cotton cassock with full buttoned collar which priests normally wear in India as part of her religious habit along with the blue bordered white cotton sari as wrap around as well as head cover.
Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the Indian nation, used clothing as statement for swadeshi movement (self-rule) when he abandoned western style of dressing and adopted the dress style of  an Indian villager. So too Mother Teresa used her religious habit as statement to remind herself and her Missionaries of Charity (MC) Sisters that they are “Jesus ministering to the people.”
Besides making a statement with the choice of her religious habit, Mother Teresa also backed women as priests in an interview on the occasion of her 80th birthday granted to the editor of the Calcutta Catholic weekly The Herald. Salesian Fr. C. M. Paul interviewed her at the Mother House on Thursday, 16 August 1990.
Stating her position on women as priests Mother Teresa cited the example of Mary of Nazareth, the mother of Jesus saying: “No one was a better priest than Mary. And yet she remained only the handmaid of the Lord. See, no one could say, not even you as a priest, this is my body, as she could, because the body of Jesus was in her. Beautiful no!”
Commenting on accusations leveled against her for not sufficiently backing the feminists movement in the Church, Mother Teresa explained: “You say the so called feminists are angry with me as I do not promote their cause… It’s kind of jealousy. Our actions, let’s say, are pointing a finger at them. As religious we must be able to prove that I can do what you cannot do. What you do I cannot do. And as a woman, what I can do is to think, love and pray.”
Revealing the Missionaries of Charity Sisters love and devotion to priests Mother Teresa said: “Our Sisters and associates have adopted over 27,000 priests. Each one [sister] is given a priest’s name [not for correspondence]. Sr Nirmala of our contemplative wing coordinates the prayer for priests.”
“Make sure somebody adopts me, I too am a priest, said the Pope [John Paul II] when I asked his blessings for the prayer for priests project in 1988,” recalled Mother Teresa citing the reaction of Pope John Paul II to her Prayer for Priests Project.
(Ref: The Herald, Calcutta, 24-30 August 1990, p.7)


Filed under Mother Teresa, MTIFF 2010, priests

Mother Teresa Lamented Lack of Local Lay Support

Mother Teresa with Fr C.M. Paul at Mother House

KOLKATA — It was the morning of Bengal bandh (total strike) – August 16, Thursday 1990. Sharing the worm-wooden bench on the corridor connecting her Mother House office on 54A Lower Circulalr Road and chapel, as editor of The Herald, oldest Catholic weekly in India (estd. 1839) I had the privilege of interviewing Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
Energetic and exuberant, Mother Teresa looked twenty years younger as she chuckled and joked through the interview enjoying the peace of the deserted road minus the clanging sound of the electric-tram bells and blaring bus and taxi horns. The relative peace was interspersed with the howls of “howzz that” of youthful cricketers who took over the deserted road. The interview lasted about an hour covering 15 topics including, priests, women priests, feminists, Marxists, media, mission, conversion and laity.
In the course of the interview on 16 August 1990 to mark her 80th birth day Mother Teresa lamented lack of Indian Christians volunteering for work among the poorest of the poor…
Her eyes lit up narrating a touching incident. She said: “Few days ago a man came with a little boy and said – “My son loves you so much that for three months he did not use his pocket money. I also love Mother and I felt shy in front of my son. So, I also did not smoke for three months.”
“And [so] the little boy gave his money, all ten paisas [ coins]…”
“But we don’t see that coming from our families…. If you come here to the Mother House in the evening, you will see about half the church [chapel] full of foreign volunteers. Go to Kalighat, Prem Dan, Sishu Bhavan more than sixty people are here [there] – but not one Indian… We have to be taught. Where are people? I miss them, you know.”
(Ref: The Herald, Calcutta, 24-30 August 1990, p.7)

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St Maria Domenica Mazzarello Visits Project Mornese Sisters

Sr Rita Fernandes as Mazzarello with animators

MORNESE, N. Italy (C.M. Paul) – St Maria Domenica Mazzarello paid a visit to her first house and the place of her first religious profession, 27th June. It was at the conclusion of the thanksgiving Eucharist in the evening she made her appearance. She talked to the Project Mornese English speaking group of 29 Sisters and two animators and their chaplain. The Sisters belonged to 10 countries and 16 provinces from three continents of North America, Asia and Europe. The month-long journey of re-discovering their Christian faith and religious charism had three phases: Rome, Turin and Mornese.
Mother Mazzarello congratulated the animators of the group Sr Maire and Sr Edna Mary for their relentless efforts in accompaniment of the group as well as imparting first hand experience on the spirituality of the Salesian Sisters.

L to R: Animators Edna & Maire, chaplain C.M. Paul

St Maria Mazzarello was fascinated by the fact the group spent a lot of time studying her letters and visiting the places she frequented with her Sisters and girls. Of special mention was the Roverno water front where she spent the whole day every week doing the laundry. Mother Mazzarello had also words of praise for the chaplain who according to her “proved a worthy son of Don Bosco with his simple and affable ways and ready willingness to adapt to the Sisters just like a brother.”
After the mass, the group gathered for felicitation of the animators and the chaplain. The group welcomed them with the song “When the Saints Go Marching In.” Sr Loretta, on behalf of the group gave reasons why the three (Maire, Edna and Paul) be declared saints. Among other supposed virtues, she mentioned their indefatigable zeal and performance in journeying with the project Mornese group. Besides felicitating the three with song and dance, Sisters hailing from various provinces presented surprise gifts too.

Project Mornese English speaking group June 2010

After dinner, the group gathered again with the Sisters of the Mornese Collegio community to felicitate them and thank them for the wonderful hospitality. Besides PowerPoint presentation of the month-long spiritual journey with the song “Miracles Do Happen,” there were two Indian dances, Samoan dance and three group songs on Mornese spirituality. After mutual exchange of gifts, the superior Sr Candida presented each one with Mother Mazzarello key chain and gelato.
28 June, the group will make a day trip to Nizza, to where Mother Mazzarello moved to when she left Mornese Collegio.

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Filed under Collegio Mornese, Don Bosco, Education, Maria Mazzarello, Nun's Story, Project Mornese, Salesian, Salesian Sisters, Samoa

Don Bosco’s Life Changing Ten years in Chieri

Don Bosco and Pope John Paul II in Chieri St Philip Neri church

CHIERI, Turin – The Project Mornese group set out to Chieri town by bus for a half day tour. John Bosco spent ten years of his life in Chieri (1831 – 1841), ie., from age 16 to 26.
The first five years he spent in public schools struggling to make ends meet, staying and doing part time jobs as table boy, tailor, carpenter, stable boy and sacristan.
It was during his years at the public school that John founded the Societa’ dell’Allegria (Glee Club). It was also in Chieri that John challenged an acrobat who kept away boys from catechism class. John Bosco won the bet which included running and some acrobatic feats… the defeated acrobat treated him and friends at Muletto Hotel, and parted ways never again to return.
It was also in Chieri in the Jewish ghetto that John made friends with Elia Foa the bookstore man and bought Latin classics at discounted rates as well as bought them back in lieu of other books. He also made friends with Jewish companion Jonah (Giacobbe Levi) who later became Catholic.
For the Salesian Sisters, Chieri is very historic because it was here that Don Bosco sent a statute of Mary Help of Christians in 1876 to pacify the local people who insisted that Sisters set up a convent. And rightly, in 1878 the Sisters came to Chieri. Also Chieri is the birth place of Blessed Maddalena Caterina Morano whom Don Bosco encouraged to become a Salesian Sister. The FMA community offered cool drinks and snacks.
It is in the Church of St Philip Neri in Chieri that John Bosco frequented as a seminarian and helped as sacristan, as well as attended daily mass and received daily communion foregoing his breakfast.
In the sanctuary of the church one can find the skeletons of Don Bosco’s seminary friend Louis Comollo who died as a seminarian.

Our Lady of Graces statue in Philip Neri Church,Chieri

John Bosco had special devotion to Our Lady of Graces in the cathedral where he went to sing for High Mass on Sunday.
In the afternoon, the Sisters were divided into two groups and had a guided tour of Valdocco with animators Srs. Maire O’Byrne and Edna Mary Macdonald. They visited Basilica of Maria Ausiliatrice, Pinardi shed, St Francis de Sales church, all three in Valdocco built by Don Bosco to accommodate the ever increasing number of young people. Also they made a brief visit to Don Bosco’s rooms.

Sr Edna's group visiting the basilica of Mary Help of Christians.

The day concluded with a meaningful liturgy in St Francis de Sales church where the Sisters prayed for priests gathered in Rome for the conclusion of the Year for Priests, 8-10 June.
Wednesday, the group will have a walking tour of Don Bosco’s Wandering Oratory part 1 & 2. Also, the group will visit leading charitable institutions near Valdocco dating back to Don Bosco’s time especially the Marchesa di Barolo’s work for street girls and St Joseph Cottolengo’s Little House of the Providence for the abandoned sick and handicapped.

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Filed under Nun's Story, Project Mornese, Salesian, Student

Faith Renewal in the Crypt of the Popes

Reciting the Creed in the crypt of the popes as sign of Faith Renewal

VATICAN CITY: 3 June – The group of 29 Sisters, two Sister animators and myself set off for a dawn mass in the crypt of the Popes under St Peter’s Basilica. It contains architectural fragments from earlier churches on the site and the tombs of many popes, including the simple tomb of John Paul II. But the focus of pilgrims and tourists alike is the tomb of the very first pope: St. Peter. A glass wall at the end of the crypt provides a view of the reliquary below the altar, which may well contain the actual bones of St. Peter. A chapel stretches out behind the shrine into the crypt for services at this holiest of shrines.
After a short and faith filled Mass in the Armenian chapel marking the death anniversary of pope John XXIII and recalling Ugandan martyrs, the Sisters renewed their faith, recommending to the Lord, faithful of their respective countries who struggle to practice the faith.
From dawn, each day, the crypt chapels are a bee hive of activities, with different groups making their way for their reserved Mass time slot and respective chapels. After Mass, the Sisters had ample time to see the Basilica.
After a brief shopping for religious articles, the group went to St Paul’s basilica, the catacombs of St. Callistus, Quo Vadis church and the basilica of Sacra Cuore which Don Bosco built near Termini bus and railway station. In the evening they will meet with the Mother Yvonne and the Sisters of her Council.

L to R : Fr. C. M. Paul sdb and Mr. Robin Gomes in the Vatican Radio studio.

Vatican Radio Interviews
After the Mass, I went over to Vatican Radio, India Programme section headed by Fr Alfie Ben SJ. They have four language services to India, namely English, Hindi, Tamil and Malayalam.
Mr. Robin Gomes
, a Salesian College Sonada (Darjeeling) past pupil from Kolkata who works with Vatican Radio for over 20 years now, took the chance to interview me for two programmes.
First one was on the 25th International Catholic Film Festival of Niepokalanow (Warsaw, Poland) which concluded on 30th May and the “Multimedia at the Service of the Gospel” award I received at the festival inauguration, 27 May from Catholic Film Association of Poland.
The second interview was on my thoughts on the Year for Priests, to be concluded shortly.
Language programme producers are only too glad to interview visiting missionaries, to get first hand news and experiences of living and sharing the Gospel in various cultures… they insisted that next time the group should make themselves available for short interviews in as many languages as possible. The ideal time, they say, would be Wednesday morning, 9 am, after a brief interview, they could go over to the Piazza San Pietro for the papal audience.

Why this Project Mornese?
“We are talking of a pilgrimage to the source of our charism, as lived experience and coming into contact with source of the spiritual journey of Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello. At every stage we visit the places, reflect and celebrate every experience in prayer,” says the project coordinator Spanish Sr. Monica Menegusi at their Rome Generalate explaining the pilgrim stages.
The first stage of the pilgrimage (June 1-5) is Rome “In the heart of the Church and Institute, Rome,” where everyone enters as pilgrims in the faith.
The second and third stages will take the pilgrims to the itinerary of their co-founders Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello respectively. The group will visit places connected with Don Bosco’s apostolate in Turin area and move to “Mornese, the home town of Mary Mazzarello’s ministry.
Friday, 4th June, the group leaves for a day-trip to Assisi.

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Filed under Nun's Story, Project Mornese, Salesian, Student, Uncategorized

Indian Priest Given Media Award

By Zygmunt Gutowski

The first and current festival presidents listen to Fr Paul’s brief words on receiving "Media at the Service of the Gospel" award at 25th International Catholic Film Festival Niepokalanov, Warsaw, 27 May.

NIEPOKALANOW, Warsaw, Poland – An Indian priest was given the “Multimedia in the Service of the Gospel Award 2010” at the solemn Eucharistic celebration inaugurating the silver jubilee of the longest running International Catholic Film Festival at Niepokalanow, 27 May.
The first president of the festival Mr. Zygmunt Gutowski and the current president Ms Danuta Stachyra presented St Maxmillain Kolbe statuette with the inscription “Fr C.M. Paul, Multimedia in the Service of the Gospel” honorary prize of Julian Kluenty, Catholic Film association (CFA), Poland 2010.”
Calcutta province Salesian Fr. C. M. Paul is currently pursuing doctoral studies in Social Communications at the Salesian University, Rome.
Two prizes are offered in this category “for outstanding achievements both in Poland and abroad in the area of evangelization through multimedia.”
This is the seventh year of the award dedicated to Polish film director, cameraman, author of over 100 films, as well as president for the Warsaw Branch of Polish Association of Scientific Film, Julian Kulenty (1922 – 2000).
The first year overseas award went to film director Mel Gibson of the Passion of Christ fame. The second year award went to Mother Angelica of the EWTN, the third to Sr Angela Ann Zukowski president of Unda-World and founder director of the Centre for Religious Telecommunications, university of Dayton, Ohio.
“I am totally floored with this award,” says 56 year old Fr Paul in his brief presentation on receiving the award.
Besides being the last president of Unda/OCIC India, Fr Paul was also the first president of Signis-India and first priest to serve on Government of India’s Central Board of Film Certification.
The Niepokalanow festival is holding its 25th uninterrupted screening, May 27 to 30, some 45 km west of Warsaw, capital of Poland.

Fr C.M. Paul with Archbishop Kazimerz Nycz of Warsaw and Director of Niepokalanov Monastery Fr. Stanislaw Pietka, OFM con.

Last June, Fr Paul won Fr Horace Rosario SJ Journalism Award, Calcutta and in 2008 Fr John Barrett SJ Award for best SAR News reporter given by Indian Catholic Press Association, Bangalore.
The Niepokalanow (City of the Immaculate) film festival had its genesis in the heydays of “Solidarnosc” (Solidarity) the national resistance movement against the Polish Communist Regime, in 1985. A group of activists formed the Catholic Film Association of Poland as a cultural forum.

L to R: Belarus Signis, Catholic Film Association founder president, Radio DJ and CM Paul on Radio FM 102.7 Niepokalanow Talk Show.

The festival started in the Franciscan (OFM Conv.) monastery at Niepokalanow, the national shrine of Mary Immaculate and the headquarters of the “Militia Immaculate” (Army of the Immaculate). Fr. Maxmilliam Kolbe founded the Franciscan monastery at Niepokalanow in 1927. After the fall of Communism, Poland had its first democratically elected government in 1989. The president of Poland, who recently died in airplane crash was patron of the festival along with the polish primate cardinal Josef Glemp.

Award ceremony video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZGBu7CZbBw

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Filed under Bishops, Film Festival, Niepokalanow, Salesian, Student, Uncategorized

Seven Nuns and a Divorced Woman

A still from the film Nurunguvettangal

NIEPOKALANOW, Warsaw, Poland — The second film to be screened at the Niepokalanow international film festival is a telefilm from Kerala, south India, entitled Nurunguvettangal (Gems of Light). It narrates a tale of seven nuns and a divorced woman. The film is conceived and produced by the Congregation of the Mother of Carmel, (CMC) Province, Irinjalakkuda, Kerala in the context of several controversies regarding the lives of nuns. Some recent developments in the state have affirmed the prejudice of the society toward women choosing religious life.
The film is written and directed by Mr. Leo Thaddeus and shot in Wagamon and suburbs in Idukki district. The film tries to project nuns as human beings with the similar feelings, emotions and conflicts as ordinary women.
“God wants his disciples to love mankind. This is the message of the film,” says Thaddeus, a lay social activist and film maker.
“I do not want to label it a Christian film but as a film that looks deep into the monastic life of certain human characters. The film made for general patronage has also the clergy as its target,” says Thaddeus who entered the tinsel world as an assistant to film director Bhadran.
The film narrates the story of seven nuns, Margaretta, Jain, Rose, Rita, Deepa, Annie Raphel and the Mother Superior, coming from different social and financial backgrounds. Their friendship with Meera, a divorcee, forms the core of the film.

Another still from the film Nurunguvettangal

The climax scene has Sr Deepa removing her sacred veil in front of the public to show solidarity with the ailing Meera who loses her hair after chemotherapy.
The film has several well known actresses – Reena Basheer playing Meera, Romy as Sr Deepa, Sandhya as Sr Jain, Asha (Sr Rose), Alice Mathew (Sr Rita), Shobha (Sr Annie Raphel), Santhadevi as Sr Margaretta and Bindu Ramakrishnan as Mother Superior.
The cinematography is done by S G Raman.
Thaddeus’ directorial debut Pachamarathanalil starring Sreenivasan and Padmapriya was released two years ago.
In the Niepokalanow (City of the Immaculate) silver jubilee festival there are 17 2 films and some 40 Radio programmes from 20 countries. Besides feature film, five other categories of the competition are: documentary, educational, television and catechetical amateur films. The festival also features multimedia, radio and YouTube productions.

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Filed under Film Festival, Indian films, Niepokalanow, Nun's Story