Sunday, June 25, 2006

Farewell to Cardinal Dias

I was planning on going to the 6pm Mass at St. Peter's in Bandra today. On the way a friend called to warn me, "They're having some ceremony for the Cardinal. It'll take hours! Maybe you can go the 6pm at St. Andrew's?" The Cardinal? Why, I'd want to be there! Turned out it was a gala celebration honoring Ivan Cardinal Dias as he leaves the Archdiocese of Bombay to take up his new post as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

The event was held in the grounds behind St. Stanislaus High School, adjoining St. Peter's, in a covered tent (hey, we're in the middle of the monsoons after all!) with seating for about 5000 people. As I parked the car, rivers of people were streaming to the church, some emerging from large buses that were causing the already haywire traffic on Hill Road to go completely nuts.


I walked to the grounds in the front of the church to meet a friend who lives right next to the high school. "Come, all the Bishops are in that area over there" (pointing to a curtained off enclosure on the other side of the grounds, on the lower floor of the high school). We peek in to see a gaggle of Bishops vesting. The Cardinal was outside, a little distance away, listening to a prelate talking animatedly to him. We walk. "Maybe we can get a blessing and a picture!" No luck. His minder (and the master of ceremonies for the liturgy) shooed us off as soon as the prelate had finished talking. "Mass starts in 5 minutes! Please understand, there's 4000 people wanting pictures with him!" Never one to be aggressive in these situations (I don't think I'd have been as bold as to even walk up to him had it not been for my friend! She's a bold one!), I beat a hasty retreat. However, we stuck around outside the enclsoure as the various Bishops (and one Eparch, I'm guessing of the Eparchy of Kalyan. Oh ya, and another Cardinal. I think the retired Archbishop, Simon Cardinal Pimenta passed away recently. Maybe it's Cardinal Telesphore?) lined up. So, I did manage to get a few shots of the Cardinal.

Mass didn't start in a few minutes. Apparently, there was some "prayer dance" going on in the tent, which was supposed to be a prelude to the Mass. The assembled prelates milled around in the waiting area. The altar servers looked bored, until a young Jesuit scholastic showed up (in the trademark kurtaand jeans and started chatting with him. "Oh, that's Br. ----. He's in charge of the atlar boys and girls"). The MC bustled about looking hassled. A few stragglers appeared and took some pictures as well.

From the grounds where the main celebration was going to take place, the congregation was singing gustily. At about 5:45 pm the MC got everyone lined up.

I took a side path to the tent. It was quite full ... sturdy beams holding up the vast canopy, and dozens of ceiling fans whirring away. Since it had just rained, it was not unpleasant and not too humid (which means it wasn't 98% put probably 80%). The altar seemed a mile away. A large "resurrected Christ" in the center, with a huge photo of the Cardinal on one side, and "Go out into the world and proclaim the good news" in large letters curving across the back.

As I stood at the back taking pictures during the entrance procession a sweet old lady next to me asks, "So, which press you are?" Uh. What do I say? St. Blog's Parish? :) "Just a private citizen, m'am." A reminder. I'm not here as a spectator. This is also fulfilling my Sunday obligation and I better find a seat and get a little prayerful.


The liturgy proceeded. The first reading was in Marathi, the second in Konkani, the Gospel in English. [India is, of course, quite the multicultural place. And most urban parishes have Masses in several different languages.] No translation provided. However, I understand Marathi, and Konkani isn't too different (think Spanish and Italian). The short homily, reminding those assembled to trust in the Lord as the Archdiocese loses Cardinal Dias to Rome (I thought it was to the universal church, but hey, let's not quibble), was given by Bishop Bosco Penha, one of the Archdiocesan Auxilliaries. The prayers of the faithful were for the Pope, the Cardinal (the gentleman proclaiming them choked up and broke down. Obviously, someone quite attached to his Bishop!), for a safe and bountiful monsoon (everyone remembers last year's horrific floods in the city) and victims of violence. The music was standard Bombay fare (with one Marathi communion hymn) including two of my favorites that I quite miss in the US. The offertory hymn, "Blessed are you lord" (with a very simple chant-like melody) and the recessional Marian hymn, "Be with us Mary." The Cardinal has quite a strong baritone and a nice chanting voice. At Communion a very succinct and clear announcement was made. "People of other faiths, please stay in your seats and join in the singing." Communion was distributed most efficiently and prayerfully.

After Mass, I went back to the prelates' vestibule. A large crowd surrounded the Cardinal, including the (real) press and one TV station (Doordarshan). So, nope, didn't get a chance to hobnob with the Red Pope.


After Mass, I went back to the prelates' vestibule. A large crowd surrounded the Cardinal, including the (real) press and one TV station (Doordarshan). So, nope, didn't get a chance to hobnob with the Red Pope.

After Mass there was a ceremony with songs, dances, speeches and the like. I stayed for a bit -- a Hindu scholar, who'd been involved in local Hindu-Christian dialogues, lauded the Cardinals efforts at promoting dialogue, occasionally interrupted by loud applause when she lavished praise on the chief guest. Unfortunately, I had to leave, so I didn't get to stay till the Cardinal spoke (which would have been at the end of the program). I'm sure the papers will carry something on the morrow.

Overall, a huge sense of pride that a Mumbaikar and a son of India is taking up a position of such high respect in the Church, and also, a seemingly genuine sense of sorrow at saying farewell to a beloved pastor.


[More pictures from the Mass coming up ... ] Posted by Picasa

No comments: