Tag Archives: The Times of India

Indore’s martyr nun Rani Maria beatified – The Times of India

•Beatification is one step away from Canonisation, and Sister Maria is the first nun from north India to be Beatified. (From The Times of India)

(News from “The Times of India:)INDORE: “Blessed Rani Maria, pray for us,” proclaimed Vatican ambassador Cardinal Angelo Amato on Saturday. And 15,000 Christians repeated the words after him at a local school in Indore, marking the beatification of Sister Rani Maria Vattalil as a martyr.

In the audience, was seated her killer Samandar Singh. Next to him sat the Blessed Maria’s sister, Sr Selmi. “I cannot undo what happened. That was also God’s call. This, too, is God’s call. She was a saint, and now she’ll be declared one too,” said Samandar who had stabbed her viciously 22 years ago. He was sentenced to life but was released in 2002 after Sister Selmi visited him in jail and asked that he be pardoned.

Bishops attend a ceremony for beatification of Rani Maria in Indore on Saturday.

Beatification is one step away from Canonisation, and Sister Maria is the first nun from north India to be Beatified and the seventh Indian to be beatified after Sister Alphonsa, Fr Kuriakose Chavara, Mother Euphrasia, Fr Joseph Vaz, Fr Gonsalo Garcia and Mother Teresa. The ceremony was held St. Paul’s HS School in the presence of Cardinal Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for Cause of Saints (Vatican), and 45 bishops and five cardinals from India.

Just before Gloria (singing praises of God), Cardinal Amato read out the apostolic letter in Latin, announcing Pope Francis’s declaration that Sr Rani Maria be called Blessed and her feast may be celebrated every year on February 25 — the day she was martyred in 1995. The Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops arrived in the form of a procession.

•Her killer Samandar Singh, who was in the audience, said “I cannot undo what happened. That was also God’s call. This, too, is God’s call. She was a saint, and now she’ll be declared one too”.

Right after the announcement, a relic and a large portrait of Sister Maria were brought to the altar by the family members, representatives from the church in Kerala and representatives of Sr Rani Maria’s Franciscan Clarist Congregation. Cardinal Angelo Amato said, “She’s not just an inspiration to Udainagar church but to Catholics across the globe. Her sacrifice has become a beacon of light for missionaries. “

Please click here to watch a full five hours ceremony video.

91-year-old priest who fought 38 years for Indian citizenship, passes away. – News from The Times of India.

TNN | Jan 27, 2017, 11.33 PM IST – Printed from The Times of India. 

NAVI MUMBAI: The affable Jesuit priest of Spanish origin, Father Federico Sopena Gusi, who had struggled for 38 years to become a naturalized Indian citizen last year, passed away due to old age related ailments on Wednesday. He was 91.
Raigad-based activists and social workers have expressed sorrow at the passing away of Fr Sopena, since he had actively worked for the welfare of the poor Katkari tribals in the region for several years.
Talking to TOI, the Pen based activist Vaishali Patil said: “We are all very sad to hear about the demise of Fr Sopena, who was a phenomenal human being working for the downtrodden. I knew him for over 25 years while closely working for the welfare of the poor adivasis (tribals) in Raigad. Born in Barcelona (Spain), Fr Sopena had been living in India since 1948, but he got the Indian citizenship only in April 2016 and he was so happy that he shouted ‘Bharat Mata ki jai!’, while we were in the office of Mumbai suburban district collectorate last year.”
Patil had personally intervened and helped the Jesuit priest acquire the Indian citizenship by writing several letters to the government department concerned, and painstakingly collating all the required documents, since the original file with all the certificates of Fr Sopena was earlier misplaced and declared as missing by the government bureaucrats.
A member of Society of Jesus, Fr Sopena was “in love” with India and had a good command over the Hindi language. 
Fr Sopena had in last April said “I can now die peacefully in my India. I love India, as I have spent over 67 years here.” He had further elaborated: “The great Indian poet, Kabir, had once said that you will be at peace if you have repaid all your loans and died in your motherland. That is why i am ‘bahut khush’ (very happy) to become a naturalized Indian!”
Patil recalled: “Two decades ago, Fr Sopena had lost one leg in a motorcycle accident while he was going from Pen to Panvel on the Mumbai-Goa highway. Despite living with an artificial Jaipur foot, he was always enthusiastic about life and his work. All the people and activists in Raigad have fond memories of him. May his soul rest in peace.”

The Immaculate Conception Church, Pune often known as the mother church of the Deccan, is set to celebrate 225 years of its existence.

Article from The Times of India

Oldest church to celebrate 225 years of service

TNN | Dec 8, 2016, 12.37 AM IST

PUNE: The Immaculate Conception Church, often known as the mother church of the Deccan, is set to celebrate 225 years of its existence from Thursday. The year-long festivities would begin on Thursday with a tableau and a live hymn band.

A look through the city’s history books reveals a fascinating array of land deals that went through before the church was constructed in the early 1790s.

Unlike most churches in the city Catholic or Protestant the City Church, of the Catholic sect, was thought of by Portuguese officer Dom Minguel de Noronha in the army of Peshwa Madhavrao.

Historians believe Dom Minguel de Noronha was possibly hired by Madhavrao Peshwa to strengthen his army. To show his appreciation for the Portuguese servicemen in his army, Madhavrao gave a parcel of land in the Quarter Gate area of the city, right at the edge of the Pune Cantonment, in 1791.

The church’s first services began on December 8, 1792. Today, the church offers services in English, Konkani, and Marathi, and most of its congregation are ethnic Goan or Mangalorean Catholics. The structure itself has gone through many changes over the years, including the addition of a school almost a century after the church congregated. Quite a lot of the original structure, however, is still standing tall.

“The inner halls and altar have mostly changed since the church’s establishment. But about half the building is probably 225 years old, which is the age of this church. We manage to keep this structure up using donations from our parishioners,” Rev Fr Salvador Pinto, the parish priest at the City Church, said.

The celebrations will be on till December 8, 2017. During this period, the church authorities have planned various charitable activities and feasts. The statue of Mother Mary is scheduled to go to various localities across the city and will return to the church only on November 28 next year.

“For Thursday, we have organised a tableau, where children will perform and depict the forming of the church over the years. There will also be a live band to sing hymns,” parishioner Elizabeth Coutinho said.

Carmelite order set to mark 400 years of existence in Goa, India

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Carmelite order set to mark 400 yrs of existence in Goa

TNN | Nov 28, 2016, 03.11 AM IST


COLVA: The Carmelite order is all set to mark 400 years of its presence in Goa with the feast of its first martyrs, Blessed Dionysius (Dennis) and Redemptus. Celebrations will be held on Tuesday at the ruins of the first foundation monastery in Old Goa. Every year, the Carmelites observe this feast as a mark of remembrance of their first martyrs.

Fr Archibald Gonsalves, superior of the Carmelite monastery in Margao, told TOI that the Discalced Carmelites of Goa will remember and celebrate the feast of their first martyrs, Blessed Dionysius and Redemptus, at the ruins of the first foundation monastery, Old Goa, on November 29 at 4pm. The feast mass will be celebrated by Fr Charles Serrao OCD, provincial of the Karnataka-Goa province of the Carmelites. Fr Sylvestre D’Souza OCD, councillor for spirituality will deliver the homily.

In the 17th century, Fr Leander of the Annunciation, a native of Burgos in Spain, contacted authorities in Goa for the purpose of setting up a foundation in the state.

Without much difficulty, Fr Leander was able to secure a temporary licence from Archbishop Don Cristobal de Sa Lisboa to put up a church and a modest residence, which soon grew into a novitiate community.

The archbishop and viceroy contributed to the construction of a magnificent church which was inaugurated on April 25, 1620 and completed in 1621. Today, one can see the ruins of the first foundation Carmelite monastery at this plac, where over 100 friars were trained.

It has become a pilgrim site for nearly 20,000 Carmelites living in Asia. There are tombs of significant personalities of royal families and of Carmelite friars on the premises and in the Convento Di Carmo church.

It is recalled that Blessed Redemptus, a Portuguese soldier, joined the Carmelites to be a non-clerical Carmelite brother through a profession of vows in 1635 at Old Goa. The other was Fr Dionysius, a French sailor and a cartographer, who was admitted into the novitiate at Old Goa in the year 1635.

When the ambassador, Francis D’Souza was to leave for the East Indies on the request of the government, his superiors allowed Fr Dionysius to go along with the diplomatic mission sent by the viceroy to the sultan of Acheh in the East Indies. He was accompanied by Redemptus of the Cross.

While the ambassador and his troupe were released, Fr Dionysius and Redemptus were enslaved for some time, and subjected to torture before they were martyred on November 29, 1638.

These first martyrs of the Teresian Carmel were beatified by Pope Leo XIII in 1900.


Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ moved to Beirut after 42 years of work in human rights in Gujarat.


The Times of India


TNN – Jan 20, 2016, 08.30 AM IST


Ahmedabad: Wednesday will be the last day for human rights and peace activist Fr Cedric Prakash (65) as director of PRASHANT-the Jesuit centre for human rights – which he founded in Ahmedabad in 2001. Fr Cedric, after a 42-year stint in Gujarat, is leaving for Beirut, the largest city in Lebanon, where the middle-east crisis is an unfolding tragedy . He will work among the thousands of internally displaced people.


Since the 2002 Gujarat riots, this Jesuit activist has been a relentless critic of the then chief minister Narendra Modi, over his alleged role in the riots. Even Modi believed that the denial of the US diplomatic visa to him in March 2005 was because of Fr Cedric’s testimony in June 2002 before the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in Washington. He had spearheaded the campaign against Gujarat’s new anticonversion law The Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act 2003, which he later challenged in 2009 in the high court.


In his new mission, Fr Cedric will be coordinating the `universal mission’ of the Jesuit Refugee Fr Cedric Pr Service (JRS) for Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Palestine, Israel, Sudan and Chad. His work involves ensuring that refugees are accorded the rights guaranteed by the 1951 Geneva Convention.


“Our fight here in Gujarat is not over. We will fight for the values enshrined in our Constitution and will carry on the struggle for the marginalized and victims of violence,” said Fr Cedric whose institution Prashant has been a crucible for activism.


Fr Prakash has been the recipient of several national and international awards which include the Kabir Puraskar by the President of India in 1995 for harmony , Chevalier de la Legion Honneur (Knight of the Legion of Honour) by the French President in 2006 for human rights causes as well as the central government’s Minority Rights Award.


It was during his visit to Lebanon in July 2015 that he had finally made up his mind about Beirut. “In 1974, I was inspired by Pedro Arrupe, a Jesuit who worked among Vietnamese boat refugees. Arrupe founded the JRS.”


On his new mission to JRS Fr Prakash says, “The refugee crisis in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA), especially in the light of ISIS today cannot be seen in isolation of powerful lobbies and other vested interests. There is very little political will. The arms and ammunition industry plays a crucial role in MENA and so do mercenaries of every hue.”