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Celebratory Eucharist to felicitate Oswald Cardinal Gracias

Dec. 19, 2013

Every year, representatives from each of the ABE affiliated schools (three children and one teacher) come to the Cathedral of the Holy Name, in the week before Christmas, to felicitate Cardinal Oswald for his Birthday which actually falls on December 24.  This year – for the Cardinal’s 69th birthday - the celebratory Eucharist was held onDecember 19,and was animated by St. Ann’s High School, Orlem. The Cardinal’s joy in the occasion was both tangible and infectious!

The congregation of children and teachers was led in a practice session of the sung parts of the Mass by the St. Ann’s school choir. This was followed by two short films – one on the Christmas story and the other on the Cardinal himself. Prepared by the Catholic Communication Centre, these films helped the children to understand the true meaning of Christmas which is just a week away and also to know their Cardinal through all that he does for the Archdiocese and the Church.

As the Celebrants processed to the altar, they were accompanied by the Entrance Hymn, “Heaven came down and glory filled my soul”, rendered by the choir. Bishop Agnelo Gracias and fourteen priests concelebrated with His Eminence.

Cardinal Oswald Gracias welcomed everyone present and expressed his immense joy to see the multitude which had gathered to share in the occasion. He added the reminder that the Christmas celebration was imminent and that spiritual preparation is even more necessary than the material one.

The readings of the day showed us how God makes the impossible possible; how he sends his messengers and helpers when they are needed and how faith is necessary to believe that that continues to happen even now, in our time.

The Cardinal dwelt on both Samson and John the Baptist in his homily, reminding us that God has a purpose for each one of us and that it is important that we fulfil this purpose. He spoke of God’s unconditional and inexplicable love for us which is seen through the gift of parents. Parents are the guiding force and the principal agents in our formation. The Cardinal reminded everyone about the presence of teachers, priests, and nuns as our guides and mentors. He invited all of us to rejoice during this Christmas season by opening up our hearts to Jesus, by being his friend, and developing a personal relationship with him. Just like Jesus who came down to earth in order to serve and save mankind, we too must strive to become perfect examples of Jesus. Cardinal Oswald then touched upon the recent death of Nelson Mandela whom he greatly admires as a singular person of peace – one who used his life to transform the lives of others. Here was a man who could have harboured bitterness, hatred and revenge and yet his most enduring advice to all people is: “As I walked out the door towards the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison.”

 Before the final blessing, Fr. George Athaide, Secretary for the Archdiocesan Board of Education, thanked the Cardinal for his continuing guidance and involvement in the Education Ministry right from 2006. He offered us this insight: our Cardinal makes it a point to keep abreast of all that is happening in the field of education and checks with the ABE regarding awareness and implementation!

The Cardinal, along with Bishop Agnelo, blessed the images of Baby Jesus, brought by the school children.  These images will be placed in the Nativity scenes at schools and homes.

After the solemn final blessing, Cardinal Gracias expressed his gratitude to all and to Fr. George, in particular, for organising the occasion and to the children for their love.

The celebrants processed out of the Cathedral to a full throated rendering by the children of ‘Showers of Blessings’!

After the Eucharistic Celebration, the Cardinal returned to greet each child and teacher individually and to receive the Spiritual Bouquets which the children offered him.  He had a kind word and memento and a loving smile for each one.


 Source: Catholic Communication Centre

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