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Final Goodbye to Late Ignatius Cardinal Simon Pimenta

July 19, 2013

The Missa Coram Corpore of the late Simon Ignatius Cardinal Pimenta at the Cathedral of Holy Name saw the faithful coming in to witness his mortal remains from 10 a.m. onwards while hymns were sung, passages from scripture were read and prayers were recited invoking God’s blessings. Soon after the Missa Coram Corpore, the body was taken from the Cathedral to Cardinal Pimenta’s ancestral home in Marol where his family spent time in prayer and thanksgiving.

A solemn procession was then led to St. John the Evangelist Church, Marol where a multitude of people had gathered on the streets to pay their last respects - around 4000 people had lined up to catch a glimpse of the late Cardinal – prior to the Funeral Mass and burial.

A few dignitaries from the civil administration, the Government and the Police paid their respects and expressed their sympathy through a condolence message to the family of the Cardinal. All the four Cardinals of India: Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, Cardinal Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal Major Archbishop of Trivandrum of the Syro-Malankars (India), His Beatitude Mar George Alencherry, Major Archbishop of Ernakulam–Angamaly of the Syro-Malabars (India) and Cardinal Telesphore Placidus Toppo, Metropolitan had come to pay their respects to the Cardinal and his family.

The Apostolic Nuncio also attended the Funeral service on behalf of the Pope and offered condolences to the family of the Cardinal.

Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the main celebrant, expressed his gratitude to God for the gift of Cardinal Simon Pimenta and for the leadership which he brought to the Archdiocese of Bombay and the Church of India. The first reading focused on St Paul’s preparation for his own death in order to wear the crown of Christ. The Gospel was read in both Marathi and English by Archbishop Felix Machado of the Diocese of Vasai.

Cardinal Oswald Gracias in his homily, which was similar to the one he gave in Holy Name Cathedral, reflected on the Gospel passage and the life of Cardinal Simon Pimenta. He stressed the love of Cardinal Pimenta for the Marathi language. Cardinal Pimenta’s mother tongue was Marathi and he strongly encouraged the use of Marathi at every opportunity. In Vasai, he did not establish English language schools to avoid what he felt would be a dilution of culture. He understood the needs and desires of society and worked his plans accordingly.

Before the final blessing, Bishop Dominic Savio Fernandes read the condolence message of Pope Francis followed by the reading of the personal condolence message by the Apostolic Nuncio, Salvatore Pennacchio.

The four Cardinals came forward to express their individual condolences and thanksgiving. They also spoke about the contributions of Cardinal Simon Pimenta to the Church in India.

His Beatitude Mar George Alencherry in his speech spoke about his personal experiences with the late Cardinal where he discovered him to be a person of prayer. He found him to be a noble soul who confided himself to God and who was kind and considerate to the people. For him, Cardinal Pimenta was one who left his imprint on everyone he met. He also spoke about the formation of the Kalyan Diocese, when Cardinal Simon Pimenta came forward to clear the apprehensions of the priests and others. 

Cardinal Baselios Cleemis emphasized the late Cardinal’s excellent leadership as Bishop and later as Archbishop in the Church in India. In particular, he pointed out his contribution in promoting the Eastern Traditions of the Church.

Cardinal Toppo noted that he had known Cardinal Pimenta for the last 35 years. According to him, Cardinal Pimenta was a man of the Church who loved the Church and served it wholeheartedly and with dedication. He stressed his contributory role in the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) and spoke about the Holy Father Pope John Paul II’s visit to Ranchi which was made possible due to the efforts of Cardinal Pimenta. He admired his love for the tribals which was reflected in his concern for them in all his activities as well as his request for a Priest from the tribal belt, to be deputed in the Archdiocese of Bombay, to look after the spiritual needs of the migrant population. 

Bishop John Rodrigues then read the letter from the Vatican written by ‘The Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples’ headed by Archbishop Fernando Filoni.

The late Cardinal’s nephew, Jonathan, delivered the eulogy on behalf of the entire family. He concluded with a quote from the book written by Cardinal Pimenta titled, “Memoirs and Milestones.” The Apostolic Nuncio led the final rites and blessings of the body and the service ended with the burial in the Parish cemetery.


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