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March 26, 2017

On the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, March 25, 2017, His Eminence, Oswald Cardinal Gracias, ordained two permanent (married) Deacons – Frederick Correa and Sylvester Lobo - for the Archdiocese of Bombay, at the 6.30 PM Eucharist at Cathedral of the Holy Name, Fort.

His Eminence gladly welcomed his concelebrants: Archbishop John Barwa of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar who had come especially for the ordination, Bishop Bosco Penha, the Seminary Professors and priests from the Archdiocese. The previously ordained Deacons of the Archdiocese were present and assisted His Eminence during the ceremony.

The ranks of the regular evening Mass attendees were swelled by the elects’ (i.e. the deacons to be ordained) families, friends and fellow parishioners who were privileged to witness an ordination that was rich in rite and ceremony.  Seated with their families, the elect were called, quite literally, from their people by name, to be presented to the Cardinal. The formal request for ordination was made by Fr. Gilbert D’Lima, Director of the Commission for the Permanent Diaconate and the response was received from His Eminence, ‘Relying on the help of the Lord God and our Saviour Jesus Christ, we choose, these our brothers, for the Order of the Diaconate’.  A fervent ‘Thanks be to God’ was sung by the congregation, led by the Cathedral Choir who rendered the music of the Mass in delightful harmony.

The ceremony witnessed the promises of commitment and obedience by the elected deacons, the singing of the Litany as they prostrated themselves, the laying on of hands, and the prayer of ordination.  The newly ordained were then vested  with the dalmatic and stole  - Deacon Frederick by Fr. Joseph Feliu and Deacon Sylvester by Fr. Hubert Goveas - while the choir sang ‘O Spirit Source of Wisdom’, an invocation for grace and heavenly aid. The book of the Gospels was placed in the hands of each Deacon with the exhortation, ‘Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.’

His Eminence made special note of the fact that this ordination was held on the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord – that moment when Mary said, ‘Let it be done according to Your word.’: the answer to God’s call that every committed Christian makes and one that was made in a very special way by the Deacons, this day. In his homily, His Eminence dwelt on the mystery of the incarnation when God became man, immortal became mortal, the infinite became finite, the timeless became time-bound and the world was totally changed. This mystery brings us immeasurable joy, excitement, anticipation, a deep faith and hope, and infuses us with immense charity towards all; it transforms our lives completely. When Mary said ‘yes’, she committed to the discipleship of Jesus and a life of service – caring for him in person and extending this discipleship to the apostles and other followers of Jesus.  She continues her commitment even today through her apparitions, bringing people back to Jesus, urging us to pray, practice penance and a life of discipleship.

His Eminence reminded Frederick and Sylvester of their call and journey to this moment of commitment, reminding them that their ‘let it be done according to Your word’ in response to God’s ‘follow me’, meant that there would also be struggles and challenges which they would have to face. He encouraged them to fulfill their ministry in concrete ways by bringing God’s mercy to others and spreading the Kingdom of God.

It is certainly appropriate, therefore, that the motto chosen by the newly ordained Deacons is ‘Called to Serve’.

Deacon Frederick gave thanks, on behalf of both the newly ordained, to all who had helped them on their journey of faith and commitment.  His Eminence took the opportunity to add his own thanks with an extra special mention for Fr. Feliu who has completed 50 years of teaching in the Seminary!

The Eucharist was followed by the presentation, by His Eminence, Oswald Cardinal Gracias, to the winners/participants of the Cardinal Ivan Dias Mariology Awards.


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