Fr Ken Breen, the Vicar of the United States, traveled to India after Easter to attend the Ordination of six Indian friars. Here he shares with us the joyful experience of those days:
This year, 2013, we had six of our Mercedarian religious ordained to the priesthood in India. They were ordained in two separate celebrations. One in the south of India for the three from that area called Chinneturai. The other three were ordained in their home town district area called Kadapa in the South western state called Andhra Pradesh. I arrived from USA on the day of the Ordination itself, April 8th at 3:30 am in the airport closest to the town of their Ordination and was so happy to see the bus load of my community coming for the celebration were already there awaiting my arrival! The city of the airport is called Trivandrum. It was about an hour and a half from Chinneturai where the first Ordination of the three took place. There was also one of our Mercedarian religious who was ordained to the Diaconate in the very same celebration. All the Ordinations begin with an elaborate prayer song where grade school girls lead the procession with a very reverent and spiritual form of dance. In this Ordination celebration, the Bishop also sung many of the prayers and parts of the Ritual and Holy Mass. It was deeply profound and beautiful. We were delighted to stand with the Bishop and members of our family for a remembrance photo at the end of the Mass.
We spent a couple days in the area before going for the next Ordination. Mainly it was to participate in the First Mass celebrations of these three newly ordained. Two Masses were done on the day after the Ordination, one in the church of Ordination in the morning and then the other one in the evening in the nearby church in the town called Poothurai. Then there was the third one celebrated the following day in a town about an hour away called Poonthurai. The next day we all boarded the train to go to the next town called Kadapa for the next set of Ordinations. In both places it was very hot, but what made it more difficult in the first place was the many times we were without electricity so you can imagine the burden of the 95F heat without a fan. Thankfully it was still cool enough at night to sleep.
The second group of three to be Ordained had their Ordination in a their hometown called Badvel which is in this Kadapa District. The ordaining prelate has been a personal close friend and inspiration for our community and was in fact the one who encouraged us to take up the administration of the home in that area for the drop-out school children called Jeevadhara. Their Ordination was also a very beautiful and profound celebration as Bishop Prakasam encouraged us all the live up to our charism to release the captive and proclaim a year of favor from the Lord. The following days also after the Ordination were days in which we celebrated the the First Masses, also in the same way, two were done on the following day in the same place of the Ordination, and the third came in the day after in another town.
Our newly ordained are filled with abiding joy and ask your prayers for a very faithful and fruitful exercise of the religious and priestly ministry and they certainly what to assure all that they remember us all in their prayers as well.
In Jesus and Our Lady of Mercy, Fr. Ken