One of our newly ordained Fr. Illuru Somuas, O. de M., from Andhra Pradesh, India composed this article for the US Vicariate:
Priestly ordination -2013
The First ordination to priesthood was done in St.Jude’s church, chinnathura (Trivandrum diocese) on April 8th, 2013. The other was in Our Lady of Fathima church, Badvel (Kadapa diocese, Andhra Pradesh). Both ceremonies have gone well. Soosa Packiam, the arch-bishop of Trivandrum was present and delivered a very good inspiring homily on our ordination day. Some of our fathers and brothers were there with blissful presence and angelic smiles. Good number of faithful and the well wishers whom we know came there and cherished us. Big thanks to all of them .
The Second ordination was on 13th April, 2013. Three of the brothers were ordained by Rt. Rev.Dr. M.D.Prakasham, the bishop of Nellore diocese. He delivered a very good inspiring homily which was really helpful for our priestly ministry. The first Masses of the three brothers had gone smoothly. Thanks to all the parish priests and assistants and sisters and well wishers who have really come to our places of Ordination and prayed for us to the Almighty and cherished us. All thanks to God for Redemption and our Vocation and to our parents for our birth, upbringing and encouragement.
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.
Fr. Ken Breen, O. de M. and Fr Vincent Pinella, O. de M. worked together for 13 years to establish a formation house in India. There efforts have born great fruit as over 30 friars have completed formation and been ordained priests. Here is a letter from Fr Vincent telling of the joyful news of a new house and apostolate for the Mercedarian Friars in India:
Dear Fr. Ken,
Sorry if it has been a long time since I send you an e-mail. But I was thinking to write you in these coming days in order to let you know about the new house which we have opened in Tamil Nadu. Last Friday, February 3rd, Fr. Cyril, Fr. Antony, and Bro. Victor took charge of the substation of Patlur in the Salem Diocese. There are 60 Christian families of good tradition living there. Another substation with 30 families, has been entrusted to our religious as well. It is 3 Kilometers from Patlur. Fr. Jaison, Fr. Siju and myself have accompanied our brothers as they went to their new assignments. The bishop couldn’t come, because he was participating to the Conference of Indian Bishops in Bangalore. It was the first Friday of the month so, more or less, all the priests were busy with functions in their churches. Only Fr. Francis, Vicar Forane, and Fr. Michael (a parish priest where the substation is located) were present. Fr. Antony celebrated mass in Tiruchengode in order to allow Fr. Francis to accompany us to the new substation.
Everything was simple and good. At 6.30 p.m., we celebrated mass followed by a small reception and supper with porrotas and vegetable curry. In this place, there is a round new beautiful chapel and the old chapel in good condition where the religious will stay as accommodation. Two small bathrooms are here and nearly 3 cents of land. It is located not so far from the river Cauvery, therefore, they have good water.
In these months till the Provincial Chapter they will work in that area, looking also for a future land and to discern if it will be the proper place or we will go to another substation suggested by the bishop. This decision will be by the new government after the Provincial Chapter. The bishop assured us that, after making the final decision, he can erect the substation as a parish. It seems that the three religious are happy.
Please send this report to the other community of USA, because I will send to Fr. Provincial the same in Italian to be sent to the Italian community. About the emblems, we need a good number (at least 100) of metal. If you arrange those in cloth is also good.
Fr Ken Breen, Mercedarian priest, spent 13 years as a missionary in India. Here is his story.
It all began in the fall of 1996. I attended our 3 week once in a lifetime permanent formation encounter taking place at our community in San Felice, Circeo, Italy and it was during this time, seeing photos of the children adopted by our parishoners in Italy and hearing our Provincial‘s concern: a longing for someone to go to help out at our emerging formation program. Strangely enough, we were joking about sending people to India and for some reason I just said, “okay, I’ll go!”
I don’t know really why I said it. And all I can recall at that very moment was the certain closeness of St. Teresa of Lisieux, the little flower giving me a certain comfort that this was the right thing to do. As I look back on it, it is no surprise that this has come about in my life since I heard my father’s mother was interested in India and my Mom has been part of a Little Flower mission circle all her life.
The biggest challenge was the visa. I never could get a residential visa without the risk of rejection so I had to go all those years as a tourist, consoled by the words of Jesus: “The birds of the air have nests and the foxes have lairs but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
So off I went and began a journey where I was so amazed at the depth of culture in this wonderful country, a culture of faith that allows us to cultivate more easily the fruit of vocations to our own Order, the Order of the BVM of Mercy and my principal work there throughout the years has always been the teaching in English medium (no need to learn the local languages). My classes were in either the subjects mainly about our Mercedarian Charism and Religious life as the Novice Master or assistant, and/or teaching phonics and insight into the dynamics of the English language. My hobby there was dealing with all the computer and audio visual needs, but all in all, it was a great adventure in the amazing ways of our wonderful Lord’s call to a new and more abundant life lived now in the joy of giving and loving (Bl. Mother Teresa) and following our Redeeming Savior, Jesus Christ.