CARDINAL SIMON’S GUIDING HANDS: Fr. Calistus Fernandes;

Fr. Calistus Fernandes is Parish Priest at OUR LADY OF FATIMA’S SHRINE, KARJAT. 

cardinal simon pimenta. 1

CARDINAL SIMON’S GUIDING HANDS

I consider myself privileged to have had the final touch of the hands that ordained me, only few days ago at the Clergy Home; before they could be buried with the mortal remains of Cardinal Simon. Before the Missa Coram Corpore at the Cathedral, while sitting on the second pew, as I gazed at those hands, I told my priest friends seated next to me about the greatness of those blessed hands.

On my Ordination Day, at the time of embrace, seeing me bare feet at the altar, Cardinal whispered in my ears “hmm no shoes, good!”. I always had a special backing from him to organize the Eucharist during Deepawali in the Indian rite.  Such a Eucharist was also celebrated once, with Bishop Thomas, the Auxiliary Bishop as the main celebrant at Sacred Heart Church in the year 1992. Though the Cardinal received letters before and after this from few parishioners who were not in favour, I was never called or cautioned. Indian rite mass was commonly celebrated  for many years at  the DPC for the catechists and I also remember during our seminary formation, such Eucharistic Celebrations were always  encouraged without  any serious warning from Cardinal Simon, giving a salient support. At Roha, Mission station of the Archdiocese, a special altar for Indian rite mass was placed in the newly constructed church during Cardinal Simon’s tenure, which is replaced now .This was also true in the Churches at Talasari mission. The interiors and some places the external looks of the mission churches were done with Indian settings, all with the blessings of Cardinal Simon.

Jeevan Darshan Kendra at Vasai; which is a centre interested in improving the quality of life through leadership and other personality development programmes was Cardinal Simon’s initiative and he had a special love for this centre.  He supported all the activities pertaining to Marathi language.  He encouraged Fr. Hillary, then the Director to perform the ‘Indian ballet’ on the life of Jesus Christ which was appreciated by millions.   He preferred his priests getting involved with the struggle of the masses. The agitation of mid –nineties against the builders lobby and corrupt politicians under the banner of ‘Harit Vasai’ lead by Fr Francis is still fresh in the memory of the people of Vasai.  He was aware of the political mafia and their activities.  Once while traveling to Uttan in the cardinal’s car as we were passing by the site where indiscriminate quarring  was going on at the road side of Dongari village; he said to me “what are you doing with this, can’t this be stopped’.  This gave me the impetus to organize people to tackle environmental issues. At this a number of complaints by the Politicians, seeking my transfer piled up at the Cardinal’s office. I was sent a copy and asked to reply each letter as a procedure, but was never asked to stop my work. Within a year of his retirement I was given my new transfer from Uttan Church in the year 1999. Cardinal Simon stood for his priest, fearlessly facing all the brunt of those with vested interest.

During his sermon Cardinal Oswald rightly mentioned, Cardinal Simon was instrumental in bringing the Vatican II to fulfillment with a special remark on INCULTURATION.  So much was spoken about his love for the local language. Deep down in my heart I feel the Church failed to give a fitting tribute by not celebrating the funeral  Mass in Marathi. Long live his legacy              ! Cardinal Simon, I will miss your encouragement and push and above all those guiding hands that ordained me.

– Fr. Calistus Fernandes

Shrine of Our lady of Fatima Karjat

OL of Fatima Devotion.

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