Easter blessings from UCAN
There is no more important week in the year for Christians than this Holy Week. We call it Holy because of the mystery we celebrate - God's gift of His son who loves us to his death on Calvary and beyond.
Because of that love, we wish each other Happy Easter even when we know there is a lot of tragedy about it - Good Friday. As Christians, we know that what we see happening with and in Jesus goes to the heart of what we know from our own experience of life.
At the Second Vatican Council, the Christian lives we all lead were described as being shares in the Paschal Mystery. We have our share in the death and resurrection of Jesus every day. Our lives are part of the Paschal Mystery.
At UCAN, we work to describe that mystery in the unfolding tragedies and astonishing blessings of the people we seek out and report, feature and comment on.
While at times deeply distressing work, this effort of ours gets its coherence in the same way the death of Jesus did - because of the astonishing grace of a God who never gives up on life and love.
Because of that, we can wish you Happy Easter.
Fr. Michael Kelly SJ
In a rare Year of Faith activity, a Kolkata city parish organized a unique public rally and liturgical program for some 70 rickshaw pullers, all Catholics, to help them celebrate their faith.
The Sept. 8 program in the Auxilium parish on the feast of nativity of Our Lady offered an eye-catching procession with colorfully painted rickshaws. The rickshaw-pullers were dressed in red jerseys bearing Year of Faith logo and wearing white caps with “I Love My Faith” slogans printed on them.
The spruced up rickshaws and their pullers were lined up in front of the church for the blessing. The parish priest K K Sebastian moved around and blessed the rickshaws and their pullers.
After a refreshing a cup of tea and snacks they went up to the church for the special year of faith penitential service, which started with Rosary prayers.
“I never knew there would be so many Catholic cycle rickshaw pullers in the parish, and I never had the opportunity of hearing confessions of so many of them at one time,” said 91-year old Italian missionary Fr Stroscio Rosario, assistant parish priest at Auxilium for 30 years. Some 100-rickshaw pullers had registered for the program
The Sunday evening Mass followed the penitential service. During he Mass the rickshaw pullers joined the regular churchgoers and played active part in the readings, vociferous chanting of responses and hymns, and the offertory procession.
At a cultural program that followed the rickshaw pullers entertained the parishioners with skits and songs. The parishioners in turn gave each one of them surprise gifts, and the evening concluded with dinner for all.
The rickshaw pullers were issued identity cards for the newly introduced "rice-lentil scheme," which consisted of better off family’s donating food grains for the needy.
“We are touched by the opportunity for this special celebration and go with a renewed trust in God and parish community concerned about us in tangible ways,” said rickshaw puller Ranjan carrying a packet of food stuff.
Parish priest Sebastian said it was "a fitting way to celebrate Mother Mary’s birthday and revitalize the faith of the straying rickshaw pullers.”
India: The nec, born in 1972, mainly funds infrastructure in the northeastern states.