Thank you very much, Dear Fathers!
This year we celebrate the Feast of St John Marie Vianney, patron of priests engaged in the pastoral ministry on August 4, 2019. This is the day when we priests are invited to reflect on the life of our patron, St John Marie Vianney, his love for his people, his intense attempts to make his parish of Ars a vibrant family of faith and his great dedication to the Sacrament of Penance, spending long hours in the confessional.
This is the time to think of our own pastoral ministry a ministry suited to our times and needs. Several new initiatives have been taken recently. I would like to encourage all once again to respond positively to Pope Francis call to reach out to the peripheries. We can never help the poor and those in need enough.
Vianney Sunday is the day when our lay faithful get an opportunity to express their appreciation, affection and gratitude to our priests. In a special way, I was very touched when recently a group of youth from one of our parishes came to meet me to thank the Bishops for their shepherding of the people. They were in the process of visiting and thanking all their priests who had been previously posted to that parish. How heart warming! I invite all to pray often for our priests, those in active service, those retired and those who have gone to their heavenly home.
May I take this occasion to personally thank all priests in our Archdiocese who are involved in the pastoral ministry. I am doing this on my own, on behalf of my team of Bishops, and on behalf of the people they serve. I am aware of the great dedication, commitment and generosity with which our priests work for our people, and the great courage they display in facing the numerous challenges involved in their ministry. God has blessed our Archdiocese with many priests and they continuously strive to be more effective in the pastoral work: growing in holiness, leading our people wisely and giving a clear thrust to our apostolate.
At this moment, I specially remember our retired priests in the Clergy Home who have spent decades labouring in the Lord's vineyard with love and single-mindedness. Many of them are ill and infirm. Their labours have taken a toll. But they did it for the love of the Lord and the love of the people. We also remember our emeriti Bishops. May God through the example and intercession of St John Marie Vianney inspire all of us to continue to give our very best in the priestly ministry, and spend ourselves for Christ and His Church.
I also express my sincere gratitude to all those who support the Archdiocesan Seminary and the Clergy Home at Bandra with their prayers and donations. My deep gratitude goes to the Pious Disciples of the Divine Master, the Administration and the staff of Clergy Home who dedicate themselves in the service of our retired clergy. I know how much our people love their priests. I have had many occasions to witness expressions of this. I also wish to thank all those who visit our retired priests. These visits bring them much joy in their old age. I encourage them to continue visiting the Clergy Home.
I thank the Rector and the Staff of St Pius X College who, together with the Poor Sisters of Our Lady, care for our seminarians. It would interest all to know that this year, there have been seven new entrants to the Diocesan Seminary, three of whom are for the Archdiocese of Bombay. I was delighted to meet these enthusiastic new entrants into the Seminary recently. May I invite all to pray for good vocations. I have restructured the Commission for Vocations and we will regularly pray for vocations in all our parishes.
Right through the year, we receive donations from our lay people for the Clergy Home. All donors receive individual 'Thank you' letters and a receipt. I wish to once again express my gratitude to each one of them for their continued thought and concern for our retired priests. You are often remembered in our prayers and the prayers at Clergy Home. May God bless you for your generosity.
The collections at all Parish Masses on Vianney Sunday are to be sent to Archbishop's House; this goes towards the Archdiocesan Fund for sick and retired priests. Cheques may please be made out in favour of "Archdiocese of Bombay" and sent to our Finance Office by the end of August 2019.
A Happy Vianney Sunday. May God bless all of us abundantly.
Feast of St John Marie Vianney
August 04, 2019
Oswald Cardinal Gracias
Archbishop of Bombay