The feast of St. John Maria Vianney is celebrated by the Church as Pastor’s Day, a day dedicated to all Parish Priests, in a living remembrance of the saint’s devotion to his flock. In Goa, it is a day when parishioners give back to our priests, as appreciation for all we receive from them. And this year, was no different.
Led by the PPC, parishioners rallied together to organize a grace-filled and fun evening for our priests. The evening began with a well-attended Mass celebrated by Fr. Reagan, Assistant to the parish priest, concelebrated by 6 other priests. A collaborative animating effort led by Zone 7, the Mass was truly uplifting with a sermon centered on how The Life of a Priest is Beautiful and a rousing choir.
Tu Es Sacerdos In Aeternum, Secundum Ordinem Melchizedek… this refrain, familiar to every priest, is sung at his ordination; it was the opening hymn at the programme in the Church Hall, reinforcing to all, the divine ordination that our priests hold. Moderator of the PPC, Runa Távora Aggarwal, gave a welcome address, where she alluded to Pope St. John Paul’s writing – “Immense is the grandeur and dignity of the priest”. We see the dignity every day, but we witness the grandeur in the simplicity of their lives, the openness of their hearts to us and the grace with which they shepherd us. She thanked their families for sharing them with us.
The evening then proceeded to offer much musical entertainment to the gathering – musician Carolyn Nunes sang a moving rendition of What a friend we have in Jesus, while Tony Barreto sang the very appropriate I’d Rather Have Jesus by the legendary Jim Reeves. Fernanda, Gina and team sang a ditty Gonvllianchi Vakhanni specially composed for the occasion, dedicated to the 3 priests in the Immaculate Conception Church – Parish Priest Fr. Walter de Sá, Assistant Fr. Reagan Fernandes and priest in residence Fr. Zeferino D’ Souza. A group of parishioners had the audience clapping along while they sang a rousing action song - Rock my soul in the bosom of Abraham - and then a Mando - Gonvlleamcho dis- during which time snacks were served. The Catechists sang a lovely song Devmuniari; the unity and harmony of their voices was reminiscent of the all-time favourite band ABBA.
But it wasn’t all about sitting in one place and watching! Interspersed with the performances, were games, conducted by Criselda and her team of Vera, Suzette and Akshada, in which the priests and nuns gamely joined. Fr. Jorge Fernandes from Lar de Estudantes was the last man standing after everyone else had been eliminated during Passing the Box, and little Shanaya Rodrigues won the Numbers game. To bring back the tempo of the evening, the Portuguese Mass choir, bedecked in Portuguese colours with green and red waistcoats, sang Ó Laurindinha. Their rhythm had people getting up to dance the Corredinho and stamp their feet in time!
No celebration is complete without cake. To mark the occasion, the priests and nuns cut a cake while everyone sang Congratulations. Just before the vote of thanks by PPC Secretary Yvonne Ribeiro, Fr. Walter shared some thoughts, where he spoke on topics ranging from the evening’s sermon to how he constantly strives to bring inclusiveness into all activities within the parish community. In his inimitable style, he infused humour into all his remarks, drawing ready laughs from the listeners.
Emcee for the evening Julius Fernandes kept proceedings moving forward on schedule and with everyone playing a role, whether serving during Mass, as performers, ushers, stagehands or on snack service, the evening was warmly fraternal.
May God bless and keep our priests!
- Runa Távora Aggarwal