Thursday, August 20, 2009


Guess what - we had another quake! It happened (Wednesday) exactly a week after the first at 4:15 in the evening. At first it seemed like some heavyweight was rushing down the corridor to my room. But, it was soon clear that this was another quake. This time I sat still in my chair and before I knew it all was back to normal again. My insertion is becoming a reality. No one else took serious note of the was taken in stride.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Early this morning at 3:18 am - to be precise - we had some "rock and roll"...not the harmonious musical kind - but the shake, rattle and roll of a small earthquake. At the time of writing we are still awaiting news of how strong the quake was and reports of damage if any. We are all safe but for those among us who had their first quake experience, you can tell that it was an 'unforgettable' experience.

So while we pray that all those injured will be restored to good health, we also pray for those who may have to bear the loss or destruction of property. The earth is still settling down and that is what causes earthquakes - we hope to be able to settle down without causing quakes.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


(Reflections on the readings of 19 Sunday in Ordinary Time)

As a young boy, I have indelible memories of a good lady - a family friend - who loved to sing a song called "Johnny Zero". It was the story of a boy who did not do too well in school and was nicknamed Johnny Zero. Well, with due encouragement he slowly turned his academic performance around and one day the teacher was proud to announce that "Johnny Zero had become Johnny Hero".
Reading through the experience of the prophet Elijah we could note a similar trajectory but in reverse. From being the great hero of Yahweh who had the courage to take on the prophets of Baal who enjoyed the patronage of Queen Jezebel, in this Sunday's pericope he is almost a zero - running from a band of assassins out to kill him. He is broken, discouraged and gives up. And it is Yahweh who sends him food and drink to strengthen him along his journey.
In today's Gospel we see Jesus present to us the Eucharist - His Body as food for nourishment. In the face of criticism and opposition - he is unfazed and goes on to present the meaning of Eucharist. The "Bread of Life" discourse is a message of hope. The reading suggests the bread of life, the Eucharist, as the breaf for the journey of faith as we journey up the mountain of God.
Our lives are very often roller-coaster rides - sometimes we are up and sometimes we are down and very often we are somewhere in between. Zeroes to Heroes thats the way it goes. But, what remains certain is that we have a loving God who cares for us and will not leave us alone. He comes to be with us.
God provides a mysterious food called manna for the Israelites in the desert. However, they were told not to stockpile the manna, but to gather only what they needed for one day. Jesus told his disciples not to worry about tomorrow. He said, when you pray to your heavenly Father, you are to say, “Give us this day our daily bread.” No matter how difficult life may be, for those who trust in God, and who live one day at a time, the manna falls every day. We are not told to pray: "Give us today our weekly rations," but "Give us this day our daily bread."
So in the face of problems and difficulties - the message is clear. Jesus is not necessarily going to remove those blocks and obstacles, but he is surely the one who is going to be with us, strengthening and nourishing us with the Bread of Life.

Friday, August 7, 2009


(D. Maria Gerald sdb)

The inauguration of the Academic year 2009-2010 of Sacred Heart Theological College, Shillong on 6 August 2009 commenced with the Eucharist at 8:30 am which was presided over by Most Rev. Dominic Jala sdb, Archbishop of Shillong. Among the concelebrants were Rev. Fr. Francesco Cereda, Salesian General Councillor for Formation, and the Salesian provincials of Guwahati, Kolkata, New Delhi and Dimapur. In his sermon, Archbishop Jala invited the students to an experience of God drawing a parallel to the Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord. He exhorted one and all - staff and students -to an experience of the transfigured Lord which would result in proclaimingHim to others. The mass was followed by a break for refreshments. By 10:15 am. all had taken their seats in the College Auditorium for the commencement of the Inaugural Function.

Among the highlights of this annual academic event was the keynote address delivered by Fr. Cereda entitled: "To Do and Study Theology after the Synod of Bishops on the Word of God". The ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops held at Rome from October 6-26, 2008 examined the theme of "The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church". It underscored the division that had crept in between exegesis and theology. Fr. Cereda indicated ways in which this could be remedied using the insights of Dei Verbum, establishing a new rapport between exegesis and theology, and through the practice of Lectio Divina. The presentation of the Academic Report took the audience down memory lane recalling salient events of the year gone by, while presenting the new avenues opening up in the year ahead. Each of the provincials present also had a chance to share their views on the college and indicate ways in which all could use the new year and its possibilities to grow in their faith and knowledge. The release of three books (two in English and one in Khasi) that have been authored by professors of the college was done by Archbishop Jala. The two in English are entitled: Salvatorians among the Khasis by Dr. Aloysius Hemrom sdb and Contextual Theology by Dr. Barnes Mawrie sdb.

The Academic Function was followed by time for the students to get acquainted with the program of the new semester and to elect their representatives. This year the college has about 130 students in the various programs it offers. They hail from different parts of India as well as from Myanmar and Sri Lanka. The faculty has 22 professors (of whom 12 are in residence) on the permanent teaching staff, with another 27 visiting professors. The year ahead holds great promise for growth in knowledge and holiness, two pillars of Christian life and ministry.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


The worldwide celebrations on 4 August in honor of St. John Marie Vianney, the patron of priests took on added significance in Sacred Heart Theological College, Shillong where 52 clerics took another step in their proximate journey to the priesthood. At the solemn Feast Day eucharist presided over by Rev. Fr. Francesco Cereda, General Councillor for Formation, 26 brothers received the ministry of lector and another 26 were instituted into the ministry of acolyte. They hail from 9 of the 10 Indian provinces, from the vice- provinces of Myanmar and Sri Lanka, with a few belonging to some of the other congregations studying in the college.

In his homily, Fr. Cereda exhorted the young clerics to root themselves in the Word and the Eucharist in preparation for their priestly ministry. Cls. Pratap Damor and George Dabre from the Mumbai province were among those who received the ministry of lector.

This important celebration was preceded by the annual spiritual retreat animated by Fr. Tom Polackal, the Spiritual Father of the community, who led the students to reflect more deeply on their experience of God and their call to ministry. Our prayers continue for all these young men as they move forward in their vocational journey preparing themselves to be dedicated ministers in the Lord's vineyard.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


On a promising and sunny afternoon, it was an invitation I could not refuse - Come along and view some of the sights of the city of Shillong. So we set out to see among other things - Elephant Falls. A large cloud cover over the city did not deter us from making the trip. We had barely purchased our tickets for the visit and made our way into the parking lot when the heavens literally opened in a torrential downpour. After a patient wait of 45 minutes we decided that rainfall or not we were going to have a look at the falls. So with water falling all around us, we made our way carefully to the falls. Fortunately there were rather comfortable steps to descend and good safety railings.
So sheltered by our umbrellas we made our way down. What followed was some truly breathtaking sceneries. Here are a couple of pictures (taken from someone else's camera) - to give you a glimpse of what we saw. Our companions - two visitors from Italy - were left gaping at the beauty of the waters rushing down the moutains.

Suffice it to say that what we saw was worth the drenching we received in the bargain.