An Episcopal Visitation – a report

Source: District of Asia

For almost two weeks, the visit of Mgr. Tissier de Mallerais kept most of us busy and there was hardly a meal where the matter was not brought for discussion. Why is this visit so precious? Well, it is almost after five years since we are having a Confirmation ceremony. True, we had almost 125 people signed up.  But above all, a traditional bishop is a rare thing. He was here for two days, each moment bringing an important grace. If bishops are the successors of the Apostles – what a privilege for us to behold them – to receive them amongst our midst!  And also, for us priests – scattered as we are now – the presence of our ‘father in priesthood’ is a great grace.

The mission tried to put on a festival look to welcome our beloved prelate. Much painting – and scrubbing, and white washing gave an appearance of youth to the aged ‘white house’. There was the more artistic and delicate, yet no less laborious, work of preparing the beautiful chants, Confirmation cards, catechism etcetera.  Finally dawned the grand day which saw the arrival of our eminent guest Mgr. Tissier and our superior, Fr. Patrick Summers.

The ‘Ceremony tent’ was not ready until the last moment. Though we planned for a normal tent, which can hold 600 people, the looming monsoon kind of thwarted our plan. We had to settle for something metallic and able to withstand the wind. We had only 12 hours and the whole night was devoted to erecting the tent. Our boys did an amazing job along with the hired professionals.

On the morning of Sunday, Sept. 8 - everything was ready. A nice altar, carpeted sanctuary - fancy chairs for 1st communicants, loudspeakers, etcetera. The Bishop preached on the ‘gift of fortitude’ - illustrating it with the lives of St. Sebastian and St. Maria Goretti. Then comes the ceremony where 125 persons were confirmed as soldiers in the army of Christ the King. The Solemn Mass after the ceremony was equally much appreciated by the faithful. 17 of our kids received Our Lord for the first time.  After Mass - we provided a delicious ‘chicken briyani’ for all.

At the end of the meal, Fr. Prior brought the pleasant function to a close. He thanked all, not forgetting our over-taxed boys. After all, our pleasures are made of the sacrifice of others. If such a ceremony could have proved a success, it is due to the self-sacrificing effort of many!

On Monday, Sept. 9th - Bp. Tissier offered a low Mass at the orphanage and gave the sisters a very interesting talk on the subject he is well versed in: Mgr. Lefebvre - a man of order! For almost an hour, he held their undivided attention. He spoke of how the three vows are the perfect remedy for the three concupiscences and how Mgr. Lefebvre fought all through his life - in a heroic manner (as is expected from Christian heroes) against these three concupiscences. It is very providential to hear from the Bishop - who is the living authority on Mgr. Lefebvre.

He enquired also about their apostolate and showed the liveliest interest in our apostolate. He also insisted that the apostolate presupposes apostles, and the importance of praying for more vocations.

We wholeheartedly thank His excellency for spending these few days with us and per transiit benefaciendo. Though he is very fatigued, he never allowed it to stand in the way of his duty. To be faithful to one’s spiritual duties in the midst of such a tiring active life requires an uncommonly disciplined will. How often he is seen in the chapel either early in the morning or late in the night - with his breviary and a rosary - Truly a ‘fidelis servus’.

As for the faithful who were confirmed, the duty is daunting for sure. The task ahead remains still greater. Let us trust in the Holy Ghost. After all, ‘confidence is the best form of courage!’ 

Fr. Therasian Xavier