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    by A.X.Alexander

A very warm reception was accorded by Vembarians ,residing at Chennai, in the Divine Mercy church on 22nd May evening to very Rt. Rev. FIDELIS LIONEL EMMANUEL FERNANDO, Auxiliary Bishop of Colombo a descendant of Vembar who was consecrated in Colombo on 11-2-2012.

The reception was preceded by a Concelebrated Mass. Almost all families hailing from Vembar and residing at Chennai were present with their children for the Mass at the church in which the two chSORNAM VICTORIA of Vembar,—Amirtha Victoria and Elizabeth Victoria, received their first Holy Communion. Reverend Fathers hailing from Vembar—Fr.RAJ KUMAR, Saletian, Fr.AROCKIA SEELAN, FR. ANTHONY DOSS of the Arch diocese of Madras and Mylapore and Fr. BESCHI of Vembar, of the Arch diocese of Delhi, working among Tamils in Delhi, residing in the bishop’s house at Delhi Concelebrated the Mass. Sisters hailing from Vembar and serving in different Congregations including Sr. Eustachia, Former Provincial of Servite convent, and Sr. John Mary were in attendance in the Mass.

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The reception was a simple but an impressive affair in the parish hall of the church of the Divine Mercy. It started with the VEMBAR ANTHEM, written and composed by CHITHIRAKAVI MUTHAIAH Rodreigo. SORNAM Victoria, the main spring of the function introduced the Auxiliary bishop to the people assembled.

In his knowledgeable speech delivered in a simple language he spoke of the East coast, its richness, its pearls, its struggles, its redemption, and turning to faith. He eulogized his native place Vembar, its hospitality, its chaste Tamil, its richness, and its mighty and unrivalled contribution to the Church:* 38 nuns and 19 priests*. He traced the roots of the Bishop at Vembar, and how the Bishop’s family moved to Ceylon and migrated to Colombo. And how out of the eight children in the family four have entered the vineyard of Christ and how the last of the sibling has risen to be a Bishop. He traced the ecclesiastical milestones of the Bishop from his school days,—Altar boy- Seminarian- Student in Rome-Ordination by the Pope- Asst. parish priest — Lecturer in the national seminary—Rector of the seminary—his further studies in America—Parish priest in a troubled Parish on return—and ultimate rise to be the Bishop.

Of the felicitations two stood out.One by Sr. Eustachia, who in a very chaste Tamil underlined the importance of family, children, and the need to contribute to the vineyard of the church. The other was by Fr. Beschi . He was all mirth and jokes poking fun at his innumerable relatives assembled. Amidst all his frolic toast he did not fail to underscore the importance of human relationship and the need to contribute to the church as priests and nuns.

After felicitations his grace the Bishop spoke recalling his family’s roots in Vembar , and recalled an earlier reception accorded to him in 1973 by Vembarians when he returned from Rome, in Votive shrine, Kilpauk. After his reply to the felicitations the Papal Anthem was sung. And the families came up to the dais one after the other and individually greeted the Bishop. The Bishop recollected the roots of the families that greeted him and also recollected their interactions and meetings with them in the past.
What struck most one, in this meeting of the families with the Bishop was the absolute simplicity and the innocent smile with which he interacted with the people. There was absolute absence of ecclesisiastical air or pomp.

’Blessed are the poor in spirit .They shall inherit the kingdom of God.’’

Thanks: Global Paravar.

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