Fr. Britto's Blog

Home Visit

I took a break from writing my column for several weeks and now I am back. Even though I returned from India a couple of weeks ago, catching up with things around the parish and school has consumed most of my time. This column is going to be light as I would like to share with you some highlights from my journey home.

As some of you may know, usually I take my annual trip home in the winter, in the month of November, when it is rather pleasant. We do not have four seasons in India, only three: hot, hotter and hottest. I dread going home in the peak of Summer (which happens in the month of May) when temperatures can hover around 104 all the time. I left for India on May 13 because there were several family reunions scheduled during the following fifteen days.

At the outset, I would like to give you an update on my nun sister, Sr. Josephine. She has been moved from her motherhouse in Coimbatore to a little town 20 miles away to a small hospital run by the nuns themselves. She gets very good care. Since she used to be the superior of that community some years ago, the people are very attentive to her. A physio-therapist works with her a couple of times a day. She has made remarkable progress. She has explicitly asked me to thank each and every one of you who have prayed for her recovery. She assures you that she is praying for you too. She asks you to pray that she may have patience and perseverance. Seeing her for myself has helped me feel a lot better. She is my older sister and even though as children – and sometimes as adults – we have had our fights and differences, I love her very much. I also want to thank you for supporting me and praying for my sister.

I was going home at this time also because my other sister, Rita, was celebrating her twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. She insisted on my being part of the celebration because I had missed her wedding. I was a student at Marquette in 1988 and could not celebrate her wedding. After an intimate Mass at home with all the immediate family, we had a reception for about 100 people at a hotel. It was a beautiful celebration which afforded me an opportunity to see many of my close relatives.

The other highlight of my trip was a wedding that I had to celebrate in a town situated in the southern most part of the Indian peninsula. Our immediate family traveled in two vans. Even though the distance was only 350 miles, the trip took over 10 hours. The highways in India have improved a lot in recent years but still traveling is difficult and slow. The wedding took place at the Basilica of Our Lady of Snows (Interesting name when you consider that we never see snow in southern India) which is over 400 years old. The church was built by the Portuguese. That part of India was evangelized by St Francis Xavier who is the patron of the missions. The wedding Mass was scheduled to begin at 4 pm. At the insistence of the parish priest, I had to begin the Mass on time but neither the groom nor the bride was present. At the reception there were over 1,000 guests. It is mind-boggling for us Americans how so many people could come to a wedding. In India when you invite someone, you invite the whole family including children.

Finally I would like to share a reflection with you. The city of Madras where I was born and grew up used to be a city of 4 million people in the 1960s. Today there are over 11 million. This population explosion is mainly due to an exodus of folks from the countryside into the big cities. Farming is being abandoned and people come to the city in the hope of making money quickly. This is what you notice – everyone seems very driven. The one driving force appears to be the desire to make lots of money, and to make it quickly. While the middle class and the rich are doing very well, the poor – especially in the villages – seem to be untouched by this new-found prosperity. Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation, wanted India’s leaders to develop the villages first. However, India can lift herself out of poverty because of globalization which has led to outsourcing. Hopefully the poor and the marginalized will be taken care of. I know for sure that the Church is doing her part to come to the aid of the needy.

I wish you all a restful and refreshing summer! We will see you at church every Sunday. God bless!

Who is Fr. Britto?

Born in India to deeply-committed Catholic parents, Fr Britto is one of seven children. He joined the Salesians of Don Bosco as a young man and was ordained a priest in 1981.

After he completed his priestly formation and his early education in India, he came to the US for his graduate degree in Journalism at...Read more...

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