Wednesday, February 21, 2018
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Christmas, the day of rejoicing, heralding the birth of Lord Jesus Christ and bringing with it the gift of Santa Claus and plenty of cakes, has arrived with all its glory and grandeur. The winter  is in its coldest mood but the warmth generated by  Christmas celebrations is  enough to overpower all the unkindness of the  rough weather.

As I look at the Star of Bethlehem twinkling from Christain households I am reminded of innumerable acts of kindness  by this loveable community and the countless number of gifts they have bestowed upon the city specially in the field of education and health. We should feel indebted to them for the kindness they have showered on the meek and the humble. Even the strictness of their school teachers has been an act of kindness because that strictness has enabled the tiny tots to turn into responsible citizens, good administrators, excellent technocrats, successful businessmen, outstanding lawyers, teachers, doctors, engineers who have made a mark for themselves in the country and abroad.

Today, on this grand occasion, all the churches in and around Allahabad would be echoing with mass prayers, hymns and sermons. Beautifully decked up for the occasion are the two major cathedrals of the city—All Saints Church and St Joseph’s Cathedral. They have been  tastefully illuminated  and the spiritual atmosphere prevailing inside the churches creates the feeling as if Jesus is himself present there to bless the congregation. At the outset I would like to offer our profound greetings to the   Bishops and priest who, with their dedicated services to the cause of humanity, have taught us that one act of kindness, compassion can bring about more joy to the receiver than any worldly  gift. 


The Bishop’s House (Diocese of Lucknow)  on MG Marg, a delightful structure of the olden times, is still waiting for its new occupant. We welcome the new Catholic Bishop of Allahabad diocese, Rev Manjalay, who has already endeared himself to the people of the city through his appearances at public functions. We miss   Bishop Isidore Fernandez, who went into retirement all of a sudden leaving behind golden memories of his outstanding work for the diocese on the one hand and promoting inter-religion harmony through his memorable speeches in Hindi. 

Prof R.B.Lal is a star personality  of Allahabad who deserve the top honors for the tremendous lot he and his band of dedicated devotees have done for the cause of education in  the state The Allahabad Agriculture Institute Deemed University (renamed Higginbotham Institute of Agriculture, Technology and Science) has reached the present stage of excellence solely on account of the unending efforts made by him to carry it forward to glorious heights of excellence. And his sermons in the Yesu Durbar are eagerly awaited by his followers. His brother, Professor Vinod Lal, has also contributed in a big way  to the rapid growth of the Institute.  We wish them well.

The Christian community is running a number of schools and colleges in the city and the adjoining areas. But let me first refer to the Healing Centre which has become the pride of northern India—the Nazareth Hospital. It is not just a hospital. It is a home for the ill. The milk of human kindness flows from the fountain of love who goes by the name of Rev Father K.K.Antony. He deserves a special X’Mas bouquet. And then at the KNMHospital there is that cancer expert, Padmashree Dr B.Paul whose name and fame has crossed the frontiers of the country.

And when I come to schools,  I cannot help thinking  of Mr C.V.Innis. He is now the moving spirit behind the success achieved by St John’s Academy which has already acquired a name and fame that could be the envy of many. The  Principal of Boys High School, Mr David Luke along with Madam Luke is very much in the limelight these days because of some of the grand shows put up by them on different occasions.  Girls High School is proud to have our one-time guest colleague, Dr Mrs Vinita Eusebius  as the Principal. She is perfection personified. This is because she gets full backing from her husband, another educationist of repute, Dr Lalit Eusebius. The Principals of  St Mary’s Convent, St Anthony’s Convent, Mary Lucus, Mary Warnamaker, Holy Trinity College, are all doing commendable work. I cannot help mentioning the name of Francis Moore who, as Principal of Benher School, has turned that institution into a precious island of knowledge in the heart of the city. And how can I forget Mr Massey, Principal of Devprayag School? I have  been deeply impressed by  the annual functions organized under his stewardship.

I now come to the St Joseph’s College which is very dear to me because I am also a product of that place. Right now Principal Louis Mascarenhas is heading the College and he is doing a commendable job. The school has expanded under his stewardship and new sections have come up, including the nursery section. I need hardly add that St Mary’s Convent, St Anthony’s Convent, St Bethany’s Convent, all under the same diocese, have also been doing a commendable job.  Bishop Johnson School and College  - both its branches in Civil Lines and Katra—are taking rapid strides forward under the dynamic Principalship of Vishal Singh.
The ECC family also deserves a special pat.  The degree section is doing a wonderful job and students there seem to be better off than at the main campus because of the better attendance by teachers and students. ECC is one of the oldest and brightest institutions of the state. Principal Massey deserves kudos for carrying forward the ECC banner to new heights of glory. We have the Ewing Christian Senior Secondary Public School, Jamuna Christian Junior High School, Jamuna Christian Intermediate College. I would also like to offer my warmest greetings to all of them, adding to the list, the YMCA Centenary School. I once attended their function and was enthralled by the eye-filling and thought-provoking items presented. There are other schools and colleges too run by the Christian community. Erny Memorial School is one of them. To all of them we wish a very, very bright future, Merry Christmas and a very happy new year.
And there are so many families of the Christian community who have enriched the city’s  social, cultural and academic life. The Rudras, the Moores, the Liddles, the Saunders, the Dawsons (and Dhars), the Philips, the Parmars,  the Jacobs, the Benedicts, the Browns, the Pauls,the Haqs,the Williams, the Wesleys,the Daniels,Davids, the Joels, the Tresslers, the (Bertie)Tewaris, the Eusebiuses and many, many more.

Some of our neighbours—the Gomes, the Francises(Stanley, Margaret, Kayal and Harry famiies), the Negis (Amit and family), Nirmal Ghosh, have treated us like members of their family.  And there is something extraordinarily sweet in Helen Verma’s cake. And yet another unforgettable cake is the one prepared by our one-time highly esteemed colleague, Mrs Lucinda Dhavan. Christmas is always full of merriment. It is indeed very, very sweet. But sweeter are the memories  of X’Mas which linger on and on, years and decades later too—as fresh as ever.

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