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placeholder INTRODUCTION

Day 1: Visit to a Hindu temple; Concord parish reaches out

Day 2: Learning the rules of the road

Day 3: Family visits in ‘Catholic’ India

Day 4: Chennai (Madras) – Time with an apostle

Day 5: Close look at an Eastern Rite Church

Day 6: Ubiquitous respect for each others’ religious beliefs

Day 7: Southern India home to vast tea fields

Day 8: Worship on a houseboat

Day 9: St. Alphonsa, India's first canonized saint

Day 10: Home shrines a standard feature

Day 11: Portuguese influence very clear in Goa

Day 12: The Portuguese influence

Day 13: Time for a little tourism

Day 14: Seeing ‘the king’s land’

Day 15: Taj Mahal builder sought to unify religion

Day 16: India’s oldest mosque

Day 17: Discussing world issues

Concluding reflections

placeholder January 23, 2012   •   VOL. 50, NO. 2   •   Oakland, CA

Bishop Cordileone’s pilgrimage to India

Worship on a houseboat

Day 8: Friday, Jan. 6

After spending the night in the town of Munnar, we set out at 7:30 in the morning for the long drive to Aleppy, for a lake cruise on a house boat. The traffic was particularly horrendous, especially when going through the towns.

We were given a brief but much welcome respite at a convent along the way where Father Mathew Vellankal’s sister, Sister Lellis, teaches in a school run by her order, the Sisters of Nazareth.

We were back on the road after 15 minutes, and after five harrowing hours, fully frayed nerves and I don’t know how many seemingly near misses, we arrived at our destination (I think this qualified me for advancement to intermediate level in the school of riding in a car in India).

The house boat was a welcome change of pace, the exact opposite, actually, of what we had experienced the first half of the day. These house boat cruises have become quite popular for the locals as well as for tourists, and I can see why, as they are very relaxing and peaceful, and conducive to enjoying one another’s company or getting business done.

We had Mass on board the boat, which was particularly peaceful and prayerful. I noticed that one of the deckhands stood off to the side all throughout the Mass, observing our worship with great interest and respect.

Upon returning to terra firma, I was met by Father Jimmy Thottapaly, pastor of St. Callistus parish in El Sobrante, for a drive to his home town of Palai. In some of the towns we drove through we stumbled upon parish festivals, which are common at this time of the year.

We drove past one church that had its façade completely covered in bright lights. In the next town we came across a procession, with people singing a chant and nuns all along the way holding lighted candles.

The local parish festival was also going on when we arrived at the Cathedral in Palai. People were milling about, watching a play being put on by some of the parishioners and wandering in and out of the Cathedral church to pray.

Afterwards, we had dinner with Father Jimmy’s relatives, who have the great blessing of living right next door to the Cathedral. Once again, they bent over backwards to make me feel welcome, putting out the best of food and drink and making sure that my every little desire was attended to. I was humbled and honored by the kindness and respect they showed me.


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