Newsletter of the District of Asia

 July - December 2005

Letter from India
by Father François Chazal

Priory of the Most Holy Trinity
#1 Marcel Lefebvre Place
Palayamkottai , TN 627 002

August 28, 2005

Dear Benefactors and Friends of the Mission,

Being back just a few days ago from the last section of the northern circuit after two and a half months of absence, I will try to muster a few lines to express to you all the gratitude of the Mission for your generous support, of prayers, money, salted almonds, beef jerky, smooth computer and 300gb external hard drive, and all the joy to refresh the knowledge of the SSPX Family to whom we all belong. Thanks to your $14,000 support (if you include the French) and together with the current donations, the mission is now afloat and can proceed further without logistic fears.

We have been able to buy two plots this summer; one in Ramanpudur (200 x 85 feet) and another one in Trichy, just big enough to enable us to build a decent and public looking chapel. Our fight is consistently the same, to make the truth manifest to the eyes of man. Besides those two places, we still have to build churches in Tuticorin and especially in Palayamkottay, where we still can’t deploy liturgically. We think our brand new church of Christurajapuram will be operational for the coming of Bishop Tissier de Mallerais this Christmas.

Father Summers also has had the good idea to invite the orphanage of Cuddapah (in Andra Pradesh, 5 hours north west of Madras) to move to Palayamkottai itself. Since this foundation is technically independent from us, and administered by a very dedicated Indian woman named Swarna, the whole care of the place will not rest on us, just the spiritual aspect of it, which will not be too difficult since the parish of Palayamkottai itself has never grown above 50 people.

Our little flock of Ramanpudur perseveres well, and as our fear was to see them dwindle numerically Sunday after Sunday, it showed not to be the case. The parishes that surround our new plot are all running court cases against the local bishop Leon Darmalraj, who never misses an occasion to counter us, like building partition walls all around our present temporary location. It is true that since the parishes know that we are around, they can threaten easily the worse to him (that is mixing with us) if they don’t get things like proper catechism. This is what happened two weeks ago, and this Sunday, there was a hundred people at mass. So the place stays hot and I really like that. We have kept our plans “secret”, but all the men of the parish were talking about it, and we will transfer the chapel only when the plans of the new place will be fully approved, then the work of construction will begin. Many Ramanpudurians went to say goodbye to Father Blute, the new prior of Browerville, many cried, and that’s not a bad sign. His administration allowed the mission to get seriously organised, and 800 people showed at the big August 15 farewell ceremony. Indeed with him there was a before and after, and for the before, well, let’s just say that it was something like Genesis chapter 1 verse 2, but let’s move on the next protagonist.

Father Summers is taking the succession and runs the controls easily. The Priory, Preseminary and hostel are cruising in a very prayerful and innocent fashion, with all those little new characters on board this our nutshell of Marcel Lefebvre place. But the word is that we are just about to get the go ahead to construct. You should see how our library is overflowing. Before I forget, I must mention that there is a new thrust of practicality in this priory, with a new top of the line Whirlpool washing machine, impeccable grounds surrounding the house and a whole set of new doors for the rooms of the ground floor. I talk every day to George Bush and give him my blessing before he goes to bed! The cook is also going to change, due to age and all the linens and vestments of all the missionary stations are being refitted. A sacristy has been added to the chapel of Assaripallam, and the property of Singamparai has been walled. The last phase of construction is going to make the new church of Christurajapuram ready for its consecration and the confirmation ceremonies around Christmas.

Father Jackson has arrived, and one of his first experiences was to travel alone by train from Madras to Palayamkottai, as I was delayed for my visa registration. The least we can say is that he is quite impressed by the place. He is getting his gastric welcome after the first heat related headaches.

Father Michael sj. died a few weeks ago. He used to help us in Trichy and sometimes in Madras, when there was only one family there. He was an old school Jesuit, impossible to corner in any debate. He always came out of nowhere, always transported by the mean machines of the Indian bus system, and departed swiftly; a sort of Melchisedech, living outside of time, coming and going mysteriously. Since he is now gone, the people of Trichy are sending more supplications now.

As a whole, Catholic Tradition numbers six Indian priests, three serving in India, two in US and one of the SSPX in Australia, Father Valan. Six Indians are preparing themselves for the priesthood, and Dr. Suneel left Avrille because of severe and acute nutritional problems. After his recovery, he has promised to spend a few weeks or months at the Priory here. He might be coming next week and I will be very glad to see him again, because there is always a lot to learn about India from him. Who knows, maybe, God wants him in the Society. If he can’t make it at the Dominicans, that’s certainly what I am praying for.

Now let’s talk about the North. Not much has changed except that we are expecting sixty or so confirmations for Bishop Tissier de Mallerais’ run in December. In Bandra (south central Bombay), once again we are being kicked out of Pioneer Hall; some makers of TV series are renting almost the entire place continuously for a hefty price, so the only thing that is left for us would be a dark and dusty narrow corridor squeezed in the back of the compound. All this looks like a sign of Providence that we need to rent a place permanently, despite a calculated and moderate financial risk.

No changes as far as the holy women of Malad are concerned, but there some faithful have become victims of the recent terrible floods on Bombay. I only realized the situation when I arrived there on the fourth of August, when all the transportation system got working again and the water was gone.

What happened was a huge cloud nine miles high, 12 wide (flanked by 4 miles high ones) hitting squarely on the most vulnerable part of Bombay. The flanking clouds played their role later when the whole system entered inland. The timing and coordination of these phenomenon was so perfect as to generate chaos that I only see the hand of God in this. The cloud came right as the tide was surging, and the tide chosen was the afternoon tide when all the commuters were to get back home. From two to five pm it rained a whole meter of rain, something never recorded anywhere in India since the days of Noah probably. And this cloud, I repeat could have hit anywhere else on this long west coast of India (something like 1300 miles), but it hit straight on the Santa Cruz airport, an area famous for its muslim slums, children sweatshops and vast reclaimed districts barring the escape for the waters.

For even if it is true that the hand of God and the sins of men can play the main role (even if Bombay is not worse than Vegas or San Francisco), the stupidity of the greed of man can achieve spectacular things. We found that it was not the best of ideas to build an airport on a riverbed, and to clog what’s left of it with plastic garbage, not to mention the proverbial inadequacy of a sewage system built by the British in the XIXth century.

So it rained so much that you could not see more than two feet away, the dams above the city had to release the overflow and all transportation stopped. Lots of people had to spend the night standing, on the hugely crowded platforms, the legs in the water, thinking about the BMC (Bombay Municipal Corporation) and the politicians in general, or just about their lives. Other lucky people had to spend the night on the roof of cars and buses, and the unlucky were swept, maybe 5000 of them, because the politicians prefer to kept their results low key. You had landslides in Andheri that buried 110 homes, the walls of the airport bursting on the long queues moving behind them, one Air India 747 water sliding on the tarmac, and the water rushing and killing people in the colony of the same company. After the flood, epidemics broke out, killing a few more hundreds, but got under control. You could sense in the train, how tense and jittery people became in the week that followed; many lost their income and their jobs. The production lines of the car factories are stopped, and many cars being built have to be dismantled again and put at the beginning of the chain.

So I went to visit some families in Kalina, south of the Airport. Hardly a few people perished there, but many lost all their food and furniture with all this loaded sewage water soaking everywhere and everything. The local help from the neighbouring parishes looked very adequate, even though the spiritual help, as usual went down the gutter, if gutter there is. Priests don’t visit homes any longer; they just hand some “happy water” over and tell the head of the family to sprinkle the water for them. Many families are stopping to say the rosary (something I don’t see in Vasai), or turn to the charismatic renewal and other protestant sects. As you know, everybody has the TV, and the TV is always on. Indian movies are not yet allowed to be pornographic, but they are certainly erotic, in the sense that the actors, try to convey the same message, but wearing more fabric on their skin. And when they don’t go to school, people get hours after hours of those TV series, and I don’t see how they can possibly remain clean of heart in that context. Once again, the odds against us are immense, and that is why the tough lifestyle of the villagers of Bassein Fort is a shield.

The other thing is that the novus ordo is compelling people to adopt natural family planning, and barely reprimanding those who use the artificial form of it. As a result, the Catholic population is stagnant or dwindling, and the kids are not raised properly, especially in Bombay with so many husbands working abroad. The Catholic population is deserting the southern sections of the city and regrouping further north, in big parishes like the one in Malad (23,000 parishioners for just one church), and then dwindle slowly in 20 or 30 years time. In Bandra, the muslim invasion is spectacular. Islam is using all the schools and facilities that the Church provides, nuns reach out to it without any hope of return and the muslims just take the offer and squeeze all the juice of the tree before the tree itself become their property. The Catholic school run basically like the public ones, because the religious staff is not big enough to teach and enter into a real contact with the children and act as mere smiling administrators, sometimes greedy for money (because by definition a school in India is a cash machine). What an ocean of misery – on which can still be found some flowers of innocence nevertheless.

When the Church will get its acts together, there will be some work to do. But as for now, despite the obvious signs, the official messages is not to turn back to God, or a Fatima, Lourdes and La Salette form of speech, but just “How great it is to see people helping one another, loving, caring and sharing. It’s not God, it’s global warming” and all the other precooked phrases.

In Vasai, I saw only a few villagers this time, but I blessed some 25 fishing boats, and it was refreshing to see a place where people have kept a better sense of faith. Chief Walter always comes to Mass and has proposed to accompany me at the other end of the city to introduce me to the bureaucrats there to get a decent visa for the next time. I hit a snag in Madras, a Mayali named Unnikrishna. He would not register the visa. So I came again the next day with the Madras’ counterpart of Chief Walter, Joseph Raj, my employer at St. Anthony’s School. And he saved the day. We just sat calmly in the office of that Unnikrishna, the whole morning until 1.00 pm, marinating and watching everybody else getting his papers. It’s a soft persecution, nothing really, compared to Saudi Arabia or Iran I would think.

As far as the orphanage of Bassein Fort is concerned, once again, you just have to wait to see the real intentions. Norbet, the man in charge over there, dangles the keys of the place, telling us to “lend” him some 8 to 10 lakhs ($22,000) to buy him a flat and a shop. Then he would be glad to surrender everything if the other committee members don’t find any problem….Indians will be Indians!

We’ll just have to stay polite and play delay tactics, using the little chapel of the orphanage. If he wants to continue to hope for his little corner on the moon, Norbet will have to give me the necessary papers for my little trip with Walter, because, if I don’t get a 10 years visa as person in charge of the orphanage and the school, (whose papers are ready), we cannot possibly think about the preliminary hints of a possible beginning of talks about the hypothesis of discussion about a little corner on the Moon.

Veremos, solo Dios me puede ajudar.

In Iesu et Maria,

François Chazal +


Fr. Patrick Summers

Fr. Patrick Summers, the new Prior of the Indian Missions


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