Faith and community get a lift in a parish in India


AMBOLI, ANDHERI, MUMBAI, India -- I belong to a parish in a densely populated suburb of Mumbai, India, a parish, I am happy to report, that is functioning quite well.

Records indicate that St. Blaise parish dates back to around the year 1560 when Portuguese Franciscans came here and constructed a chapel. A parish, as it might have been viewed then, came some 25 years later -- around 1585. The number of Catholics then, according to records, was 1,637 adults and 400 children. Today the parish claims a membership of more than 14,000.

If you look at our parish church, with its pantheon of apostles on the roof top, it is distinctive -- and in other ways it is much like the other buildings near a junction of two heavily traveled crossroads. The area is generally noisy, with the sounds of motorcars; taxis; motorbikes and rickshaws; and buses filling the air.

The rewards of working with the mentally challenged


Affectionately called Gai, Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Sister Eileen Gaitonde is now all of 70, but still a dynamo, working virtually non-stop for the mentally challenged who are studying at the S.P. J. Sadhana School here. I interviewed Gaitonde recently, asking her what led to her vocation, and what it has been like to be working with the mentally challenged. The following is a slightly edited version of her story.