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Memories are made of this: Commemorating the Birth Centenary of the Late Simon Cardinal Pimenta

The evening of Saturday, February 29, 2020, was filled with memories of the late Simon Cardinal Pimenta, former Archbishop of Bombay, at the event organised to commemorate the centenary of his birth, at St John the Evangelist Hall, Marol.

The emcee for the event, Fr Joshan Rodrigues, welcomed His Eminence, Oswald Cardinal Gracias, His Lordship, Bishop Thomas Dabre, Bishop of Poona, the Auxiliary Bishops of Bombay – their Lordships, Dominic Savio Fernandes, John Rodrigues, and Barthol Barretto, priests, members of the religious communities, former aides, family and friends of the late Simon Cardinal Pimenta. A short film, produced by the Catholic Communication Centre of the Archdiocese of Bombay, was screened, which encapsulated the life of the late Simon Cardinal Pimenta.

The Symposium on ‘Characteristics of the Local Church’, which followed, was introduced by His Lordship, Bishop Thomas Dabre, Bishop of Poona. He outlined the salient aspects of the local church, such as language, and inculturation. To further explain this aspect, he referred to Jesus’ use of the local Aramaic language to connect with His audience. Bishop Dabre also recalled Cardinal Simon Pimenta’s love for the Marathi language which he used extensively while preaching in Vasai. Cardinal Pimenta also played a key role in carving the Diocese of Vasai from the Archdiocese of Bombay. “Many local churches put together, form the universal church”, concluded Bishop Dabre, as he addressed the challenge of harmonising

‘LOCALNESS’ with ‘UNIVERSALITY’ of the One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

The floor was thrown open for an interactive Q&A, where the attendees contributed pertinent inputs on the local and universal church.

An evocative recollection made by Sr Matilda D’Mello, Sister General, Poor Sisters of Our Lady

(PSOL) touched the hearts of many. She brought to mind the simplicity and pious nature of Cardinal Simon Pimenta and remembered that he was known for his governance of a diverse Archdiocese – united and active. He also established parishes in city slums. The strong stance taken by the late Cardinal and the former Archbishop of Bombay against the proposed Tyagi bill in the ‘70s, was highlighted by Sister General. Next, Mrs. Bernice Martin, the late Cardinal’s niece, expressed the family’s deep affection for him. She spoke eloquently about the Cardinal’s priestly ministry, characterised by a life of prayer. Describing him as the ‘Prince of the Church’, she articulated her uncle’s courage in times of difficulties and sickness. Emphatic about her late uncle’s integrity towards the church, Bernice recalled that he sternly evaded every question, regarding official matters, at family get-togethers. His humble and forgiving nature were his outstanding characteristics.

Then, Dr. Luis Jose de Souza, Managing Trustee, Shanti Avedna Ashram, and a close friend of the late Cardinal Simon, had this to day, “Cardinal Simon had a soft spot for Shanti Avedna…He was the patron trustee and never ever missed a single AGM!” Dr Lusito (as he is popularly known) also revealed how the late Cardinal Pimenta’s intervention garnered a donation of Rupees Ten lakhs from Pope John Paul II.

Soon, it was time for the Archbishop of Bombay, Oswald Cardinal Gracias, and former aide of Cardinal Simon, to add to the memories. His Eminence remarked on the humility of Cardinal Simon, as he spoke of the time when the former Archbishop sat on the floor while playing with little children. The journey as Cardinal Simon’s Secretary was shared, with much enthusiasm, by Oswald Cardinal Gracias.

Before the nostalgic guests went on to partake of the sumptuous fellowship meal, they were privileged to participate in the solemn and melodious singing of the Evening Vespers, in true liturgical style. This was done in memory of the late Cardinal, a liturgist, to whom this music was most dear.

The event concluded with a Vote of Thanks by His Lordship, Bishop John Rodrigues.

This day truly reminded us of a life lived for God and the Church, and cherished by many!


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