Logo For Mother Teresa’s Canonisation By Graphic Designer From Mahim

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When September 4th was announced the date for the canonisation of Blessed Mother Teresa, the Archdiocese of Calcutta wasted no time in celebrating her entrance into sainthood. The Archdiocese has planned events like a music and film show, symposiums, a drawing competition and art exhibition to enlighten people about the life of the soon-to-be saint.

 

To complete the event called ‘Celebrating Mother Teresa’, the Director of the Social Communications of the Archdiocese of Calcutta approached Karen Vaswani, a graphic designer from Mahim, to design the event’s official logo. “When you get an opportunity like that you don’t turn it down,” Karen tells us.

Soon, her logo was chosen the official logo for Mother Teresa’s canonisation by the Vatican. “I was thrilled!,” exclaims Vaswani “Just doing it for Calcutta was huge.”

 

Vaswani began conceptualising the design with the theme for the canonisation chosen by the Vatican – Carrier of God’s Tender and Merciful Love, which is in keeping with this Holy Year of Mercy. Keeping in mind that the logo would be presented on different mediums, she decided to keep it neat and simple. After extensive research, she chose a classic pose most associated with Mother Teresa – with a child in her arms. With that image in mind she designed the logo in two colours – blue, of course, the colour of the border of Mother Teresa’s sari, and gold.

 

Music has always been Karen’s passion and along with freelancing as a graphic designer, she is a part of a five-member band called Rocking Marmalade. News about the logo being selected for the canonisation by the Vatican came as a pleasant surprise not only to Karen but to her friends as well, all of whom knew her only as a musician and the Parish choir conductor. Right now as Karen delights in her work, she also prepares for a performance by her choir group – Victory Chorus Line – at the NCPA.

Bringing the Works of Mercy to Life – St. Blaise Church, Amboli

the folks at KarwandeThe Holy Father, Pope Francis, opened the Holy Doors at St. Peter’s in Rome, and the eagerly awaited Jubilee Year of Mercy commenced. A continent away, the parishioners of St. Blaise Church, Amboli, in the Archdiocese of Bombay, also eagerly looked forward to being active participants! They recognised the significance of contributing in a world so in need of compassion. Grateful that the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy gave them direction for living the Jubilee Year, they systematically, humbly and gladly undertook the work at hand. “We wanted to translate the Works of Mercy into action,” Fr. Franklyn said, as he explained the reason and rationale behind the Corporal Works.

teaching domestic workers technologyMany associations of the parish like the Women’s Group and the Small Christian Communities as well as individual parishioners started projects that will be carried out through this Year of Mercy and beyond that as well. They ‘Fed the Hungry’ through a project called Roti Bank. Meals were cooked, packed and distributed to the poor on the streets. The effort was combined – many sponsored the meals, many helped in preparing the meal boxes and many leant a hand in delivering them. They ‘Clothed the Naked’ the same way. Donated, packed and delivered. Everyone who contributed played a very important role. Together, many can help many more.

The projects that were undertaken to ‘Give Drink to the Thirsty’ included installing water pumps in the drought-affected village, Karwande, in the diocese of Nashik. The parish printed cards with tips on reducing wastage of water and distributed these to the parishioners. For the summer, a project called Pyaas will be set into motion. Earthen pots of water will be placed in every Small Christian Community for passers-by to quench their thirst. This gesture personifies Mother Teresa’s words – “Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”

roti bank preparationMonetary aid will help in buying tarpaulin sheets for chawls during the monsoons. Funds collected will also be made available to those who are unable to pay a month’s rent. That is how the parishioners of St. Blaise will go about ‘Sheltering the Homeless’.

Special Masses and prayer services were held for the sick. Priests of the parish make it a point to often ‘Visit the Sick’ especially those who are housebound, listening to confessions and offering to pray with them. The parish of St. Blaise, Amboli also encourages shroud burials for ‘Burying the Dead’, which helps to conserve the environment.

Other programmes for this year include educating domestic helpers in the use of prayer service for the oldiestechnology, a visit to Mary’s Clan and conducting an inter-religious dialogue to facilitate mutual respect and understanding among people of different faiths.

Lenten Missions based on the theme of Mercy will take the parishioners further along this Jubilee Year.
Prayer cards were given to every parishioner, which cover: the Prayer for the Jubilee Year, St. Francis’ prayer (Make me a channel of your peace), the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy, Psalm 51, the Parable of the Merciful Father (better known as the Parable of the Prodigal Son.) The logo of the Jubilee Year graces the tri-fold, pocket-sized card.

A ‘Lenten Calendar for the Year of Mercy’ featuring deeds for every day of this season of Lent, were also distributed. Mentioned in this calendar are little acts like offering refreshments to security guards, lending a hand to the elderly in their daily chores and praying with others.

St. Blaise, Amboli has a lot planned, and the parishioners are looking forward to the action throughout this Year of Mercy.

“We should, because we can!” becomes a mighty slogan indeed when a parish demonstrates it so powerfully!

Year of Mercy in Action: I. C. Church, Borivli

IMG_9279On December 8, 2015, the parishioners of ‘I. C. Church’, Borivli, as it is commonly and fondly known, seized the opportunity to make their celebrations more meaningful; they celebrated the feast of their Church, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, as well as inaugurated the Year of Mercy.

Things did not stop there. A committee, formed immediately after Pope Francis announced the plan for the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, meets every month to plan and put into place projects for the year. These projects set a clear goal to spread the message of mercy by example – a perfect working of the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.

A week before the Year of Mercy commenced a session was held to reflect on the passages of the Bull of Indiction – Misericordiae Vultus. The enthusiasm of the crowd assured Fr. Barthol, the Parish Priest and head of the committee, that this momentum would be reflected in all the programmes lined up for the year. Prayer cards of an abridged version of the Official Prayer for the Year of Mercy were distributed at this session. Something as simple as the free distribution of prayer cards was a great and effective idea to ensure that the Jubilee Year began at home, during ‘family prayer time’.

A highlight of the many programmes that areIMG_9305 lined up for the Year of Mercy is the ‘Coin  Box’. This project is one of many that are applied in a practical manner, and so the project is aptly named ‘Mercy in Action’. It goes like this – For every Work of Mercy that a parishioner undertakes, he/she drops a rupee in one of the boxes placed in the church compound. The money collected at the end of the year will go to charity.

In this Holy Year, it is crucial to understand the significance of forgiveness – to seek and to offer. Another highlight was a 3-day inner healing retreat. The attendance once again amazed Fr. Barthol with their fervour to soak in everything that the retreat had to offer. The points that were covered included the importance of reconciliation, how to forgive others, and how to live one’s life in Christ. The attendees underwent “a forgiveness therapy”, and in doing so, they were ready to march forth into this Year of Mercy.

IMG_9299One of the programmes earlier in the year was a ‘thank you dinner’ for the 20 families who prepare snacks for sale after Sunday Mass. It was a small way to give back to the community. Other programmes that followed were a Christmas Hamper for the poor families in Borivli. The hamper included a ready-to-cook chicken, food grains and two redeemable coupons – one for D-Mart and the other for McDonalds. The reason behind the coupons, Fr. Barthol explained, was that these families have always heard about and seen these stores but have never had the opportunity to enter in for a simple meal or to shop. The goal was to make a “family day out” possible for these families.
“Groom Yourself For Life” – another planned event – was a session that provided guidance on ways to improve lifestyle by walking with Christ who is the Way, Truth and Life.

IMG_9296If you visit the Church in Borivli, the many posters strategically placed within the premises will catch your eye. The banners and poster can be clearly seen from outside the church compound and are written in Hindi and English, making their appeals to everyone passing by.
They ask you to “be merciful like your Heavenly Father is merciful”. They list the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy, keeping them always on the mind and you ever ready to carry them out. They also remind you of the events and programmes for the Year of Mercy and Lent, lest you forget. Theposters are replaced every month, displaying messages in keeping with the Year of Mercy.

It could be said that the Year of MercyIMG_9294
is keeping the parishioners busy, but instead let’s say that the parishioners have taken the initiative and grabbed the opportunity this year presents, leaving no stone with regard to mercy – its worth, impact and implications.

That would be a great line to end with. This one would be too – “Mercy, Mercy, to love is to forgive.” *

(*Taken from the official song, which was composed by a parishioner specifically for the Year of Mercy. Yes, they’ve been enthusiastically busy.)

Rhyme, Rhythm and Rhys

IMG_5737Rhys fell in love at 16 and he’s still in love, 11 years later. Side by side, they lend melodies to passion that you never could with words. Rhys carries his beloved in a small case. Before you jump the gun, Rhys is a musician and his beloved here is his saxophone.

With his parents being musicians, he grew up surrounded by music and musicians– Jam sessions were a common sound in the D’souza household. Falling in love with the unified sound of different instruments, he began to pick them apart and study them individually. He moved through guitar, keyboard, clarinet till he finally homed in on the saxophone.

He actually started playing the sax after he was gifted one by his grandmother. Sure that it was all a conspiracy to introduce him to the instrument, he is nevertheless grateful. Cradling the sax, he proudly says that it’s the instrument through which he can truly be understood.

As he spoke about what pushed him to play the sax, he also explained what encouraged him to keep going – it was (and still is) the support he received from his parents. And when asked for advice for keen and budding musicians, he directs his words to parents, to be the best support system their child can have. With first hand experience, he knows that support will get you through all those hard times – support and hard work. Rhys is undeniably gifted, yet it is the fact that with hard work, just about anyone can reach the goals they set that makes Rhys’ story so inspiring. “There is nothing I can’t handle unless I give up. If I didn’t pull something off, it would have been because I didn’t try hard enough and that scares me – not trying hard enough.”

He shares with us his journey with the sax – where it all started and where he sees it going. Right now, the view looks impressive. A few of his many achievements include an album of Gospel tunes and hymns titled ‘To God Through Music’, performances across Continents and playing the National Anthem at the opening ceremony of the Star Sports Pro Kabaddi games 2015.

His latest project “Rhyme and Rhythm with Rhys Sebastian” takes place at the NCPA on 20th February 2016, at 7:00 PM. The event showcases the young saxophonist, accompanied by some extremely talented musicians, as he takes popular songs from across genres and adds a bluesy twist to them. The thought behind this idea is to establish a connection with the audience, through familiar songs that they can identify with, and then introduce a new style of music – one that Rhys guarantees will captivate you.

Tickets for “Rhyme and Rhythm with Rhys Sebastian” are available on BookMyShow. But if you want to catch a glimpse of Rhys’ musical love affair right now, then listen!

THE BIRDMAN WHO HELPS HIS FEATHERED FRIENDS TO FLY

bm3.jpgBabush’s steadfast inscrutable gaze rests on us as we walk warily toward him; he is so obviously the symbol of wisdom!  Yes, Babush is an owl – one who can no longer fly but who is a much loved presence in the home of Pradeep, popularly known as the ‘Birdman’ to everyone who is a friend (or maybe not) of the avian community.

Pradeep rescues, treats and shelters birds. He cares for the ones that are unwanted, injured or left to fend for themselves when they are not in a state to do so. He receives no tangible reward. Then why does he do what he does?

Well, the story goes, a younger Pradeep would read medical books in order to treat the sick birds that his brother kept as pets. Many medical journals later, even more pet birds and the experience from working for Welfare for Stray Dogs, he is now equipped with the know-how to care for these little creatures. His day spans from a 5 A.M. visit to Crawford Market to buy food for his patients to a 7 P.M. bike ride to ‘pick-up spots’ at Mahalaxmi and CP Tank from where he returns with new patients. It has become his passion. He even has custom-made cotton bags that he uses to carry the injured birds.

Beginning our tour of recuperating birds is Babush, the owl, who was rescued by an NGO and is now recovering under Pradeep’s care. Babush had his feathers plucked out for the purpose of black magic, which is why he cannot fly and is now on perpetual kitchen duty. Later, we encounter almost every bird seen in Mumbai in the small but cozy space of a terrace – mynahs, seagulls, eagles, kites, bats, crows, pigeons, black hens and more owls. These birds have all been rescued and are sheltered until they are well enough to fly away.

Pradeep’s brother, mother, sister-in-law and niece, too, help him look after their avian friends.

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“Pradeep has a healing touch,” Jonita, Pradeep’s sister-in-law, tells us. Along with treating the birds, medically, he cares for them. After handling them for 25 years, he understands them – what scares them, what hurts them and how to heal them. The birds are free to leave whenever they find themselves strong enough. When that time comes, the cages that hold them are built in such a way that the birds can leave of their own free will. Most of the birds that have flown away return almost everyday because they feel secure, cared for and mainly because they know what time is feeding time!

As Pradeep continues to help God’s feathered creatures simply because “it is a passion”, he unknowingly sets an example for us all to extend our hand to help, showing compassion without expecting anything in return. For birds, too, share our common home. bm1.jpg

If you come across an injured or sick bird or a bird that is stuck someplace that is not a tree, then you can contact Pradeep on 8655370005/6 or, if possible, drop the bird off at Queen’s Mansion, Fort, in baskets placed for that very reason.

He Runs the Good Race: Samuel Chettiar

samSamuel Chettiar won the fight against Hodgkins Lymphoma, but chose not to rest on his laurels! While in remission, he set his priorities on his family, valuing the time spent with them and enjoying the second opportunity to live life to the fullest. Till one day it dawned on him that along with this gift came the responsibility to respect it too.

With the decision to take better care of himself, he started road running. And he hasn’t stopped. He has seventeen marathons under his belt and he still continues to cover ground. Samuel’s aim is to run a marathon in every continent, and the dream isn’t a distant one. Europe, Asia and North America – check, check and check – three down, three to go.

Samuel runs for causes. He runs because he believes that “there is life after cancer” and that your body isn’t weak after that encounter. You’ve battled for life, so live it! He runs because his is a story that can encourage cancer patients and survivors to live their dream: “If I can, everybody can.” He runs because he simply loves to. Experiencing that “runner’s high” is so rewarding. He runs because one does not simply give up. And he runs for an NGO called Love, Joy and Hope Foundation that works for underprivileged children.

Samuel has been busy preparing for the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon 2016, which takes place on Sunday, January 17. After this, he looks forward to signing off the Medibank Melbourne Marathon in October 2016. Emblazoned in red, capital letters on his T-Shirt, his motto holds out the encouraging message: ‘Never never ever give up’. And by the looks of it, Samuel runs the talk.

We are grateful for the example you set, and we wish you all the very best for the Marathon, Samuel. You most certainly are an inspiration on two feet – two running feet!