12th Mar, 16

It’s always pleasant surprises that keeps us more connected and stay closer to the situations and the New Year is no exception. It is a year that has surprised many of us and we the Montfortians are indeed very happy as the Holy Father Pope Francis on 19th of December 2015 appointed Rev. Fr. Dr Joseph Raja Rao SMM as the new Bishop of Vijayawada. It is a gift to have Fr. Raja in our congregation, it’s a great gift for the people of Vijayawada who were longing for their Bishop for about three and a half years, and indeed it’s a greatest gift to all the Montfortians to hear the pleasant good news of Fr. Raja becoming the first Indian Montfortian bishop exactly at the time of Tercentenary of Montfort’s death anniversary. Fr. Raja was our Provincial, Rector, Teacher and overall a guide to step into new ventures. His generosity and service has paved way to the growth and the stability of the congregation to the level of achievement.

In gratitude to his service, ministry and dedication to the congregation, we the Maria Bhavan community, organized a Farewell programme to our dear father in Maria Bhavan. We had invited all our neighboring religious sisters and fathers along with the Montfortian family members consisting of Fathers, Brothers and Sisters and amidst all of them we had the very presence of Montfortian Lay Associates and the dear friends of Fr. Raja. There were more than 40 priests present for the Eucharistic Celebration celebrated by Fr. Raja where he noted, “The Lord has been Merciful towards me.” After the mass we had a felicitation program exclusively for our father. The felicitators were Fr. Micheal, Vice Provincial, (representing Montfort Fathers), Bro. Jacob (representing Brothers of St. Gabriel), Sr. Lilly, Provincial Superior (representing Daughters of Wisdom), Frank Madtha, President of Montfort’s Lay Associates (representing Lay Associates) and Fr. Paulachan, President of Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram (representing CMI congregation and their institute). Along with all these felicitations there was also a video presentation prepared by the scholastics recollecting the memory of the life style and commitment of Fr. Raja. Some of the common words that the felicitators used was Fr.Raja was friendly, hospitable, great model, musician, man of principles etc., that shows how much we depended on him and how much we respect him, it’s hard to say good bye.

We wish him all the best for his new task and the responsibility coming from the Holy Father. May God give him the wisdom as the shepherd to lead the flock where he has been chosen.