Be our shelter, Lord, when we are at home, our companion when we are away, and our welcome guest when we return, and at last receive us into the dwelling place you have prepared for us in your Father's house, where you live forever and ever. Amen.
The above words are from the rite of the Catholic blessing of a house. They sounded so awe-inspiring when the priest intoned these words for the blessing of our house at Devashri Garden, Porvorim.
We had planned the day, 2 October, a holiday, many months back since the family would be together on that day. Queenie made all the dishes for the menu. Since we had not got the gas in place yet, we took all the food from Vasco, where we currently stay, to Porvorim. The logistics were a bit daunting.
With the day fast approaching we set about finding a priest to perform the blessing of our flat. Our first stop was Holy Family church which is a stone’s throw away from our new home. We were told that Devashri Garden falls within the jurisdiction of the parish of Socorro, so we would need to contact them. Besides the Holy Family church would be having an event for senior citizens during the day and it would be difficult for the priests to be free.
A little baffled by this logic I obtained the number of the Socorro parish church and spoke to the priest there. He said they too had a programme on 2 October so he would be very busy. But Devashri Garden, he informed me, was administered by the chaplain of Candelaria church, close by. He advised me to meet the chaplain and request him personally.
Late evening of 1 October in blinding rain found me desperately trying to locate Candelaria church. ‘Ask anyone,’ the priest had said. No one seemed to know. Although I had taken the help of google maps, the precise location of the church eluded me. Rather than risk an accident on the dark unknown roads flooded now with fallen barks of trees blocking my path, I decide to abort the search.
Keeping my hopes alive, I started to call another priest from Jesuit House, Panjim whom I had spoken to in the morning. When I finally spoke to him on the LAN line (he has no mobile phone) at 8.30 p.m. on my way back to Vasco he said that he had been out and when he returned he saw a note stuck to his door informing him that a friend from Singapore would be arriving the next day, and he would need to spend time with him.
I had lost all my aces. I prayed fervently to God to do something! It was nearing 9 p.m. when I got into Vasco. I decided to meet the parish priest of Vasco. Fr. Gabriel Coutinho gave me a patient hearing and readily agreed. He conducted the service most befittingly at Porvorim the next day. God bless him.
Published in the weekly feature 'On My Mind' in Gomantak Times Weekender, St. Inez, Goa on Sunday, 22 November 2015. Pix of the blessing of the house by Fr. Gabriel Coutinho at Devashri Garden, Porvorim, courtesy Vanessa and Felix Mendonca.