Visiting the SyroMalabar Cathedral
Every year, the whole seminary takes a trip to the Mar Thoma Sleeha SyroMalabar Cathedral in Bellwood. We do so to visit the catechism classes, where we teach about vocations and following God’s call, and also to partake in the Holy Qurbana, the main Eucharistic celebration of the SyroMalabar Rite (equivalent to the Holy Mass). Every time we do, it’s a real blessing for many reasons. For one thing, it is of great value to experience the different Rites of the Catholic Church. I think the majority of Catholics in America are only exposed to the Roman Latin Rite, where there are another 23 different Eastern Rites that glorify the same God but in their own, beautiful way. Partaking in the main liturgy of the SyroMalabar Church certainly opened our eyes to what the Catholic Church is all about, being universal. It also gave us a greater perspective on how the people of God come to worship. During our time at the SyroMalabar Cathedral, we experienced something very different from the Latin Rite, but we were all able to find beauty in it, not only a cultural beauty that originates all the way from India but a spiritual beauty, which stems from St. Thomas the Apostle, the SyroMalabar Rite’s father of faith.
In addition to partaking in the Holy Qurbana, our seminarians had the opportunity to go out into the catechism classes to teach about vocation and what it means to follow God’s call. All the seminarians were separated into twos and threes and were sent to different grades to explain different aspects of responding to God’s invitation, whether it was learning to remove yourself from worldly distractions to be able to pray silently, or learning that God has a plan for each and every one of us, and that His plan is perfect for us. I was able to teach the fourth, fifth, and sixth graders, and it was an incredible blessing because the title “teacher” is one of the many titles a priest will carry. It was also a great initiative for seminarians to teach the younger generation about following God’s call, because who better to preach this than young men who believe they have been called? I think there is a responsibility in being a seminarian to be open about your own story in hope of calling others, and teaching in those classes was a great opportunity to do that. It is clear in these moments of teaching and sharing that God works through us to bring in those who do not know God. It is in these moments that Jesus calls us seminarians to be “fishers of men.” Overall, it was a great experience, and I cannot wait for next year’s visit!
St. Thomas, Spiritual Father of Faith for the SyroMalabar Church, pray for us!