Syncretized “Catholic” is voice of the Indian church at Vatican event

 


MARCH 19, 2016

 

Syncretized “Catholic” is voice of the Indian church at Vatican event



Gayatri Lobo Gajiwala

 

A second-generation “theologian” is being groomed by the Indian Catholic Church.

Gayatri Lobo Gajiwala.

She is a woman who has “extraordinarily helped other women reach their potential“, according to a ZENIT story, below. I couldn’t exactly see that anywhere in the reports that I read.

The Gajiwalas are an influential family in the Bombay church. With several progressive bishops and Cardinal Oswald Gracias as their godfathers, it is not surprising to find one of the family, a young teacher, becoming the voice of Indian Catholics at a conference in the Vatican! This will of course add glamour and credentials to her profile as she gets more such speaking assignments from the bishops (she couldn’t have been delegated without backing from the highest, most powerful levels in the Indian Church), like her mother did.

Her mother Astrid Lobo Gajiwala has done some sort of part-time course at the St. Pius X Seminary in Goregaon, Mumbai, in the Catholic archdiocese of Bombay at the suggestion of the then Fr. (now Archbishop of Vasai) Felix Machado and was soon acclaimed as one of India’s lay theologians! She gives lectures to groups of bishops and is on the editorial board of the liberal archdiocesan weekly, The Examiner. She writes for other liberal and feminist publications worldwide. I will not comment much on her in the present report for two reasons: 1) a separate report dedicated to Mrs. Gajiwala needs to be released; 2) there is a lot of information on her already in the files listed at the end of the present report. She is a radical feminist, worships Hindu deities and is in cahoots with another Bombay archdiocese installed lay theologian and feminist, Virginia Saldanha. Both of these women are protagonists of the movement for the ordination of women as priests.

We will examine the life and times of Ms. Gayatri Lobo Gajiwala as found in news stories about her.

She’s been grooming to be an author from at least the age of 16.

 

Women’s Contributions to world, church, other women, highlighted at annual Voices of Faith event

https://zenit.org/articles/international-womens-day-celebrated-at-vatican/

March 8, 2016

 

 

Women have gathered in the Vatican and highlighted their great contributions to the world and Church.

This afternoon, marking International Women’s Day, the annual conference titled ‘Voices of Faith,’ was held in the Vatican’s Casina Pio VI, and welcomed speakers from around the world who spoke on everything from stopping girls from being sold as sex slaves, providing health care to the poor, and giving an education to refugees.

The event shared stories of women who have extraordinarily helped other women reach their potential.

The event began at 3 p.m. in the Vatican’s Casina Pio IV with a welcome by Mary Lou Falcone, Voices of Faith Advisory Board Chair, who discussed women and how their uniqueness contributes to the Year of Mercy. There were two sessions of the event.

Participating in part one of the event included: Magalie Laguerre-Wilkinson, Journalist/Producer, 60 Minutes-CBS News; Sister Mary Doris, Siena House, Bronx NY; Cecilia Flores, Viasayan Forum Foundation, Philippines; Merci, refugee and student of Higher Education, Dzaleka Camp, Malawi; Caroline Kimeu & Judy Onyango, Kenya; Sabriye Tenberken & Paul Kronenberg, co-founders of Kanthari, India.

Participants in its second portion exploring women’s participation in the Church included: Dr. Carolyn Woo – President and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, USA; Geralyn Sheehan –Country Director for US Peace Corps, Colombia; Petra Dankova – Postulant of Sisters of the Holy Redeemer, Czech Republic; Gayatri Lobo Gajiwala – English teacher, India; Nicole Perone – Student at Yale, USA.

 

EXTRACT from http://voicesoffaith.org/speaker/gayatri-lobo-gajiwala/ 2016:

Gaya, from Mumbai India, grew up in a dual-faith household with a Hindu father and a Catholic mother.

Raised as a catholic who attended Sunday school and confirmation classes, she was baptized at a later age to consolidate her faith*. She continues to embrace both her parent’s spiritual ideals. She calls herself primarily a spiritual person**. Gaya received a BA from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, India and an MA in literary studies from Aberystwyth University, UK. For the past 3 year she has taught English language and literature in a K-12 international school in India. She is interested in poetry, acting and the dramatic arts.

 

https://twitter.com/vofwomen:

Voices of Faith is a story-telling event at the heart of the Vatican for women to share their stories in the spirit of Francis.” You don’t say!

*Whatever that means! The bishops and/or her family probably figured out that her rise in prominence in the Church would be severely impeded if she was not baptized… or would it?

**”Spiritual”, as opposed to “religious”, having and practising a dogmatic religion. All New Agers describe themselves as “spiritual”, never “religious”.

 


 

EXTRACT from http://www.manushi.in/docs/41Short%20Story%20Waiting.pdf:

The author is a 16 year old student of Sri Aurobindo International Centre for Education***, Pondicherry, 2006.

***Aurobindo is, according to a Vatican document, one of the world’s leading influencers of the New Age Movement. Gayatri’s father Kalpesh Gajiwala‘s guru is Sri Aurobindo.

Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, an integral part of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, serves as a field of experiment and research in education. For years Sri Aurobindo considered the formation of an Education Centre as one of the best means of preparing the future humanity to manifest upon earth a divine consciousness and a divine life

Source: http://sriaurobindoashram.org/ashram/saice/

 

EXTRACT from https://www.futurechurch.org/sites/default/files/Voices%20of%20Faith%20%E2%80%93%20All%20Voices%20Count%20-%20March%202016%5B1%5D.pdf*

March 8, 2016, The Vatican, Rome

…in her spare time (she) writes poetry that explores feminist issues and identity…

 

 

 

Gayatri Lobo Gajiwala, who was born and raised in Mumbai, India, as a product of an interfaith marriage where both religions worked together to shape her identity
and gave her insight into how she views the world today.

“…And from my own personal experience, like you’ve already said, I grew up in an interfaith household, and I grew up with this duality of religion that shaped how I view the world. But I also grew up with a very strong female role model in my mother because, as Geralyn said, your mother is usually your first introduction to your relationship with God. And my mother was an excellent role model. And one of the things that she was part of last year in India was, they instituted a general policy within the Church in India.”

“…my mom always said, “The path to holiness is paved with questions.” And we grew up with that in mind. And because both of my parents are very spiritual—and my father is Hindu; my mother is Catholic… And as my brother once said, “Usually in these sorts of situations when you have an interfaith marriage, you have one or both people who aren’t religious, because otherwise there’s a lot of friction. Now, in our family, they’re both very spiritual, so we grew up privileged. Again, we never saw it as a disadvantage; we always felt we were privileged to grow up with two very different spiritual identities that ultimately merged into one. And for me, I chose to get baptized when I was 22. And it was never a decision; it was never, oh, did you finally decide to pick being Catholic. I didn’t pick; I was always Catholic. Just because I am Catholic doesn’t mean I’m not Hindu. It wasn’t a question of picking one over the other.

…a few years ago my mom and I decided that we would go for mass on my birthday. And my mom was delayed and I happened to go to a church that I’d never been to before. Now, I don’t know what it was—maybe how I was dressed, or maybe I just gave off this vibe. But when I went to receive communion, the priest looked at me and decided that I didn’t look Catholic enough**. So he said, “Are you Catholic?” and I said, “Yes.” And he said, “Well, how do you receive communion?” Now, to me that seemed like such a simple answer that I thought, no, this is a trick question. And I froze. 7 And then he said, “When is the last time you’ve been to confession?” And I don’t go to confession. So I was like, “Oh, my god. What am I doing here? I shouldn’t be here. I want to go home right now.” And he said, “You know what? Please wait. We will chat after mass.” And I felt like I was in high school and I was being punished by the principal. And I stood on the side while everybody else in that line received communion. And I waited about three minutes before I ran back home, by which point my mom had just come from work. And I think we were in the car park. And she saw me. She took one look at my face and was like, “What happened? Are you okay?” and I just sobbed; I was crying. It was terrible. And I told her what happened. And you don’t want to get my mom mad. She marched right up to that church and she spoke to the priest. And she said, “You know what? You had an opportunity to make somebody feel welcome and instead you turned them away.” And I’m going to be honest with you: I haven’t been back to that particular church since.”

“…this is the sort of experience that a lot of Millennials like me face. We feel like maybe just because we don’t follow the same rules that our parents did or we don’t necessarily always go to mass every Sunday or we choose not to go to confession, we’re not Catholic enough**. And then we feel like we’re denied a space within the existing structure of the Church and our voices aren’t being heard. And if we don’t have a space, how are we going make a change? How are we going to make a difference? Because I want to be a part of this structure and I want to make my presence felt.

(For this presentation, she was applauded and approved by other panelists including Jesuit priest Thomas Smolich who was the moderator.)

*FutureChurch.org (www.futurechurch.org) is the site of a pro-women’s ordination organization.

**There is no such thing as being “Catholic enough”. The use of the epithet betrays her mindset. Either you’re Catholic or you’re not. By her own admission Gayatri Lobo Gajiwala does not ever go for confession and is irregular at Sunday Mass. Cafeteria Catholicism is what they call it.

Why did the priest suspect that she may not be a Catholic and decline to give her Holy Communion? (I personally dismiss her account as sensational journalism; after all she is an aspiring writer, hence all the spicy details). It could not have been her attire alone. Lots of young women are immodestly clad at Mass.

Could it be that she did not know how to properly extend her hand (you can bet that a liberated woman like her would not receive Jesus on the tongue) and take the sacred Host? Or, like I said at the beginning, maybe it is all a story fancifully woven around a bit of truth for her like-minded audience.

In the account that follows, the liberal Jesuit magazine America (whose editor was sacked by Pope Benedict XVI) reports that she was refused Holy Communion because (according to the priest) she “looked too Indian”.

That’s balderdash, codswallop, piffle!

 

Women Are Knocking on the Door of the Church

http://americamagazine.org/content/dispatches/women-are-knocking-door-church
EXTRACT

By Gerard O’Connell, March 9, 2016 

A young high-school teacher of English from India, Gayatri Lobo Gajiwala, who was born into a Catholic-Hindu family that is deeply religious on both sides, spoke about the many ways women are being involved in the church in the world’s largest democracy today. “Women and men have equal leadership skills,” she said. At the same time she made one request to the church everywhere: “welcome” women. She revealed that her appeal stems from a personal experience when, visiting a church outside her parish in Mumbai, the priest refused her communion because, he told her, “you look too Indian!

 

3 out of 8 readers’ comments took up the issue of the ordination of women!

 

 

EXTRACT Ana Vago | 3/9/2016 – 3:47pm

It’s time to ordain women. It’s time to ordain married people, both men and women so that the clergy and hierarchy of the church integrate the lived understanding of those who live in the real world – as singles, as celibates (a few) as married people and as parents. These single celibates who spend so much time “pontificating” on the family and on the world will then be forced to work as equals with people who actually know what they are talking about, force to work with women as not only their equals, but as their superiors. It will be an enormous shock to these men who are raised in the closed mostly all-male environments of seminaries and rectories and chanceries, indoctrinated to see women as some kind of separate species, inferior, but needed to do the church’s real work on the ground and in the world, and especially to have babies to fill the pews and write the checks in the future.

 

Lisa Weber | 3/10/2016 – 11:52pm

Women need to be allowed to preach at Mass because no one can lead without being able to speak publicly. This does not mean that women should be ordained to the priesthood, though they should be ordained to the diaconate.

Women are not allowed to be adults within the church. Patriarchal leadership is part of the problem; matriarchal leadership is the rest of it. Patriarchal leadership excludes women and condescends to them. Matriarchal leadership does not allow women to hold adult opinions or to initiate action in the way that an adult would. Matriarchal leadership also allows for an incredibly high level of feminine aggression in the form of gossip, humiliation and destroying relationships. I have seen young women treated with a stunning degree of rudeness, but I didn’t see them for long because they left. Until we address the ills of both patriarchal and matriarchal leadership, the church will continue to lose members. If we cannot keep the young women in church, we cannot keep the young men there either because young men spend time where the young women are.

Feminine aggression is the elephant in the room that no one can talk about. Men won’t talk about it because it would rain fire and brimstone down on their heads. Women can’t discuss it easily because it is part of the culture of women and no one knows quite how to deal with it – which is not to say that it cannot be effectively addressed. It can be effectively addressed with a set of cultural rules other than the mother-child rules that groups of women usually function by.

The best thing that the church could do is have women elect women leaders by secret ballot. Women don’t like aggressive women any more than men do so there would not be many aggressive women elected. Women have no leadership in the church, no women with a mandate from the women to represent them in a leadership role. If we had some women leaders, we might be able to develop some kind of dialogue with the men in the church hierarchy. Then we might see some movement toward integrating women more fully into the church.

 

Luis Gutierrez | 3/15/2016 – 12:42am

In my view, women can and should be ordained to the diaconate, the priesthood, and the episcopate, because they are, as fully as men, consubstantial with Christ as to his humanity: http://pelicanweb.org/CCC.TOB.000A.html

Patriarchy is cultural conditioning. Religious patriarchy, and ecclesiastical patriarchy, are but instances of such cultural conditioning. Ecclesiastical matriarchy would be another cultural fabrication. Ecclesiastical patriarchy is a sacramental aberration, and so would be ecclesiastical matriarchy. The eternal Word was neither metaphysically male nor metaphysically female before the incarnation, because there is no such thing as a metaphysical body. For the redemption, and the sacramental economy, the masculinity of Jesus is as incidental as the color of his eyes. What matters is that God became flesh, i.e., became human, in a body of flesh, regardless of sex and gender, which are limitations of the human condition.

 

The event was also reported by Jesuit Refugee Service

Vatican City: International Women’s Day – knocking on the Church’s door

http://en.jrs.net/news_detail?TN=NEWS-20160309031242

March 8, 2016

A child’s meditation on God

http://store.fortresspress.com/media/downloads/0800638921_chap9.pdf

By Gayatri Lobo Gajiwala


 

Gayatri Lobo Gajiwala (from India and not Indonesia) purportedly wrote this poem when she was SIX years old. There have been geniuses in my family but none to match this child prodigy! She uses the pronoun “She” and its possessive form “Her” for God. Pretty smart for a SIX year old!!

You don’t suppose that she picked up any of that inclusivism from her feminist mother, do you?

This then is the type of young woman who represented Indian Catholics at the Vatican through the benevolence of our bishops.

 

 

 

The Lobo Gajiwala family

Ashutosh Lobo Gajiwala, the brother of
Gayatri Lobo Gajiwala, is an Indian actor best known for his role as Salim Malik in the 2008 film
Slumdog Millionaire.

The father of
Gayatri Lobo Gajiwala is Kalpesh Gajiwala, a plastic surgeon who conducts operations to change the sex (gender) of people.

See SEX REASSIGNMENT SURGERY

http://ephesians-511.net/docs/SEX_REASSIGNMENT_SURGERY.doc

 

An extract from that article:

Dr. Kalpesh Gajiwala is the husband of Astrid Lobo Gajiwala. They are residents of the Catholic archdiocese of Bombay and are very active in the Church, locally and internationally. He (like his wife) has attended theology classes in Mumbai at the instance of Fr. [now Bishop] Felix Machado who helped him “discern the “Hindu” face of God“.

Since then, the couple has lectured to bishops on inter-faith marriage and they are considered to be experts on inter-faith dialogue. They were consulters to the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences Eighth Plenary Assembly on the Family, 2004!

Kalpesh Gajiwala‘s guru is Sri Aurobindo, one of the world’s leading New Age influencers according to the Vatican Document on the New Age, February 3, 2003.

Astrid Lobo Gajiwala, India, holds a Ph. D. in Medicine and is the head of the Tissue Bank in Tata Memorial Hospital. She is a founding member of the Satyashodhak, a Mumbai based group of Christian feminists and is
a member of the CBCI Commission for Women, Mumbai Women’s Desk Core Team. As a writer Astrid has published articles in the journal In God’s Image, Daughters of Sarah, Magnificat, Women’s Link, The Month, Vidyajyoti, Jnanadeep among others; Books: Body, Bread Blood; Community of Men and Women and a couple of others.

 

http://www.catherinecollege.net/index.php?option=com_easyblog&view=blogger&layout=listings&id=67&Itemid=1
EXTRACT: “Astrid has a Masters in Microbiology and Doctorate in Medicine, as well as, a Diploma in Tissue Banking and a Diploma in Theology for the Laity. She has published theological reflections in books, theological journals and other publications, worked on the Executive Team and served as a Resource Person for the Ecclesia of Women in Asia, Indian Theological Association, Indian Women’s Theological Forum-Mumbai Women’s Desk and Satyashodhak, a feminist collective. From 1992 she has been a Consulter for the Indian bishops’ CBCI Commission for Women, and the Federation of Asian Bishops Conference (FABC). She has served as Secretary of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, Mumbai, and as a member of the parish council, parish Liturgical Team and core team of the Zonal Basic Christian Communities.Astrid Lobo Gajiwala is

a visiting faculty member of the St. Pius X College, Mumbai, and the Jesuit Regional Theologate, Gujarat.

 

Since November 2011, she is also on the editorial board
of The Examiner,
the Archdiocesan weekly of Bombay that stood by the errors in the New Community Bible and did not publish even a single one of the almost two dozen [known] letters to the editor condemning it.

She claims to be Catholic, while the Church in India has acclaimed her as a theologian. Is she either of those?

Astrid Lobo Gajiwala has only completed “4 years of part-time study” in “theology for the laity” which Church leaders describe as a “diploma in Theology for the Laity“, and that qualification appears sufficient for the Indian church to recognize her as a theologian who now even teaches our unfortunate seminarians!

On the basis of that “part-time study“, and with the tacit support of some bishops, she has joined other feminist nun-theologians to lead women theologians in an Asian Women Theologians’ Forum.

Ecclesia of Women in Asia [EWA]
— of which she is a key figure — is the forum of Asian Women Theologians.

Gajiwala was felicitated
for having

“contributed to the journey of women’s empowerment in Mumbai”,
receiving her citation
“from Bishop Bosco [Penha] amid loud cheering”. Source: The Examiner,
March 6, 2010.

The Church’s Gender Policy, 2010,
mentions Astrid Lobo Gajiwala as one of those who drafted the document:
http://www.cbcisite.com/Gender_Policy.pdf.
Now she uses that to further her demands for women’s ordination.

While ostensibly militating against the sexual abuse of women, and for the “empowerment of women” and “gender parity”, their true goal is
the ordination of Indian women as priests. A detailed report on
Astrid Lobo Gajiwala and Dr. Kalpesh Gajiwala is under preparation.

Journeying Into Communion 1

By Dr. Kalpesh Gajiwala and Dr. Astrid Lobo Gajiwala, 1993 (5 years of marriage)

http://www.ibiblio.org/ahkitj/wscfap/arms1974/Regl_womens_prog/Community%20of%20Women%20and%20Men/journeying%20into%20communion.htm
EXTRACT

 

Astrid: I was fortunate to count among my close friends, Fr. Fabregat, Jesuit Marriage Counselor who not only helped us evaluate the situation objectively, but inspired us to love as Christ did-without prejudice. With his wisdom and deep insight, he helped us preserve our wholeness. We also consulted Fr. Felix Machado, a Catholic theologian who helped me discern the “Hindu” face of God and I wrote to Samuel Ryan, S.J. [another Jesuit] who put me in touch with the transcendent and humanizing love of the gospels. Above all both of us in our own way, prayed and reflected as we sought the will of God in our lives.

For me, as a Catholic, one of the biggest hurdles I had to cross was my Church’s insistence on the baptism of my children. Again and again, I had been taught that faith was a gift; that Christ chooses us through no merit of our own. Vatican documents speak of salvation for all, and inter-religious dialogue emphasizes that God is above any one religion. If I truly believe this, how could I reconcile myself with the church’s dogmatism? My husband, whom I love, is a non-Catholic whose love for God is unmistakable. Was it right for me to alienate his children from him by giving them a Catholic label? Through him I began being exposed to spiritual giants whose vision of God encompassed and transcended the Christ of the gospels. How could I not but be touched by the mystical experience of these holy women and men? My own image of God underwent a transformation. Hinduism affirmed my yearning for a Mother God who had been denied to me for so long. It put me in contact with the Universal God whose revelation cannot be limited; the Cosmic God that links the past, the present and the future, the God of Creation that unites the human and the earth. Despite the restrictions of my Catholic conditioning, my understanding of God had been enriched. Could I, then, in conscience, deny my children the freedom to imbibe religious truth whatever its origin? Did it really make a difference what path my children chose, so long as they remained open to the Spirit and lived in loving kinship with other human beings?

 

Kalpesh: When Astrid told me that her church expected us to promise to baptize our children, I was upset. This was the first time that religion very explicitly threatened to impose itself upon us. It was also the first time we were separated in our line of thinking, threatening the very possibility of our marriage. Astrid was very much willing to fall in line with her church’s demand. I strongly opposed it.

For me, baptizing the child who doesn’t even know what is happening is giving a label to the child. Religious labels are like names. They stick with one throughout life. As one loves one’s name and completely identifies with it, so does one accept religion. This makes our growth limited and we are unable to expand beyond the prevailing mind-set of the religion of our birth. A wall of division always exists and it is difficult to break.

It was Fr. Felix Machado whose theology class, I was allowed to attend, who gave Astrid and me a wider perspective of Hinduism and enlightened us on interfaith dialogue. He helped us make an informed decision in freedom from guilt and fear. We were ready to walk upon a new path… Our wedding was a classic example of unity in tension. Everyone had to be kept happy. So we repeated our marriage vows three times over in Court, in church and at a Hindu ceremony! Since family tensions still existed, all the arrangements for the church wedding had to be made surreptitiously and without family support.

It turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Help came from various quarters. “Satyashodhak” took over the liturgy, adapting it to suit both our religions. The ceremony started with the lighting of a “diya” (lamp), the symbol of fire sacred to both our traditions. Rabindranath Tagore’s hymns set the mood and excerpts from the Bible and the Bhagavad Gita were read. 

The Hindu ceremony followed the next day. Once again the response was astounding from Astrid’s friends and relatives. Even Astrid’s mother who considered all Hindu rites as “pagan” not only attended, but came up and participated when called. And leading all of them was Fr. Fabregat, S.J., his very presence authenticating the sacredness of the ceremony. Our problem with my mother-in-law is not over. She had her reasons to feel hurt. She and her husband had struggled to give their five children a head-start in life. The best English medium schools, expensive clothes, good food, a meticulous lifestyle and a good Catholic upbringing. After her husband’s death at the young age of 54 years, she had brought up her five children almost single-handedly. Astrid owes her much. For her, her daughter’s marriage to a middle class Hindu, whose only qualification was his medical degree, was unthinkable. It was heartbreaking for her that her daughter whom she was proud of, was marrying a Hindu, a Gujarati (whom she looked down upon as “banias“), someone who had a totally ethnic lifestyle, was economically not sound and a vegetarian. To her I had no culture, as with her western outlook, anything Indian was inferior. It was almost as if I had charmed and tricked her daughter into this marriage, God knows – probably even for her money. Over and above, her daughter could not baptize her children… My mother-in-law’s second grouse was against my not allowing her daughter to cook non-vegetarian food at home. 

 

Astrid: As a new bride, I was aghast when Kalpesh’s family happily set about choosing a name for me. “Astrid” was to be relegated to the past. I had to take on a new identity. Dresses had to give away to sarees. My forehead was to be marked forever with a “tikka“, sign of a Hindu wife. My westernised lifestyle would have to be exchanged for an Indian one, my favourite foods would have to be left behind, and my independence was to be smothered in the love of a joint family. In short, a meat-eating, westernised, Catholic South Indian was to be transformed into a vegetarian, Gujarati “bahu“! Today I proudly flaunt my crimson “tikka” as a sign of my “shakti” (power) (despite my mother’s disapproval) and delight in being mistaken for a Gujarati when I don a saree.

 

 

Kalpesh: Since we had decided to have only two children, a child of each sex would make for a nice balanced family.

 

Astrid: By the time our second daughter arrived, I was beginning to feel the strain. I could barely get out of the house with a clear conscience. All my outside activities grounded to a halt. I had to turn down the offer of a second term as Secretary of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council. Worse, I had to refuse the nomination for what could have been the first female President of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council. I minded, I minded very much.

 

Kalpesh: Astrid’s activity in the Church and her writing in Catholic magazines became an interesting point of interaction for us. She was very keen on raising the status of women in the Church. I appreciated her ability to analyse, reach the roots of problems, and to look at issues from different angles.

In her Church she is respected for her balanced and well-researched articles. These have earned her many admirers and friends including some well-known theologians, and I was proud of her achievements. Through her I got drawn into Church circles and as a couple in an inter-faith marriage, we became an object of interest.

 

Astrid: I, for one was amazed at how easy it is to betray one’s convictions. Never being one for veneration of religious pictures and statues, even before we set up home, I had decided that my worship of God would dispense with all these non-essentials. I preferred instead, to welcome God present in the majestic hill outside our window…Then suddenly, all this changed. We began receiving a deluge of holy pictures and statues from Kalpesh’s well-meaning family. Perhaps it was their way of ensuring the Hindu tradition of their progeny. It made me nervous. I began thinking: maybe I should get a picture of Jesus. Gayatri my daughter, can then identify with God as a person, the way she does with the portrait of Krishna and Radha. Match picture for picture, statue for statue. Our home would soon become a showroom with Kalpesh and I marketing our religious wares!

Fortunately, better sense prevailed. We talked things over and decided to set limits to the religious articles that would adorn our home, even at the risk of offending relatives. As for Gayatri, barely over a year old, she chose her own path. The cross was “Jesus” whether it was atop the Church or struck on her doctor father’s windshield. And her daily ritual was a gay “morning Jesus” or “Om Shanti, Jesus”, to the cross beside our bed.

But just so that I didn’t take her for granted, an occasional “where’s Jesus”? would have her pointing to the picture of Radha and Krishna across the room, and Kalpesh’s “say namaste to Ganapati baba” would have her bowing with a cheerful “morning Jesus”. She had made the divine connection effortlessly and was a few steps ahead of us already!

…Fortunately, rituals are not an important part of our lives. Hindu festivals are celebrated with Kalpesh performing the pujas with me at his side, and Christian feasts are celebrated with all of us attending Mass.

The above is a classic sketch of the syncretized spirituality in which Gayatri Lobo Gajiwala was nourished.

Note that the Gajiwalas had “decided to have only two children“. They were not open to life, but they have a third child (she is in between the two mentioned earlier), Nivedita.

This is a couple who, along with their daughter Gayatri Lobo Gajiwala, have been put on a pedestal by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India and the Archdiocese of Bombay.

 

FOOTNOTE

Jesuit priest campaigns for ‘real’ names

http://www.ucanews.com/news/jesuit-priest-campaigns-for-real-names/15767

May 6, 2011

A Jesuit priest in Mumbai is campaigning for children to be baptized with traditional Christian names to maintain their identity. Father Joseph Dias claims his campaign has received support from Pope Benedict XVI. “The pope recently warned parents against giving children celebrity-inspired names and urged them to turn to the Bible for inspiration instead,” he said today. Father Dias quoted the pope as saying in a recent homily that “every baptized child acquires the character of the Son of God, beginning with their Christian name, an unmistakable sign that the Holy Spirit causes man to be born anew in the womb of the Church. A name is an indelible seal that sets children off on a lifelong journey of religious faith.” The baptismal name should give a person a Catholic identity and it can be a powerful motivating factor, giving a “purpose and direction” to his or her life, he said. Father Dias said he has been counseling parents to give meaningful Christian names instead of naming their children after perfumes, Russian ballerinas, pop stars and regions. “Children are not merchandise or commodities or places,” said the priest, who is the assistant director of REAP (Reach Education Action Program, which aims to empower slum children and women through education), a Jesuit initiative in Mumbai. The priest said he was surprised to come across children named Aspirin, John Kennedy, Prince Albert, Ben-Hur, Brooklyn, Diana, Adelaide and Diamond. Father Anthony Charanghat, spokesman of Bombay archdiocese, said, “We normally recommend baptizing children with the names of patron saints but do not force anyone.” 

Astrid Lobo Gajiwala, a medical scientist, who has baptized her two daughters and a son with Indian names such as Gayatri, Nivedita and Ashutosh disagrees. “I don’t agree with Father Dias. Why should Indians be saddled with foreign saints’ names?” she asks. “Our children today just want short, easy names to pronounce and not too common ones,” Gajiwala said.

 

 

 

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Categories: Eastern Meditation, Hinduisation of the Catholic Church in India, new age, Ordination of Women Priests Movement in India

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