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Monday, 22 July 2019

Farewell dear Fr Carvalho

Dhyan Ashram community came together to celebrate the presence of Fr Carvalho on July 19 Saturday.  Since he left us more than a month ago to recuperate at St Xavier's Infirmary Kolkata, we missed him on three important occasions.  First on June 19 when he celebrated his 90th birthday, for which we were planning a homely celebration, but he couldn't make it.  Then he missed the program we had planned to celebrate his 70 years of religious life, along with the 50th priestly ordination of Fr Pierre, on June 30.  We had to celebrate it in his absence, since he was too ill to make the journey from Kolkata to Dhyan Ashram.  Then came the news of his transfer to the Infirmary.  So we planned a farewell program for him, along with Fr Julian and Br Chotu, our outgoing Rector and Minister.  Fr Carlvalho could not make that either.

And so, when we got him for a couple of days on 18 and 19 of July, we decided to combine all the three celebrations.  We had a community Mass before noon and a festive lunch.  During the mass, Fr Carvalho remembered the early missionaries in Bengal, especially the ones he began his ministry with.  It was a very moving narrative.  The Mass was really special.
During the short felicitation program before lunch, Reegan, one of the novices, shared with us little anecdotes from his experience with Fr Carvalho.  It was funny and at the same time, very moving.  Fr Sunny felicitated Fr Carvalho with a bouquet of flowers, and Fr Pierre presented him with a memento, while the novices and juniors sang songs of congratulations and farewell.
It is difficult to let you go, Fr Carvalho.  Your cheerfulness and ready availability will keep on inspiring us for years to come.  You have conquered many hearts.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

Novitiate community picnic to Noorpur

To celebrate the entry of the new novices after their First Probation, the Novitiate community of Dhyan Ashram went on a picnic to Nurpur on July 6 Saturday.  We took a bus to Noorpur and went to the home of MC Brothers, Nabajiban Ashram.  Br Martin, MC, the leader of the community, welcomed us warmly.  After some short refreshments, we were given a guided tour of the sprawling campus.
Later we went for a walk on banks of the river Hughli, enjoying the many sights along the way: fishermen with their nets trying for a catch, people on the boats and an occasional ship going towards Khiddirpore dock. The weather was good and so the walk was not tiring.
Back at Nabajiban Ashram, the brothers served us a delicious lunch.  Then some took rest, while others played a game or two of cards.  The most looked forward to event was a volleyball match with the brothers.  It was great fun, and not much competition.  The brothers were no match for the expertise of our second years.
We had a great day.  Deeply grateful to the MC Brothers for their generous hospitality.  Now back to Dhyan Ashram to begin classes.

Friday, 5 July 2019

First Year novices enter

Seven first-year novices, who were in First Probation, entered the novitiate officially on July 3, the feast of St Thomas the apostle.  They were welcomed during a special community mass, celebrated by the Novice Master Fr Sajeev. As per the tradition of Dhyan Ashram Novitiate, the new novices were in white kurta-pyjama, the official dress of the novitiate, and received a copy of the Autobiagraphy of St Ignatius, which they will study in the coming days as a preparation for their month-long retreat.
With the eight second-years, we now have fifteen novices: ten for Calcutta, four for Dumka-Raiganj and one for Nepal.

Monday, 1 July 2019

Seven new young men have joined the Dhyan Ashram novitiate as first year novices.  They entered the novitiate on June 18, and are undergoing a period of getting familiar with the ways of the novitiate and of the Society of Jesus, called the First Probation.  At the end of this, on July 3, they will be welcomed to the novitiate officially with a special mass celebrated by the Rector of Dhyan Ashram community.
Of the seven, three belong to Calcutta province, three to Dumka-Raiganj and one to Nepal region.

In the group photo they are  (L to R) Sahaya Ravi (Cal), Sunderlal Indwar (Cal), Joseph Baghwar (Dum), Anthony Hembrom (Nep), Bibin Thomas (Dum), Manuel Kisku (Dum) and Alok Hembrom (Cal).

First Vows 2019

Nine second year novices of Dhyan Ashram committed their lives to God in the Society of Jesus by making their First Profession during a Eucharistic celebration in the Dhyan Ashram chapel on June 21, 2019, the feast of St Aloysius Gonzaga.  They are Albinus Hembrom and Alesius Tudu of Dumka-Raiganj Province, Lawrence Kerketta and Vinay Lakra of Nepal Region and Babulal Tudu, Bimal Soren, Dipak Mandi, Manish Tirkey and Victor Jojo of Calcutta Province. Two of their companions, Prince Antony and Noyal Lourdhu of Madurai Province, made their vows during a similar celebration in their home province on the same morning. 

Fr Raphael Hyde, the Provincial, was the main celebrant at the well prepared and conducted Eucharistic celebration, while Fr Amrit Rai, the Regional Superior of Nepal Region concelebrated. The mellifluous singing during the celebration, led by Fr Narendra Singh and Sch Jobin, made the celebration really solemn. During the homily, Fr Provincial emphasised the meaning of the vows according to our documents. A large group of Jesuits and friends from our neighbourhood, including the catechists from the sub stations where the novices did their Sunday ministry, joined us and added to our joy.
During the short felicitation program immediately after the Eucharist, Fr Sunny Kunnel, Acting Rector of Dhyan Ashram, congratulated the newly professed.  On behalf of the nine, Victor and Dipak expressed their gratitude to all those who assisted them during their years of formation.  Fr Amrit Rai also congratulated the new Jesuits and thanked the formation team of Dhyan Ashram. The sumptuous meal prepared by the team of Fr Jinesh, our new minister, was a fitting conclusion to the celebration.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Dhyan Ashram- our Home

Amit Tigga, NSJ
In today’s fast paced world, it is often hard to find simple places of serenity where one can slow down, ponder and recharge one’s spiritual energy with a bit of guidance.  Dhyan Ashram is one of such rarities in Bengal.
It is located not far from the city of Calcutta.  Right when you enter its gates, the first thing you will notice is that its plain looking walls completely separate it from the outside world.  There is a touch of nature’s beauty everywhere in Dhyan Ashram.  There are five buildings in the campus surrounded by beautiful ponds and greenery.  If you are a retreatant, don’t lose heart by the shoddy looking buildings because you will be given the best in the house.
One of the main reasons why Dhyan Ashram is such a popular retreat house is the serenely beautiful environment of the whole campus.  The beauty of the silence of this place is breathtaking: a perfect ambience that will help you to connect with God.
During your stay at Dhyan Ashram you will come across many regular faces going around.  They can all mainly be divided into the following four groups.
First, you will notice our hard working and friendly workers.  Second, the most flashy bunch around (and at times noisy and irritating as well) are the juniors.  Coming in from different provinces and different parts of India, they make up quite an interesting and talented group of youngsters.  The third will be the small group of youngsters hanging around far away from the rest of the crowd.  These are the novices: angelic in appearance, drowned in prayer, and always willing to offer that extra help.  The fourth and the last bunch are the Jesuit fathers.  Don’t be fooled by their simple (and often shabby) appearances.  I can assure you that they are some of the most intellectual, jovial and loving persons you can come across around here.
Dhyan Ashram takes pride in giving Ignatian retreats based on the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius of Loyola.  Our fathers here are excellent retreat directors and counsellors.  They also hold quite an impressive record of turning devils into angels and that is the secret behind all the peace that you experience here.
The vegetation around the campus isn’t just for show.  Most of the fruits and veggies we munch down at meals are home grown.  Besides gulping down all this healthy food, we like to maintain our fitness as well.  For this we have good old fashioned physical sports and some regular manual work etched into our daily routines.  We sweat it out regularly on the basket ball and volley ball courts.
Well, to sum up, you will find that the special touch added to Dhyan Ashram is its Jesuit community.  We are like a big family helping and looking out for each other.  Whenever there is an opportunity, we always come together to mingle, share and pray.  That is why the most memorable experience that the visitors share about Dhyan Ashram is its simple, joyful and pious inhabitants.

Life in the Novitiate

Manish Tigga, NSJ
Novitiate is the time when a person with a desire to follow Jesus in consecrated life comes to deepen his/her deepest desire to follow Christ and he/she grows in this desire spiritually and mentally.  Many young Jesuits admit that they enjoyed and had many unforgettable experiences especially when they were in the Novitiate (that is to say about the time table , the activities in the novitiate, going out for ministries, learning to play musical instruments etc.)

If anyone desires to be a Jesuit, he ought to discern where God is really calling him to be.  This is what we learn, right from the beginning of the novitiate.  It is done through a method for being aware of our feelings and the movements of the spirit.  In the novitiate we are asked to maintain silence both from outside and inside so that we may be aware of our feelings, which will finally help us to grow in our spiritual journey.  “Deepen the inner silence, and find out your deepest desire”, is is what Fr master says all the time.

Anyway, that is about the basics of the novitiate.  Now, let me tell you about my life in the novitiate.  It is really a new life.  It feels as if I am in a new world, where I have a new and big family, where there are many fathers, brothers, taking good care of me.  They all make me feel at home.  But we novices also remember our own parents and family members in our prayer everyday and we also write a letter to them every month telling them that we are happy here (and there is nothing to worry about).
Apart from the spiritual matters, we also learn other things like games (I love playing basket ball, which, by the way, is often called a Jesuit game because it is a very popular game among Jesuits), playing musical instruments, singing, reading, swimming, and so on. But mainly in the novitiate we focus on our prayer life, and our growth according to Ignatian Sirituality day after day by the great help of Fr Master and Fr Socius.  And hoping that one day we would be Jesuits, the companions of Jesus.