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Celebrating the Salesian ''Lens'' of Christ

By Castilino
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Hyderabad, Dec. 11. The memorial Mass of Fr John Lens, who passed away on 28 November  at Manoharabad in the Salesian Province of Hyderabad, was celebrated on 11 December at Don Bosco Philosophate, Karunapuram. In his introductory speech, the Vice-Provincial Fr Thathireddy Vijayabhaskar recalled Fr Lens' words uttered during an interview with him, a couple of years ago: ''I worked hard and I worked for the poor!'' With the strong conviction that we were praying to him, rather than for him, the 150 members of the Salesian family gathered for the occasion, spent the morning in Eucharistic thanksgiving and prayer.
The Provincial Fr Raminedi Balaraju highlighted in his sermon some of the virtues of Fr John Lens, culled from his own autobiography, the existence of which was made known during the funeral.  He stated that Fr Lens truly knew the value of genuine love, over and above other virtues. In one entry of his, sometime around the silver jubilee of his ordination, he is to have noted three dangers of getting too engrossed in work: becoming superficial (too many things to do); becoming uncharitable (comparison with others); and finally seeking and justifying compensation for the hard work by giving in to the temptations of the flesh.

Fr Provincial also stressed the fact that Fr Lens was a cheerful person.  He reiterated the words of Pope Francis, while speaking of the year of the Consecrated Life, that a single word which best describes a consecrated person is 'joy'. It was to celebrate his joyful charity and service that members of the Salesian family, Presentation Convent and Novitiate, and JMJ congregation (Fr Lens was the confessor of the latter two novitiate houses too), gathered for the Holy Eucharistic celebration at 11 am. It was followed by a short prayer service at the tomb.

Fr Cheruvathur James and Fr Kannadipara Mathew, both of whom had the good fortune of living with Fr Lens some time in different communities, shared with the congregation their rich experience with Fr Lens.  They were unanimous in stating that he truly inspired thousands of young religious all along his life living a life of consistency, generosity, optimism, transparency and a simple, humble spirituality.

The Salesian novices made up the choir for the Mass and the liturgical animation was seen to by the community of Don Bosco, Karunapuram.


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