Cheers - To "Life"! By Brenda Fernandes

October 26, 1997 dawned, the day circled on my calendar for Mother Teresa?s memorial service at Hightstown NJ, scheduled for 12:30 p.m. But, after a terrific night out extending to the wee hours of the morning, I was happy to slink between the sheets at 7:00 a.m., hoping to grab 2 hours of sleep before I made it to the service. I was, slipping into deep slumber when I was awakened by the telephone. "Now who could that be ?" Well?. that?s what friends are for - calling to remind me that I could sleep for an hour longer - Life is love, enjoy it. Wow, thank God for Daylight Saving Time. Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.

When I reluctantly pulled myself out of bed at 11:00 a.m., I had just about a half hour to get going?? didn?t want to be late. As I kept dashing around ?? it suddenly dawned on me that I had not put my clock back by an hour; that immediately put me into lower gear ??. what a relief !! Life is luck, make it. Driving to Hightstown was a wonderful experience, a feast for my eyes as the trees were in full bloom with fall colors. Life is a beauty, admire it.

At the Fire Co. Hall, Mass began later than the scheduled time as the committee was generously giving allowances in terms of time, to those who were affected by the rain. Life is a struggle, accept it. We hoped there were more joining us, but 75 was a large number to get started.

Before Mass began, Jasmine Coutinho and Rowen Michael read out an apt literary piece of work by Mother Teresa, titled "Life". (This was reproduced on the Mass booklet, to treasure and draw inspiration from, during difficult times. If you think you missed that - you didn?t, note the bold & italicized lines ??..) This helped to get ourselves together in the right frame of mind and focus our attention to the Eucharistic celebration by Rev. Fr. Lionel Braganza, SDB, of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, Manhattan. Life is mystery, know it.

We are all human and we err; for the penitential rite, Olinda & Allan Gomes, Jacqueline & Kristin Lobo and Joey & Merlyn Nazareth brought to light human frailties in our familial roles, everyday. Such a fitting and meaningful way of asking our Lord for pardon. Life is a duty, complete it.

Fr. Lionel?s homily began with : Agnes Gauxha Bejaxhiu, or fondly called Mother Teresa - "A Woman For All Seasons" - a Yugoslavian born in 1910 who arrived in Calcutta in 1929 with a mission ?.. and then, he proceeded to outline Mother?s life and role on earth; her committed dedication to our Lord, through her fourth vow - to give whole hearted and free service to the poorest of the poor, even to ones in gutters, through strength that was garnered from the Eucharist. Mother strongly held high her banner advocating Pro Life. (Life is costly, care for it). Mother was quoted saying, "If everyone could see the image of God in his neighbor, do you still think we would need Tanks and Generals ?" (This Nobel Peacemaker?s motto was - Life is life, fight for it !!!) The worst disease is not Leprosy, but being unwanted - left out - forgotten ! (Life is too precious, do not destroy it.) Fr. Lionel concluded his homily by reading a poem titled "Candle In The Night" written by his friend, Walter Menezes of Quepem, Goa. (This tribute adopted from Elton John?s ?Candle In The Wind?, appears in this bulletin)

The choir, comprised of Anita Almeida, Ashley Coutinho (Violin), Celsius Rebello, Cleta Lobo, Nigel Cordeiro (Keyboard) and Wilma Martins, helped us pray better with their selection of appropriate hymns. Life is a song, sing it.

After communion, Ashley, Cleta and Wilma sang a hymn in Konkani titled "Mogall Jesu Io", adding a rich Goenchem flavored tribute to our dear departed Mother. Life is a promise, fulfill it.

After Mass, whilst we chatted around in little pockets, our pangs of hunger were satiated with Domino?s Pizzas - of the Pepperoni, Plain and Sausage variety, and washed down with a choice of sodas. There wasn?t much left over ??.. that I?m sure says a lot for taste and hunger ! Life is bliss, taste it.

Amidst this gathering were two representatives of Mother Teresa?s order, the Missionaries of Charity, in Newark - Sr. Bernard (the first American to join this order) and Sr. Savita. They reminded us that in Life is sorrow, overcome it. In the event that Life is a tragedy, confront it bravely. With the collection made at Mass in addition to a contribution from the committee, a purse of approximately $900 was handed over to Sr. Bernard on behalf of the Goan Association of NJ. Life is wealth, keep it.

Mother Teresa chased a dream that was unplanned, but arose from the needs of the poor. Life is a dream, realize it???????. May Mother Teresa?s attitude towards life live through us; Life is a challenge, meet it and above all, Life is a game, play it.