Vassula in Calcutta
November 17 - 18, 1999
Vassula Ryden, the messenger of True Life in God announced her visit to India's six metropolitan cities sometime in the month of March 1999 - through one of her collaborators Mr. Tom Austin from Switzerland. I was asked if I could organize the prayer meeting with Vassula for the 1st time in Calcutta. I joyfully accepted the invitation of God's call saying 'Yes' like Blessed Virgin Mary - without realizing the hardships which I had to face in order to get the programme organized with a success. I put my trust in the Lord - and contacted some members of prayer groups existing in my parish and get their support whole heartedly from the very beginning.
I then started tapping all possible materials from internet for which Mr.Gasper Chacko started operating all his energy and time on his computer. And I started to learn more about Vassula and her mission in the worked. Slowly my understanding about Vassula became clearer and my enthusiasm started increasing day after day. I started Xeroxing materials for distribution among the hierarchy and printed handbills and entry passes in thousands and distributed in each and every parish of Calcutta archdiocese and also among three neighboring dioceses including protestant churches.
The organizing Committee was formed to take up the various responsibilities and personal letters were written to all parish priests, pastors and head of the various institutions. I started going to main churches of the city to speak about Vassula Ryden and about her mission. In one of the biggest churches of Calcutta - on one Sunday I said 3 masses and preached in another 3 masses - speaking all about Vassula's mission. So much so, at one time some one commented that I was full of Vassula and nothing seemed to be of matter of importance apart from Vassula.
However, the Lord's hands were with my organizing committee members in order to bring praise and glory to God. Jut two weeks left before Vassula could arrive in Calcutta and no books were available. I started praying the Divine Mercy Chaplets at 3 o'clock and I asked some people to fast for me to get all necessary things arranged on time. Prayer groups prayed and interceded on Saturday and Sunday with adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. As we did our part, God did His part.
First book of messages from Vassula in Bengali got printed, about 2000 and True Life in God prayer meeting guidelines also got printed 10,000 both Bengali and English. In the meantime, Mr. Tom Austin sent me some important materials about Vassula's prayer meeting, which helped me a lot. Programmes were printed; handbills and posters were already sent and distributed among the people with free entry passes. Stage was erected on the open air at St. Thomas School ground, near our St.Ignatius parish,in Calcutta. Police personnel were informed and proper permission was sought from the higher authorities and Government officials also were informed. And Lord blessed us with a very good harvest of about 5600 people of all Christian denominations who were present with a great expectations from God through Vassula on 17th November, 1999 at 2.30 p.m. which was a working day, whereas the people of the City of Joy (Calcutta) welcomed Vassula with traditional dance and washing of the hands garlanding. Rosary started by me and completed by Vassula, which followed by welcome address by me and introduction by Fr. "X" and finally Vassula spoke so tenderly the messages of God, which was translated into Bengali by Fr.Robin Gomes.
She spoke about one hour and 15 minutes and the choir conducted by Mrs.Patsy Pereria sang the Holy Spirit Hymn before Vassula prayed over the people. After the prayer the whole congregation sang a Bengal bhajan led by Fr. Gregory Monteriro during which Vassula had to go down the stage to pray over a sick child who was bedridden. At the end a vote of thanks was rendered by the Secretary of the organizing committee Mr.Bernard Aye Maung joined by a thanksgiving Hymn by the choir during which Vassula bid goodbye waving her hands to the crowds.
The M.C., Mr.Samuel, announced to the crowd and collected the testimony forms, which are very much revealing about God's wonderful and merciful love for His people here, on earth. Thanks be to the Holy Spirit, Blessed Virgin Mary, Angels and Saints for guiding and protecting from every harm and evil and we could give praise and Glory to God our loving Father and His son, Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.
The following day i.e. 18th November we drove to St.Xavier's College Auditorium for another prayer meeting with only priests and nuns, which was again a wonderful experience to discover more of ourselves with Jesus and His Ministry entrusted to priests and nuns here on earth. Some questions were asked by some of the nuns and seminary professors and Vassula answered them and concluded that all priests should spend more time in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.
In this way Vassula concluded her first trip here in Calcutta, with the great hope to return again to speak not only to speak to thousands but Lac of people of Calcutta who are hungry and thirsty for the Love of God.
Fr. Stephen Raphael