“People can work miracles with just a simple word or an act. Moreover, if it comes from a priest or nun, dude, that’s in a different zone. Take me for an example, I was one among thousands of students at St Xavier’s, Mumbai. I neither had extraordinary talent nor stood out in the crowd. But things changed with a ‘pat’, a ‘gentle smile’ and a ‘hi’ from my professor and Vice-Principal, Fr Roy Pereira SJ. He was a talented musician, a dynamic person and a compassionate priest.
Back then, I did not sing well. I lacked the talent and the confidence to sing in public. But the desire to become better was still there. At that time, Fr Roy encouraged me to sing during the daily masses at the college chapel. Imagine your Vice Principal asking you to sing! I could neither reject him nor avoid him. But one day, I saw him playing the piano and singing. He was one with the music; the choir and the chapel resounded joyfully and exuberantly as they waved prayerfully to his instructions. It was ekdumjhakaas (super fine). I was drawn to them instantly. I joined them and trained hard with them. I sang in the Chapel for the rest of my days in the college. By the end of my stay at St Xavier’s, I was no longer the naïve Calvin everyone knew. My time with the choir transformed me into a confident young man, singing Lord’s praises.
I am now involved in the music ministry of my parish.I reach out to youth and mentor them in music and life. I owe it all to that pat, smile and the ‘hi.’ You Jesuits are good at sweeping people off the floor with surprises. We always exclaim, ekdumjhakaas, when we see a Jesuit. Please do not lose that charm. Free advice and long preaching are useless if you cannot descend from the high pulpit and be with us in our joys, struggles and confusions.”
Calvin Pereira reminds us of the disciples of Jesus. It was Jesus’ initiative to call them. They were ordinary men and women but were transformed because of his words and acts. He laughed, prayed, preached, sang, danced, worked, walked, ran, and ate with them. He accompanied them.
We might be acclaimed activists, learned principals, spiritual animators, efficient administrators, dynamic directors, etc. But our role in this world is primarily to be companions – of Jesus and His people. What youth look for in us is accompaniment, not free advice, long preaching, empty assurances and boastful living. Let our descent from our high positions, fame, power and offices begin with an encouraging pat, a gentle smile and an assuring ‘hi.’
Calvin Pereira is a Sales Executive at Tibro Tours Private Limited. Fr Roy Pereira SJ belongs to the Bombay Jesuit Province.