Fr Henry Falcao conferred title of Doctor of Dogmatic Theology.
Fr. Henry Gabriel Falcão, a priest of the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman, hailing from Taleigão Goa, defended his thesis entitled, “The Eucharist Sacrament of Encounter: Dialogue and Transformation for Evangelization in India”, at the Pontifical Urbanian University in Rome on the 18th of December 2012
Having invoked the Holy Spirit singing the hymn, “Rochnar Atmea”, Fr. Henry presented his thesis speaking in fluent Italian.
He justified the choice of his topic basing himself on the fact that the Eucharist is the source and summit of the life and mission of the Church and that Hinduism is the religion practised by a majority of Indians. The study of the Eucharist in relation to the Vedic sacrifices, which are characterised by the search for the Absolute, would enable a dialogue between the followers of these two religions, he defended.
In his work, Fr. Henry has made an in depth study of the Vedic sacrifices of Agnihotra (Sacrifice of fire), Agnicayana (construction of the fire altar), the rich symbolism of Soma, Dïksa, the yüpa, the Yajñamandap, the significant role of food in the Vedic sacrifices, the priestly role of the Brahmin and the Agni. Modelled after the self-sacrifice of Puruşa, a ritual Yajña, Fr. Henry said, points to the intense desire of man for an encounter with the Absolute.
The Eucharist, a sacrament of the self-giving love of the Triune God, is the climax of the encounter between God and man. It is a visible sign of the remission of the debts of mankind, from eternity, by the Lamb immolated from the foundation of the world. It is a feast of resurrection, the fulfilment of man’s desire for immortality. The whole history of man’s search for an union with God is encapsulated in the word of Jesus: “Take and eat, this is my body, this is my blood”. The Eucharist is the summit of God’s self-giving wherein God himself becomes food for communion.
Fr. Henry maintained that the study helps to appreciate the richness of the Vedic sacrifices, to understand the culture and the traditions of the Indian Society, based mainly on the Vedic philosophy. He admitted that India does not have one culture but the Vedic traditions have made a great impact on the Indian culture. He said his study would help in taking forward the dialogue between Christianity and Hinduism.
The Panel comprised of Professors Giorgio Mazzanti, Peter Paul Saldanha and Elias Frank. They appreciated the work and the methodology employed and the lucid style of expression. The similarities and the differences between Yajña and the Eucharist, they said, would not only help for dialogue with Hinduism but also allow the Church in India to understand, appreciate and live more intensely the unique reality of the Eucharist.
At the end of the presentation and having confidently responded to the questions posed, Fr. Henry was solemnly proclaimed Doctor in Dogmatic Theology. A bouquet of flowers was presented to him in the name of the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman.
Fr. Henry thanked Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrão, Archbishop Emeritus Raul Gonsalves, his professors, parents and all those who supported him with their prayers and encouragement.
To celebrate the occasion, a refreshment of Indian and Italian sweets and snacks followed.
Fr. Nelson Siqueira.