Fr. Joe Pereira, founder of Kripa – a centre for drug addicts; woke up on 6th September 2017 – to a landmark day in his hectic life, celebrating holy mass at the Basilica of Mount Mary in the morning. After all it was his 75th birthday and 50 years as a catholic priest. Fr. Joe’s role model is Mother Teresa (now, Saint Teresa of Kolkata). His worldwide outreach is highly appreciated with many high honours.

Just after 6pm he was as ‘Title Waves’, Bandra, along with Bishop Agnello Gracias to launch his book: ‘The Spiritual Paradox of Addiction’, which he has co-authored with Ashok Bedi M.D. – who was virtually present via Skype and spoke to the audience ‘live’. Looking fit and fine (yoga must have helped him look at least 15 years younger) in a black suit, Fr. Joe was picture perfect and alert as ever. After briefing the audience about Kripa and a little on “Addictions that we all have”; all sang Happy Birthday. Many past addicts attended, out of gratitude. Then, a long queue awaited their turn for Fr. Joe to autograph his new book, that they had just purchased.

Local MLA Adv. Ashish Shelar came to wish Fr. Joe Pereira on his 75th birthday. Most of his blood family were present – some coming from Vasai, where he has his ancestral home.

Later, around 8:30pm a large gathering that filled the Mt. Carmel Church hall greeted Fr. Joe and sang a thunderous “Happy Birthday”, once again, with Bosco getting his well-wishers in a good mood – while he cut his birthday cake. This was the ideal opportunity for Fr. Joe to mingle with family, parishioners & close friends. He was beaming with joy, probably thanking his saviour for giving him the opportunity to see this day. A sumptuous dinner helped in creating fellowship that would be remembered by all present, forever.

As someone at the fellowship that evening whispered, “Fr. Joe is a jewel in the crown of our Almighty God”. So true.

Keith James