Thursday, February 23, 2017

BIS #5064 SALESIAN FAMILY OUTREACH PROGRAMME

by Maria Rodrigues 

 

AHMEDNAGAR, FEB 23, 2017: The Salesian Cooperators of the Mumbai province set out for their annual Outreach Programme to the Missions of Ahmednagar on February 17. They were joined by the members of the ADMA group together with the Provincial Delegate Father Vivian D'Souza and Father Bento D'Souza. 

 

The group left Matunga by bus on the eve of February 17 and after a long drive, their first stop was at Bosco Gramin Vikas Kendra, Kedgaon (BGVK) at 4:00 am. The early hour did not deter Father George D'Abreo, director of the centre from welcoming the guests. 


The visitors were ready by 7:30 am for Holy Mass, celebrated by Father Vivian and concelebrated by Father Bento. After breakfast Father D'Abreo explained the scope of the institution and its works through a PowerPoint presentation, detailing the various projects and schemes carried out by the centre. 

 

The Institute reaches out to the rural poor, village women and youth, making them aware of the different government schemes available and also working on mega projects like watershed development - as the area faces major water scarcity - and Self Help Groups for rural women and youth. 

 

There was a guided tour around the other three Salesian houses at Nagar: St. Anne's Parish, St. John's, Bhingar and Don Bosco, Savedi. The group was impressed with the work, the mission and village apostolate carried out by the Salesians at these places. 

 

They even met the Cooperators of the region. The Salesians arranged a guided tour of the farm at BGVK and a visit to the nearby village where the visitors met families and interacted with them.


On February 19, the group experienced parish life, with the Holy Eucharist celebrated in Marathi at St. Anne's. After a small local snack, they visited the village at Pimpalgaon - around 110 km away - that has a horticulture unit where oranges and pomegranates are grown.  It is one of the extremely successful and popular projects of BGVK.

 

The fruits of the hard labour of Father D'Abreo and his predecessors, especially Brother Alex was evident at the site. Along the way, the guests met villagers and distributed biscuits and other items they had brought. 

 

They also learnt about the various ways in which the local families have benefitted from the expertise of BGVK. While the elders work in the orchards, the children study Engineering, Hotel Management and other courses  at Don Bosco Institutions. 

 

The villagers treated the guests to a local feast, after which they left for Mumbai, grateful to Father Vivian D'Souza, Jacinta D'Souza, the provincial coordinator and the others who provided them with an enriching Outreach experience.

BIS #5063 PROMOTING THE JOY OF LOVE IN OUR FAMILIES - MESSAGE OF THE 29TH CCBI PLENARY ASSEMBLY TO THE CHURCH IN INDIA

by Oswald Cardinal Gracias, President, Conference of Catholic Bishops of India




INDIA, FEB 23, 2017: We, two Cardinals, 136 Archbishops and Bishops, representing the 132 dioceses of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI), gathered at the Pastoral Centre, Bhopal, for our Plenary Assembly from 31st January to 8th February 2017 to deliberate, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, on the theme "Promoting the Joy of Love in our Families". The choice of this theme was prompted by the epoch-making Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, Amoris Laetitia (Joy of Love), which was the outcome of the 2014 and 2015 Synods on the Family. The Apostolic Exhortation reviews the current situation of families in the light of the Church's perennial teaching on marriage and family, especially with regard to unity and indissolubility of marriage (cf. Mt 19:3-6; Eph 5: 22-31) with a view to building up stable, fruitful and joyful families, and offering help to those who do not fully meet the Christian ideal of marriage and the family. Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, always remains as a model of our ministry to the family. Indeed, the family is God's precious gift to human society and to the Church. 

The theme of the family as the "Domestic Church" has been the subject of frequent reflection by the Bishops of India. Aware that "the welfare of the family is decisive for the future of the world and of the Church" (AL 31), the 29th Plenary Assembly (2017) took up this theme for reflection anew.

At our current Plenary Assembly, we were fortunate to have His Eminence Lorenzo Cardinal Baldisseri, the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, Rome, who enlightened us on the historical background and the thrust of Amoris Laetitia. We were enriched by the frank and faith-filled sharing of some Catholic couples from various parts of our country - a couple who had been present at the 2015 Synod; a father of a mentally challenged child; a single parent, and others who spoke with utter sincerity and openness about their marital journey with all its ups and downs, joys and sorrows. We were edified by their deep faith in God, their prayer life nourished by the Word of God and participation in the Holy Eucharist, and their dedication to ministry in the Church as lay people. We realise that these couples who spoke to us are just a few of the many Catholic families which, despite many difficulties, remain faithful to the Church's teaching on marriage, and make possible for their children a truly Christian upbringing. Such families are nurseries of vocations for the priesthood and religious life. Seeing this, we are filled with joy in the Spirit, and would like to thank our families for the service they render to the Church and to society.

At the same time, we are aware that there are some shadows. More than 300 million people in our country are subject to poverty and deprivation, especially in the rural areas, with little access to basic health services, educational facilities and employment opportunities. Many of them are afflicted by evils such as domestic violence and alcoholism. Among the poor, women and children are the ones who suffer the most. A large number of families have not been sufficiently catechised. Migration too has had a strong impact on marriage and family life. The media, with all its beneficial effects, have often exercised a deleterious influence on family life.

Part of the problem is that ordained ministers are not adequately equipped to help families cope with the complex problems they face (cf. AL 202). Priests also need to know how to harness, for the pastoral care of families, the many Family Movements and Associations with which the Church is blessed.

As pastors responsible for our faithful, we took into serious account the varied and diverse situations regarding marriage and family across various regions of our country. We have sketched out a Plan of Action which will be made specific and implemented in stages by each diocese, according to its needs and resources. As Bishops, primarily responsible for the family apostolate, we wish to state:

1. The content of our pastoral plan for families will always include the "culture of life" (cf. Gen 1:28, 3:20; Evangelium Vitae 87). 

2. We will focus, in the first place, on adequate Preparation for Marriage, updating, wherever necessary, the present Marriage Preparation Courses. We want to emphasise especially Christian Family Education programmes in our schools and colleges, with a view to helping young people discover the dignity and beauty of marriage (cf. AL 205-216), without minimising the call to priestly and religious life.

3. Priests and religious will keep in touch with families through regular family visits and devise structures for accompanying couples, especially in the first years of marriage (cf. AL 217-238). We will enlist the help of experienced married couples, Parish Family Cells, SCC (BEC) networks and the Family Movements and Associations in our dioceses. Wherever needed and feasible, we will establish Family Service Centres with counselling facilities to help couples facing difficulties.

4. In particular, with a careful process of discernment, we will reach out to those who, for several reasons, feel estranged from the Church (divorced, divorced and civilly remarried, cohabiting partners, etc.). We keep in mind the words of Pope Francis: "what is urgently needed today is a ministry to care for those whose marital relationship has broken down" (AL 238). We want all to feel the maternal love of the Church in such a way that they experience the merciful embrace of the Father from which no one is excluded. 

5. We will ensure that our priests, religious, catechists and pastoral workers receive better training for family ministry. In particular, we will insist that seminarians "receive a more extensive, interdisciplinary, and not merely doctrinal formation in the areas of engagement and marriage" (AL 203) and will have exposure to family situations under the guidance of their formators. 

6. We realise that there are certain families that need special care: families living in dire poverty, families with spouses of two different religious traditions, single parent families, families with differently abled children, grieving and bereaved families, migrant families, families with sick and elderly members (cf. AL 247-253). We pledge to support and accompany these families in whatever way possible.

7. Responding to the call of Pope Francis, we will show a respectful attitude to those who have not been provided with adequate pastoral care such as transgenders, people with different orientations, etc. 

Dear families in Christ, Pope Francis so well says: "The Joy of Love experienced by families is also the joy of the Church" (AL 1). We ourselves experienced this joy while deliberating on the family in the light of the Holy Spirit. You are God's precious gift to the Church. We are grateful to Pope Francis for so courageously highlighting the need of a merciful approach to families, especially to those living in difficult situations. 

Along with other Christian families and those of other faiths, you are called to journey together to become witnesses of God's tender love and mercy in this world, which has been revealed to us in Jesus Christ.

May Mary, the Queen of the Families and St Joseph, her chaste spouse, intercede for our families to enable them to live in justice, peace, love and joy in the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom 14:17).

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

BIS #5062 TEACHING STREET BOYS TO VALUE THEMSELVES

by Cleric Nevelle Coutinho

 

MUMBAI, FEB 22, 2017: Shelter Don Bosco organised the monthly Mela for street boys on the theme 'My Value' on February 20 at their institute in Wadala. 


Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS)  students, Shruti and Gaurav, held a session for the boys on how valuable they are and how they can care for themselves better by avoiding addictions and instilling healthy habits.

 

Around 76 young men from the age group of 12 to 30 years participated in the mela. The sessions covered topics like health, money, Swachchha Bharat Abhiyan and nasha mukti.  


The street children were divided into four groups and each group had to perform a short play on the above themes. After the street play, the staff members organised games and a dance session for them.

 

As it was also Municipal Election day, Father Gregory D'Almeida, Rector of Shelter Don Bosco told the boys the importance of elections, voting and choosing the right leaders.

 

The staff and management conducted a session on choosing the right values, inspiring some of the boys, who have opted to go to Maria Ashiana , Lonavla- a home for street drug addicts- to begin a new life.

BIS #5061 YOUTH DAY AT DOMINIC SAVIO CHURCH, WADALA

by Avril Baptista

 

MUMBAI, FEB 22, 2017: Dominic Savio parish, Wadala held its Youth Day on Saturday 19 and youth from different areas of the parish participated in it.


The programme began with a solemn Mass. The Savion Youth group guided by Father Brian Moras and Father Shekar Mariadas, helped organise the event. The ice-breaker games helped everyone get to know each other as some of the youngsters were participating for the first time in a youth event in the parish.

 

Father Cleophas Braganza of Don Bosco Youth Services (DBYS), Matunga led an interactive session on the Pope Francis's letter- Amoris Latetia, stressing the importance of Prayer and Church in the life of a Family and how even the youngsters can contribute to it. 

 

Father McEnroe Lopes, Vocation Promoter- DBYS , gave a brief summary on the summer camps to be held and the Youth Pasch experience during the Holy Week. 

 

The youth were made aware by way of a power point presentation of the work done and the programmes held for the youth throughout the year. The  scope of work available and the need for more youth to join, was also discussed. The movie prepared by the youth for the diocesan competition on the Parish Works of Mercy was also screened. 

 

The session ended with the Youth filling out commitment forms, choosing areas of interest and the work they would like to assist with.

Friday, February 17, 2017

BIS #5060 THE PEACE RUN

by Shalini Crasta 

 

MUMBAI, FEB 17, 2017: Students from 16 different Mumbai-based schools participated in 'The Peace Run', a brainchild of Principal, Father Godfrey D'sa, to commemorate the Centenary Year of St. Joseph's High School, Wadala which was held on February 11.

 

Youth from various institutions joined forces for the cause of Peace in their neighbourhoods, the city, the state, the country and the world. The aim was to convey to people that even the future generation, along with the present generation, wants peace and harmony between all mankind.


The run was flagged, by Chief Guest Mir Ranjan Negi, a former India hockey goalkeeper and coach of the Indian team, at 6.30 am from Five Gardens in Matunga. The runners then proceeded to Dr Antonio D'Silva School (Dadar), from there to Victory School (Mahim), the next stop was Shivaji Park from Cadel Road, then on to Vaidya Gardens, Dadar (E), to Shishuvan School via Bhaudaji Road, via four roads to SIWS School (Matunga) and from there to the final destination at St. Joseph's High School, Wadala.


The students ran with great enthusiasm and vigour. The organisers charted the course around seven holding points akin to pit stops. Students from three schools each would run from one holding point to the next. They would then hand over the torch to the other runners. Some former and present students alongside senior staff kept up the tempo by playing live music.  

 

At the closing ceremony Father D'Sa addressed the gathering and thanked the chief guest for his presence. Father D'Sa also thanked the Pinkathon team who accompanied the students from the starting point through to the end. Negi then lauded the organisers for ideating such a noble event. He joined Father Rosario Vaz and 10 students from St. Joseph's school to release 12 doves as a mark of peace.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

BIS #5059 WAGING WAR AGAINST THE COMMON ENEMY

by Curie Colcao

 

KUWAIT, FEB 16, 2017: Around 80 catechists from St. Therese of the Child Jesus parish in Kuwait attended a Spiritual Recollection on February 11.


Father Blany Pinto, the parish priest, welcomed the participants. Francis Sam, the assistant coordinator of the catechism ministry of the North Arabian Vicariate, enumerated the rules of conduct for the recollection and also explained the sequence of activities planned for the rest of the day.

 

Father Francisco Pereira, the Catechetical Director of the Vicariate of North Arabia, conducted the recollection, beginning with a prayer and eased the attendees into the theme of the programme, which was 'Prayer'.

 

Father Pereira showed them the movie - 'WAR ROOM'. He then led them into reflecting on the real enemy, which seeks to destroy families. The film invited the participants to form the right strategy to wage war against the enemy.

 

Many participants were touched deeply, due to the relatable nature of the movie's theme. After the film, participants were asked to break into groups to share their thoughts regarding the movie and it's powerful message. All were then asked to enter a room fashioned like a War Room, to complete their spiritual retreat.

 

"It was really impactful as it transported me to a place of complete spiritual healing. Father explained how to effectively use the power of prayer as a weapon to bring God closer to us and in the lives of the ones we love," catechist Poonam Rodrigues, said.

 

Sam then enlightened the catechists on the life and deeds of St. Teresa of Avila. He highlighted the salient points on Prayer put forward by St. Theresa and exhorted all to read her life story and be inspired by her teachings on how to pray.

 

Catechist Premila Lewis felt that Father Pereira and Sam helped bring out the broader dimensions of prayer with its meaning, value and importance. The experience brought out a deeper desire to pray and to develop a strategy to use it as a powerful weapon against our common enemy - the devil.

 

Father Pereira then proceeded to provide the attendees with activities to make a lasting impression, which was followed by the celebration of the Holy Eucharist and distribution of memorabilia.