Report of the 43rd LRC Seminar

Missionary Challenges and Prospects
Darsana Institute of Philosophy, Wardha, Maharashtra, India
09- 12 February 2012






The Third National Mission Seminar in connection with the Golden Jubilee Year of Syro – Malabar North Indian Mission was held in Wardha on Feb 9-12,2012. It was organized by LRC, Central Committee for the Celebration of Mission Year and Darshana Institute of philosophy, Wardha.

The Seminar started on Feb 10, 2012 with the Holy Qurbana at 6.30 am. Mar Joseph Kunnath, The Bishop of Adilabad was the main celebrant. In his homily he reminded that the faith is not only for the celebration inside the church but also for witnessing. The inaugural session of the seminar started at 8.30 am. After the display of the Mission Anthem in English, Hindi, Malayalam, seven Candles were lighted by the bishops and floral tributes were offered to the memory of Rt Rev Dr Eugine D’Souza the late Archbishop of Nagpur and  Mar Januarius CMI, the first Bp of Chanda.

Rev Fr Thomas Muppathinchira CMI, the rector of the Dharshana Philosophycal Institute welcomed the chief guests and participants. The inaugural address has been delivered by        Rev Dr Abraham Viruthukulangara, the Archbishop of Nagpur.   He expressed his hope that  the Mission Seminar  would evoke  mission consciousness in the whole Church for every Mission Work is done in the name of the Church.

Rev Fr Thomas Mampra CMI traced the roots of the Chanda Mission by explaining the role of Rt Rev Dr Eugine D’Souza in establishing the diocese of  Chanda. When he took charge of the Diocese of Nagpur in 1951 it was too vast to do any missionary activities. So he divided it in to several regions and entrusted them to different Religious  Congregations which resulted to the errection of Chanda in 1962.

Rev Dr KD Chacko, Vicar general of Chanda and the first missionary ordained for Chanda Mission remembered the pioneering activities of Mar Januarius. When he came to Mission there were only two stations, now it became 40. Bishop Januarius was a man of historical thinking and simple living. He did not imitate anyone nor compete with others. He took the mission as a challenge.

Mar Sebastian Vadakkel extolled the missionary activities of Chanda Mission for the past 50years. It is really praise – worthy that the mission has undertaken the challenge of living the Gospel for imparting the Good News. He expressed great appreciation on  the assistance and cooperation of the Religious Congregations. Mar Antony Chirayath, the Bishop of Sagar, while speaking about Vat. II stated that the Council has been a land mark in the history of the Church. Looking at the missionary activities of the Syro Malabar Church he remarked that it is the first Church which sent so many Missionaries to the world. Rev Dr George Thanchan, the Vicar General of CMI Congregation, pointed out that the Religious are Missionaries by nature. He stated that co incidence  of the 207 birth anniversary of Blessed Chavara with the starting of the seminar was providential. The inaugural session ended with the offering of the floral tribute to the picture of Bl. Chavara.

Rev Fr Anto Karokkaran CMI delivered the Key Note address: “Incarnation Theology’’. Jesus Christ being the Son of God emptied himself and  came down to our midst taking the form of man. In the same way the Gospel is to be presented in relation to the identity of our people – historical cultural and social. The Jerusalem Council recognized the right of receiving faith in each one’s culture. The speech of St Paul at Areopagus is an  example of presenting Gospel in Greek culture and civilization. Incarnation theology demands us to preach the Gospel from within.

Rev Dr Thomas Kochuthara presented the paper ‘ Evangelization and Dialogue with Religious and Cultures’. Fr Kochuthara observed that today Evangelization is understood not as rejection of other religions and cultures but as entering in to dialogue with others. Evangelization is to be backed by theologies and not by Theology. So local theologies have to be considered: Latin American theology,  African Theology and Asian theology. These theologies can to a certain extent translate faith in to local traditions and civilization.

In the afternoon the first session was the experience sharing of the Missionaries like Swami Sadanand CMI, Rev Dr Lisy Jose FCC and Rev Fr Francis Kandathil. The topic of the Panel discussion was ‘Socio Political challenges to Evangelization’. Rev Fr  Augustine Keemattam presented the theme and Rev Fr Siby CMF and Rev Fr Lathika Pazhookaran SJB presented short papers. Fr Augustine stated that the Church is often accused of as a political rivalry. It is to be assured that Evangelization is not for any political gain. In the history of the Missionary activity of the Syro Malabar Church there are four phases: invisible, impossible, indirect and direct. Actually the direct Evangelization started only with the Chanda Mission. In his opinion the main challenges to Evangelization are secularism, misinterpreted conversion and fundamentalism.  Rev Fr Siby in his Paper ‘ Evangelization in the Naxalite Context’, proposed that the Church has to think over  what it can do in the context of Naxalite threat. It is a fact that the  East Coast of India beginning from Nepal to Kanyakumari consisting of 220 districts in different states is known as Red Corridor. This region is very fertile to Naxalite activity because of injustice and exploitation. Sr Lathika SJB spoke defending the right of women. They have to be freed from all sorts of oppressions: political, social, financial and sexual. At 7 pm we had Holy Qurbana presided over by Mar Antony Chirayath, the Bishop of Sagar. Being Feb. 11 the anniversary of the Apparition of Bl.Virgin Mary in Lourdes in his message His Excellency spoke about the role of Mary in Evangelization. The first day of the seminar ended with the beautiful cultural programmes of the Inmates of the Clariatian Major Seminary in Wardha.

The Seminar programme of the second day started with the paper, “Role and Participation of the Lay people in Evangelization”, by Dr TK Titus. The resources of the lay people have to be utilized by sharing with them more opportunities. Lay people can do better in the social sector of our country by working  in the field of Media &  Communication, Education and Charitable activities. Sr Guna CMC presenting the paper ‘Women: Messengers of Good News Par excellence’ enumerated from the Bible and the life of the Church the great models of Women Missionaries: Bl Virgin Mary, St Mary Magdalene, St Alphonsa, Mother Theresa,         Sr Rani Maria FCC and Sr Valsa John.

After tea break Mr Vaibhava Moon spoke on ‘Evangelization: Non Catholic view points’. He remarked that by Evangelization the Church is only fulfilling the commandment of Christ. The motivation of Evangelization is imparting the love of God to our brethren. We should act as the Samaritan. The next paper was on ‘Evangelization: Non Christian view points’ by                  Prof. Aravindakshan. In the  panel discussion “Missionary Formation and Formation in Mission: Experience and Expectation”, Rev Dr Thomas Vattukulam CMF gave the orientation talk.      Rev Sr Priya Emmanuel CMC and Bro. Nithin Augustin Pulikkakunnel shared their expectations for a better formation of the Missionaries.

The concluding session began at 3 pm. Rev Fr Thomas Muppathinchira CMI presided over the session. Mar Andrews Thazhath by inaugurating the final session felicitated the organizers of the seminar for having arranged it so beautifully. His Grace congratulated Mar Vijayanand CMI, the Bishop of  Chanda, for the motivation that he gave to the Synod for declaring this year as the Mission Year of the Syro Malabar Church. He explained that the Church is  Christ prolonged to the history. Missionary activities are the works of God and they should continue. The works of God is based on love which has to be manifested in our lives. So the commandments of Christ “Go and preach”, “Do this in memory of me” and “Be my witnesses” are one and the same . His grace exhorted that we have to go forward looking at the great Models of the Mission: Blessed Chavara, St Alphonsa, Mother Theresa and others. He concluded his speech expressing his wish that the programmes of the Mission Year would prepare the Syro Malabar Church for the Synod of Rome in the next October on the occasion of the Jubilee of Vatican II. Rev Dr Augustian Mundiath CMF, the Rector of Claritian Major Seminary, proposed the vote of thanks. The last day of the seminar came to an end with colorful cultural programmes staged by the inmates of the Dharshana Institute and of the religious houses in   Wardha.

On Sunday 12 Feb we had Holy Eucharist at St Antony’s Church, Wardha. Mar Andrews Thazhath was the main celebrant and Mar Sebastian Vadakel gave the homily. After the Holy Mass a public meeting was held in the school ground. The parish priest welcomed the assembly, Mar Vijayanad CMI delivered the presidential address and Mar Andrews Thazhath felicitated the gathering .The seminar ended with the visit to Sevagram Ashram of Mahatma Gandhi and Brahma Vidya Mandir of Acharya Vinobha Bhave.

The Third National Mission Seminar was a great success with regards to the arrangements, papers, participation and cooperation. There were delegates from all over India including 6 Bishops, 44 Priests and 148 Religious besides the Inmates of the Major Seminaries and Formation Houses in Wardha. Above all it witnessed the unity and the co operation of the Church in Wardha.

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