Sunday, November 28, 2010

Ordination of Sunil Macwan - Harry Martis

Ordination of Sunil Macwan

Scholastic Sunil Macwan’s ordination was held in Gamdi Anand Parish on 27th of November with great solemnity. It was a day of accomplishment and celebration for Sunil, his near and dear ones and for the church of Gujarat. Bishop Thomas, besides Sunil ordained two more Jesuits for Kohima region, namely Samir and Pravin.

Bishop Thomas, in his homily stressed the importance of priest in the church, role and duty of the priest and also cooperation of the people of the church in promoting and encouraging priests in the mission.

Many faithful took part in the celebration including invitees who came to witness the ordination all the way from kohima. The whole ceremony went without a hitch. One could see the effort and hard work of the priests of Anand Jesuit Community and the people of the Gamdi Anand Parish throughout the celebration. Cudos to all, who have made the day memorable and beautiful!

Sch. Harry Martis SJ

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Being in the Context – An Experience - Sch. Harry Martis SJ

Being in the Context – An Experience
Sch. Harry Martis SJ
A priest is an asset to the Church, the community of believers. The seminarians are nourished and formed to serve the Church in the near future. They are to continue the mission of the Church in the changing times with creative fidelity in all the ways possible, according to one’s own capacity.
Through out the formation of a seminarian, mission exposures, work camps, study camps for the children in the missions, etc are organized to make him familiar with various cultures and customs of the people. During regency one is more exposed to the realities of villages in our missions. Contextual Theology Program (CTP) conducted every year during theological studies at GVD, where a student lives in a village at least for about two to three weeks is meant to provide a context for his theological reflections. Doing theology and simultaneously being in the context is altogether a different experience from doing it in the seminary campus alone.
It was my dream to stay in a village amidst people and pursue my theological studies at least for a semester. I stayed in a village, Umeta, eight miles away from Gujarat Vidya Deep. There is a well constructed chapel with an attached room which was my home from the beginning of this academic year till September 11.
Life in Umeta amidst ordinary people, who struggle to make both ends meet, was very different from the life in the seminary or in a parish compound. Various types of deprivations and inconveniences are integral part of life in a village. Clean drinking water is a dream for the villagers. Inequality is experienced in every aspect of the village life in terms of water facility, quality of streets, availability of streetlights, electricity, houses etc.
The mahollo in which I lived in Umeta is a close knit samaj. News of untoward events spreads very fast there. If something happens to one individual, the whole mahollo becomes aware of it and the life in general will be affected. Being in the village, one cannot avoid being affected by various social evils present there. Problems such as drinking, gambling, unemployment are very much prevalent in the village. Conflicts within families and between families are a common phenomenon. The level of school attendance and the quality of education in the village is a matter of great concern. I tried to respond to that in my own little way by offering tuitions to some children in my free time.
According to Reginaben, the eighty year old wife of the deceased catechist of the village, the whole mahollo was baptized about seven decades ago by the great Jesuit missionary Fr. Carlos Surya. Now most of them have gone back to Hinduism. The remnant Christian community today does not offer any effective Christian presence in the village. In the faith practices of the Christian families in the mahollo, there is much to be desired. These experiences make me reflect upon the relevance of theology which I grapple in my seminary classes.
It challenges me to a greater commitment and greater responsibility in taking my theology studies more seriously. The experience beckons me to go deep in the teachings of the Church regarding issues of life and in the context of the lived experience of the people in the villages.
For a seminarian, theology studies in the seminary can sometimes become only a necessary step for getting ordained, instead of being a careful preparation for priestly ministry. In such cases seminary life appears too long and boring, and petty matters and problems of day to day life big issues. Contact with ordinary people and their real life problems make one realize the pettiness of the issues that one often makes in the seminary.

My brief experience of L.K.Nagar - Sch. Simon Thomas SJ

My brief experience of L.K.Nagar
Sch. Simon Thomas SJ
The vision statement of Gujarat Vidya Deep (GVD) is, “It envisages theologizing in the local languages as far as possible, and in the context of the cultures of Gujarat. This is necessary in order to enable the students to express the word of God and our Christian tradition more meaningfully to the people of Gujarat and to enrich the life of the local churches in all its dimensions.” There is another striking notion which was expressed to us by Fr. Isudas Cueli in our Jesuit novitiate, and I enjoy constantly reiterating it, “If you want to preach Christ in Gujarat, you have to make Christ Gujarati.”
Staying out of GVD campus in a Gujarati locality is a small initiative from the part of two of us, second year students, to become more familiar with the Gujarati language and culture which I am sure, will be helpful in our future ministry. Secondly, we wanted to stay out in order to know and experience the living situations of the lower middle class and poor families. Thanks to the Sneh Jyoti community, Sevasi, my companion Harry and I got an opportunity to stay out and explore our possibilities!
I decided to stay in Luharkuinagar (L.K. Nagar), a chawli that is situated near the Vadodara Railway station. L.K. Nagar is a predominantly Catholic locality with almost forty families, and I stay in Mr. Maheshbhai’s house. Initially the neighbors were astonished to see a brother coming and staying there. I remember the first day of my stay; while I was going with my luggage towards my room, a man from the neighborhood asked Maheshbhai’s mother, “Somebody on rent?” The old lady replied, “Not somebody, he is a brother.” Immediately that person’s approach changed, and a sense of respect towards me became evident, and he welcomed me with a broad smile.
People in L.K. Nagar presently are of reasonably modest economic means. The first generation who settled down there had migrated some 60-70 years ago from Chasi-Charotar area in search of work and settled there in miserable huts. However, today majority of them have come up economically through hard work. Their lives changed not only in economic terms but also culturally. They have become cosmopolitan in their religiosity, fashion, morality and education. This change seemed to have been necessary for their survival in the new situation.
L.K. Nagar is a congested area with houses built in a disorderly way. On its right are the apartments, mainly occupied by the upper class populace and on its left is the Food Corporation of India godown. The city bus stand and railway station are just 1 km away. Since it is in the heart of the city, there is around the clock high-quality electricity. However, water comes for only an hour in the morning. As more than one family stay in a house, a lot of adjustment is done by the families in order to avail water to every family. The average income of the families is around Rs. 6000-7000 per month, and therefore their meals are also very simple with khichdi/chappati and one vegetable.
Concerning the faith practices of the community, they have thrice a week popular devotions like rosary in common, which is mainly attended by the elderly women. School going children are busy with assignments from school as well as from tuitions that they hardly have time to take part in them. The older generation in L.K. Nagar is slowly disappearing, and together with them the traces of their traditional culture. The new generation finds the emerging cosmopolitan culture more appealing. Their worldview is being shaped by the ‘high class’, people of other linguistic communities, as well as television channels.
A serious question arises about whether Christianity, as a religion, will continue to be of significance like before (not only in L.K. Nagar, but in many of our parishes). Given the new context in which these small Christian communities live, will they give sufficient importance to their faith, or will it become just a mere ritual of attending weekend masses and other celebrations? Will being Christian remain just part of their social identity only? Here, I believe, pastoral care plays a significant role. Pastoral care takes concrete shape in the context. Contextualization begins primarily with having respect and love for the people with whom I am working. It also means sharing in their joys and sorrows, and trying to form them in the values of Jesus Christ in their context. My theology studies at GVD helps me in this endeavour by enabling me to elucidate the kingdom values of Christ in a given context.
People in L.K. Nagar have great regard for religious people. I have spent two months here. Though I have not been able to visit all the families due to lack of time and personal shyness, I have experienced the immense deference people have for the religious people. They see a religious as an envoy of God, and want to give the finest treatment to him/her. I am deeply touched by the way Mr. Maheshbhai and his family take care of me. They have accepted me as a privileged member of their family. In all their daily events I am given a position of priority. Every member in the house takes care to make me feel at home in his/her presence. I sometimes wonder whether any other stranger would have been given so much of care, love and concern as I am given. I realize that I am so much taken care of not because of any personal merit but because of the fact that I am perceived as a man of God and they feel happy and blessed to take care of such a person.
The wonderful experience that I am having here is more than Contextual Theology Program and weekend ministry. It is an intense experience of the simple lives of people, or I should say, the Gospel people. Seeing them finding their happiness in the midst of their everyday real struggles, beginning from household chores, welfare of children, coping with serious economic difficulties, and so on, the Sermon the Mount becomes alive to me.

Monday, November 1, 2010

South Asian Jesuits meets in XLRI on Ecology

South Asian Jesuits meets in XLRI on Ecology

Posted on October 30, 2010 by tarumitra

XLRI Jamshedpur, 27 Oct: Over a hundred Jesuit-delegates from all the 20 Provinces of South Asian Jesuit Assistancy met inside their premier Management Institute, XLRI for three days to discuss the core issues of Ecology and Migration.
The attempt was to see the connection among Displacement and Ecology. Somebody put it this way, “Ecological degradation paves way for displacement and migration which in turn makes the poor more vulnerable and poorer.”
Eucharistic celebrations which are usually held indoors, were held outdoors. The idea was to make them carbon neutral. Two of the Eucharistic celebrations co-ordinated by Madurai and Patna provinces were organized outdoors with a twin purpose; going back to nature and reducing the use of the polluting electricity! A scientific calculation showed that the air-conditioned chapel with all the lights would consume nearly 6 KV of power in an hour i.e equal to burning 300 kilograms of coal or cutting down eight grown up trees!
One of those celebrations was centred around the issues of biodiversity. Frs. Tony Penda SJ and K. C Philip SJ coordinated the presentation of the Web of Life with the help of volunteers who took the roles of animals and plants that make up the web. They tied a string from one person to the another who was depended on him for survival. Slowly a well-knit web was produced.
On the second part of the presentation, animals like tigers were removed leaving the web lax and broken. Slowly as dependent plants and animals disappeared and there was no web left on the earth!
The Coordinator of Tarumitra, Fr. Robert Athickal S.J delivered a presentation titled, “The Paradigm of the mosquito: a way of entering into the Web of life.”