Monday, April 30, 2012

Province Days 2012 at Baroda - Fr.Rappai Poothokaren S.J


Some 200 Gujarat Jesuits (almost 70% of the Province) converged at Rosary School, Vadodara, to mingle, relax in each others’ company and share their fellowship. The outcome? A deeper experience of fellowship in the “Society of Love”. A greater sense of belonging to our Gujarat Province. A feeling of close relationship among the group of Jesuits, coming from different parts of India and beyond, that the Lord has selected and put together for His Mission in Gujarat. The young look forward with hope to the future, the middle aged grow in confidence to face the challenges ahead, and the old are happy that the Spirit of the Lord very much alive among us. There are shortcomings and shortages, problems and pressures, challenges and opportunities… What is life worth without challenges!
“Visualizing the needs, challenges and opportunities we are likely to face as a Province ten years from now, and responding to them” was the theme for the Province Days. The movement was “… towards (year) twenty-twenty”.  Nine wise men (Navratna), all in their 40’s, were entrusted the job of planning and organizing. They did a good job. Preparations went on for months – more sharing and praying, less discussions and papers. Novitiate groups from 1981 to 1999 met and shared their visions and dreams for the Gujarat Province of 2020.

A Kaleidoscope of happenings:
- The growth of Gujarat Mission was screened in Black and White, Sepia and multi colour: the beginnings out of the blue, the twists and turns of growth of the Kheda Church among the poor; the rapid and exhilarating expansion of the Adivasi Church in South Gujarat; the slow penetration of the Church in North Gujarat.
- The Novitiate groups (1981-99) presented their dreams, some more gripping than others 
Some men and women, not with the S.J. suffix, urged us move on, suggesting the direction and pace.
- 11 confreres who entered the portals of a Jesuit Novitiate half a century ago shared their ‘call’ and eventful lives in the ‘Company’ of Jesus, gracefully videographed by fresh Jesuits. The Golden Jubilarians were feasted and felicitated, at the Lord’s and life’s table, and on stage.
Fifteen Jesuits with years of experience at different tasks in the Lord’s vineyard expounded their dreams and visions for the decade ahead, based on their own experiences  – challenging, thought provoking and prodding to action.
- Fr Changa, our provincial, put forth his absolute, minimum need, NOW – TEN MORE full-fledged Jesuits. The old can hardly be rejuvenated and the fledglings cannot be made to soar high yet. With focus on 2020, we have to make a concerted and focused campaign to attract, inspire and nurture vocations; it has to be Agenda No. 1, for all.

Two books were released during the province days:
1) Samooh Yatra: Our Journeying Together – A history of most of the Jesuit communities in Gujarat.
2) Globalization, Growth and Employment – A compilation of scholarly writings on the topic edited by Fr Lancy Lobo and Jayesh Shah

No learned papers emerged from the Province days, no Resolutions were made or Action Plans voted on, no paper was wasted and files filled! But Gujarat Jesuits spent two days together in mutual fellowship and companionship – relaxed, sharing, dreaming and hoping.

Rosary School rose to the occasion to host and run everything well. After enjoying all the facilities generously shared, the feeling was that Rosary could be the permanent venue of Province days! All the Jesuit institutions around, and the Rosary Parish and the Bishop’s house, were thrown open to accommodate the participants. The bevy of automobiles squeezed into the Rosary campus vouched for the material blessings the Lord has showered on Gujarat province, and the mobility of her members!
(Rappai Poothokaren, S.J.)

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