Sunday, February 22, 2015

Indian aid worker abducted in Afghanistan returns home, PM Modi 'delighted'

Indian aid worker abducted in Afghanistan returns home, PM Modi 'delighted'
·         Updated: Feb 22, 2015 05:17 IST
A photo of Indian aid worker Father Alexis Prem Kumar, who was abducted by Taliban militants in Zenda Jan district in Herat province of Afghanistan. (PTI photo)

Indian aid worker Father Alexis Prem Kumar, who was abducted by the Taliban from Afghanistan's Herat province, returned home on Sunday, ending a year-long wait and marking another chapter of diplomatic victory for the central government.

The Jesuit priest's release - which came seven months after the government freed Indian nurses trapped in Iraq - is believed to be the outcome of national security advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval's long negotiations in Afghanistan.
"Delighted at securing the release of Indian Jesuit priest Father Alexis Prem Kumar from captivity in Afghanistan," Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.
Prem Kumar, a native of Sivaganga in Tamil Nadu, was abducted from a school for refugees in Afghanistan's Sohadat, about 25km from Herat. He was working with Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), an educational charity, as its Afghanistan director and had been in the war-torn country for over three years when he was kidnapped.
Before moving to Afghanistan, Prem Kumar had served Sri Lankan refugees in Tamil Nadu on a JRS assignment.
His abduction had drawn widespread attention and even the Vatican had expressed concern.
Prem Kumar's relatives had met external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and NSA Doval, requesting the government to secure his release. His family members had also petitioned the Sivaganga district collector.
Father Prem Kumar was in constant touch with his family in India from Afghanistan through Skype network.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

My dear friends in the Lord,

The Holy Father has declared this year as the Year of Consecrated Life. We praise and thank God in a very special way during this year of consecrated life for our vocation to be religious in the Society of Jesus. We pray and make every effort possible to ensure that the Lord calls others to our way of life looking at the witness of our own personal and communitarian life.

In this context, I'd like to reflect with you on the words of the Prayer taught by Our Lord, "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us". We profess to be sinners, but called. Living together is bound to bring up frictions. Forgiving is important, no doubt, but forgetting is perhaps even more important. The grudge in our heart, festering for a long time, may erupt disproportionately, when the other falters in some way. Judging the other harshly, spreading negative news with embellishment - character assassination, is perhaps the result of inability not just to forgive, but also to forget. When something goes wrong, it is the bounded duty of each individual to inform the one who can do something to remedy the situation. By not doing so, we too become part of that evil. But talking about it to others who can do nothing about it is sinful. We are not called to judge and cast stones but to be messengers of divine love.

In the recently concluded Colloquium for new Provincials, Fr. General has urged all the Provincials to encourage the communities to use Sacraments for Community Building. In this year of consecrated life, I urge every community to make better use of the Sacraments, especially community Eucharist and periodic reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation for community building. If there are tensions, bring them up in the Eucharist, forgive the perceived offender, learn to forget, find excuses for the perceived offender, seek forgiveness and thus help in community building.

Fr. General also said that the ministry of Reconciliation is the need of the hour in the world. We need to become channels of peace through being bridge-builders between peoples of different religions, class, caste, gender, etc. May we begin this with our own Jesuit communities. May we all learn to mean what we say in our prayer, "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us!

The JCSA will have its next meeting in Mumbai from February 22nd to 28th 2015. Do keep the conference in your prayers.

Our Province Congregation, in preparation for the General Congregation will be held from March 4th to 7th 2015. This is an occasion of grace for us and an chance to look at ourselves, at our consolations and desolations; to renew ourselves and to ensure that we live up to our call. Please pray for the PC as well as GC. As you reflect as individuals and communities, kindly send your reflections to the Provincial. You are also urged to send in Postulates.

In this year of consecrated life, let us all pray and make every effort possible to pave the way towards God's Kingdom for all, starting with ourselves.
A. M. D. G.