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Archbishop (Dr.) Menamparampil Felicitated in Rome


By BIS Correspondant
Archbishop Thomas poses in the Don Rua Community Chapel with Salesians and FMA Sisters after the felicitation Mass. (Photo by Evandro Stefanello)
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Kolkata, Nov. 16. .   Rome:    Archbishop Emeritus Thomas Menamparampil of Guwahati was felicitated by the Indian Salesians at the Salesian University (UPS), Rome, on 15 November, upon being conferred with an Honourary Doctorate by Pontifical Urbaniana University, Rome. The almost four century old 'Urbaniana' honoured him with the degree in Missiology on the previous day for his remarkable contribution to missionary praxis in the mission territories of India, and his leadership in the field of evangelization in the Asian continent.
The Indian Salesian confreres felicitated Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil during a Holy Mass concelebrated with him in the Don Rua Community chapel on Friday evening. Later he also addressed the Salesians of Don Rua community by way of the traditional 'Good Night Talk', during which he explained why he chose ''I am obliged to preach (the Gospel) to all peoples'' (Rom. 1:14) as the theme for his acceptance speech at the Ph.D. conferral ceremony, and underscored ''the importance of communicating what is good (the Good News) in a culturally attractive manner precisely in the current context of negative, aggressive and confrontational climate.''

Speaking exclusively to Bosco Information Service (BIS) Archbishop Menamparampil remarked about what this Doctorate Honoris Causa means to him and to India's mission fields, saying, ''This means nothing  to me personally, but it means a lot for the missionary praxis that we in India have been pursuing, that they have taken note of it and are acknowledging its validity. So, I have accepted this honour in the name of all missionaries - both the pioneers and those in the field now - in salute to the quality of their missionary endeavour.''

Archbishop Menamparampil was conferred the honorary doctorate on the previous day, 14 November, by Cardinal Fernando Filoni, the Chancellor of the Urbaniana University, Rome, during the commencement of the new academic year. Along with Archbishop Menamparampil, Professor Gerald H. Anderson, Director Emeritus of the Overseas Ministries Study Center in New Haven, Connecticut, USA, and former Academic Dean and Professor of Church History at Union Theological Seminary in the Philippines also received an Honourary Doctorate.

In the acceptance speech after receiving the degree, Archbishop Menamparampil affirmed that ''The Christian message can be communicated meaningfully only if we reveal the 'human face' of Christ continuously.''

He proposed St. Paul as an example in communicating the Good News cross-culturally, saying that the apostle ''would exclude no one from the universal concern he had for all communities, be they the most advanced or the least; those already good or those who fail in their efforts.''

Reflecting on his work in establishing peace in situations of conflict and among warring groups in India, and more particularly in the North Eastern States, for more than four decades, Menamparampil said, ''While intellectual bridges will have to be built in communicating the message of the Gospel, the emotional bridges are of greater importance.''

At the end of the dinner the Rector of the community, Fr. Alojzij Snoj raised a toast to Archbishop Menamparampil on behalf of the Salesians.
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