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Kolkata Mission Study for Proclamation in South Asia Released

By C. M. Paul
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Guwahati, Sep. 26.  Kolkata Mission study is the last of a series of five study seminars organized by the Mission Departments of both Salesians of Don Bosco and the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians during the past three years. The study sessions were held in each of the five regions namely Europe, Americas, Oceania, East Asia, and South Asia.
''Seeing that the present missionary climate around the world has reduced the passion, the fire in people to be announcers of the message, the Salesian Family like Don Bosco in his time, when the Church was on its back foot, came forward to support its mission by organizing the study days on initial proclamation in Kolkata in August 2011,'' says Fr Jose Ani of the Salesin Mission department in Rome.

Commenting on the preparatory work done for Kolkata meet Fr Ani says, ''this is our contribution to the rethinking of the mission in the specific context of South Asia, with participation of delegates from all eight groups of Salesian Family (SDB, FMA, SMI, MSMHC, VDB, VSDB, Disciples, and Salesian Cooperators) in India. We took stock of the situation through a survey.''

Taking note of right wing Hindutva ideology of Sangh Parivar in India and right wing Buddhists stand in Sri Lanka and Myanmar, and Islamic intolerance against Christians and Hindus in Pakistan, Fr Ani warns of the dangers of ''a steadily growing movement that radically affects our agreed national identity, Constitution and its commitment, our pluralistic society, our secular identity, and above all, the minorities.''

''In India, we need to be continuously reminded of the killings of Christians in Kandhamal and Muslims in Gujarat, and Hindus in Godhra,'' says the Regional councilor for South Asia Fr. Maria Arokiam Kanaga.

''The revival in Hinduism is quite vigorous, and with vengeance,'' he stated.

Citing several instances of popular religiosity Fr Kanaga says, ''just consider the kind, range, frequency, and places of pilgrimage like Uttarakhand which has a large number of pilgrims centres in difficult areas. Think of Kumbh Mela, Anantnag, Vaishno Devi, Puri Jagannath, Tiruppatti, Sabarimala, Ujjain, Pandharpur, Vidyanath, and proliferation of Hindu temples, shrines, icons, images that seem well studied and planned.''

In contrast, Fr Kanaga remarks, ''there are no manifest signs of applied religiosity, spirituality, ethics or morality. Consequently fraud, dishonest practice, deception, treachery, callousness-cruelty, inequality (gender, caste), unconcern for the misery of others, seem to affect the quality of life at the personal or collective life.''

''Humanity in our region bleeds in many ways. Can we intervene to bring these resources together for a change in the quality of life of our people?,'' asks Fr Kanaga.

Fr Kanaga reminds the Salesian Family that ''the Church exists for a mission. We disciples of Jesus Christ are called to share the Good News in a human community which is violently opposed to the Gospel. Salesians in South Asia come from diverse places, with its cultural and religious marks of specificity. We are first and foremost 'evangelizers'. We are asked to evangelize not in the old way but in new ways.''

''New Evangelization does not count merely on numbers and crowded churches, nor on the numerous services we render. What counts inestimably more is our ecclesial identity and the quality of witness as servants, messengers and disciples of Jesus for the peoples of Asia,'' (OTC 325) he said endorsing Asian Bishops' statement.

The Rector Major encouraged saying, ''we need to open our eyes and see the reality outside. In this reality we have to release the Gospel force of love, joy and peace.''
He asked, ''what are the challenges before us? What is the concrete path for us to move forward? We should not shy away from being disciples of Jesus.''

''We, Salesians can be more courageous and not afraid to profess Christ openly'' said Archbishop Thomas Menamparambil of Guwahati. Despite the challenge of ''Hindutva'' in our educational, health-care and social ministries we should not hide our identity as announcers of the Good News.

''The faith of the people is strong, while the faith of leaders of the Church is to be re-kindled with the fire of the truth of the Gospel.'' said Fr. Klement Vaclav, the Misson Councillor of the Salesians.

These publications are meant to be means of mission animation for the Salesian family members as well as the Church as a whole. Any one can use the prayer reflections at the end of each series for animation and its contents for putting a little fire of the Gospel into our lives.
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