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Thomas Malipurathu's conference at the Fatima Symposium:


- Thomas Malipurathu, SVD

ommentators tend to divide the mission history of India broadly into two epochs. The story is widely believed to have begun in the very first Christian century. This belief is based on a formidable tradition, zealously held and vigorously defended as an article of faith by the undeniably ancient Christian community of south India, that the Apostle Thomas first brought the Gospel to India. The seeds of faith that the Galilean disciple of Jesus sowed sprouted and grew quite rapidly to become an impressive social formation in a fairly short time. Gradually it transformed itself into a vibrant community, coming to be referred to as the Thomas Christians, which many would in time describe as religiously Christian, culturally Indian and liturgically oriental.1

Church historians seem to hold that this first epoch lasted till the arrival of St. Francis Xavier and his Jesuit companions in Goa in the middle of the 16th century.2 Francis Xavier’s brief but intense work of evangelization, lasting much less than a decade,3 thus marks the beginning of the second epoch of India’s mission history. The fact that one man’s whirlwind tour of mostly the coastal areas of the peninsular south has come to be referred to as the point of division for a history of nearly 2000 years of extension, and full of remarkable twists and turns, is perhaps the best indication of the immense influence he exerts on this national church and its missionary endeavours. Then again, Francis Xavier is arguably the most highly regarded itinerant evangelizer after Saint Paul and evidently is a perennially inspiring missionary icon.4 His untiring devotion to the cause of mission continues to profoundly impress even the present day generation,5 almost half a millennium after he left the scene! It is indeed a privilege to be able to participate in an effort to commemorate the five hundred years of his birth, especially at a place not too far from his own native Navarra, and to be able to make this little contribution to the reflections that will take place in this forum.

I. A Historical Overview of SVD Missionary Engagement in India

The Society of the Divine Word is a relative newcomer on the mission scene in India, with less than 75 years of history. Long before that, in fact already from the start of the modern missionary era in the late 15th and early 16th centuries, India had become a favourite mission destination for major missionary orders such as the Dominicans, the Franciscans, the Carmelites, the Augustinians, the Jesuits and the Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales. The discovery of the sea-route from the West to India, which was signalled by the landing of Vasco de Gama at the south Indian port of Calicut in the year 1498, was a significant turning point for the Christian mission in India. Close on the heels of that event of much political significance, the missionary outreach from Europe became an uninterrupted process. Over the centuries innumerable men and women, incredibly brave and supremely zealous for the spread of faith, have spent themselves for the cause of mission in this sprawling land. The work of the SVD finds its place in this great continuum and in a relatively brief time, the congregation has been able to make a mark of its own in the field.

Early Moves

Although the first Divine Word Missionaries would arrive in India only 1932, the process of taking on India as a mission land had begun much earlier.6 It was in the closing years of the 19th and opening years of 20th century that the Propaganda Fide, as the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples was then known, turned its attention to reorganizing its mission territories in Asia, particularly in China and India. It was made necessary by the extension of the missionary presence in these countries and the emergence of new mission-sending institutes. Around the same time the Society was making plans for extending its activities to India, alongside China, which was its first mission. When the Propaganda Fide approached the general administration with the request, the response was immediate and positive. However, because of circumstances, serious practical steps had to be delayed until much later.

Formal discussions began in 1912 and they were initiated by Fr. John Weigh who founded the SVD Japanese mission. While returning to Europe from Japan he paid a visit to Candy, Sri Lanka, and south India. During this visit he met with Msgr. Zalaski, the Apostolic Delegate to India. Two proposals regarding assigning of two different territories in north India were broached. Fr. Weigh on that occasion made an on-the-spot study of the areas in question as he accepted the invitation of the Jesuit provincial of Calcutta for that purpose. Upon returning to Steyl, Holland, in the middle of 1913, Fr. Weigh wrote a detailed letter to the Superior General Nicholas Blum explaining the different stages of his discussion and appending his own assessment of the situation, strongly recommending that the Society move in right away. The General Administration was suitably impressed by the suggestion and intimated the Propaganda Fide about its readiness to open missions in India. No sooner had the Propaganda learned of it than it assigned the Patna mission to the SVD. However, at around the same time the catastrophic First World War broke out and all plans had to be shelved.

With the war over and the major part of the Western world having limped back to normalcy, the Propaganda Fide renewed its request to the Society in 1927. This time, however, the proposal was to take up a territory in central India, to be detached from the Rajputana Mission that was under the care of the French Capuchins. The Superior General of the time, Fr. William Gier, and his council set about gathering more information on the mission situation in India on their own. They approached a German Jesuit working in India, a certain Fr. Vaeth, to get an expert opinion on the matter. His recommendation was that the Society accepts a mission district in the north of the country. Meanwhile the Vatican Congregation kept up its pressure and initiated wide-ranging consultations on the various aspects of the mission situation. Finally, the Propaganda informed Fr. General that it had decided to entrust to the Society of the Divine Word an area culled out from the mission territory of the French and Italian Capuchins in central India. The Superior General subsequently informed the Congregation that the Society was readily accepting the offer.

Upon receiving the consent of the Generalate, the Propaganda officially assigned the Indore-Mhow mission territory to the SVD on March 3, 1931. It was indeed a red letter day for the congregation as it marked the beginning of a long chapter in its ongoing history.

The Pioneers

Once the formalities were over, the Superior General began the search for suitable candidates for launching the new mission. Soon a team of 13 was put together that would combine wide experience, youthful dynamism and competence in the use of English to respond to the complex Indian situation. Fr. Peter Janser, residing at that time in St. Richard’s Mission House, Hadzor, England, would be named as the mission superior. He had worked among the Afro-Americans in the USA, later serving as the provincial superior of the Chicago province. He also had an exposure to the Chinese mission for six years while serving as the Mission Procurator in Shangai. This background of rich and varied experience would stand him in good stead as he was taking on a tough assignment. His dedication to the task was evident from the fact that from the time he received the appointment to India, he started reading up on the Indian mission and had gathered a great deal of information before he would actually set sail to his new land of mission.

Thus the first group of six Divine Word Missionaries arrived in India in 1932. They came in two batches. The first two, Peter Janser and Leo Krzeminski, arrived at Indore on November 4, 1932, having boarded the ship at Rotterdam in Holland. The second batch of four: Herman Westermann, Aloysius Kanski, Ernest Schlappa and Stanislaus Wald, reached on December 7 of the same year. As soon as they landed on the scene, the Capuchins who were attending to the vast territory of over 10,000 sq. kms. handed over the charge to the new arrivals. The latter hardly had the time to make a systematic survey of the area and decide upon the priorities of their missionary outreach. The other seven of the original 13: George Proksch, Leonard Jungblut, William Lenzen, Joachim Mocha, Henry Wichelmann, Paul Siemko and Adalbert, would arrive over following few months

Shortly thereafter deliberations got underway to facilitate the arrival of the Missionary Sisters, Servants of the Holy Spirit, and a group of four pioneers touched land on February 6, 1933. Health care was the first ministry that would be entrusted to them and as soon as they arrived in Indore, they would move in to the Kalyanmal Nursing Home in the city centre to manage and administer it.

Spread and Consolidation of the Mission

The enthusiasm of the early days made things move swiftly. By the end of 1934, the SVD had taken over practically all the major stations of the entire mission area entrusted to it. It was predominantly an urban mission because of the fact that the miniscule catholic presence, made up mostly of migrant workers from other parts of the country, was concentrated in the major towns of that time. The new missionaries were assigned to the existing established stations. Already in 1935, solicitous for the development of the mission, Rome announced the erection of the Prefecture of Indore, with Fr. Peter Janser appointed as the Prefect Apostolic.

Not long after that development, the then Superior General, Fr. Joseph Grendel, erected the Indore Region in November 1936 and a few months later, in April 1937, named Fr. Stanislaus Wald as the first Regional Superior. Until his appointment as Prefect Apostolic, Peter Janser was both the ecclesiastical and the religious superior. Experience gathered from other countries had convinced the General Administration that it was better to separate the two offices.

With the establishment of the Indore Mission as a new administrative unit in the Society, efforts were directed towards consolidation and expansion. New missionaries arrived from Europe regularly every year. It would take many more years before the Society would decide to accept indigenous vocations to the Society. That happened in the year 1950.

In course of time the Society began setting its sights beyond the limits of the Indore Mission originally assigned to it. At the invitation of the Jesuit missionaries in the east of the country, the first missionaries moved in to Gaibira in Orissa in 1948. It was already a flourishing mission with a considerable tribal catholic population. Already in 1951, a new diocese, Sambalpur by name, with an SVD bishop in the person of Fr. Herman Westermann, was erected. In a few years, in 1954, a new SVD Region would also be created with Fr. Karl Schmidt as the Regional Superior. Both these developments contributed enormously to the advancement of the work of evangelization. Much expansion would happen in a short span of time and in 1979 the original Sambalpur diocese would be bifurcated and a new ecclesiastical province named Rourkela would be created. Today, in the federal state of Orissa, the SVD makes a significant contribution to the Church with three out of its eight ecclesiastical provinces being headed by SVD bishops.

Meanwhile, expansion of the Society’s work was taking place in other directions as well. In 1963 the new Region of Poona (now the city is known as Pune) was created dividing the sprawling Indore Mission one more time. The new Region had its headquarters in Pune at the Divine Word Seminary, which was the study house for the major seminarians of the Society doing philosophy and theology courses as part of their priestly formation. The new Region was mostly made up of formation houses. Subsequently, in 1978, all the three Regions (Indore, Sambalpur and Poona) would be raised to the status of Provinces. The Poona Province, renamed Southern Indian Province, acquired the mission territory of Medak in the Archdiocese of Hyderabad in the southern State of Andhra Pradesh and started working in the Diocese of Guntur in the same State in 1972. The Society’s presence in Andhra Pradesh is now spread over five dioceses.

The latest event signifying the continued growth of the Society in India is the division of the erstwhile Southern Indian Province into two: India Mumbai (INM) and India Hyderabad (INH) with their headquarters in Mumbai (formerly Bombay) and Hyderabad respectively. This took place in December 2001. Further expansion is soon to happen. In January 2006, a new Region is to be created in the north-east of the country and it is already named as India Guwahati (ING).

The growth of the congregation in this part of the world has been remarkable. Compared to most of the other congregations which came to India around the same time, the SVD growth in terms of numbers and variety of apostolates has been outstanding.7 What began as a small mission with 13 members in 1932 now stands as a huge organism divided into five administrative units with over 600 finally professed members and about a 100 in temporary vows. The current number of novices is 27. Especially remarkable is the fact that just over 150 of the finally professed members are missioned to overseas destinations.

No narrative of the SVD history in India will be complete without a mention of at least a few of the leading men who left an indelible mark on it. There is always the danger of leaving out some worthy names when one decides to mention a few. But the few here mentioned are truly worthy of special accolades for the outstanding nature of their contributions.

Fr. Stanislaus Wald, one of the original 13, has a permanent place in the annals because it was he who achieved the remarkable feat of translating the Old Testament to Hindi for the first time. The fact that he was a German and started learning Hindi in his late 20’s makes his achievement especially remarkable. To another of the original group of 13, Fr. George Proksch, goes the singular honour of taking the concept of inculturation to dizzying heights much before even the Vatican II. From the early days of his missionary career in India, Proksch realized the enormous potential of sharing the Gospel message through the medium of dance and music. India has very distinguished traditions in both dance and music and Proksch’s effort was to make the best use of it for spreading the Gospel message. His compositions of Hindi hymns are still in wide use in liturgy. His moment of glory came when he led a 3000 member choir at the International Eucharistic Congress held in Mumbai in 1964. Fr. Stephen Fuchs, an Austrian, was a renowned anthropologist and made stellar contributions to the study of the cultural wealth of India, undertaking a number of critically acclaimed research projects. Fr. Englebert Zeitler is someone who is credited with giving a common identity and missionary vision to the scattered Catholic community of India in the post-Vatican II era.

II. Mission in Its Changes and Continuities

Evolving Concept of Mission

The Divine Word Missionaries first set foot on the shores of India about three quarters of a century ago. Between then and now there have been immensely consequential changes in the theory and practice of mission. Some would even lament that the concept of mission has changed beyond recognition. But most practioners of mission would say that it has been a happy development because the changed circumstances necessitate and justify it. It was initiated by the providential mediation of the Second Vatican Council and its hugely influential documents such as Lumen gentium (Church), Ad Gentes divinitus (Church’s Missionary Activity), Gaudium et spes (Church in the Modern World) and Nostra aetate (Relations with Other Religions). Subsequent papal documents setting out the details of the Church’s work of evangelization like the Evangelii nuntiandi of Pope Paul VI and the Redemptoris missio of Pope John Paul II, too, had their share in this still continuing effort of redefining mission.8 In many ways this new definition has to be seen as an attempt to recapture the original vision of mission as established by the life and work of Jesus himself.

Looking Anew at the Sources

An attentive reading of the Gospels will show us beyond doubt that Jesus understood and practised his life’s mission as facilitating the coming of God’s reign. The kingdom of God, which was the main theme in much of his teachings, however, was never defined by him. He used mostly parables while setting out its characteristics. The kingdom of God is like ‘a farmer who sows wheat in his field’ (Mt 13:24-30), like ‘a mustard seed’ (Mt 13:31-32; Mk 4:30-32; Lk 13:18-19), like ‘yeast’ (Mt 13:33; Lk 13:20-21), like ‘a treasure hidden in a field’ (Mt 13:44), like ‘a merchant in search of fine pearls’ (Mt 13:45-46), and like ‘a net cast into the sea’ (Mt 13:47-50), he would tell his listeners. This use of evocative language in describing the kingdom, this refusal to offer a concrete definition, cannot but be the admission that it is something far more extensive than what the human mind can restrict it to. It shows concretely the universal extension of the kingdom. What Jesus proposed was a vision, not a blueprint. It was built around the vision of a new society constantly renewed from within by the progressive promotion of core values such as freedom, fellowship and justice.9

Freedom in this context has to do with freedom on a personal level, where an individual seeks to liberate himself or herself from the internal compulsions and external pressures that inhibit him or her. From a psychological point of view, the feeling of ‘unfreedom’ comes from the lack of an experience of genuine love. It finds expression in the compulsive pursuit of acquiring possessions, positions or power. The whole of Jesus’ ministry was singularly devoted to the task of liberating people whom he reached out to. The purpose of his miracles was to liberate people from the feeling of sin and guilt, from the dread of demons, from the clasp of ritualism and from the burden of the law.

Fellowship refers to the active concern for one’s neighbours, understood in the inclusive sense of all those who find themselves in any situation of need, which one is naturally led to as one liberates oneself from the bonds that shackle one. The call to practice selfless love is repeated through various exhortations and it finds constant echo in all four gospels. This is the ultimate meaning of Jesus’ love commandment (Mt 22:34-40; Mk 12:28-34; Lk 10:25-28), often seen as the quintessence of his ethical exhortations. This kind of love, Jesus would insist, is the distinguishing mark of a Christian (Jn 13:35).

Justice is what results from a sustained nurturing of freedom and fellowship, by which humans are impelled to take up collective action to bring the societal structures to deliver equality of opportunities to all members of a social formation. Far from passively tolerating social, economic and political structures that oppress human beings, Jesus’ followers, formed in freedom and fellowship, actively adopt measures that challenge and change such structures in order to replace them with life-giving, non-exploitative ones.

This is precisely the picture of mission that emerges from evangelist Luke’s depiction of Jesus’ inaugural sermon at the Nazareth synagogue (Lk 4:16-30). This, according to many scholars, is a carefully crafted passage that portrays the beginning of Jesus’ ministry through which his stirring manifesto is powerfully presented in an appropriate setting. Jesus unequivocally asserts that he had been anointed by God’s Spirit and had been tasked to reach out to the poor, the captives, the blind and the oppressed. His divinely ordained task was to bring in the transforming vision of God’s reign into the lives of people in the margins of society, those beyond the pale of respectability and therefore those who would benefit most from such a renewed order of things. At a later moment, when confronted by the disciples of John the Baptist, Jesus draws their attention to what he saw as the practice of mission: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life and the poor have the good news preached to them (cf. Lk 7:22; Mt 11:5).

This was the mission that Jesus passed on to his disciples as his legacy. He commissioned them to set themselves to the task of continuing the mission initiated by him by following the trail blazed by him. We hear echoes of that in the various mission discourses recorded in the gospels (cf. Mt 10:5-42; Lk 9:1-6; 10:1-16).

Rise of Institutionalization

But in course of time the Church became increasingly institutionalized and gradually this vision of mission was relegated to the background and a concept of mission centred on the ‘Great Commission’10 of Mt 28:16-20 gained prominence. Often the significance of its location in the Gospel and its post-Easter context was forgotten or simply neglected.11 Neglected also was the theological denseness of the pericope and the purpose it serves for the Gospel of Matthew.12 What needs to be pointed out is that this kind of overemphasis given to one passage, allowing it a life of itself as it were, signals the impoverishing of the rich biblical tradition. Truthfully, what may have happened against the background of the Church tasting political power, especially in the wake of the Constantinian turnaround, is that such exclusive prominence given to the ‘Great Commission’ text imparted legitimization to viewing the Church as a replica of the kingdom of God and its blatantly expansionist goals. It contributed to the inaccurate presumption that the Church is an end in itself, not the means to an end. In later centuries, the unholy alliance between the Christian missionary enterprise and the colonialism of the West accorded even more prominence to a mission theology built almost exclusively on this particular text. There is no doubt that with all these unhealthy developments the idea of mission got more and more distanced from its original moorings in the life and ministry of Jesus.

Integral Mission

What has been taking place especially after the Vatican II is a salvaging operation: To re-establish Christian mission as a continuation of the unfinished mission of Jesus. Its starting point is understanding the Church not as a replica of the kingdom, but as a symbol and servant of it. The effort is powered by the very legitimate attempt to broaden the biblical foundation of mission by looking at the whole picture and to use the ministry of Jesus as its point of reference. The universally acknowledged shift from the Great Commission text in Matthew 28 to the inaugural sermon passage in Luke 4 has to be seen and evaluated against this background.13 Equally important in this context is the highly evocative missionary content of texts such as Mt 5:13-16 (the symbolism of salt and light) and Mt 25:31-46 (active concern for one’s neighbours, especially the disadvantaged ones among them, as the clinching evidence of one’s true loyalty to God).

It is into this larger mission context that the work of evangelization presently carried out by the Divine Word Missionaries in India must be placed. Drawing inspiration from the ministry of Jesus, they see mission as attending to human need as they proceed with the conviction that every situation of need mediates to the disciples of Jesus an irresistible call to mission. Accordingly they find the work of educating the illiterate children in far flung areas of rural India as much as organizing unemployed youth in its sprawling cities as jobs cut out for them. Spreading awareness about social problems such as alcoholism, ill treatment of women and child labour is mission for them. Attending to the victims of HIV/AIDS and providing shelter for street children is bringing good news to the poor for them. Accompanying the unfortunate victims of natural disasters with material and psychological/spiritual assistance is for them a noble way of being channels of God’s love. Being active promoters of inter-religious collaboration, providing formation for young religious and seminarians, teaching at state universities or institutes of theology and philosophy, research in areas such as missiology, anthropology and culture, engaging in social communications work, publishing wholesome reading material, being promoters of God’s word, reaching out through music and dance, etc., are in their scheme of things all part of a missionary’s work. More pertinently they see all these as various ways of engaging in constructive, fruitful prophetic dialogue.

But the Divine Word missionaries in India would not take for granted traditional engagements of a missionary such as parish work and the pastoral care of the believers, faith formation of children and youngsters or working for spiritual renewal through retreats and psychological counselling of people looking out for such services, understanding them as much a part of their call as any of the above tasks. Indeed in most places of their missionary engagement, a considerable number of confreres are involved in such tasks.

India’s population stands at over 1,100 million at the last count. Christians constitute a tiny minority in this vast sea of humanity. An overwhelming majority of the rest is strongly committed to ancient and vibrant religious traditions such as Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism. The thought of changing their religious affiliation is probably last on the minds of these very religious minded millions. There is therefore no hope that in the foreseeable future the Church will grow into anything more than the ‘little flock’ that it is today. It is precisely in this context that the need to live as a witnessing community becomes supremely relevant. This witnessing can be carried out most effectively when we reach out in genuine concern and solidarity to the less fortunate, to those who are constantly pushed over to the edge. There have been some groundbreaking efforts especially in the field of inter-religious dialogue carried out through dialogue centres and ‘ashrams’. In their accompaniment of the people entrusted to their care, the Divine Word Missionaries in India are giving a contemporary expression to Jesus’ mission of bringing the good news to the poor. A convinced pursuit of dialogue, respectful of the partners and acknowledging the need for a larger partnership for advancing God’s mission could perhaps be also the distinctive contribution of India.

III. Looking Beyond, Journeying Ahead

Those who are concerned about the current state of mission frequently admit that there is a deep crisis surrounding the whole enterprise.14 On one end of the spectrum we find people affirming that we stand at the end of mission. There are of course a good number of incorrigible optimists who go on saying that the golden age of mission is just round the corner. Most people, however, are cautiously optimistic and point out that what is in evidence is the end of a particular period in the history of mission and that many radical changes are in the offing, changes that will make mission very different from what has been made of it. One thing is certain, the age of triumphalism is over and will never return. The Christian world needs to think less in terms of ‘proclaiming’ the good news and must rather change to the mode of ‘sharing’ it with others. This sharing is to be done, not primarily and certainly not exclusively, through noisy verbal proclamation but through the example and witness of life.

The ‘conquest’ mode of mission was the ideology that reigned supreme for many centuries. Conquering more and more peoples for Christ was the ultimate driving force. In earlier times, when the world religions did not have today’s enhanced self-understanding, there was perhaps no sustained and vociferous resistance to the conquest ideology. But that is no more the case. Followers of other faith traditions, many of them having been on the scene much longer than the Christian churches, find it unacceptable and feel insulted when they hear Christians go around proclaiming that the path pursued by those world religions are ‘gravely deficient’ and the fullness of salvation rests with themselves alone.

We need a more realistic approach to mission and a more credible theology of mission. Perhaps the starting point of the new way of thinking should be the conviction that we are sharing in the mission of God (Missio Dei) together with the rest of humanity and indeed the whole of creation. Being enthusiastic partners of life-enhancing initiatives, no matter where they come from, should be the defining element of a genuine missionary spirit. Because in our post-modern world, with all the much-touted advantages of the age of globalization and secular ideologies, the sacredness of life has become the unfortunate victim. Christian mission, even as it draws its fundamental inspiration from the one who came ‘so that all may have life and have it in abundance’ (cf. Jn 10:10), has no choice but to be the tenacious upholder of the dignity of all forms of life.

The word ‘dialogue’ is increasingly seen as a word that seeks to capture the essence of an approach to mission that is based on ‘kenotic universality’ rather than on ‘hegemonic universality’ and one that is in no way aggressive or intimidating.15 Imbibing the spirit of such a universality, which is sincere, elevating, transforming, liberating and free from all hegemonic power-agenda, will enable us to enter into humble and respectful relationship with the other, be they followers of other faith traditions, people of other cultures, the poor and the marginalized or honest faith seekers. In a social milieu like the one obtaining in today’s India, mission practised as a dialogue of life is perhaps the only reasonable option. And certainly the only one that will have some measure of credibility.

Francis Xavier was a product of his age, like men and women of all generations are. His imagination was fired by the dominant paradigm of mission of his time which surely was built around the conquest model. In his missionary labours he was responding to the signs of the time. It may be unfair to pass judgment on his missionary method with today’s understanding of mission. The relentless commitment to the cause with which he lived his missionary call is indeed the major lesson to be drawn from his life and work. Pursuing the goal of mission, understood as a process of dialogue, with the kind of enthusiasm and commitment he brought to the enterprise will be the best tribute that we of the present generation can pay to his hallowed memory.

1 Cf. X. Koodapuzha, “Catholic Mission in the Region of Kerala,” in A. Kanjamala (ed.), Integral Mission Dynamics: An Interdisciplinary Study of the Catholic Church in India (New Delhi: Intercultural Publications, 1995) 3-28 (4-5).

2 Francis Xavier set out for India in 1541 and he along with his companions opened their headquarters in Goa in the year 1542. His death occurred exactly 10 years later on the Sanhian (Sangchwan) Island on the borders of China in the year 1552. Cf. C.J. Costa, “Catholic Mission in the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman,” in A. Kanjamala (ed.) Integral Mission Dynamics (see n.1 above), 128-147.

3 The actual time Francis Xavier spent in India is just about five years, of which less than 12 months were spent in Goa. Cf. S. Mascarenhas, “Like a Mustard Seed…: Seminal Influences of Francis Xavier on the Church in India,” Vidyajyoti Journal of Theological Reflection 69 (2005) 805-812.

4 Francis Xavier, along with Therese of Lisieux, is considered as the patron of the Missions. He, along with Apostle Thomas, is also the patron of India.

5 Within a short span of 10 years of active missionary career, he is credited to have founded churches in Goa, Bassein, Ceylon (today’s Sri Lanka), Malacca, Moro Islands, Moluccas and Japan. Cf. Costa, “Catholic Mission in Goa,” (see. n. 2 above)

6 Points for this historical narrative have been gathered from C. Srambical, “The SVD Mission in Indore: A Look at the Beginnings,” in Vari (eds.), As the Saints Go Marching in…(Pune: Divine Word Seminary, 2003) 66-72; I. Soreng, “The Eastern Indian Province: Prospects and Challenges,” in idem, 82-89.

7 Cf. A. Kanjamala, “The Mumbai Province of India (INM),” in Vari (eds.), As the Saints Go Marching in… (see n. 6 above) 96-104.

8 There are many who hold that the optimism and progressive thrust of the Vatican II documents were not nurtured substantially by later Church documents. Some would even say that in many ways there was clear regression in the magisterial thinking about mission since Vatican II.

9 These arguments are taken from an extremely insightful article by G.M. Soares-Prabhu, “The Kingdom of God: Jesus’ Vision of a New Society,” in F.X. D’Sa (ed.), Theology of Liberation: An Indian Biblical Perspective (Collected Writings of George M. Soares-Prabhu, S.J.), Vol. IV (Pune: Jnana-deepa Vidyapeeth Theology Series, 2001) 223-251.

10 The aphorism ‘Great Commission’ is indicative of the decisive influence these verses have had in the formulation of the missionary consciousness of the Christian communities.

11 See the detailed discussion on this question and further on the missionary content of the Gospel of Matthew in D.M. Bosch, Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1991) 56-83.

12 G.M. Soares-Prabhu, “Two Mission Commands: An Interpretation of Matthew 28:16-20 in the Light of a Buddhist Text,” in F.X D’Sa, Theology of Liberation (see n. 9 above) 53-69. According to the author, Mt 28:16-20 is one of the best known texts of the New Testament, remarkable for its meticulously constructed from and valued for its theological content.

13 According to Bosch (Transforming Mission [n. 11 above], 84), “Lk 4:16-21 has, for all practical purposes, replaced Matthew’s ‘Great Commission’ s the key text not only for understanding Christ’s own mission, but also that of the church.”

14 In fact, Bosch’s magisterial work, Transforming Mission (n. 11 above) makes a discussion of this crisis situation as the point of departure for his study. See also J.A. Sherer’s review of Bosch’s monograph in Missiology: An International Review, Vol. XIX (1991) 153-159.

15 Cf. F. Wilfred, “A Vision for the New Century: Role of Religions and Approaches to Christian Mission,” in T. Malipurathu and L. Stanislaus, A Vision of Mission in the New Millennium (Mumbai: St. Paul’s, 2001) 83-114.