91

ISHVANI KENDRA
Institute of Missiology and Communications
Pune – India
September  – 2010

I. REPORT AND DOCUMENTATION

India: Centenary of Blessed Teresa

Celebrations of Blessed Teresa hit one of the first of many high points with a Mass in the house where she lived in Kolkata. It was attended by around 1,000 people and held on August 26, the centenary of her birth. Following Mass on the ground floor which houses her tomb, a congratulatory message from Pope Benedict was read out. Blessed Teresa “truly lived her life drawing closer to the person of Jesus, especially in the poorest of the poor, the sick, the lonely and abandoned,” it said.

Sr. Nirmala, Bl. Teresa’s successor as head of the Missionaries of Charity congregation and Sr. Prema, the present Superior General, both released balloons and a white dove. Cardinal Telesphore Toppo of Ranchi lit a centennial candle and placed it on the beautifully decorated tomb. He said that in this centenary year we must listen to her message that “we have been created for greater things, to love and be loved. We could reflect on how Mother lived, how she became first a religious in Loreto, then founded her own congregation dedicated to the poorest of the poor.”

Children with roses in their hands, the elderly, the poor, tourists, visitors and co-workers waited in line to pay their respects. Novices from the Missionaries of Charity flocked around the tomb and sang Happy Birthday, ending with the added refrain “may you soon be a saint.” On the same day, as part of the government’s celebrations, a statue of the nun, which has been freshly refurbished with lights and flowers, was garlanded by city officials. The road where it stands has been renamed Mother Teresa Street (ucanews.com).

India: Mother Teresa gets Special ‘Exhibition Train’

The Indian federal railway minister and head of the Missionaries of Charity congregation has launched a train with a photo exhibition on Mother Teresa to mark the Bl. Teresa’s birth centenary on August 26. Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee and Sr. Maria Prema opened the “train exhibition” for public viewing at Sealdah railway station in Kolkata, capital of West Bengal state.

Sr. Prema said she was “grateful” to Banerjee for starting the exhibition train. The congregation founded by Mother Teresa in 1950, has always enjoyed the support of the Indian railways, she said. Banerjee said people in West Bengal were proud that Mother Teresa belonged to their state and the Railways organized the exhibition train as a tribute to the sister. Dinesh Trivedi, the federal Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare said that “all of us require the healing touch of Mother Teresa” who he described as God’s “messenger” (ucanews.com).

India: Commemorative coins on Mother Teresa released

The Indian government released a set of two commemorative coins of rupees five and hundred on Mother Teresa, marking her birth centenary. Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee released the coins and gave them to President Pratibha Patil on Saturday at function organised in New Delhi’s Vigyan Bhavan, the government’s high profile conference center. The five-rupee coin reminds people of the amount of money Mother Teresa had when she left Loreto convent and started her mission of serving the poor in 1948. The hundred-rupee coin remembers the birth centenary of the nun who in 1950 began the Missionary of Charity congregation, now known across the world (Times of India).

Spain: Sad Demise of Prof. Raimon Panikkar

Prof. Panikkar passed away on 26th August at 16.15 Spanish time. The end was peaceful. Milena was with him till Sunday last and they recited, as was their usual custom, the "Angelus" together. He was fading fast by Monday and was able to receive the last rites. He then slipped into unconsciousness and did not come back. There will be a local memorial for him in the village church in Tavertet on 27th and then a full funeral on 4th September in Montserrat.

Raimon Panikkar was born on 3rd November 1918 in Barcellona, his father being an Indian of Hindu faith and his mother a Catalan Catholic. Thus, from his early childhood he was able to adopt, cultivate and speak of traditions within which he had always felt perfectly at home. He was ordained a priest in1946 and in the same year he got Ph. D. in Philosophy and in 1958 in Science at the University of Madrid and in 1961 in Theology at the Lateran University in Rome.

In 1987 he returned to Catalonia and took up residence in Tavertet where he has continued to hold courses, seminars and meetings on philosophical, religious and cultural themes. He has published around fifty books, For his part over the course of ten years he translated an anthology of a thousand pages of texts from the Vedas. “We are fortunate indeed to have been his students and friends and will cherish what we learned from him for the rest of our lives. Today, however, our lives are sadder, but also full of gratitude, as we keep him in our thoughts and prayers,” said Joseph Prabhu, sending this message (jprabhu@exchange.calstatela.edu).

India: Worst is over in Orissa: Archbishop Thomas

Archbishop Thomas Meenamparapil of Guwahati, who is on a peace-building mission in Orissa, says that the worst is over and people in the communally disturbed state need to look at the future with confidence.

The prelate, who was on a fourth visit to the state, met some of the activists for peace, including the Missionaries of Charity sisters. He visited some of the affected areas to assess the situation there. In the following interview with Conference of Religious India, the archbishop shared his views about the situation in Orissa and steps to maintain peace in the region.

Why did you visit Kandhamal?” It was a follow-up visit. I had gone with an ecumenical team of Church leaders from Northeast India last year, which was followed by an inter-religious team of youth-workers for conducting a convention for youth at Phulbani for some 160 young people of all religions, mostly Hindus. This meeting was organized at the invitation of the District Commissioner. He had also sent 25 young people to Guwahati for peace-training. I wanted to meet some of the activists for peace in the region, including the M.C. Sisters. This was my fourth visit to Orissa in the cause of peace.”

What did you do during your recent visit? “I succeeded in making a quick run of the whole area including Konjamundi, Balliguda, Raikia, Bakingia, Balliapada and Nilunkia. I was able to visit the village of Fr. Bernard who gave his life for Christ and pray in his house, and also the Bodimuda community which had gone through great difficulties. I met people, addressed groups, spoke of reconciliation and peace, and exhorted them to put the past behind and look to the future with confidence.”

What is your general impression? “The worst is over. What we need to do is to get over fear and suspicion, to avoid rumours, to build relationships. I am happy that many houses have already been constructed. However, many houses still remain uncompleted. Even after the completion of houses, people need house utensils and agricultural implements. I am glad that many dioceses and the CRI have been helping. My main message, however, was about confidence-building gestures from our side. Even if we win many cases and punish all the criminals, we have to learn to live with these communities. I was happy to learn that we were building houses also for some poor people in the villages who are not Christians. I heard many stories of our Hindu friends helping our people in the period of crisis, even at great risk to themselves. I heard stories also of Hindus who suffered during the riots. There are many stories of profound faith of our Christians, many stories of solidarity also from our Hindu brothers and sisters.”

What is your feeling about the future? “I am optimistic. The tragedy acted as a lesson for all. The rioters are beginning to recognize the mistake they have made. Our Christian friends have reacted nobly with a gesture of forgiveness. The government also came to understand that Indian society does not approve of these things. Last election was good indication. If we continue to build on the good will of our neighbours at this point, things should be well with us. However, we need to remain awake and alert, not over-worried, or contentious.”

What was your message when you addressed priests at Jharsguda and Berhampur? “I said that Emperor Ashoka opted for the way of peace after the tragedies of Kalinga war. A change of mind is possible. This does not mean that we can afford to close our eyes to communal forces at work in our society. We ought to be wary, but at the same time have confidence in the rightness of our cause, natural goodness in human hearts and the way of peace that the Lord has taught us. The Gospel speaks loudest in times of trouble. Let us make sure that the suffering we have gone through is not wasted, and that our glorious dead may not have died in vain (CRI).

II. NEWS

India: National Colloquium at Pune

Ishvani Kendra, Institute of Missiology and Communications, plans to organize a National Colloquium on “Indian Pluralism and Solidarity for a more Just Humanity” from 6-8 January 2011 at Pune, India to deliberate on our mission today and challenges to democracy, justice, peace and integrity of creation in solidarity with leaders of all religions and ideologies. Swami Agnivesh, Medha Patkar, Kiran Bedi, Prof. Ram Punyani, Archbishop Thomas Menamparmpil and around 100 prominent personalities are invited for this unique colloquium.

Singapore: Youth Learn to Evangelise through Internet

A “webinar” (online seminar) was held at St. Mary of the Angels parish to teach sis youth communicators how to use new media to fulfil their mission. Fr. Stephen Cuyos conducted the seminar teaching the youth about Web 2.0 and social networking as a tool to proclaim God’s Word (CN).

India: Launch of a CD – Legacy of Vandana Mataji

Sr. Vandana, whom Hindus affectionately called Mataji (mother), “was a great evangelist as she chose to live among orthodox Hindus in the foothills of the Himalayas,” said Bishop Thomas Dabre of Poona. He was speaking after releasing a CD of 12 hymns she composed in Hindi. The release was to mark her 86th birthday. She was born a Zoroastrian and became a Catholic at the age of 20 while studying at Sophia College, Mumbai (ucanews.com).

India: Filmmaker to help Kandhamal Victims

A delegation of Christian lay persons, sisters and priests has called on Bollywood director and social activist Mahesh Bhat to help victims of the Kandhamal violence in Orissa state. Bhat assured the team that he would ask prominent members of civil society to help as well (Sar News).

III. REFLECTION

100 Years of Mother’s Love by Dominic Emmanuel

BLESSED MOTHER TERESA had become a legend in her own lifetime. And today, on her birth centenary, as the world remembers her fondly and the poorest of the poor of the “City of Joy” worship her as their Devi, the Catholic Church preparing to officially pronounce her a saint.

In 2002, English weekly magazine Outlook conducted a survey among its readers to find out who, according to them, was the best Indian. The list included great Indian luminaries like Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, but the readers ticked Mother Teresa as the “best Indian”.

Of course, no one really needed a survey to verify the affection Mother Teresa commanded – not just in India, but the entire world. The then Government of India had, in fact, already bestowed upon her one of the highest honours by according her a state funeral as Mother left for heaven - her eternal home – on September 5, 1997.

What made Mother Teresa renounce the convent and embrace the abandoned sprang out of her long “Holy Hours” spent in intense prayer. “Holiness”, she used to say, “does not consist in doing extraordinary things. It consists in accepting, with a smile, what Jesus sends us…” That is why once when someone asked her about the success of her work, she promptly answered, “We do not count how successful we are but how faithful we are in serving the Lord”. For Mother, prayer was never divorced from her work. Nor could her hectic activity ever deprive her of the precious moments shared with Lord Jesus, her Master. Prayer and work always went hand in hand for Mother. She would often tell those training to join Missionaries of Charity, “The fruit of silence is prayer; the fruit of prayer is faith; the fruit of faith is love; the fruit of love is service and our service is for the poorest of the poor.”

In the world of mass media, where our attention is often distracted by television and glossy magazines for entertainment, sports, fashion and consumer goods, it is difficult to appreciate what led Mother Teresa to turn away from her convent life and plunge into the world of those totally rejected by society and often by their own families.

For Mother, however, it was clear that she chose to toil for the poorest of the poor because of her love for Jesus whom she witnessed in every “materially and spiritually poor person”. What caught her imagination and stirred her heart were the words of Jesus, “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers (sisters), you do it to me. For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to me” (Mt 25: 35-36).

She was obsessed with the person of Jesus. Through the hungry she fed Jesus; through the leprosy patients she dressed Jesus’ wounds; she sheltered him when she gave shelter to destitutes and prostitutes; she consoled him in AIDS victims.

Through her relationship with Jesus she learnt how he interacted with people of all classes and ethnic origins. He embraced everyone in need of love and compassion, and this was a cue for Mother. And so, every human being, regardless of caste, creed or colour, was welcomed in her Homes and continues to be received into the temples of the Missionaries of Charity. Hence she could confidently claim, “We have absolutely no difficulty having to work with many faiths. We treat all people as children of God. They are our brothers and sisters.”

Her unflinching faith in the providence of God was astonishing and for ordinary folks like us, impossible even to consider. She believed that she was doing “God’s work and He would provide for our needs”. That principle guides the work of Missionaries of Charity even today. Most of their centers don’t even have a budget. Their trust that God will provide them through some generous soul has never ever been betrayed. Hundreds of people of good will, belonging to different faiths, vie to get their names registered to provide the next meal at their centres.

Through her work, Mother opened the eyes of the rich and the powerful towards the needs of the poor. It is wonderful to see how they rally round the sisters to continue her mission. Observing the conditions of the poor in our country no one can deny that there is ample scope for lots of people to join in sharing God’s love and generosity with them, those who are less fortunate, and those whom Mother gave dignity and loving care, most often, in their dying moments (cibdelhi@gmail.com).

IV. MESSAGE

Pope Benedict’s Message for Mission Sunday: "Building Ecclesial Communion is the Key to the Mission"

The month of October, with the celebration of World Mission Sunday, offers diocesan and parish communities, Institutes of Consecrated Life, Ecclesial Movements, and the entire People of God, an occasion for renewing their commitment to proclaim the Gospel and give pastoral activity a greater missionary character. This annual event invites us to live out the liturgical, catechetical, charitable, and cultural means by which Jesus Christ calls us to the table of His Word and the Eucharist, to delight in the gift of His Presence, to form us in His school, and to live united to Him, Our Master and Lord, with ever greater awareness. He Himself tells us: “He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him” (Jn 14:21). It is only from this encounter with the Love of God that transforms our existence, that we can live in communion with Him and among ourselves and offer our brethren a credible testimony, giving reason for our hope (cf. 1 Pet 3:15). A mature faith, capable of entrusting itself completely to God in a filial manner, nourished by prayer, meditation on the Word of God, and study of the truths of the faith, is the condition necessary for promoting a new humanism, founded on Jesus’ Gospel.

Also, in October, many countries resume their various church activities following the summer vacations. The Church invites us to learn from Mary, through the recitation of the Holy Rosary, how to contemplate the Father’s loving plan for all people and to love them as He does. Is this not, as well, the meaning of the mission?

The Father, in fact, calls us to be beloved children in His Son, the Beloved, and to see ourselves as brothers and sisters in Him, the Gift of Salvation for a humanity that is divided by discord and sin and Revealer of the true face of that God who “so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).

“We wish to see Jesus¨ (Jn 12:21) is the request made to the Apostle Philip in the Gospel of John by some Greeks, who have come to Jerusalem for the Passover pilgrimage. This resounds in our hearts as well in this month of October, which reminds us that the commitment and task of proclaiming the Gospel belongs to the entire Church, “missionary by her very nature” (AG 2), and calls us to become advocates of a newness of life, formed by authentic relationships, in communities founded on the Gospel. In a multi-ethnic society that experiences increasing forms of solitude and alarming indifference, Christians should learn to offer signs of hope and become universal brothers, cultivating the great ideals that transform history and, without false illusions or unnecessary fears, work to make the planet a home for all peoples.

Like the Greek pilgrims of 2,000 years ago, so too the men of our time, perhaps at times unconsciously, ask believers to not only “speak” of Jesus but to “make Jesus visible,” to make the Redeemer’s Face shine in every corner of the earth before the generations of the new millennium and especially before the youth of every continent, who are privileged recipients and subjects in the proclamation of the Gospel. They should perceive that Christians bear Christ’s word because He is the Truth, because they have found in Him the meaning, the truth about their life.

These considerations regard the missionary mandate that all the baptised and the entire Church have received, but that cannot be fulfilled in a credible manner without a profound personal, communal, and pastoral conversion. In fact, the awareness of the call to announce the Gospel not only inspires every individual believer, but all the diocesan and parochial communities, to an integral renewal and to an ever greater openness to missionary cooperation among the Churches, to promote the proclamation of the Gospel in the heart of every person, every people, culture, race, nationality, in every place. This awareness is heightened through the work of the Fidei Donum priests, consecrated men and women, catechists, and lay missionaries, in a constant effort to promote ecclesial communion, so that the phenomenon of “interculturalism” may be incorporated into a framework of unity in which the Gospel is leaven of liberty and progress, a source of fraternity, humility, and peace (cf. AG 8). The Church, in fact, “is in Christ like a sacrament or as a sign and instrument both of a very closely knit union with God and of the unity of the whole human race” (LG 1).

Ecclesial communion is brought about through the encounter with the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who through the Church’s preaching reaches out to all men and establishes them in communion with Himself and therefore, with the Father and the Holy Spirit (cf. 1 Jn 1:3). Christ establishes the new relationship between God and man. “He Himself revealed to us that ‘God is love’ (1 Jn 4:8) and at the same time taught us that the new command of love was the basic law of human perfection and hence of the worlds transformation. To those, therefore, who believe in divine love, He gives assurance that the way of love lies open to men and that the effort to establish a universal brotherhood is not a hopeless one” (GS 38).

The Church becomes “communion” starting from the Eucharist in which Christ, present in the bread and wine, with His sacrifice of love establishes the Church as His Body, uniting us to the one Triune God and among each other (cf. 1 Cor 10:16). In the Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis, I wrote: “The love that we celebrate in the sacrament is not something we can keep to ourselves. By its very nature it demands to be shared with all. What the world needs is God's love; it needs to encounter Christ and to believe in him” (84). The Eucharist is thus the source and summit not only of the Church's life, but also of her mission: "an authentically eucharistic Church is a missionary Church" (ibid.), capable of proclaiming with conviction: “what we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; for our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ” (1 Jn. 1:3).

In this World Mission Sunday in which the eye of the heart widens its perspective to look upon the vastness of the mission, may we all see ourselves as active participants in the Church’s task of proclaiming the Gospel. Missionary zeal has always been the mark of vitality among our Churches (cf. RM 2) and their cooperation is a unique testimony of unity, fraternity, and solidarity that makes them credible heralds of Saving Love!

Therefore, I renew my invitation to prayer and, in spite of the economic difficulties, to fraternal, concrete aid in support of the younger Churches. Such signs of love and solidarity, whose distribution is overseen in the valuable service of the Pontifical Mission Societies, to whom I express my gratitude, will go towards the support of priests, seminarians, and catechists in the most far off missionary lands and will become a source of encouragement for the young ecclesial communities.

In concluding this annual message for World Mission Sunday, I wish to express my affectionate acknowledgement of all missionaries, who offer their testimony to the Kingdom of God in the most far off and difficult places, often at the cost of their own lives. It is to them, who are at the forefront in announcing the Gospel, that every believer lends his friendship, closeness, and support. May God, who “loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor 9:7), fill them with spiritual fervour and profound joy.

Like Mary’s “yes,” every generous response of the ecclesial community to the divine call to fraternal charity will inspire new apostolic and ecclesial maternity (cf. Gal 4:4,19:26), that in awe before the mystery of God who is Love, who “in the fullness of time...sent His Son, born of a woman” (Gal 4:4), gives new apostles confidence and audacity. This response will make all the faithful capable of “rejoicing in hope” (Rom 12:12) in the fulfilment of the plan of God, who desires “that the whole human race might form one people of God and be built up into one temple of the Holy Spirit” (AG 7) (svdinm@mtnl.net.in).

V. BOOK-REVIEW

1. Michael, S.M.: Dalits’ Encounter with Christianity, Delhi: ISPCK Tercentenary Publication/Ishvani Kendra, Pune, 2010, pp. 230. [ISBN: 978-81-8465-074-7] Rs.240/-. (Available only at Ishvani Kendra, for a special price of Rs.200/-)

Even after sixty plus years of independence, the situation of the ex-untouchables, today popularly known as ‘Dalits’, remains pathetic. Their representation in various government and private institutions is inadequate. Their social and cultural discrimination continues. All the same, there is persistent and all pervading daily struggle among them to leave behind a life tainted and broken by others, and to seize the change of a better life for a future. A call for change and an assertion of self-respect appear to be emerging from among them, and it is important to trace this highly significant struggle of the suffering humanity. This book studies the situation of the Dalit Christians and their struggle for equality and human dignity. This study also provides new insights into the complex problems of the religious conversion and the process of inculturation in the Indian Church.

VI. NEXT COURSES AT ISHVANI KENDRA

  1. EDUCATION AS MISSION (20-25 October)
  2. LED BY THE SPIRIT: RENEWAL FOR EVANGELIZING MISSION (1-6 November)
  3. EMPOWERING SKILLS IN FORMATION (November 15-11 December)

Dr. Joy Thomas, SVD (Director)

ISHVANI KENDRA
P.B. 3003, Off Nagar Road, Sainikwadi
Pune – 411014 – INDIA
Ph : (0091) - 020 – 27033820; 27033507

E-mail: ishvani@dataone.in
Website:
www.ishvanikendra.org

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