Friday, January 05, 2007

XIII National Catholic Charismatic Convention, India - December 2006

Greater Charismatic Participation Shows Growth Of Movement, Leaders Say

January 4, 2007

MURINGOOR, India (UCAN) -- About 20,000 Catholics from across India recently attended a national charismatic convention that, according to many, shows the movement is growing in the country.

New Delhi-based National Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services organized the 13th national event. The convention, whose theme was "Building the Body of Christ," took place Dec. 27-30 at Divine Retreat Center in Muringoor village in Kerala state. The center, 2,560 kilometers south of New Delhi, attracts about 10,000 people for its weekly retreats.

Cyril John, chairperson of the National Charismatic Service Team, told UCA News that only 12 percent of India's 17 million Catholics have joined the 35-year-old movement, but "more and more youths and women are joining."

According to the 52-year-old lay charismatic leader, the program's highlight was the presence of more than 15 bishops. John, the event's general convener, said the participants reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen the Catholic community and "want the movement to spread to the entire Church."

Father Augustine Vallooran, director of the center's English section, told UCA News more laypeople and bishops came than ever before and even more wanted to attend, but "we could not offer them space to sleep." There is "renewed interest" among young people and women to join prayer groups in parishes and neighborhoods, he said, and "I feel happy our movement is growing."

Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil of Ernakulam-Angamaly, one of the bishops and lay leaders who addressed the convention's 11 sessions, opened the event. He said the charismatic movement's commitment to the poor and needy "is making a difference in daily life" of Catholics in the country. He also applauded the Divine Retreat Centre for serving HIV/AIDS-affected people shunned by society.

The convention boosted spiritual growth, several participants told UCA News. One of them, Constantine Fernandez, 64, said praying together and sharing "our experience and listening to the word of God" had been a "unique experience." The retired college professor said he has been with the movement since 1976.

Lowre Mendonca said the event gave him and others in his 50-member group from Maharashtra state, western India, "an opportunity" to understand their "mission in the world." Belinda Coutinho from Goa state, western India, came with 12 friends and said the four days were "the happiest moments in my life."

Alphonsa Francis, a 36-year-old Kerala housewife, found the convention "a fascinating experience." She joined the movement in 1989 after going through a life crisis. Her prayers reformed her alcoholic husband. Since then, she said, "we have built a new house, and my children are doing well in their studies."

What impressed Sister Florie Maria was seeing people speak various languages interacting as one big family. "We smile at each other and we feel united as a community, because Jesus binds us together," the Franciscan nun told UCA News.

Jismon John, a 21-year-old volunteer, said he heard no complaints about the convention's limited resources, because "people came here to share and not to grab." He also pointed out that about 2,000 volunteers, mostly young people like himself, worked "day and night" to ensure the convention's success.
Reproduced by Konkani Catholics with permission from UCAN (

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