Saturday, June 09, 2007

INDIA: Missionary Spirit Decreasing

Vatican Official Notes Decreasing Missionary Spirit In Indian Church

June 8, 2007

BANGALORE, India (UCAN) -- A Vatican official and other Church people say the missionary spirit in the Indian Church has been declining, but an effective evangelization way to help reverse the trend is life witnessing.

At a colloquium held May 28-31 in Bangalore, southern India, Father Theodore Mascarenhas, who heads the Asia Desk at the Pontifical Council for Culture, offered this view. "Many priests and religious have conveniently forgotten their basic missionary vocation," the Vatican-based priest said.

Several Catholic missioners have no time for missionary work, he also said, because they get so "immersed" in establishing schools, colleges, hospitals and "business complexes," buildings that are let out to shops and offices.

According to Father Mascarenhas, a member of the Goa-based Society of Pilar, the "main threat" to the Church is "from within," and several participants told UCA News they agree with this assertion.

Tony D'Mello, a lay leader from Vasai diocese in western India, said today's missioners lack a "living role model." In the past, he noted, "we had several missioners from abroad who were burning with the passion of Christ. That is why we are Christians today."

In the layman's view, Protestant Churches in India attract more people than the Catholic Church because "our priests and nuns have hardly any time for missionary work." D'Mello also observed that most Church workers are now involved in schools, colleges, hospitals and other institutions.

Father Lawrence Lakra of Rourkela diocese in eastern India said that many young priests and nuns at first actually opt for missionary work. However, they begin doing education, social and health care services and eventually "get stuck as managers and directors" of the institutions in which they work.

Father Joseph Puthenpurackal, a Salesian from Shillong in northeastern India, said Catholic missioners are now more "conscious about what others say about them than what they are supposed to do."

The Church "cannot exist in isolation, but only in dialogue with others," the 68-year-old priest asserted. Being missionary, he said, does not mean "only preaching or converting people, but introducing Jesus to others." Even so, he said that he agrees "many of our institutions are closed to real evangelization" and engage only in educational and health services.

According to Father Chinnappa Sebastian, some Church-managed schools in his region of West Bengal in eastern India even refuse to teach catechism to their Catholic students, on grounds that most students are of other faiths. "What use is it to call them Catholic institutions when they do not spread Christian values?" asked the priest, who directs Baruipur diocese's Board of Education.

Father Mascarenhas later told UCA News the Church must not run schools if it cannot witness and give the message of Christ to students and parents. He said the message of Christ is love, and this cannot be negated "by any group."

He advised the colloquium participants, "Give love, preach love and be love yourselves, wherever you are." Stressing that the most powerful tool for "evangelization is witnessing," he said, "We should proclaim Jesus by our lives in schools, colleges and health centers if we want to call them Christian institutions."

The recent colloquium came in the wake of the 2006 Asian Mission Congress held in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The Office of Evangelization of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC) organized the meeting in Bangalore, along with the Commission for Proclamation of the Conference of Catholic Bishops in India. The conference comprises Latin-rite bishops.

Reproduced by Konkani Catholics with permission from UCAN (

1 comment:

Br. Valerian said...

Dear Austin,

Praise the Lord!

We became busy in buidling the buidlings than buidling the church. We look for
publicity for our charitable work than working silently for the glory of God. We
forget the meaning of charity and engrossed in education, hospitals, colleges
and what not. We do not allow the Holy Spirit to work, rather we follow
procedures and rules while the others annointed by the Holy Spirit do the
Evangelical work.

We forget what is said in Acts 20:28 - "Take heed to yourselves and to all the
flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church
of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son". We compromise on
Indianisation, Culture and what not. We allow Yoga to invade our church, We
follow rekhi, pranic healing, even magic, aarati and kunkuma and what to say???

We are busy and busy and busy doing the above forgetting what is said in Mark

Let us pray. There is no point in muttering and uttering. Let's keep praying.
The day will come as said in the book of Acts 2: 17-21, what was spoken by the
Prophet Joel:" And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour
out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; yea,
and on my menservants and my maidservants in those days I will pour out my
Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heaven above and
signs on the earth beneath, blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke; the sun shall
be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before the day of the Lord
comes, the great and manifest day. And it shall be that whoever calls on the
name of the Lord shall be saved"

We have to ask questions to ourselves. To how many people we gave the knowledge
of Christ? so that they can call on His name on that day and they can be saved?

Let us Pray:

Merciful Father, grant us the grace to know our purpose and mission in this
life,so that we are not ignorant of our gifts,through Jesus Christ your Son, who
reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.Amen.

God Bless You.

Valerian Dalmaida
Abu Dhabi