Issues Vol. 169‎ > ‎

Vol. 169 No. 34 • AUG 25 - 31, 2018

01 Cover

posted Aug 21, 2018, 11:48 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 21, 2018, 11:48 AM ]

03 Index

posted Aug 21, 2018, 11:46 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 21, 2018, 11:46 AM ]

04 Official

posted Aug 21, 2018, 11:44 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 21, 2018, 11:44 AM ]

05 Engagements

posted Aug 21, 2018, 11:41 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 21, 2018, 11:41 AM ]

07 Editorial - SCCs – a call to renewal and revival

posted Aug 21, 2018, 11:36 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 21, 2018, 11:37 AM ]

Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, in Gaudete et Exsultate, reminds us that growth in holiness is also a journey in community. Living apart makes us vulnerable; living in community, which shares both worship and mission, provides the necessary support and encouragement.

This is the underlying principle of the Small Christian Community, and in this issue of The Examiner dedicated to the SCCs, we reiterate the core values with which they have been established, the success stories and direction for the future. This direction comes, this year, from the SCC Evaluation process (February 2018), the results of which were shared at the July 2018 Clergy Meeting. These will also be released as a printed booklet on September 8, 2018. The Parish SCC Coordinators (priest and layperson) will be sent discussion papers (prepared by Diocesan Commissions, etc.) that can be used at cluster meetings. A creative Steering Committee will probably go beyond the discussion paper and adapt it to local situations. We trust God will direct this process, even as we use the structures that exist, to increase the participation of our people in SCCs.

One of the key elements of the SCC structure at the parish level is the ‘cluster’ - a grouping of families at the local level within each SCC. There are several clusters that meet on a monthly basis; some pray the Rosary daily or weekly, but most of all, clusters are a key to better relationships and stronger bonds among people. As the evaluation results put it: “SCCs are not about meetings of the core group; they are about getting people together, and clusters are the best way to do that!”

The clusters will also be the point where people experience the care of their neighbours, be it to rush someone to hospital in an emergency, or to enquire about the elderly and lonely next door or in the next building. WhatsApp groups have helped share information almost instantaneously, yet the level of loneliness has increased without personal contact. A cluster meeting enables neighbours to become more neighbourly, to find ways to reach out to the homebound, and even to tap the talents of children and youth.

Training is a necessity for us to understand the reasons for SCCs and imbibe the skills required to be good animators of SCCs. Training will be offered more at the parish and deanery level (as expressed by the SCC Evaluation results) and in the vernacular languages to ensure that more people benefit. There will be training offered to priests and seminarians on an ongoing basis, as well as to religious men and women.

Clusters and SCCs require Commitment. One of the articles in this issue outlines some ways to garner commitment. There are no quick-fix answers; what works in one parish may not work in another. Yet, I want to appeal to all sections of the Archdiocese – priests, religious men and women and laypersons to be committed to the task of building SCCs.

I urge all members of Parish Associations and Cells to get involved in building community; participate in the SCCs where you live; offer your expertise and experience (I know of many who do so already), and we shall make the Kingdom of God a reality!

Finally, I want to ask that all of us pray for the efforts of those who work to build SCCs – priests, religious and lay persons – that they may see the value of their work. Prayer is the fuel for all our efforts, and we need to refuel regularly, if we want to renew and revive SCCs in our Archdiocese.

+ Bishop Barthol Barretto,
 Auxiliary Bishop of Bombay


posted Aug 21, 2018, 11:34 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 21, 2018, 11:34 AM ]


The Catholic Bishops' Conference is deeply saddened by the passing away of our beloved former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee. In his death, India has lost one of its tallest leaders, and the world bids good bye to one of its greatest Statesmen. The Christian Community has lost a friend who was attentive to its needs and gave a patient hearing to its concerns.

We will remember him as a great orator who charmed the Indian public for decades with a wonderful mixture of poetry and prose, of quotes and shayris, delivered with humour, wit and a well-modulated voice. What marked him out was his graceful dealings with all. He will be remembered as a person who cultivated warm human relationships cutting across religious, political or regional divides.

The nation will remember him as a leader who yearned for a country where everyone lived in peace and harmony. I recall the words he spoke in his last Independence Day Speech as Prime Minister, "India is a multi-religious nation. It is against both its nature and culture to practise discrimination or to do injustice to anybody on the grounds of faith. We should always care for the minorities and be attentive towards their welfare."

I met our late Prime Minister on several occasions. Every meeting was a delight because of the warmth of his person, his sharp intellect and his passion for the country. He wanted an India where no one was excluded, no one suffered want, and everyone enjoyed the benefits of progress. In my various meetings with the great man, I always had the feeling of being in the presence of a gracious gentleman full of warmth, most reasonable in our discussions, and always eager to find a way forward.

I remember with joy and nostalgia the meeting between Mr Vajpayjee and Pope St John Paul II during the Holy Father's visit to India in 1999. He thanked the Pope for being in India on the happy occasion of Deepavali, the festival of lights which signifies the victory of good over evil. He observed that perhaps the papal visit added more light to the festival.

The Catholic Church also remembers with affection the very special admiration Mr Vajpayee had for St Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Mr Vajpayee said about the Saintly mother: "At a time when humankind is being increasingly driven by selfish motives, she gave selflessly to those whom society has forsaken and forgotten. In the age of cynicism, she was a symbol of understanding faith."

We mourn the demise of a leader who could dream for India with these words: "I have a vision of India: an India free of hunger and fear, an India free of illiteracy and want. I dream of an India that is prosperous, strong and caring. An India that regains a place of honour in the comity of great nations." We thank God for sending among us such a great soul, a gentleman to the core, a kind-hearted person in word and action, one who had friends and admirers across the political and ideological spectrum. May God grant him Eternal Rest.

August 17, 2018

+ Cardinal Oswald Gracias
President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India

11 Pope's visit to Ireland to focus on today’s families - Cindy Wooden

posted Aug 21, 2018, 11:32 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 21, 2018, 11:32 AM ]

Pope Francis will visit Dublin and Knock Aug. 25-26, mainly for the World Meeting of Families. But he also will meet Irish government leaders and is expected to meet with survivors of abuse.

"Ireland is a country that has suffered tremendously, and suffered at the hands of the Church, also; so many cases of abuse: sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse," said Cardinal Kevin J. Farrell, the Irish-born prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life, which helped organise the World Meeting of Families.

Revelations of the extent of the abuse and the long-delayed response of Church officials have devastated Irish Catholics, sent church attendance plummeting, and contributed strongly to the waning influence of the Irish hierarchy in public discourse.

"Ireland is certainly a different country today" from what St Pope John Paul II experienced in the late 1970s, Cardinal Farrell told Catholic News Service. "The Church was a powerful force in Ireland - for good or for bad, it's not my position to judge - but, certainly, that is not the Ireland of today."

The people of Ireland and the Catholic Church in Ireland must find ways to work together and support each other in dealing with the new, multicultural, pluralistic reality of the country, he said.

"Pope Francis has tried to teach us that over the last five years," he said. "You've got to remember: People aren't the way we would like them to be; they are the way they are. And we have to bring the message of God and the word of God to people where they are, in this place, at this particular moment."


13 Vibrant SCCs: Mission Possible! - Michael Rodrigues

posted Aug 21, 2018, 11:31 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 21, 2018, 11:31 AM ]

How do we get more animators? How do we make animators come willingly for the Core Group or Community meeting? Animators sometimes shy away from taking responsibilities; how can we make them do so happily? The same people are involved; how do we bring in fresh faces? Youth stay away from SCC activities; is there any way to attract them?"

These are the 'Frequently Asked Questions' that deal with the issues of commitment and participation.

The SCC Coordinator and PPC member can bring about commitment in their core group, over a period of time, by doing a few things differently. By looking into the finer aspects of needs, wants and the psychology of the animator as well as of the people, he/she will be able to speed up the process of getting new animators committed, maintain the commitment level of existing animators and get more people involved in the activities at the community level, thus making the SCC vibrant, full of energy and life.

Here are a few practices, collated from training modules, experience shared by others and my own experience, which strengthen bonds, bring about vibrancy and lead to commitment:


Without personal visits, there cannot be a sense of community. Animators are required to visit the families entrusted to their care. Now pause and think: does someone visit the animator? Can the Coordinator/PPC member make it a point to visit the animators and listen to them? It will mean a lot to them. Notice the change in their behaviour towards the Core Group functioning.


How you set up a meeting is as important as what happens at the meeting. Without an agenda, the meeting will be unfocused and unproductive. When a meeting is controlled by suggestions and discussion points of various individuals (very interesting to that individual!), there will only be a waste of precious time and energy. A pre-distributed agenda is of immense help in establishing expectations on what needs to occur before, during, and after a meeting. It helps get everyone on the same page on the most important topics, and enables the core group to quickly address key issues.>>>>


17 Pastoral Training for Empowerment - Thomas Lobo

posted Aug 21, 2018, 11:29 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 21, 2018, 11:30 AM ]

A key component of growth in successful organisations is the systematic and organised training of employees. The training is tailor-made to suit the diverse needs of the organisation, and aimed at developing individuals to take on the myriad roles and responsibilities that evolve as companies grow, progress and prosper.

If this is a prerequisite for growth in the corporate world, surely the same importance should be given to training in our Church organisations, Cells, Associations and various other bodies, including the Small Christian Communities.

Pedagogy (learning) today spans a broad range of practice: its aims range from furthering Liberal learning (the general development of the human potential) to the narrower specifics of Domain learning (the imparting and acquisition of specific skills). With the increasing role of EQ (Emotional Quotient) being identified as a key factor for success in life, it is one's ability to deal with self and others on an emotional level that helps in striking a balance between the task and relationship focus that is at the heart of any effective activity. More so in the spiritual realm, where the heart predominates over the head, the work of animating communities requires skills that cover a vast gamut of human interaction and development.

If lay people are to be co-responsible for the mission of the Church, they must be well equipped to handle this role and responsibility. We need to give sufficient importance to the training of the laity. Canon Law and the Documents of the Church (Vatican II and post-Vatican II) emphasise the need for formation and training of the Laity for ministry in the Church: "However, in order to exercise their proper role, lay persons have the obligation and right to acquire a formation in Christian doctrine, suited to their capacity and condition."(Canon 229)

The Post Synodal document on the Laity – Christifideles Laici (The Lay Faithful of Jesus Christ) – also focuses extensively on the formation of the Lay Faithful:


18 SCCs Inspiring NCCs - Sr Manisha Gonsalves RSCJ

posted Aug 21, 2018, 11:28 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 21, 2018, 11:28 AM ]

Living among the people in what is termed as "inserted religious communities" has been a strong impetus for me to seek "New ways of being Church" for the children of the neighbourhood. One such venture was the formation of the 'Neighbourhood Children's Club' (NCC) in the 1990s, based on the three-fold aspects of the SCC, viz. Community building, faith formation and outreach. This idea received a boost after the Archdiocesan Synod of 2001 which chose 'Youth Ministry' as one of its top priorities. Subsequently, the "New Methodology" for this ministry (spearheaded by Bishop Bosco Penha) has challenged me over the years to find new, creative ways of tapping the latent talents and energies of children.

The children of today hold much promise for our future world. As Tagore aptly put it, "On the seashore of endless worlds children meet." Exposure to the social media has impacted them tremendously even from early childhood, both for better and for worse. Instead of bemoaning the latter, we need "all hands on deck" to "treasure-hunt" their hidden potential, to give them the time and space to grow, in ways different from our upbringing of yesteryears.

I share here one such initiative in its humble beginnings. My initial concept of a 'cosy club' for children has evolved as I observe the children of today. In the housing society where we live, there are about 175 families with people hailing from different States of India. They, and therefore their children too, form a kind of "Mini-India". Capitalising on this concept, we have brought our children together in a "Mini-India Children's Council" to bond together as one 'Neighbourhood Children's Council' (NCC) comprising children of all faiths.


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