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