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Prison Ministry – A Call To Reform & Reintegrate

Prison Ministry is a vocation. It is a call that demands commitment and sacrifice—a commitment to work each day to better the lives of prisoners and to sacrifice our time, talent and resources for this noble task. In Mt 25:36b, Jesus says, "I was in prison, and you visited me." When these words turn into action, we work towards establishing the kingdom of God here on earth. This is a ministry where service is rendered away from the public gaze. There is no media coverage, no live events to show on Instagram or Facebook, no photo opportunities to update one's WhatsApp status. Yet, we are enthused to work because we experience God's loving presence in all that we do. Jesus reminds us in Mt 25:40, "Just as you did it to one of the least of my brothers, you did it to me." Prison Ministry India volunteers are prepared to go to great lengths to help prisoners in need, only because of their commitment and dedication to the ministry. The foundation of this ministry lies in prayer. Each unit is encouraged to have an intercessory prayer group.

Looking at the present situation of our prisons, the infrastructure and the basic facilities, we can say that much needs to be done. Perhaps the best solution here would be to join hands with the government and make these places more habitable. We are also looking forward to start a Legal Aid team. We have two lawyers on our team, but this is not enough for the thousands of prisoners languishing in jails. We need lawyers who are willing to acquaint themselves with the work of Prison Ministry Mumbai (PMM), and take up the cases of these prisoners on a pro bono basis.

"Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime." Keeping this maxim in mind, we work towards providing the inmates in prisons with vocational and professional training, so that they can earn a decent livelihood when they are released from prison. Another task at hand is to work towards improving the medical facilities provided to prisoners. The aim of Prison Ministry Mumbai is to get doctors and nurses from all fields of medicine to serve prisoners. The need of the hour is to have a rehabilitation home for prisoners. We have been offered a place at Goa on a temporary basis. We are looking forward to have a home in Maharashtra; we need your support to make this dream a reality.

"Children are like buds in a garden; they should be carefully and lovingly nurtured, as they are the future of the nation and the citizens of tomorrow." Children staying in remand/observation homes are in need of special care and protection, as they come from difficult backgrounds. They are usually placed in these homes by Child Welfare Committees and Juvenile Courts. These children are mainly from the lower socio-economic strata, either orphans or destitute, or children from families in crisis; they stay in these homes until further rehabilitation. Such children are most vulnerable and face the harmful effects of long institutionalisation. Their poor academic performance leads to low grades, which causes them to have a low self-esteem and to drop out of school. Prison Ministry proposes to support these disadvantaged children in their education. Keeping this in mind, it has set up centres where these children are given formal education for their overall development. Regular counselling sessions are held to monitor these children and to gauge their academic progress and all-round development.

When voluntary service is backed by commitment, the mission becomes easier to accomplish. This is the seed that needs to be embedded in the hearts of the volunteers. We need your help to make a difference in the life of prisoners and juveniles. Your commitment will be instrumental in bringing a positive change in prisons and in society. It is team work that will help us achieve our goal to give a better future to those in prisons, and to their families. We look forward to many more hands joining in this noble vocation.

Fr Glasten Gonsalves is the Director of Prison Ministry Mumbai.

Lockdowns in the Life of St Ignatius

On July 31, the Church celebrates the feast of St Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus, also known as the Jesuits. It's been more than four months since we began a series of lockdowns on account of COVID-19. St Ignatius of Loyola also went through certain 'lockdowns' in his life. These lockdowns helped him encounter God in intimate ways, and thereby truly transformed him.

Lockdowns fall into two categories. To the first category belong the enforced lockdowns over which we do not have any control, and to the second category belong self-imposed lockdowns, which we enter into in order to attain a specific goal. It was at the battle of Pamplona in 1521 that St Ignatius encountered the first kind of lockdown. He was wounded by a cannonball; one of his legs was shattered, and the other badly injured. For nine months, he was confined to bed, and was convalescing in the castle of Loyola. It was the first lockdown in the life of St Ignatius. In his own words (as mentioned in his autobiography), till then, he was a man who sought after vainglory and was enthralled by the vanities of the world. As someone who took delight in soldiery, he was driven by an intense desire to make a great name for himself. As a person driven by ambition, it must have been a herculean task for Ignatius to stay confined to his bed during the months of recovery.

It was during this time of convalescence that Ignatius understood how God was leading him. It happened through what he describes as the 'discernment of spirits'. As he was recuperating in the castle of Loyola, in order to while away time, he asked for some books of bravery, romance or tales of knights. However, the only books available were the 'Life of Christ' and 'The Lives of Saints'. On reading these books, Ignatius was filled with an intense and holy desire to imitate Christ and the Saints. His previous dreams and ambitions of life as a knight and pursuit of a princess enthralled him and filled him with great pleasure at first, but after some time, he would find himself sad. Au contraire, the thoughts of following Christ filled him with a lasting peace.

Then came the second lockdown in the life of St Ignatius. He was keen to begin a new phase of life as a follower of Christ. He left the castle of Loyola and started on a pilgrim journey; he wanted to go to Jerusalem as a pilgrim. He stopped at a town called Manresa. After his initial stay at a hospice in Manresa, he went into a cave in the mountain cliffs, as he desired solitude. Here he went into a long period of prayer; during this time, he had some of his most intense experiences. It was a time of prayer and penance, of consolations and desolations, of contemplation and meditation, of trials and temptations, of enlightenments and illuminations. He understood how some incidents and events took him closer to God, while some led him away from God. He felt that "God dealt with him as a teacher instructing his pupil". It was during this phase that he began to master the 'art of discernment'.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are caught in repeated lockdowns. We must see it as an opportune time to take stock of our lives, and to be more attentive to what God is telling each one of us. Like St Ignatius, we too need to be attentive to our experiences. Attention to the various events that happen in our daily lives and the interior movements and changing feelings that we experience will help us understand God's ways and plans for us. These will in turn help us to make the right choices and decisions in life.

A practical step that will help us is what St Ignatius calls the Examen. It is the 'Examen of Consciousness', traditionally called 'examination of conscience'. It is like a self-imposed lockdown of about 15 minutes, practised once or twice daily, which is used to reflect on our experiences of the day, in order to find out how we have spent the day in the presence of God. We thank God for His daily graces, and ask for His further grace to live more fully and more lovingly in His presence. We can be assured that St Ignatius of Loyola will constantly intercede for us as we venture out on our spiritual journeys.

Wesley D'Costa SJ, a Jesuit of the Bombay Province.

Judging the signs of the times

By Tony Magliano

In the Gospel of Matthew, there is a scene where the Pharisees and Sadducees, in their desire to test Jesus, ask him to show them a sign. In reply to them, Jesus says that in the morning when the sky is red and threatening you say that today it will be stormy. “You know how to judge the appearance of the sky, but you cannot judge the signs of the times.”

Here we find Jesus rebuking the Pharisees and Sadducees for refusing to recognize in his stunning teachings and awesome deeds the unfolding of the Kingdom of God. They simply refuse to “judge the signs of the times.”

In the Second Vatican Council’s “Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World” (“Gaudium Et Spes”), the world’s Catholic bishops wrote, “The Church has always had the duty of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel.”

As you look around, near and far, what do you see as the signs of the times?

Well, who can possibly say that these are not difficult times for so many of us – and for countless others tragic times. Consider the global pandemic of COVID-19 – resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions of people suffering from sickness, job loss and debt.

Next, consider the protests around the world in response to the killings of numerous innocent black fellow human beings by some police officers, and the significant failure of local and national governments to adequately address these and other racial injustices.

Other signs of the times are the largely unaddressed life and death issues of ongoing wars, war preparation, the arms trade, nuclear weapons, the ecological devastation of climate change and pollution, hunger, poverty, unregulated raw capitalism, tremendous wealth disparity, lack of universal health care, human trafficking, child labor, unemployment, homelessness, refugees, death penalty, abortion, infanticide, euthanasia and the growth within many societies of a secularism that increasingly has no place for God.

And while it is morally inexcusable that most government and corporate officials just don’t seem to care, let us also not forget to examine our own consciences and seek genuine conversion from our own “selfish indifference” as Pope Francis warns.

Take to heart St. Mother Teresa’s encouraging words, “Everyone can do something.”

In prayer ask the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Read articles and documents on Catholic social teaching. Join or help start a parish social justice, peace and pro-life team. Be creative.

Recently three major national and international events converged to assist us in judging the signs of the times. On June 20, a digital social justice assembly sponsored by the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call to Moral Revival was attended by over 2.5 million viewers.

This campaign is striving to correct the immoral interlocking injustices of systemic racism, poverty, militarism, the war economy and ecological devastation (see: www.june2020.org).

Also on June 20 was World Refugee Day – a time to call our attention to the desperate plight of 70 million refugees and internally displaced persons fleeing war and persecution (see: www.unhcr.org).

And on June 18 the Vatican released “Journeying for the care of the common home,” coinciding with the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical letter “Laudato Si” – which encourages us to see that everything is interconnected, and that when any person or part of the environment is suffering it hurts all of us.

The above are genuine examples of “judging the signs of the times” and responding with active commitment to the supreme Gospel value of love – for God, for God’s suffering people, and for God’s wounded world.

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated Catholic social justice and peace columnist.

Post-Covid-19 Challenges in Education

As educational institutions plan for the post-COVID education scenario, they can either see a valley of challenges or a horizon of possibilities. Where do we go from here? Is the Indian education system in a major crisis, with around 300 million students affected by the interruption brought in by the coronavirus? Schools, as of now, are closed at least for a few more months. Most unaided private schools have exhausted their funds, and are dependent on parents to pay their teachers' salaries. Government-run schools and aided schools are in a state of dilemma as to when they can resume with the interrupted education.

Most students in India do not have access to online learning. Recently, a survey done among JNU students in the nation's capital revealed that 40% students do not have the possibility of attending online classes. Reasons cited by them include internet connectivity issues, lack of personal gadgets, loss of family livelihood, and domestic burdens. The same survey revealed that 97% teachers did not receivetechnical support for online classes from the University, and they had to pay for the internet pack by themselves; in some cases, even bear the cost of a new laptop or smartphone. If this is the situation in a premium university, one can only imagine the situation in rural marginalised areas.

Has this pandemic changed our outlook on why and how we educate? While the privileged students get a chance to download lessons, attend online classes and complete the assignments, most students in India have no opportunity to participate in this 'online' system of education. Can education be denied to them? What do we have to offer these students, and how do we reach out to them? While schools make an effort to include technology in reaching out to students (recently, 600 village students were taught lessons through WhatsApp), this is also the time when we can teach children to go beyond reading plans to explore Nature, environment and daily events of life.

Avijit Pathak, a professor of Sociology at JNU, reflecting on the present-day educators, says: "Hence, as educationists and teachers, we are required to make a choice. Should we continue with the kind of education that only makes us 'logical', yet ethically and spiritually impoverished self-centric careerists? Or should we learn some profound lessons from the present crisis, and re-define education to undertake a new journey—from the narcissism of modernity to the poetry of connectedness with the rhythm of life and death; from certainty to mystery, or from weapons of destruction to prayers of redemption."

Do educators have alternatives in imparting education to children during this tortuous period? Do we not have anything more than passing knowledge from books through a set pattern of curriculum through a set of teachers in a conventional classroom setup? Engaging students in creative ways of learning with the help of technology, and asking students to explore, experiment and draw knowledge from various sources may help evolve newer forms of learning and curriculum.

In the recently released 'Global Education Monitoring report, 2020: Inclusion and education', UNESCO is asking Governments to engage in meaningful consultation with communities and parents; inclusion cannot be enforced from above. Governments should open the space for communities to voice their preferences as equals in the design of policies on inclusion in education. Schools should increase interaction within and outside of school walls on school practices through Parent-Teacher Associations or student pairing systems.

"Education listens, or it doesn't educate," Pope Francis said to young people from 170 cities on World Environmental Day 2020. "If you do not listen, you don't educate. Education creates culture, or it does not educate. Education teaches us to celebrate, or it doesn't educate." Post-COVID-19 is indeed an excellent opportunity to reform our education system. While we do not know what lies ahead for millions of young people, we can prepare our young people to face the future. The Church today has a huge responsibility in developing the curriculum design, suitable Indian pedagogy, motivating and training the teachers and evolving an appropriate skill development programme for our young people.

We need to be the changemakers! We must usher in new life into our educational system!

(Further insights from Fr Maria Charles SDB can be found in the article 'A Responsible Approach to the Post-COVID Education scenario in India' in this issue)

Fr (Dr) Maria Charles SDB is the Secretary of the CBCI Office for Education and Culture

Shuttered churches fuel death of Catholic newspapers in the US

Clemente Lisi, getreligion.org

When it comes to religious media, there is nothing like the Catholic press. Spanning the doctrinal spectrum, there are 600 Catholic-based news websites and newspapers in the United States and Canada alone. In the past few years, the diversity of the Catholic press has provided a wealth of information and insights to readers and to mainstream journalists.

Like secular news outlets, Catholic media also face financial hardships created by the pandemic. This is a trend that has, of course, affected all news media and across many other industries, such as hospitality and tourism to name just two. Secular news outlets, particularly local newspapers, faced an uphill battle before the coronavirus. They face an even tougher battle now that advertising has dried up amid an ever-worsening economy.

If technology like the internet has led to the slow death of print, the pandemic has accelerated what always seemed like the inevitable. Indeed, as Axios recently pointed out, no publisher is immune to COVID-19. It’s something newspaper publishers are monitoring very closely as their editors and reporters work from home and continue to report on the pandemic.

Catholic media outlets are not immune to such hardships. The first real sign that the situation was worsening came on April 9 when Bayard, which owns and operates 190 magazines, announced it would cease print publication of four magazines: Catechist, Hopeful Living, Today’s Catholic Teacher and Catholic Digest. This last monthly magazine, which has been published since 1936, boasts a circulation of 300,000. Catholic Digest also has a website that is updated regularly.

All print publications have been struggling to make money, since Google and Facebook now take the largest slices of the advertising revenue pie. That leaves newspapers and magazines with crumbs and struggling to make money, leading to layoffs and having to close altogether. If a publishing powerhouse like Bayard couldn’t take the hit, what about smaller papers?

Diocesan publications remain a primary source of news for American Catholics. With churches closed, the online versions of these newspapers are either not as popular with readers — especially older parishioners — and made to compete with other websites for people’s time. At the same time, many Catholic newspapers also rely on subscriptions and advertising to cover costs. A decrease of both those revenue streams has resulted in the possibility that many print editions of those newspapers people pick up at church each Sunday could die for good this year.

America magazine reported on the troubles of some Catholic-run newspapers last month as the coronavirus continued to ravage the economy and churches remained closed through Easter. The C.P.A. has established a Covid-19 task force to address the continuing revenue crisis and to meet with leaders of diocesan publications by region. The association is also considering opening an emergency fund to help keep Catholic publishers in business.

Media advocates, in an April 8 letter to Congress, requested federal funding to aid local journalism and keep small newspapers in print. This plea for federal intervention includes Catholic media, according to Catholic News Service. The Poynter Institute for Media Studies reports that more than 70 community newspaper sites had laid off or furloughed staff, cut the frequency of publication or suspended publication altogether since the advent of the health crisis. Layoffs also have affected radio, television and digital media, but they have not been as extensive as those in print journalism.

“We are expecting more publications to close, and the role of the C.P.A. is to mitigate that,” said Mr. Long-Garcia. He has already watched the number of Catholic publications decline over the last two decades, owing, in part, to the rise of digital media. The CPA, in its own (print) monthly newsletter The Catholic Journalist to members in May, moved its annual conference slated for this summer in Portland to a virtual one. It will certainly become a forum for publishers big and small to trade insights on the challenges affecting their newspapers. The organization’s executive director, Tim Walter, highlighted the importance of its members under a column with the headline, “During quarantine, the value of Catholic publications becomes measurably apparent.” This was the biggest takeaway as diocesan newspapers shift their focus online: “Your work and services are needed more than ever. Your products are keeping Catholics connected, informed and engaged. They are delivering the bishops message to build community, teach and evangelize and every pastor and bishop needs that right now.”

Today, leaders of Catholic publications—news outlets, diocesan periodicals and other tools of evangelization—are asking themselves important questions about their print products. Can they continue to produce hard-copy newspapers and magazines at the same frequency, if at all? Perhaps more important, should they? These are not easy questions. There are many dimensions to consider beyond dollars and cents.

Isn’t print already dead?

It may be for secular media, but Long-Garcia cites some statistics in his column that are worth consideration. In terms of Catholic media, 24 percent of U.S. Catholic households receive a diocesan print publication, according to a 2018 compilation of statistics from Faith Publishing based on the 2017 Kennedy Directory and 2011 data from Georgetown’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. Catholic television, reaching 7 percent of Catholic households, is a distant second among forms of media. Catholic radio reaches 5 percent, diocesan websites reach 4 percent, and diocesan accounts on Facebook and Twitter combined reach 5.5 percent of Catholic households.

Yes, nearly a quarter of people in Catholic households read a diocesan print publication, a number that highlights the importance of print.

The trend in mainstream secular media has been the opposite, with print readership shrinking and internet and cable TV growing. In other words, there is still value in these small newspapers located in bins inside churches — along with bulletins — that parishioners can grab on their way in and out of church every Sunday. Without physical church to go to, these newspapers often lose their largest audiences. It’s another fallout from the pandemic that has taken the lives of some 100,000 lives — a number recently made to resonate by The New York Times after they published 1,000 names of those who died on their front page. And yes, it was an editorial decision that was much more powerful when made in print.

While it’s true that diocesan newspapers often serve as the mouthpiece for the local bishop, they also offer plenty of local news from parishes and news that secular news sites and weeklies would not necessarily cover.

But the trend towards digital is inevitable. What the trends in Catholic media show is that readership, without print, may simply evaporate. Long-Garcia makes another excellent point when he argues that “the church needs to engage with audiences using digital platforms and to do so more often” — but that print remains key.

But we cannot throw away print. Choosing to produce only a digital product is choosing economics over evangelization. It is choosing who you are evangelizing with, even though faith is meant to be universal.

Being a church that communicates effectively requires being aware of the strengths of each medium. This is the classic “both/and.” Being committed to communicating via print and digital platforms says the church is committed to reaching people in whatever platform they prefer.

Print will, without question, continue, even if it never regains dominance. Those who continue publishing will stand out from the rest and will be signaling that what they say is worth the extra expense. The Catholic Church in the United States and throughout the world has a story to tell. And it is a story that is worth telling in print.

A Legacy of Longevity

Fr Anthony Charanghat

This year July 10, 2020 marked the 170th anniversary of The Examiner- A Catholic Newsweekly being an instrument of Christian Communication of the Archdiocese of Bombay as it emerged in the format of print media. It is an occasion for humble gratitude to God, who enabled the editorial teams of yester years and in recent times to carry on the torch of the light of faith from illustrious predecessors to arrive at this milestone. The ongoing legacy of longevity of publishing this religious journal with sustained readership growth, is the metric of one of its indicators of success.

Every Catholic is unmistakably linked to communication, whether as a disciple who goes forth to illumine the world proclaiming the good news to all the nations, or as a professional journalist in a diocesan newspaper. This is the deep specific sense of The Examiner, in the cryptic phrase ‘A Catholic Newspaper’ incorporated by one of the previous editors of this diocesan bulletin.

This catch-phrase represents the underlying principle and objective of all the creative content writing of The Examiner of communicating our faith in a Trinitarian God, who is all-embracing Love. In proclaiming Jesus to the people, we communicate ‘the full truth about the human person’ whose dignity is based on ‘being an image of God’ empowered by the Spirit of Jesus for the fullness of the Father’s love. The relevance and beneficial meaning of the message and the medium on peoples’ lives is the key to the wide support from its patrons.

Catholic journalism is seen as both a vocation to articulating the content of faith (as subject ) and a profession of disseminating its significance to others( relational) according to the high standards of the craft of journalism as well as charity in how ‘the truth should be expressed.‘ The Examiner recognizes its replaceable role in forming Christian consciences and reflecting the church’s viewpoint on contemporary issues.

In this respect, The Examiner has been an expression of communicating various perceptions and insights of authentic teachings of the development in the understanding of faith by writers who not only share an intellectual knowledge, but also share using the craft of writing skills to inspire and motivate readers to form a faith life that practises humane, moral and social values. is used to highlight, paint an inspiring word portrait of edifying spirituality and conversion stories to communion leading to a life of conviviality.

The mission of the church and it news media consists in creating the conditions so that this meeting with Christ can be realized. Cooperating in this task, communicators are called to serve the truth with a vision of courage, to help public opinion see and read reality from a viewpoint of truth, justice and love while entering into conversation and the discourses of our current time.

The quest for truth and larger good, based on the reliable information and credible analysis, has been central to the eternal value system of this Bombay Archdiocesan newsweekly. Priority is allotted to trustworthy and informed Catholic voices for their contributions. The Church campaigns in defence of poor migrants, agrarian reform, atrocities against women and children and religious freedom and other blatant injustices— have to be voiced fearlessly articulating and explaining its position, to urge the masses to respond to these challenges.

There must be an alliance between media — both traditional and new — and the Church. While there will always be a diversity of viewpoints and editorial positions that can at times be unsettling, there are many benefits to be had from restoring a sense of collaboration between them. We have already had a digital online presence in the Examiner E-paper and website initiated twenty years ago. For this to succeed that need to be strengthened and fortified more intensely and extensively than before.

Because we know that the truth will set us free, and because we recognize that humility in the service of truth is the hallmark of every Catholic communicator, we dedicate ourselves to our vocation and profession of Catholic communications on behalf of the Church with integrity, honesty, intelligence and faithfulness.

In short, Catholic journalists and the Catholic media must develop an ethos that is at once loyal, intelligent and honest, dedicated first and foremost to the simple faith assertion that the truth will set us free. Consistently applied, these principles will assure Catholics that Catholic media can continue to be trusted to both report and teach.

We envisage an Examiner with convergence communication multimedia strategies that allows for many more chances for ‘an encounter’ with Christ and with his Church. One needs only look at the remarkable following of the pope’s Twitter feed, and the equally remarkable readership of his daily homilies. Recently during this pandemic we recognized the success of media diversity to celebrate liturgy during the Lockdown. You Tube and What’s App will allow us to reach a larger audience than ever before imagined, each at the level that they are ready to engage with.

Turning Obstacles into Opportunities for Growth

During these past months, among the many messages being circulated on social media, there was a message about a fictional dialogue between Satan and God, in which Satan is shown as being happy that he was able to shut down churches, and thereby prevent people from worship. God laughs at him, and says that his shutting down of church buildings has led to the springing up of innumerable domestic churches in every Catholic household. While this may have just been a message or a meme doing the rounds, it still points to a poignant reality. We have somehow been brought almost to the situation of the early Church, who met and worshipped and celebrated the liturgy in their houses within families.

These past three months have forced us to think, reflect and re-think on the whole of our lives; one of the important aspects of our life being our families. It would be only apt to repeat and apply the words of Familiaris Consortio, the Apostolic Exhortation of Pope St John Paul II on the ‘Christian Family in the Modern World’ written way back in 1981:

The family in the modern world, like any other institution, is beset by many significant changes, and ... while there are families that live through these challenges by adhering to the values of the Gospel, there are those who have become uncertain and confused as to their role in the face of post-modern values of relativism, syncretism and hedonism.

In the situation we face, we could well add to that last line the words “and in the face of a pandemic”.

Article 3 of the Declaration on Christian Education of Vatican II teaches us that parents are the “primary educators” of their children. Developmental psychologists vouch that children and youngsters mimic their parents whilst growing up; this mimicking is true even with regard to the faith. Some studies like the 2005 study of Christian Smith and Melinda Denton - Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers - go so far as to say that if you want to know what a kid’s faith life is going to be like, just look at her/his parents.

On the day of their nuptials, every couple responds to two vocations viz. the vocation to the married life and the vocation to Catholic parenthood. The latter, when they promise God to bring up their children in the Catholic Faith. Through this promise, a mother and father are uniquely called and anointed for this mission. This means that through His active involvement, God is constantly making up for what may be lacking in a mother and father through His grace. Together with their calling and anointing, parents also have two other assets which the best of catechists will not – proximity and access to their children (and the resultant amount of time).

While the pandemic has wrought a kind of fear and uncertainty to life, our faith always calls us to look for hope, even in the darkest of hours. Before the pandemic and its ensuing lockdown, family life was a crazy, cyclonic lack of time, with the demands of high-pressure jobs and career-enhancing courses, stress and anxiety. Today, however, due to the same pandemic, families, especially parents and children, are spending much more time together, even in prayer and liturgical celebrations.

Surely, the pandemic has made us doubt and question aspects of our faith. But that is what St Thomas, the patron saint and Apostle of India, also did after the Resurrection. What we need to remember is that his questioning led to his confession of Jesus as his Lord and his God. His faith led him to convert the obstacles of belief into an ever determined and deeper faith in Jesus. We celebrate the feast of this Apostle of India on July 3 every year, and the following Sunday is observed as Faith Formation Sunday in our Archdiocese. This year, given the situation we are in, can we look at Faith Formation Sunday which will be celebrated on July 5, 2020, as an opportunity to really grow in our faith as a family?

May the intercession of St Thomas the Apostle help us all grow stronger in faith by transforming our doubts and uncertainties into opportunities for growth.

Fr Vincent D’Cruz is the Director, Diocesan Catechetical Centre, Bandra.