Diocesan News

Fr Shirekar SJ on WWME Asia team

Worldwide Marriage Encounter Mumbai is proud to announce that its dynamic Unit Coordinating Team priest, Rev Fr Abhay Shirekar, SJ has been discerned as the Asian Ecclesial Team priest at the Asian Conference of WWME Asia held in Japan.

Fr Abhay has been involved in the Marriage Encounter movement since 1999. He joined the ME movement as a Team priest in 2001. He was discerned as the Mumbai Unit Coordinating Team priest in 2003, and as the National Ecclesial Team (India) priest in 2005. At present, he is also the coordinating Team priest for Engaged Encounter, Mumbai.

UNESCO Asia-Pacific Award for Gloria Church

The Restoration Project of Our Lady of Glory (Gloria Church), Byculla, Archdiocese of Bombay, was conferred the ‘Award of Merit’ by the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation, at a ceremony in Penang, Malaysia on October 14, 2019. Ainsley Lewis, Architect for the project, received the award on behalf of the Archdiocese of Bombay.

This UNESCO programme recognises the efforts of private individuals and organisations that have successfully restored and conserved structures and buildings of heritage value in the region. 57 entries were received from 14 countries across the Asia-Pacific region. Of these, 16 projects from five countries – Australia, Bhutan, China, India and New Zealand – were recognised by the international Jury of conservation experts in this year’s Awards.

The exemplary restoration project, undertaken by the Clergy of the Archdiocese and the Heritage Committee, has been highly commended. “Our Lady of Glory Church has been lovingly restored to its original splendour. The project demonstrates state-of-the-art conservation practice… praiseworthy effort to retain historic fabric…thorough investigation and documentation invaluable for future reference…the Church now stands proudly as a neighbourhood landmark.”


World Elders Day Celebration

World Elders Day is celebrated on October 1 each year. The Bombay Archdiocese Senior Citizens Association (BASCA) celebrated World Elders Day on October 2, 2019. Approximately 230 elders from many parishes of the archdiocese were in attendance.

At a Mass concelebrated by Fr Frazer Mascarenhas and Fr Baptist Pinto, Fr Frazer preached a meaningful homily, which touched the heart of every elder present. He said that our God loved and pampered us so much, that He gave each one of us a guardian angel. But there is a condition attached – that we go into the world and spread the Good News – by preaching, but even more by living an exemplary life.

Fr Aniceto Pereira sent a message that the Senior Citizens’ Association gives us a platform to accomplish our mission of serving other seniors who are in need of help, and that it is very important that we serve not only our own members, but also other seniors who have various needs.

Mrs Vinaya then spoke on Ageing Inequality. She stressed on the need to have a purpose in life, telling us about the ‘Blue Zones’ discovered by Dan Buettner. The Blue Zones are places in the world (Nicoya in Costa Rica, Loma Linda in CA, Sardinia in Italy, Ikaria in Greece and Okinawa in Japan), where people live longer and healthier lives than anywhere else on earth. Living up to 90 or 100 without medication or disability is common. The three Okinawan secrets to long life are: Maoi (having a group of lifelong friends), Ikigai (having a passion or purpose in life, following it if you are good at it, find out what the world needs and whether you can be paid for it) and Hara Hachi Bu (dietary rule - eat only till you are 80 per cent full).

Shirley Pereira, BASCA

Community Fridge at OLLC, Orlem

According to the United Nations Development Programme, up to 40% of the food produced in India is wasted. In fact, according to the agriculture ministry, INR 50,000 crores worth of food produced is wasted every year in the country. The irony is that our nation is one of the worst ranked countries on the Global Hunger Scale with about 194 million (14.5% of India’s total population) going hungry every single day.

In a bid to address this problem, to avoid food wastage, and instead make it available to those in need, a Community Fridge has been set up by Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Malad (W). It encourages people to share perfectly good food that is extra and would otherwise go to waste. The fridge can be used by retail businesses, restaurants and individuals who can drop off good but unwanted food, and the poor and homeless can help themselves to what is on the shelf.

Individuals are welcome to place food packed in foil, and labelled with information such as the contents, the day it was cooked and the expiry date. The fridge carries veg. and non-veg. stickers for people to easily understand and pick their choice of food. Also, all the food placed in the fridge is inspected for quality.

Ravina Lobo

Migrants’ Rally Karam Festival

Migrants, especially from the Chotanagpur belt, celebrate the Karam harvest festival every year. In the past years, two main groups operating within the ambit of the Church i.e. the Migrants Centre by the SVD priests and the Domestic Workers’ Movement of the ICM sisters, have catered to the migrants by way of cultural celebrations, crisis intervention, leadership programmes, skill development training, spiritual gatherings etc.

On October 6, a Migrants’ Rally was organised at St Theresa’s ground, Bandra with approximately 3,800 participants in attendance. The majority comprised of female domestic workers, but there were also many male construction workers, garage workers and workers from small shops.

The programme began with the Eucharist celebrated by Bp Allwyn D’Silva, along with 10 concelebrants. The Mass incorporated the Karam festival ritual, but focused predominantly on the migrants issue. Pope Francis, in his message on the occasion of Migrants Sunday, highlighted four keywords in relation to the Migrants Apostolate - Welcome, Protect, Promote, Integrate. The Eucharist was followed by a cultural presentation, with dances by the children of migrants, as well as sharing of the struggles of adult migrants/youth migrants, who have just stepped into the city.

The message given by Bp Allwyn highlighted the concern of Cardinal Oswald Gracias towards migrants. Thereafter there was a studied recommendation made by Ms Brinelle of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). Four follow-up actions were outlined:

a) Setting up a permanent Migrants Desk, which would address the problems of migrants on an ongoing basis (this could be handled and monitored by the SVDs at their UCDC centre at Bandra)

b) Looking to the possibility of arranging temporary shelter or hostel accommodation for new migrants coming into the city, and/or hostels for the children of migrants, so that they could pursue their studies.

c) Having a centre for skills development in the area of their work, as well as leadership programmes which could motivate them to voice their concerns at decision making bodies.

d) Addressing the spiritual needs of the migrants by way of Hindi Masses in parishes, catechesis, counselling etc.

YCW Mumbai meets ICYCW

On September 22, 2019, a Young Christian Workers meeting was held at Our Lady of Salvation Church, Dadar to discuss about the Movement and life of workers in Mumbai. The international guests facilitating the meeting were Ms Idy Balberan – Treasurer of the ICYCW (International Council of YCW) and Fr Christophe Berard – Asian Chaplain of ICYCW. The YCW members and lay companions present for the meeting were from different parishes — Our Lady of Salvation Church, St Anthony Church, St Teresa Church, St Vincent de Paul Church amongst others.

The meeting commenced with a short prayer and icebreaker, followed by a group discussion, brainstorming, reflection on the hopes and dreams of one’s life and the YCW movement in Mumbai. Idy then shared the three ‘Truths’ of the YCW Movement, and focused on the Review of Life Method (See-Judge-Act) to analyse and understand our situations as young workers in a different light, and support one another, as we go on our journey of work, keeping our faith in Christ. It concluded with an action plan for each of the parish YCW movements.

Later, a meeting of the YCW Mumbai Chaplain (Fr John Almeida) and lay companions was held. The discussion was facilitated by Fr Christophe on the current challenges and future plans. It was a fruitful meeting for both the young workers and adult companions, and they hope to keep the spirit of the YCW movement alive in Mumbai.

Rosetta Mendes (YCW)