Friday, 11 May 2018

Seminar on Govt schemes organised by Laity Commission


The Laity Commission of the Archdiocese of Calcutta in association with the West Bengal Minority Commission organised a Seminar on schemes and facilities available for the Minorities on Saturday 28th April, 2018 at 5pm at Archbishop's House. The Seminar started with an opening prayer and a hymn by Rev. Fr. Dominic Gomes, the Vicar General and Coordinator of all the Commissions of the Archdiocese of Calcutta. Mr. Alexander Anthony, Secretary of the Laity Commission then welcomed Mr. Michael Shane Calvert, Vice Chairperson of the West Bengal Minority Commission, Dr. Swapan Roy, Manger Education, Mr. Ambar Hussain, Program Executive and Md. Farook, Education Supervisor from the West Bengal Minority Development & Finance Corporation. He also extended a warm welcome to Ms. Elina Dutta Founder Director & Chief Strategy Officer and Mr. Tamojit Dutta, Managing Director from Tribeca Care Pvt. Ltd. and all the representatives from 17 Parishes and 15 Schools from the Kolkata Deanery.

Mr. Shane Calvert informed the participants that the Christian Community is not making full use of all the schemes and facilities available because of lack of awareness and how it is very important to reach information to all parts of the State. He also informed that he has been traveling a lot to the districts and requested Fr. Dominic Gomes to inform all parishes in the districts to approach him when he is there to create awareness among the community to avail of all schemes and facilities available for the minorities. He then introduced the representatives of Tribeca Care to give a short brief of their enterprise and its activities. Ms. Elina Dutta and Mr. Tamojit Dutta informed all present that Tribeca Care is Eastern India's largest Elder Care Company with a social impact mandate. It ha s a triple deckered initiative, focusing on geriatric and home care locked with the reskilling of young adults.

The resource persons from the West Bengal Minority Development & Minority Corporation then gave a power point presentation on Pre and Post Metric Scholarships , Education Loans, loans for Self Help Groups and Small Scale businesses which comes under Minority Women Empowerment programme. In the open house question hour session while answering all the queries put forward by the participants the resource persons assured everybody to contact them directly at their office for any query or help required in applying for any scholarship or loans. Mr. Shane Calvert during concluding session requested all participants to take the help of Mr. Crispin Coelho, teacher and Mr. Francis Gomes, Principal of Park English School for the scholarships as they had helped 670 students to apply and get scholarship disbursements last year and to take the help of the Laity Commission and CAB to apply for loans.

At the end of the seminar Fr. Dominic Gomes thanked Mr. Shane Calvert for his presence and participation and for arranging all the resource persons for the seminar. He also extended his gratitude to the Laity Commission members for organising the Seminar and working very hard to bring more than 100 participants from all the school s and parishes for the seminar . The program ended with light refreshments and tea sponsored by Ms. Angelina Mantosh Jasnani.

Preparatory Meeting For SCC National Convention With DST Members


Kolkata: In reference to the proposed SCC National Convention, Archbishop Thomas D ’ S o u z a h a s w i l l i n g l y expressed his consent to hold the Convention in Kolkata in 2019. A Meeting was held on 16th April, 2018 together with Dr. Fr. Thomas Vijay, SAC, Secretary, NST for SCCs (CBCI), Sr. Christin, HC, NST Member and Sr. Gr a c ema r y, NST Member. Archbishop Thomas, the Chief Host, formulated and h e a d e d t h e L o c a l C o - ordinating Team for the SCC National Convention. Fr. Dominic Gomes, Vicar General and SCC Coordinator for the Kolkata Archdiocese, informed the 22 Diocesan Service Team (DST) members during the meeting on 28 April at Archbishop’s House, Kolkata that a big National SCC Convention will be held in Kolkata from October 24 to 27, 2019. The theme is: “The Prophetic Role of SCC Today”. About 3000 people are expected to take part from other Dioceses. They will stay in the houses of the people of Kolkata to interact with them and form a wider S C C C o m m u n i t y a n d Fellowship. Transport will also have to be arranged for them to move around.
Already a preliminary Core Group meeting was held on 16th April, 2018 , with Archbishop Thomas D’Souza of Kolkata in the Chair. Fr. Vijay T h o m a s , N a t i o n a l S C C Coordinator and Sr. Christin, H. C., National Service Team member were also present. The following Committees were formed at that meeting: Local Coordinator: Fr. Dominic Gomes; Registration: Fr. Robert Johnson; Youth: Allan Kujur and Rocky Gomes; Finance: Fr. Moloy D'Costa and Joseph Chacko; Reception: Sandhya Vincent, Lidwina Alphonso and I. N. Raju; Accommodation: Anand Kujur; Liturgy: Sr. Meena, Fr. Gregory and Sr. G r a c e m a r y ; C u l t u r a l committee: Cheryl Rodrigues; Exposure: Fr. G. Peppin and Sr. G u l a b ; Tr a n s p o rt a t i o n : Dominic and Sybil Azavedo; Catering: 1st and 3rd day Lunch and Tea: Eugene Gonsalves and Alexander Anthony; Health: Dr. Mary D'Cruz and Dr. Sapna; Sound Arrangement: (at the Convention Centre) Clement Gomes and Felix Thakur; Ushers: Fr. Michael Biswas and Anancia Fernandes; Media: Farrell Shah; and Security: Denis Lakra. The Groups with many bishops, religious and laity will arrive on 24th of October 2019. The programme will be from 25th - 27th October.
Immediately, Fr. Dominic said that all the Parishes will have to have training programmes and the passive animators will also have to be awakened as it was a huge task to be done and it has to be done in a team spirit with every Parish having Training Programmes because on 26th October, 2019, the delegates will be taken to the different Churches in Kolkata where they will also witness Gospel Sharing and inter-act with the Parishioners forming a big SCC family. For this reason, the DST members were happy that Parishes, where SCCs are not active at present, will be activated and so representatives also came for the DST meeting like Sontu Mondal - Auxilium,; Sunita Mallick - Fatima and Leonard Ryan and Tony Rego - Infant Jesus, Behala. Now the other dominant Parishes will be contacted again by Fr. Dominic.
Immediately, a meeting is fixed for May 26, 2018 in Archbishop’s House where the DST members will have to bring more members to form a team in the various Committees especially for accommodation and transport. As usual, Veneration of the Bible, Aarti and Scripture reading was done in the beginning of the DST meeting. Reports were read from the active Parishes. A very success story came from Our Lady Queen of Peace, Tollygunge. Mrs. Juliet Karak told that a Parishioner, Mr. Anthony Rata had a very bad motor-cycle accident in October, 2017. His treatment in the PG Hospital was not satisfactory as he was almost semi-paralyzed and he had no money. Immediately, Mrs. Sankari Mondal, SCC Coordinator for the Parish, contacted all the SCC units and also the Parishioners and got Rs . 7 0 0 0 . She then contacted the local MLA and got Mr. Rata readmitted in the hospital for an operation. According to Fr. Piter Pradhan, Parish Priest, whom we met on 27th April, Mr. Rata is now better and on the way for complete recovery. In order to make the SCC self-reliant, Mrs. Sybil Azavedo with the help of Fr. Rudolf D’Souza, Minister in Archbishop’s House; and from the Picnic Garden SCC, namely Mrs. Juana Bramblebee, Mrs. Daisy Samuel, Mrs. Roselyn Miles, Mr. Sumit Singh and Mr. Gavin Rozario arranged and brought a good breakfast and lunch with the DST members making some contributions.  

Friday, 8 December 2017

World Disability Day at Seva Kendra Calcutta

-Stephen Gonsalves

Kolkata: Disability Day, or the International Day of People with Disability, is a day that has been promoted by the United Nations since 1992. Seva Kendra Calcutta held a confluence of persons with disability from Missionaries of Charity Shanti Dan and other communities with whom Seva Kendra Calcutta is engaged in. The aim of Disability Day, held on December 3 2017 was to encourage a better understanding of people affected by disability, together with helping to make people more aware of the rights, dignity and welfare of disabled people, and how one can contribute to caring for them.

Sr. Karuna M.C. from Shanti Dan shared her experience in caring for people with disabilities as well as raise awareness about the benefits of integrating disabled persons into every aspect of life - spiritual, social and cultural. At the start of the evening’s programme Fr Franklin Menezes, Director of Seva Kendra Calcutta stated that Disability Day is not concerned exclusively with either mental or physical disabilities, but rather encompasses all known disabilities, from Autism to Down syndrome to Multiple Sclerosis all of which requires compassion and healing. Shanti Dan residents  comprising of 45 girls with various disabilities, performed cultural activities spiritual songs, dance and skits, which were ably led by Sister Superior of Shanti Dan.

At the start of the programme Fr Franklin Menezes stated that Seva Kendra Calcutta was launching the constructing a full-fledged residential center for those who are physically challenged. This center would be residential one with all facilities for rehabilitation, education, medical treatment and social  integration. The center, to be located on the outskirts of Kolkata, already has available land which has been donated by another organization called Swanirbhar. At this event “Dus Ka Dum” was launched which is a local fundraising event by all who are interested in this venture. Each coupon is priced at Rs.10 and hence the name. The first brick for the foundation was also presented at this occasion. The same will be blessed by His Grace Archbishop Thomas D’Souza on the day the foundation will be laid.

The Chief Guest for the evening was Rotarian Ms. Lovina Khan, Managing Trustee of Open Arms Education Trust; who stated that she would fully support such a venture by Seva Kendra Calcutta and committed to donate Rs.10,000 from Open Arms Education Trust. Others who donated for the cause were Guests of Honor Mr. Sharik Khanand Mr. Shamir Alam. A large gathering of the staff of Seva Kendra Calcutta and many of the others from the neighborhood communities participated at this event, which was another milestone for Seva Kendra Calcutta.


- Subhodeep Biswas

Dum Dum: On the 2nd of December December, Mother Teresa’s Church, Dum Dum, hosted aninter parish fest named “KAIROS” meaning ‘opportune time’ or ‘time of grace.’

The day began with a prayer by Fr. Devraj Fernandes, the YCS Chaplin of Kolkata Diocese, then followed a time of praise and worship led by a national band “Bridge ‘000.” Fr. Sudhir Nayak, the parish priest of St. Damien’s Church, Dum Dum, gave the key note message and Fr. Joachim Ekka, the Chaplin of JY West Bengal declared the event open. Around 200 youth came for the event and took active participation in one way or the other. All the priests, including Fr. Jesu Rechahar from Christ the King parish, were present during the Eucharistic Celebration with Fr. Devraj Fernandes as the main celebrant. The ICYN West Bengal & Sikkim president, Mr.Alex Hembrom and the Kolkata Diocese president, Mr. Jovita Ekka were also present and showcased active participation.

The day also witnessed the performance of Mr. Nizel Samuel, the lead singer of the gospel band, ‘The Desert Voice’ (he was also one of the judges for the singing competition). After a full-day of intense competition, fellowship and laughter, Infant Jesus Church, Behala emerged as the winners while Our Lady of Happy Voyage, Howrah were the runners up. The perfect icing on the cake was the guest performance by Bridge ‘000. This was the first time in Kolkata where a national band has performed in an inter-parish fest.

Monday, 27 November 2017

Ranaghat rape, dacoity convicts do not deserve mercy: Judge


Kolkata: A Kolkata court today sentenced a Bangladeshi man to imprisonment till death for raping a 72-year old nun during a dacoity at a convent in West Bengal's Ranaghat town two years back.

Six convicts sentenced to varying jail terms in a rape and dacoity case did not deserve any mercy, Kolkata sessions court judge Kumkum Sinha said, pronouncing the quantum of punishment.

They committed the 'heinous' crime of vandalizing a place of worship and committing sexual atrocities on an aged nun at the Jesus and Mary Convent at Ranaghat in Nadia district in 2015, the court said. Quoting from Oscar Wilde's 'The Selfish Giant', the judge said Jesus Christ, in the guise of a child, had told the giant that 'these are the wounds of love,' when inquired about inflicted wounds on his palm and feet.

"But in this case, these are not the wounds of love and the convicts do not deserve mercy," Judge Sinha said while sentencing the six convicts.

Observing that the spirit of probation was not applicable to any of the convicts, Sinha said, "There can be no mercy to someone who destroyed the virginity of a nun and to those who vandalized a place of worship."

In her order, the judge noted that the convicts had been accused by the West Bengal CID, the investigating agency, of ransacking and looting the convent for nearly three to four hours during the night of March 14, 2015.

The observations came after five of the six convicts claimed that they were from financially downtrodden families and had children and aged parents to take care of and pleaded for a shorter imprisonment term. Nazrul Islam, who was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment till death for the rape of the nun, did not say anything before the pronouncement of the sentence. Stating that the age of all the convicts, apart from Gopal Sarkar, was between 25 and 32 years, the defense counsel prayed for leniency and a chance for rectification. Public prosecutor Dipak Ranjan Ghosh, however, pleaded for maximum sentence to all the convicts owing to the nature of the crime committed.

Stating that the crime was a unique incident given its nature, Ghosh said, "The way the 'tabernacle' (portable shrine) and the prayer hall at the convent were ransacked, it was an insult to their religion." After hearing both the defense and prosecution, the judge pronounced the quantum of sentence. 

Platinum Jubilee Celebration of MSMHC at Ichapur

- Janis Norris

Ichapur: 24th October, 2017, a Solemn Eucharistic Celebration was held to mark the completion of 75 years of the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of Mary Help of Christians (MSMHC). The Eucharistic Celebration was presided over by Fr. Dominic Gomes , Vicar General of Kolkata Archdiocese along with 10 other Con-celebrants. Sr. Molly James (Provincial), in her introduction, shared about the solemnity of the Foundation Day of the Congregation. Sr. Molly said, “We fondly remember our beloved Founder and pioneer Sisters who gave themselves for the Congregation and its Mission. Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain. This is true in the life of our Founder and pioneer Sisters”.

Our beloved Founder’s Episcopal motto was “Apostle of Christ” which he lived by, till the end. Just after a year of his vibrant missionary life as pastor and shepherd of Krishnagar, he was transferred as the second Bishop of Shillong. The 34 years of his life as a Bishop, in the vast area of the Assam mission, he constantly encountered the cross of Christ.

As we celebrate the Platinum Jubilee of our Congregation, we humbly stand before the Lord with hearts filled with sincere gratitude for having given us life and nurtured us with his providential care for a span of 75 years.

Fr. Dominic Gomes, in his homily, lifted up praises to God, with grateful hearts of all those present on this auspicious occasion and sang praises of His goodness. God has bestowed on the congregation, vocations and the consecrated life of the Sisters. He shared that on this solemn Eucharistic Celebration, all were fortunate to have with them Sr. Nellie Kujur, who had completed 25 years of religious life faithfully. He extended his deepest thanks  and sincere appreciation for keeping alive the spirit and charisma of the Congregation in accordance with the wish of the Father and Founder Venerable Stephen Ferrando through the turbulent sails of difficulty. Fr. Dominic added, “This memorable anniversary impels us to congratulate you, dear Sr. Nellie, with all our hearts for the 25 of years you have served His people. We recall to our minds the diligent exercise of your apostolic mission; over and above you have contributed much to the congregation and towards the growth of the Church especially in the Diocese of Darjeeling.


On behalf of the Archbishop Thomas D’Souza, Fr. Dominic thanked the MSMHC for their continued service to the Archdiocese by providing full timers to be in charge of the Small Christian Communities Office over the years, namely Sr. Rita, Sr. Meena and now Sr. Gulab.

After the Solemn Eucharistic Celebration, there was a cultural program organized by the children who brought cheer, vibrancy and color to the Occasion. 

A New Provincial Superior for the Society of St. Paul

- Fr Dominic Savio D’Silva

Rev. Fr Varghese Gnalian is the new Provincial Superior of the Indian Province of the Society of St Paul. He assumed the responsibility during the XVIIth Provincial Chapter held in Bengaluru from 29th October to 7th November, 2017, with the theme “I do everything for the Gospel.”(1 Cor. 9 : 23)

The Superior General of the Congregation, Rev. Fr. Valdir Jose de Castro, and three of the General Councillors were present during the entire duration of the Chapter which elected Fr. George Chathanatt, Fr. Dominic Savio D’Silva, Fr. Jikson Mullas Seril and Fr. Michael John the Provincial Councillors. The Chapter, recalling the words of the Founder unanimously resolved to be fully attentive to the signs of the times, and use the new languages of communication, to reach all with the Gospel message, especially the poor and those living in periphery.

The Society of St Paul was founded by Bl. James Alberione on August 20, 1914, at Alba, in North Italy. The Indian Province that carries out its apostolate, using the fastest means of communication including multi and digital media, has 14 communities in India, four communities in Nigeria, one each in Great Britain and Ireland.