Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Synod Preparation reach final Stage

-Farrell Shah

Kolkata: The preparations for the Diocesan Synod of Calcutta have reached the final stages, before the celebration starts on 27 September, at the Morning Star Regional Seminary at Barrackpore, near Kolkata. With just a single pre-synodal meeting remaining for preparing the 178 member delegates, two training sessions for Moderators and Reporters, on 20 and 22 August,have been held for the 30-odd priests, religious sisters and lay persons who will be key to facilitating and recording the proceedings of the synod.

Synod officials have also been finalised and besides the President, archbishop of Calcutta Thomas D'Souza, there will be vicar general Fa the r Dominic Gomes, Prolocutor Father Gregory Monterio and secretaries of the synod, Bemvinda Periera, Anancia Fernandes, Sr. Sabrina IBVM and Father Jothi SJ. The entire archdiocese is entreated to regularly pray for the success of this event, the first ever in living memory for the people of Calcutta.

Churches should prayer the Prayer for Synod 2017 at least at all the Sunday Masses – you
can request your pastor to make this happen, in case not already done. The archbishop has specially requested this sign of solidarity with the Synod, as only prayer can make the synod what it sets out to be “entrusted to the Lord; established by Him.”

Empowerment Seminar - A Storm by the Holy Spirit

-Rahul Raphael

Kolkata: An “Empowerment Seminar” to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal was organized by the Archdiocese of Kolkata at the initiative of his Grace Mos t Rev. Thomas D’ Souza at Don Bosco Auditorium (Park Circus School) on the 13th and 14th of August 2017 from 9:00am- 5:00pm. The main preachers were Bishop Francis Kalist of Meerut (National Episcopal Adviser to the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in India) and Mr. Cyril John (Chairman of National CCRS).

The core group set up for the purpose, spurred by the main coordinators, Fr. Dominic Gomes (Vicar General and conv ene r) Fr. Augus tine Mundackatt V.C. (Director of Emmaus Retreat Centre), Fr. A.C. Jose (CCCRS Spiritual director), Mr. Raymond Baptist (CCCRS chairman), Mr. Charles Sassoon and Sandra Singh worked out every detail and with the help of a host of volunteers and brought to light the highly powerful and appreciated Seminar. On 13th August that was meant mainly for the laity saw about 800 participants while on the 14th that was meant mainly for the clergy and religious, there were 600 only as it was a working day. The first day of the seminar started off on 13th August Sunday morning with the rosary followed by the powerful Praise & Worship led by the members of CCCRS and Emmaus Retreat Centre. Our Archbishop Thomas D’Souza inaugurated the Seminar and delivered a keynote address highlighting the importance of finding the spiritual sources within the Catholic Church while absorbing also the spiritual current of the charismatic springtime ushered in the last 50 years. It was followed by a powerful talk on the Word of God and the need for prayer by by Fr.Augustine ( Director of Emmaus Retreat Centre) while Fr. AC Jose conducted a moving adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, dwelling on the Love of God in a touching manner and proceeding on to a very tangibly felt healing and deliverance session.

In the afternoon, Bishop Francis Kalist and Mr. Cyril John were welcomed by his Grace Archbishop Thomas D’Souza. In the their talks that day they dwelt on the history and springtime power of the Catholic Charismatic renewal, emphasizing very much how Pope Francis has given a boost to this phenomenon, though earlier as a Jesuit Provincial, he had opposed it, but later became a promoter of it when he was the Bishop in Argentina. Their message to the people was that the need of the hour is to reach out to all the people who are not yet aware of the Charismatic movement. Mr. Cyril John elaborated on the goals, features and mission of CCRS- Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services. A Solemn Holy Mass presided over by Bishop Kalist , followed thereafter, to conclude the Day 1 of the Seminar. Day 2 of the Seminar also commenced with the Rosary and Praise and worship followed by talks given by Mr. Cyril John and Bishop Kalist and, addressed mainly to the clergy of Kolkata. The main message delivered by the main speakers was the need and urgency for the clergy and religious leading different parishes, Schools and social activities across Kolkata to organize more and more Charismatic Renewal Services for the people who need the Holy Spirit. At 1 PM the Holy Mass was presided over by Archbishop Thomas while Bishop Kalist gave the homily. His main message was “to be a Christian is to be an Evangelizer”. In the afternoon there was a beautiful adoration and service and an in-filling of the Holy Spirit conducted by Bishop Francis Kalist. During the entire two-day Seminar the choir created the atmosphere of Worship for the people. As the curtains came down in the evening our Vicar General (Fr.Dominic Gomes) thanked each and every one for their whole hearted participation during the two days and congratulated all the volunteers and in a special way thanked our Archbishop Thomas D’Souza and Bishop Kalist and Mr. Cyril and the out team of organizers and more specially the Salesian P:rovincial Fr. Nirmol Gomes and Fr. Rector and community of Don Bosco Park Circus for making available the auditorium  and the premises for this grand event. Fr. Dominic Gomes himself was fully into the celebration of this extraordinary “Storm from the Holy Spirit” for Kolkata that was watched all over the world through the telecasting done by the Catholichub.tv from Hyderabad, thanks to Fr. Augustine’s initiative in inviting them.


Monday, 14 August 2017

Xaverian Uses Photography to Highlight Women’s Issue

- Sudeshna Sengupta

Areet Roychowdhury, Class 12 student of St. Xavier's Collegiate School, Kolkata, has been an avid photographer from the age of 10. He had always hoped to use the medium of photography to bring about social change through awareness campaigns on equality.

The first project presented by by him was a photography exhibition held on August 5, 2017 at ICCR, Kolkata. His photographs have been used as a vehicle to focus on the issue of safety of women and create awareness about gender bias and how it leads to eve-teasing
and various forms of domestic violence. In the larger perspective this Project Unsafe, strives to focus on the need to change attitudes towards women, by which they feel safer and unexploited everywhere. Areet has chosen his subjects from an interesting array of women of Kolkata who symbolizes strength and individuality above everything else. Notable women include Aparna Sen, Alokananda Chakladar, Dolly Basu, Nayantara Palchowdhury, Oyndrilla Dutta among others.

It is also interesting to note that some of his photographs focus on simple acts of daily life in which the women feel exploited and unclean. Moments of being brushed against in a public transport, a sudden movement in a lift leading to uncalled for physical contact or a simple exchange of notes that leads to unnecessary physical touch. Areet has his friends from his school and theatre group posing for many of his photographs. Some of the photographs depict the survivors and inmates of Apne Aap Women Worldwide to help us understand the deep rooted problem of sex trafficking as well.

The photography exhibition was spearheaded by Malika Verma and was inaugurated by Aparna Sen. Areet parents hope to take this exhibition across schools in Kolkata to encourage young people to reflect on this growing social menace and contribute positively to bring about a change in the attitude that boys and men have towards women in our vastly diverse Indian social milieu.


The Inaugural Ceremony of ISC Department and Solar Power Plant at Loreto Day School, Dharamtala

- A. Gomes

Kolkata: Loreto Day School, Dharamtala, has achieved yet another milestone – leaving an indelible mark in the 138 year old history with the introduction of the ISC department. A special ceremony was held on the 5th of August, 2017, in the School Hall, to inaugurate the ISC Department (Humanities Stream). It was an honour to have Sr. Anita Braganza, Province Leader of South East Asia, as our Chief Guest.

 The ceremony began with an Inaugural dance to welcome the guests. This was followed by
a prayer service, musical presentation by the Junior Choir and a short Power point Presentation, tracing the history of our school from its earliest years, when it was founded by Mother Gonzaga, till the present moment. Sr. Anita, inaugurated the ISC Department as she announced the Official Declaration by the CISCE. Being an ex–student of Loreto Dharamtala, her speech was inspiring and touching as she spoke about the achievements of the school.


The second part of the day’s program was the inauguration of the Solar Panel. Loreto, in India has taken a pledge to make all our schools carbon neutral by 2020. Loreto Dharamtala, is the first Loreto school in Kolkata to achieve their dream by installing Solar power plant cells on its roof.So the school is now functioning on solar energy! “We, at Loreto Dharamtala, take small steps which lead to great destinations”, rightly said by Principal, Mrs. A. Gomes in her speech.



Clergy Day

- Margaret Coelho

Kolkata : Clergy day was celebrated in The Church of our Lady of Vailankanni on Sunday 6th August, 2017. A special Mass was arranged by the Laity Cell at 6.00 p.m. with special “Prayers of the Faithful” Before the mass could end there was a special prayer for our clergy and distribution of small gifts to all the four priests, i.e. Fr. Gregory, Fr. Anthony Patrick Paul, Fr. Michael Bhaju and Fr. Sujit, who is a visiting priest in our parish for the next three months. Fr. Sujit is studying German in Kolkata and has been posted in our parish for the next three months. We are happy to have him with us. A token of gratitude and love was given to each priest, who were thrilled to receive the same. After mass there was a small get together was held downstairs in the Hall, where about 50 odd people collected. We had the cutting of the cake and cold drinks. Dinner was served to all who attended.


Our Parish is fortunate to have such wonderful priests, full of zeal and compassion for the parishioners. We, the Laity Cell, who organized the program, would like to thank all our Priests / clergy for having participated in this program and wish them all the best for the years to come.


Feast of St. Ignatius adds colour to Xavocristi

- Soma Gomes & Gabriel Gomes

Kolkata: The Christian staff and students of St. Xavier’s Collegiate School, Kolkata celebrated the feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola on Monday, 31st July, 2017.The celebration began with the Eucharistic celebration in the morning presided over by The Vicar General, Fr. Dominic Gomes, S.J., and concelebrated by Fr. Jerome Francis S.J., Fr. Gaston Roberge S.J., Fr. Probal Gomes S.J., Fr.Timir Singha S.J. and Fr. M. S. Arockiasamy S.J. The inspiring message based on the Ignatian thoughts and values, urging all, to be men & women for others, made the Homily by the main celebrant very meaningful and apt for the occasion.

 The melodious Choir led by Mr.J. Menezes and the meticulous planning done by the CLC Group and Teachers of the Primary & Secondary School brought out the significance of the Feast Day Mass beautifully. On the occasion the C.L.C. unit of St. Xavier's Collegiate school organised their annual Xavochristi’17, an inter- school Christian students’ fest. The theme for the fest was Pray. Serve. Love. Catholic students of 11 schools including the host school participated in this fest. The chief guest, Vicar Gen. Fr. Dominic Gomes’ inaugural message inspired the students. Fr. Benny Thomas, Principal of St. Xavier' s Collegiate school, beautifully described the essence of the fest, explained the meaning of the theme and declared the fest open.


The events for the fest were debate, art, quiz, music and dance. The motion for the debate was: In today's world, prayers have lost relevance with the youth. Loreto Sealdah emerged the winner of the debate and quiz completions and the first prize for Art and Dance competition was won by St. Antony’s High school. The host school St. Xavier’s collegiate school was awarded first prize for singing. Three schools, St. Xavier’s Collegiate School, St.Anthony’s High school and Loreto Sealdah emerged as the overall winners. The Runner Ups were Loreto House, Loreto
Convent, Entally.

The fest had a grand closing ceremony. Displaying a spirit of oneness, the host school St. Xavier's handed over the winner’s trophy and the gift hampers to St. Anthony's High School and Loreto Sealdah.


The hard work of the students and teachers under the able guidance of Vice Principal Fr. M.S. Arockiaswamy SJ made this event a roaring success. At the end of the day, there was a small memento for each and every student.....the message that each one of them is a winner!



Kolkata Archdiocese Holds SCC DST Meeting

- Dominic J. Azavedo

Kolkata: The quarterly SCC Diocesan Service Team (DST) meeting of Kolkata Archdiocese was held on 29 July, 2017 in Archbishop’s House. Fr. Dominic Gomes, Vicar General and SCC Coordinator for the Kolkata Archdiocese, welcomed the 33 SCC Animators who came from all around the diocese. The animators were thanked for the effort put in to spread SCC across the Archdiocese and they were also urged to reach new horizons and accomplish more for instance, observing SCC Day in the Parish could go a long way in reaching out to a large number of Parishioners to help them know more about SCC and join to the community.

On SCC Day, apart from the Solemn Eucharistic celebration and cultural program, there could also be a Bible Quiz, posters and banners can be displayed inside the Church premises to disclosing the work of the SCC members in the Parish and explaining what SCC is? Fr. Dominic also welcomed Fr. Rajesh Paul Kujur, OMI, the newly appointed Bengal/Sikkim Regional Secretary of SCC. After the Veneration of the Bible, Bible reading, reflection on the minutes and passing of the minutes of the DST meeting held on 22nd April, 2017, the reports were read by the Animators. The Gospel Sharing Meetings which were held regularly, with action plans under the Gospel Sharing 6th Step, the visiting the Sick. An encouraging story was shared during the narration of reports about a 19 year old boy whose name was Stephen Anthony. He was from a very poor family of Stella Maris Church who met with a serious Motorcycle accident. He was unconscious for five days but with the SCC members visiting and praying, Stephen experienced healing in his body and speedy recover y. SCC members helped the family till Stephen was on his feet. SCC also helps the lonely and elderly people in St. Mary’s Church, Ripon Street by providing jobs to the unemployed. A rickshaw was given by the Our Lady of Vailankanni Church SCC members to help generate jobs. The SCC members of Picnic Garden have also helped children with their studies. An observation was made that where Parish Priests are actively involved, the SCCs were vibrant to name a few would be St. Mary’s, Ripon Street under Fr. John Mohandas, Queen of Peace, Tollygunge under Fr. Peter Pradhan, St. Thomas Church, Middleton Row under Fr. Lucas D’Cruz. 

After the sharing of the Reports, the participants were put into groups Deaneries wise and given the lesson plan of “SCCs as Self-Propagating, Self-Ministering and Self-Supporting Communities” which some Kolkata Archdiocese’s representatives had learnt at the Bengal/Sikkim Resource Team meeting in Baruipur from May 3 to 7, 2017. The DST participants are now expected to teach these lesson plans in their Parishes.Fr. Rajesh Paul Kujur, Bengal/ Sikkim Regional Secretary of the SCC, in his short speech, emphasized that the laity should be given more responsibility in the SCC of the Church so that together progress can be made at the grassroots levels. The meeting concluded with a prayer by Fr. Rajesh followed by Fr. Sebastian OFM Conv. of Green Park giving the final Blessing with the Bible. To be self- supporting, the DST members arranged a paid breakfast and lunch. Thanks to Sybil Azavedo, Roselyn Miles, Juana Bramblebee and Lidwina Alphonso for arranging a delicious breakfast and lunch.