Saturday, 27 December 2014

Archdiocese Christmas Get-together

The Archbishop hosted city dignitaries and other collaborators at a Christmas Get-together on the lawns of Archbishop's House, 27 December 2014.

After a welcome prayer by Fr. Devraj Fernandez, Principal of St. Anthony's High School, and a short message by Archbishop Thomas; there were carols sung by a city group. Chief Guest, City Police Commissioner, Surajit Kar Purkayastha, also addressed the gathering and thanked the citizens of the city for making Kolkata the safest city to live in in India. This he reasoned was thanks to the harmony in which different ethnic and religious groups lived. This harmony is what makes the city peaceful and deserving of the tag "City of Joy," and is the spirit of Christmas.

The Mayor of Howrah was also present, as were other religious leaders, dignitaries and members of government.

More carols followed, this time in Bengali (Dilip Rosario and his group), and finally "We wish you a Merry Christmas" by a group of children, brought the formal part of the event to a close. Guest were then free to mingle in fellowship, enjoying snacks, the cake and the coffee being served; perfect in the lovely Kolkata winter evening.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014


 By Isaac Gomes

While the world was on tenterhooks with twin sieges in Sydney and Belgium, Kolkata, the cultural capital of India, was busy with something else.  It was a carol evening, aptly named Noel, at Church of Christ the King, Park Circus.

The crowd - mainly youth in jelled hairdo and exuding stardom - waited with bated breath, until the programme started at 6 p.m. with the lighting of the lamp by very young curate, Fr Robert Johnson.       

Seven groups took part in this event, intended to roll out Christmas spirit in Kolkata.   The Class IX students from Don Bosco School Park Circus started the show, with Adrian (of Class XI) at the keyboard.  They struck the right chord by putting up a lively medley where song and sound synchronised effortlessly.  After Don Bosco School, the choir from St. Mary's Ripon Street took the stage, led by Dominic Saldanha, whose keyboard skills would make Adnan Samy jealous!

 “Let the Light shine and let our Shining Stars perform!”  declared Rev. Fr. Vincent Lobo, Parish Priest and Dean of Calcutta Archdiocese. After his encouraging speech, the Altar Servers youth group of Christ the King appeared in the full gear of Altar servers and sang three wonderful songs; Mohit Pradhan was at the keyboard.  

Then it was time for Christmas Carols in Bengali. Auxilium Parish put up two lively songs, followed by the women’s group of Legion of Mary, Christ the King. They just sang their hearts out! Dominic Saha and (once again,) Dominic Saldanha left the audience spellbound with their mastery of the keyboard.   The Bengali Choir of Christ the King directed by Dilip Rozario also sang to a nice tempo and ICYM of Christ the King provided the icing on the cake.

Kudos to Fr Vincent Lobo for being the springboard of creativity to our local church. We are already feeling very Christmassy!


By Basil Cardoza

On Friday, 12 December, Kolkata Praise and Worship singers, Voicestra got Jamshedpur Dioceses’ Christmas celebrations off to a wonderful musical start with their concert presented by the Jamshedpur chapter of the All India Anglo-Indian Association and co-hosted by Jamshedpur’s landmark Boulevard Hotel.

The event held at the Tagore Academy auditorium was interspersed with performances by local talent from schools such as St. Mary’s and Loyola. The Voicestra performance was also punctuated by a unique nativity play (enacted mainly by Students of Little Flower School, TELCO,) some dances by children – and a very special jive performance by Mr. Ronnie D’Costa and Sonali DSouza, all of which served well to introduce the different songs performed by the group.

Bishop Felix Toppo SJ of Jamshedpur, the chief guest, enjoyed the event with other officials of the diocese. The Bishop said that as the “beautiful, melodious singing” began he felt meditative and he began to contemplate the mystery of Christmas and the love it stands for, which changed to a feeling of joyous celebration as the programmed progressed. He thanked Voicestra, as well as the local organisers for the opportunity to dwell on the meaning of Christmas, as well as to joyfully celebrate it.

Though a Kolkata ensemble (the principal singers are members of the choir at Church of Our Lady of Vailankanni) a few of Voicestra’s singers are from other cities, as well. As last year, Voicestra will perform at the Kolkata Christmas Carnival 2014.


By Isaac Gomes

On Saturday December 6, the Social Communications Commission of the Archdiocese of Calcutta conducted an Alignment Programme for the resource persons tasked with assisting parishes start their own Parish papers. The programme was held at the Diocesan Pastoral Centre, Proggoloy, Barasat.

The Commission had felt the need to have parish papers in every parish, to initiate parish media teams which would be valuable resources to the archdiocesan media effort in the long term. A series of workshops to train these parish teams and bring out parish journals would be held in early 2015. 

Towards this plan, the Alignment programme brought together those resource people would act as facilitators for workshops to be held early next year, and subsequent be hand-holders of the parish media teams to create and publish their papers, with in a time bound period. For Phase I, fifteen city parishes in Kolkata were identified.  

The resource team of Fr. Devraj Fernandes, Farrell Shah, Althea Phillips, Ruth Joseph and Isaac Gomes, started from Archbishop’s House at 7.45 am for Proggoloy, and were joined there by Fr. Robin Gomes and Fr. Leo Jayaraj.  After a hearty breakfast, the programme began with a very encouraging address by Fr Anthony Roderick, head of the centre.  He requested that the team from Kolkata give some tips on writing for a parish newspaper and reporting, to a delegation of about 25 Church leaders from Bongaon Parish.  Farrell and Isaac had half-an-hour interactive session with the delegates and explained the nuances of reporting in a church journal.  Farrell explained to them the formula of What, When, Why, Where, How and Who with an amusing poem; for ensuring completeness in their report writing.  The delegates put up a short demonstration and proved they were quick learners!

When the Bongaon delegates had left, the SCC facilitators began their “training for trainers” in earnest.

Fr. Devraj took the first session - an overview of Communication in the Church, especially the Church’s media Mission.  He said social media reporting should be truthful, just and at the service of common good. He quoted from various Church documents including the utterances of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and the message of Pope Francis on 48th World Communication Day. 

The remaining sessions were led by Farrell, who outlined the objectives of the workshops and asked the group to identify the types of media available for Parish Journalism. Through group exercise, the participants identified the pros and cons of each media option (Newspaper, Websites, Social Media and Verbal Communication, etc).   He stressed on the necessity of involving the youth, where media can be a vehicle to express themselves - and for creating a pool of future-ready media persons for the Archdiocese.

Session III was on creating Parish-relevant Contents (PREPS) for various media, Team Skills and Techniques and the economics of church newspaper publication. 

The Workshop ended with a highly creative session on assembling an editorial and design team, writing articles, choosing a name for a publication, technical and mandatory issues, and finally publishing - there and then - a newspaper on the tab, with “Editor” Fr Robin’s autograph clearly visible!

We hope the facilitator team can take the input obtained today and translate it into effective parish journals in the New Year. 

Monday, 11 August 2014

Seminar On Minority Rights Held At Archbishop's House

On 17th July, a seminar on School Administration and Minority Rights was held at the Archdiocese of Calcutta for the Heads and Secretaries of Catholic Schools. The seminar, at which ninety Secretaries and Principals were present, began at 9 am and concluded at 3:30 pm. It focused on measures to overcome certain minority hurdles.
     The seminar was initiated with a short prayer by His Grace Archbishop Thomas D'Souza while the members were warmly welcomed by Fr. Moloy D'Costa, the Diocesan Secretary of Commission for Education and Culture. This was followed by the introduction of Fr. Gerry D'Souza, a Jesuit of Jamshedpur Province. The 5 chapter presentation started with the in depth discussion of the salient features of Article 29 and 30 of the Indian Constitution wherein it is stated that those professing a religion other than Hinduism and consist of an overall of less than 20% of the population of India, are considered minorities.

      Judgments of the various High Courts and Supreme Court upholding rights of Christians were presented. It is mandatory for these judgments to be known by the Heads and Secretaries. It was an enriching and educative day for all participants.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Pope Francis' Words of Encouragement

Weep not for what you have lost, fight for what you have.
Weep not for what is dead, fight for what was born in you.
Weep not for the one who abandoned you, fight for who is with you.
Weep not for those who hate you, fight for those who want you.
Weep not for your past, fight for your present struggle.
Weep not for your suffering, fight for your happiness.
With things that are happening to us, we begin to learn that
nothing is impossible to solve, just move forward.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Jesus - The Great Treasure

Jesus - The Great Treasure-
 Pope Francis on Sunday stressed the priceless value of encountering Jesus, noting that Jesus’ parables speak of those who are willing to trade everything for the Kingdom of God.
 “He who knows Jesus, who encounters him personally, remains fascinated and attracted by so much kindness, so much truth, so much beauty, and everything in great humility and simplicity,” the Pope said July 27.  “Look for Jesus, meet Jesus: this is the great treasure!” the Pope exhorted.  Speaking before the noontime Angelus prayers, he addressed thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Square from his window in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.
 The Pope reflected on the two parables in the Sunday Mass reading from the Gospel of Matthew: the parable of the treasure discovered buried in a field and the parable of the pearl of great price.  He said these parables show that the discovery of the Kingdom of God can come “suddenly,” as when the farmer discovers unexpected treasure in a field and sells everything to buy it. The Kingdom of God can also come “after a long search,” like the case of the merchant who sought a precious pearl.  Pope Francis stressed the primary fact of both parables: the farmer and the merchant “give up everything else” to buy what they have found.  “They do not need to reason, to think, to reflect: they realize immediately the incomparable value of what they have found, and are willing to lose everything to have it.”  “So it is with the Kingdom of God,” the Pope explained. “He who finds it has no doubts. He feels that this is what he was searching for, what he was looking for, and what responds to his most authentic aspirations.”
 The Pope reflected on how many saints were converted because they were so affected by Jesus. He noted that St. Francis of Assisi was a lukewarm Christian but when he encountered Jesus in a “decisive moment,” he found the Kingdom of God “and then all his dreams of earthly glory vanished.”  “The Gospel makes you recognize the true Jesus, it makes you recognize that Jesus is alive. It speaks to your heart and changes your life.”  When someone is “born again,” he explained, “you have found something that makes sense, that gives flavor, that gives light to all, even to hardships, even to suffering, even to death.” 
The Pope repeated his previous encouragements to read the Gospels and asked everyone to carry a small book of the Gospels in their pocket or purse.  “Everything makes sense when there, in the Gospel, you can find this treasure, which Jesus called ‘the kingdom of God,’ that God who reigns in your life, in our lives,” Pope Francis said.  “To read the Gospel is to find Jesus and to have this Christian joy, which is a gift of the Holy Spirit.”  “Dear brothers and sisters, the joy of having found the treasure of the Kingdom of God shines, you see,” he continued. “The Christian cannot conceal his faith, because it shines through in every word, every gesture, even in the most simple, everyday: it shines, the love that God has given us through Jesus.”
 On Sunday Pope Francis also renewed his calls for peace in the world.  After the Angelus, the Pope noted the July 28 anniversary of the start of World War I. 
“This conflict, which Benedict XV called a ‘senseless slaughter,’ resulted, after four long years, in a most fragile peace,” he said.  “Tomorrow will be a day of mourning for this tragedy,” said Pope Francis, who lamented the millions killed and the “immense destruction” in the war.  “As we remember this tragic event, I hope that the mistakes of the past will not be repeated,” he said.  He urged everyone to learn from a history that is “increasingly dominated by the demands of peace through patient and courageous dialogue.”  Pope Francis particularly noted ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, Iraq, and Ukraine.
 “I ask that you continue to join me in prayer that the Lord may grant the people and authorities of those areas the wisdom and strength needed to push ahead on the path of peace by addressing each dispute with the tenacity of dialogue and negotiation with the power of reconciliation,” he said.  “Brothers and sisters: Never war! Never war!” he exclaimed.  The Pope especially lamented war’s effects on children: those killed, wounded, and maimed; the orphaned; those who have lost “hope for a decent life”; and children who “do not know how to smile.” 
“Stop, please!” he said to those involved in violent conflict. “I ask you with all my heart.”

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Archbishops Celebrate Feast Days

Archbishop Thomas D'Souza and Archbishop Emeritus Henry D'Souza on the Feast day of their Patron Saints Thomas and Henry on 3rd and 13th July respectively. 

Congratulations, Archbishops!