Tuesday, 31 March 2015

CBCI hosts Communication Leaders’ Meet at Kolkata

Kolkata -The Annual Communication Leaders’ Meet, organised by the Catholic Bishop's Conference of India (CBCI) was  held at Nitika, Don Bosco, Kolkata, 23-25 March, 2015. The leaders chose to study the theme: Social Communications in the Church in India: Appraisal and Challenges, this year.

Sessions at the meet, by some of India's best Catholic communicators,  dealt with Communication Spirituality  (Fr. Sebastian V.), Public Relations and Strategies to Deal with Media (Fr. Savarimuthu Shekhar), Social Communication  and Current Scenario: Challenges and Strategies  (Fr. Cedric Prakash), Finance, Budgeting, Resource Mobilisation, Management (Bishop  Salvadore), Social Communication, New Evangelisation and Pastoral Efficacy (Bishop Chacko),  New Media and Internet (Farrell Shah),  Catholic Press (Fr. Alfonso Elengikal) and SIGNIS (Sunil Lucas).

National Communications Secretary, and Director of a national media training and research institute, NISCORT, Fr. George Plathottam talked on Formation of Clergy and Religious for the task of Communication.

Reports on Communication ministry in the various regions were also read out, interspersed between sessions. 

Sunday, 29 March 2015

VG condemns fundamentalist forces on televison

Kolkata - On March 25, Fr. Dominic Gomes, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Calcutta was a panelist at a talk show on popular Bengali television channel, ABP Ananda, which was aired at 9:00 p.m.

The discussion revolved around the nuns of St. Capitaneo Higher Secondary School for Girls at Champaguri in Nagrakata block, Jalpaiguri, who had received five threat letters and a phone call, between March 11 and 21.

The other panelists were Professors Partha Pratim Biswas and Sunil Chattopadhyay, and Mr. Ashim Sarkar, BJP State General-Secretary.

 You can watch a video of the full programme here »
 24min 20 sec.| Contributed by Isaac Harold Gomes

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Cardinal Cleemis, CBCI delegation visits Ranaghat

Kolkata - His Eminence Baselios Cardinal Cleemis, Major Archbishop of Trivandrum, today visited the Jesus and Mary School, Ranaghat, leading a delegation of the Catholic Bishop's Conference of India (CBCI) of which he is President. The Cardinal was accompanied by Dy. Secretary General of CBCI, Fr. Joseph Chinnayyan. The CBCI represents the 169 Catholic Dioceses all over India.

The visit was to express solidarity of the Catholic Church in India with the sisters of Jesus and Mary School, Ranaghat. The group also visited the sister who is recuperating at the sub-divisional hospital, Ranaghat.

His Eminence, along with Bishop Joseph Gomes, Bishop of Krishnagar, Fr. Dominic Gomes, Vicar General Calcutta Archdiocese, Fr. Panneer Selvam, Dy. Secretary - BRBC and Fr. Moloy D'Costa, Regional Secretary for Education also called on the Hon'ble Chief Minister, Ms. Mamata Banerjee, to express gratitude for ordering a CBI probe into the incident. They also conveyed the concerns of the Christian community in the country.

The CBCI said it "is humbled by the spirit of forgiveness and love shown by the sisters of Jesus and Mary Convent, Ranaghat, even in the face of such grave aggressions against them." They also clarified that His Eminence Baselios Cardinal Cleemis, was solely representing the Indian Bishop's Conference (CBCI) and not the Vatican, as was rumored in certain sections of the media.

The Cardinal also addressed a press conference at the Archbishop's House, Calcutta, and interacted briefly with the media. Video of the press conference is available on the Archdiocese homepage (Click on Video 2).
The Cardinal at the Press Conference

Interacting with Media in Calcutta

Monday, 16 March 2015

Solidarity Rally and Vigil

Against the culture of rape - Solidarity Rally and Vigil, Allen Park, Kolkata

Standing against the culture of rape and in solidarity with Ranaghat’s “Sister Mary” over 3000 Christians and people of other faiths joined the Archdiocese of Calcutta in a Solidarity Rally and Vigil at Allen Park on Kolkata’s Park Street, March 16, 2015.

The event was scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m., but over 500 people were already assembled at the venue much earlier. Neighbouring parishes came in organised processions, while those further off came individually or in small groups. Young and Old. Catholic and Protestant. Lay and religious. Christian and those with other beliefs. All were there to lend their support in solidarity… this incident has sent shock waves through the fabric of Bengal’s society. 

A short summary of the events and an appeal to the administration swiftly deliver justice, was made by Archbishop Thomas D’Souza, with Bishop Ashoke Biswas of the CNI Diocese of Calcutta beside him on the podium. The Superior General of DSA who had met the victim, (in hospital recovering from surgery,) also said a few words, and shared that the Ranaghat nun had said that she forgives her attackers. 

The people were then invited write messages on the huge flex set up for the purpose, with the archbishop and bishop writing the first words. Afterwards, those who had candles stepped outside the park, following the prelates, to light them around the statue of Mother Teresa. Inside the park, hymns of solidarity were sung led by the Vicar General, Fr. Dominic Gomes. The crowd participated with fervour, holding aloft lighted candles.
At the scheduled 6 p.m., the last hymn was sung, and the Archbishop gave his blessing. The crowd was then requested to disperse in a solemn, dignified manner.

A video of parts of the Solidarity Rally and Vigil can bee seen on the Archdiocese Homepage.

Sister “Mary” – an overview
In the wee hours of Saturday, 14 March 2015, a group of men broke into the Convent of Jesus and Mary, a prominent school at Ranaghat town, close to the metropolis of Calcutta, and assaulted the sisters, raping one of them - an ailing 74 year old nun.
While the horror of this crime numbs the senses, we see this tragedy playing out so often in the country today. We take a stand. RAPE IS UNACCEPTABLE. In Delhi. In Kolkata. In Ranaghat. Anywhere.

Photos from the rally
The crowd begins to enter Allan Park

Placards with the message
The eldest rallyist!

MC introduces the agenda
All the prelates...
Archbishop speaks

Sister speaks

The prelates inaugurate the flex message board...
Prof. Maria Fernandes writes her message

Crowd moves towards candle lighting
Archbishop  is interviewed
Surrounded by microphones
Literally crawling with camerapersons
Solemnly lighting a candle
Some light candles within the park
Solidarity posters everywhere
The Christian message
Vicar General leads the hymns
People are still adding to the flex...
Fr. Robin leads the crowd
The crowd responds with fervour
... Barry, too.

Dean of Calcutta participates

Last scenes as the Solidarity Rally grew to a close...

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Nun raped by robbers at Ranaghat

 Ranaghat, Saturday, March 14 2015 - Today, early morning, between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. robbers entered the Convent of Jesus and Mary School at Ranaghat, Nadia, and ransacked the school office. They proceeded to the Convent and entered the Superior’s room, where they violently assaulted and raped the ailing 75 year old nun.

Tying up 3 of the 5 Sisters in the house, and they entered the Principal’s room and ransacked it also; destroying property and taking money, a laptop and a mobile phone.

Proceeding to the chapel, the robbers discarded the consecrated Hosts on the floor, while making off with the chalices and ciborium.

Earlier they had disconnected two of the three telephone lines, indicating the planning that had gone into the attack and robbery. Out of the 12 CCTVs, only four were found to be functioning.

Mr. Derek O’Brien, M.P., was contacted and he has informed the Director General of Police and investigations have been started.
The West Bengal Chief Minister immediately ordered a CID probe into the case. 

The raped and injured sister was taken to Hospital for treatment and tests.

In solidarity with the Sisters, Calcutta Archdiocese will be holding a Vigil of Solidarity at Allen Park, Park Street, at 4.30 p.m. on Monday, 16 March. All Christians regardless of denomination are expected to attend this Vigil. 

Convent of Jesus and Mary, Ranaghat, Nadia, West Bengal.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015


 By Sybil Azavedo

The 8th Small Christian Community (SCC) Mission in Communion was held at St. John’s Church, Chelidanga, Asansol, 20 to 22 February, 2015.  

Bishop Salvadore Lobo of Baruipur along with Bishop Cyprian Monis of Asansol, Bishop Clement Tirkey of Jalpaiguri, President SCC-Bengal/Sikkim Region, Fr. I. P. Sarto, Secretary and 30 priests, offered the inaugural Eucharist. The main celebrant on 21 February was Bishop Julius Marandi of Dumka and on 22 February,  it was Archbishop Thomas D’Souza of Kolkata.  

Besides daily Gospel Sharing and the day’s review, there was a panel discussion in which 144 participants from Darjeeling/Sikkim, Jalpaiguri, Raiganj, Bagdogra, Baruipur, Krishnanagar, Kolkata and Asansol dioceses took part. The topic was “SCC for Evangelization”.  

The panelists were:
•    Fr. Jagdish Parmar, S.J. (Darjeeling)
•    Mrs. SulataHaldar (Kolkata)
•    Mr. Lawrence Murmu (Raiganj)
•    Mrs. ArunaMondal (Krishnagar) and
•    Mrs. Bridget Victor (Asansol).  

Fr. Christodass of Dumka gave an inspiring power-point presentation on “Families and SCC”, while “Clerical and Religious Vocation” was well presented by Fr. Sebastian Rodrigues, Sr. Sarita SCCG, and Sr. Agnes Bhutia IBVM.  

Reports on success stories of transformation were presented by Fr. David R., Baruipur; Mr. Jerome Sharma, Darjeeling/Sikkim; Sr. MeenaTirkey, Kolkata; Fr. James Gonsalves, Bagdogra; Fr. Ignatius Topno, Jalpaiguri; Sr. Rosita, Asansol; Mr. Horen Biswas, Krishnagar and Fr. Paulus, Raiganj.

On the penultimate day, the participants were entertained with a Cultural Programme by St. John’s Parish led by Desmond Peterson and Mrs. Bridget Victor.  

 The programme ended with the 144 Participants and Parishioners of St. John’s Parish, Chelidanga moving, prayerfully from the Grotto of Mother Teresa on the highway, down Mother Teresa Road and lanes, with a huge Hindi Bible being carried by four men on a beautifully decorated palanquin with an equally decorated canopy carried by four others to St. John’s Church, Chelidanga.  Archbishop Thomas D’Souza of Kolkata, Fr. Cyprian Monis of Asansol, Fr. Clement Tirkey of Jalpaiguri and Chairman of the SCC Commission with Fr. I. P. Sarto, Secretary, moved in front of the Bible.

Fr. Martin Behara, Parish Priest, his assistants, Frs. Peter, Anand and Joseph; lay leaders, Mrs. Bridget Victor, Mr. Desmond Paterson, Ravi, Solomon and the youth planned and directed the procession well.  In the Church, while the palanquin was placed in the Sanctuary, Mr. Desmond Paterson’s youth choir sang beautifully as in the previous three day.