Friday, 27 October 2017

Hundreds watch musical on “Apostle of Shillong”

-Matters India

Shillong: A historical musical drama on Father Constantine Vendrame, the first Salesian missionary to northeastern India was staged at a major seminary in Shillong, capital of Meghalaya state. More than 1,500 people witnessed the musical staged for three consecutive days from October 19 at Sacred Heart Theological College (SHTC), Mawlai, a Shillong suburb.

“He is one of the greatest missionaries God has ever sent to our land. We cannot explain much about him within this few hours. And the new generation may not know much about this man but through this play we surely hope to learn something about him,” said Meghalaya’s Urban Affairs Minister R V Lyngdoh. Lyngdoh after watching the program.

The original script and music score of Father Barnes Mawrie, the college president, and the artistic direction of Brother Jomon Augustine brought alive the Italian missionary, who came to Shillong in 1924. He is known a s the ‘Apostl e of Shillong’ and the pioneer of Catholicism in the region.

The director of the play acknowledged, “It’s a great pleasure to direct and stage this drama on great missionary like Fr. Vendrame, whom people appreciate so much, especially in areas where he had evangelized.” Sylvester Kurbah, headman Mawlai Phudmuri, in his speech recalled the contribution of Fr. Vendrame for the advancement of Khasis in Shillong.
Khasi is one of the major tribes in Meghalaya. Father Vendrame “had contributed a lot for Khasi people here in Shillong both spiritually and intellectually. In the beginning, he built a small chapel at Mawlai but now it has turned into a holy shrine. We need to pray for the speedy cannonization of Father Vendrame. He left his home and family for the betterment of Khasi people in here,” he added. The Sacred Heart seminary brings out a musical drama every two years. The next musical drama will be in 2019.

Father Vendrame is now a Servant of God, the first step in the four-stage canonization process. He was born at San Martino di Colle Umberto, in the Treviso region of Italy in 1893. It was said at his death in 1957 that he died of over exhaustion. He toured the length and breadth of the Khasi-Pnar land and reached out even to the remotest villages.
He became a household word among Khasis in northeastern India, reports After his return from Arcot in 1951, he was assigned to Mawkhar, a stronghold of the Methodists. In those days, no Catholic priest could walk through this area without being insulted or threatened. ”He was our St. Francis Xavier,” hailed Monsignor Louis Mathias, the first Catholic bishop of Shillong.

Inter Religious Prayer Service on Diwali

- M. S. Arockaiasamy SJ

Kolkata: An Inter-Religious prayer service on Diwali was organized by the Inter Religious Dialogue and Ecumenical Commission of the Kolkata Archdiocese on 18th October at Xavier’s College. Originally it was planned to take place in front of the iconic Francis Xavier’s statue of the college but due to a light shower prior to the service, it was held in front of the Statue of Our Lady. Fr. Timir Singha S J, the convener of commissions set the ba ll rolling with his sacerdotal blessing and with the reading from Vatican II document which underlined the importance of recognizing the seed of the truth in the other religious traditions.

Thereafter after hymns pertaining to the meaningfulness of light by the Prabhu Jisu Girjia choir filled the audience with the sense of reverence. Representatives from Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism and Christianity read from their respective scriptures the meaningfulness of light and the presence of the divine in the form of light. Earlier Mr. Dipankar Basu inspired the congregation with his insight on the meaningfulness of celebrating Diwali, an occasion when the humanity makes a comprehensive offering of oneself to the divine. 

Bishop Linus Gomes and other representatives lit the ceremonial lamb symbolizing the Divine Light and paid homage on behalf of the congregation. The ceremonial lamb emanated the true spirit of Diwali Light upon the congregation consisted of Priests, Religious leaders and laity.

Bro. Chintamani Das sj, a coorganizer, led the congregation in to the contemplation of introspecting oneself to figure out the evil forces operative in oneself and uprooting them by imbibing the spirit of purity and goodness. The choir group sang intercessory prayers beseeching the Almighty to bestow upon the entire humanity the blessings of divine goodness to counter the evil forces operative in the universe.

Miss. Disha Patra enacted in a dance form the ceremonial worship of the Eternal Light to the tune of the Rabindra Sangeet ‘Alo Amar Alo...’. Then the congregation was invited to light hundred twenty Diyas placed around the ceremonial lamp. They then placed the diyas in the college premises wherever was the shade of darkness to make the Divine Light to envelop the universe. Fr. Probal Gomes SJ made the service joyful and sweet by serving the congregation with the traditional Diwali Ladoos.

Centenary Celebrations of the Apparitions of Our Lady

- Sylvester D'Costa

Kolkata: The year 2017 has been the monumental jubilee year as it marks the completion of century after the apparition of Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima to the three shepherd children, where they experienced six apparitions between 13th May and 13th October, 1917. Fatima Parish, C.I.T Road, has been proud to celebrate the centenary of the apparition of Our Lady of Fatima by organizing various events throughout this year under the aegis of the Fr. Mukul Mondal C.Ss.R, the Parish Priest, other clergy and resource persons of the parish.

The year featured Family Day celebration, Healing Service for the sick by Vincentian Fathers, Couples’ Day, Senior Citizen’s Day, English Lenten Mission preached by Fr. George Puthenpura C.Ss.R and Fr. Patras Mundu C.Ss.R, with home visits and enriching talk for our spiritual refurbishment, Bengali Lenten Mission, preached by Fr. John Babu Halder, Fr. Amar Bagh and Fr. Pradeep Mondal to enrich us morally and spiritually, a free medical camp and low cost blood tests, nine day Divine Mercy Novena, a candle light procession and Eucharistic participation on 13th May, with the inspiration of His Grace who celebrated mass with other priests, a day of adoration and Rosary on 31st May, nine day novena to the Holy Spirit before the Pentecost, a day of retreat for the youth, Tridum to mark the feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the launch of quarterly parish newsletter, Inter-parish Marian Quiz com-petition, Inter-parish singing competition both solo and group songs.

Finally the celebration of the centenary has been brought to a close with the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, the parish feast on 8th October with a procession and con-celebration of the Eucharist presided over by His Grace Thomas D’Souza, after a nine day Novena from 29th September to 7th October, both in Bengali and English.

The Bengali novena was preached by Fr. John Babu Halder, Fr. Amar Bagh and Fr. Pradeep Mondal and English novena preached by Fr. Poly Antony C.Ss.R. During the Eucharist celebration His Grace also administered the Sacrament of Confirmation on fifty youngsters. Vote of thanks was given by Sylvester D’Costa, secretary, Parish Council, for all those instrumental making the yearlong celebration fruitful and presentation of bouquet to His Grace and certain clergy members. At the end packets of snacks were served to all who were present on the grand finale.

Thereafter a fellowship dinner was partaken in the company of His Grace, the clergy, the religious, parish council and finance commit-tee members, other action group members, benefactors and sponsors amidst interactions.

Five Catholic Universities to address future of India’s Higher Education

-Matters India

Darjeeling : Kolkata will host a national colloquium on “Future of Christian Higher Education and Contemporary Transitions in India” on November 16 to launch the 80th year of Salesian College Sonada.

“For the first time, the event will witness five Catholic universities of India in colloquium, ” Principal of Salesian College Dr. George Thadathil told Matters India October 22. The event will be held at Don Bosco School Park Circus in Kolkata. Father Thadthil adds, “The topic is pertinent in the contemporary educational scenario in India and the rising number of subtle attempts in the saffronization of educational establishments in the country.”

He expressed the hope that, “the colloquium while exposing the alarming trends in higher education will also inspire a growing number of Christian Institutions of educational excellence to upgrade themselves to serve minorities and marginalized groups.” Salesian College Sonada, Darjeeling with a campus in Sliguri planes, a constituent college of North Bengal University, has applied for Autonomous status since two years.

The Catholic Universities invited to participate in the colloquium include: Assam Don Bosco University Guwahati, Christ University Bangalore, St Xavier University Bhubaneswar, St Xavier University Kolkata, and St Joseph University Kohima, Nagaland. The colloquium will discuss topics such as: Mission in Higher Education and Contemporary Trans itions in India; Church’s Social Concern and Challenges from Corporate in Higher Education; Visioning the Future of Higher Educational Institutions; and Strategies to Replicate Existing Institutions of Excellence into Universities. Among the speakers are: Chancellor of Don Bosco Univeristy Fr. V.M. Thoma s ; Former Principal of Delhi’s St Stephen’s College Dr. Valson Thampu; Vice-Chancellor of Christ University Dr. Thomas C. Mathew; Professor of Eminence in Sociology & HoD Social Work Tezpur Central University Dr. Virginius Xaxa; and Jesuit Higher Education Commission Coordinator Dr. Xavier Alphonse.

Three heads of leading Christian Women’s Colleges who will respond to the presentations are: Secretary of Xavier Board and former Principal of Stella Maris College Chennai Dr Annamma Philip; Principal of Loreto College Kolkata Dr. Christine Countinho, and Former Principal of Women’s College Patna Dr Doris D’Souza. Besides, being a post novitiate philosophy studies center for Salesian India for almost 80 years, Salesian College which started in Shillong in 1933 is also the cradle of Salesian university education in India.

The college which opened to local youth in 2000, today has some 1,500 students studying in 15 departments of Arts, Commerce, Computer Science and Management in two campuses at Sonada and Siliguri. The college has a third campus in the Balasun area at Dhajea which is also a Research and Translation Center.

Metanoia: Youth Retreat in the Archdiocese of Calcutta

- Fr. Michael Biswas

Kolkata: 19th-20th October 2017 were the days of mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the youth of the city as they gathered for Metanoia: Charismatic Youth Retreat at Don Bosco School, Park Circus. Organized on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of Catholic Charismatic Renewal; the theme for the retreat was ‘Changing Hearts, Changing Lives’. The retreat was organized by the Youth Commission of the Archdiocese in collaboration with Calcutta Catholic Charismatic Renewal Service (CCCRS), Emmaus Retreat Centre (ERC), Indian Catholic Youth Movement (ICYM), John Paul II’s Theology of the Body Messengers ( JTM), Young Christian Students (YCS) and Jesus Youth (JY). It was the largest Catholic youth gathering in Kolkata in recent times having more than 1400 youngsters from parishes and schools participating in the spirit filled event.

The day began with Praise & Worship led by Revelation and Jesus Youth combined worship team that brought the youth in the retreat disposition. The Inaugural Mass of the Holy Spirit was led by Most Rev. Thomas D’Souza and concelebrated by 11 priests. At the beginning of the Mass, Fr. Sandip Michael Biswas, the Youth Director, welcomed the Archbishop, concelebrants and Br. Jude Antoine, the preacher of the retreat, while the youth garlanded them with uttario. In his homily the Archbishop spoke on the role of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the youngsters.

The two days continued with six sessions loaded with the Word of God by Br. Jude Antoine, the preacher of the retreat from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with Praise & Worship in between the sessions. Br. Jude began with his personal testimony and how the Catholic youth are faced with different faith challenges today. His powerful preaching contained themes such as Trauma, God’s Love vs Human Love, Sin, Pornography, Purity, Effects of Media and Cyberspace, Cause of Violence in Youth, etc. After the sessions Br. Jude led the youth to adoration where he spoke on the love of Jesus. During the adoration on both days all the youth and students made their confessions for which more than 27 priests were there. The second day’s Praise & Worship was led by Desert Voice, the gospel band of John Paul II’s Theology of the Body Messengers. They made the youngsters dance with joy.

The concluding Eucharistic celebration with led by Fr. Augustine Mundakat, the Director of Emmaus Retreat Center. In his animated homily Fr. Augustine preached on the healing of the paralyzed man near the Pool in Jerusalem. After the communion, all the celebrants prayed for the infilling of the Holy Spirit and laid their hands on the youth and anointed them with the oil of chrism. The environment was charged with hymns to the Holy Spirit. As the youth raised their hands in worship; many were seen in tears.

At the end of the retreat, Fr. Michael, the Youth Director, thanked the Archbishop, the Golden Jubilee Core Committee, Fr. Dominic Gomes, Fr. A.C. Jose, Fr. Augustine, Fr. Rodney, Fr. Devraj, Fr. Bikash Mondal, the entire Organizing Committee for Metanoia especially Mr. Raymond Baptist, Mrs. Rosalind D’Cruz, Mr. Paul Jacob, Miss Meshal Mondal, Mr. Lawrence Biswas, Sr. Kareen and other M.C. Sisters, Worship Teams Revelation and Desert Voice, Youth bodies ICYM, YCS, JTM, JY,the sponsors, CCCRS volunteers, intercessory team and all the parish priests and heads of schools who send their youth and students. 

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

A Wonderful Time, A Powerful Time - Archdiocese of Calcutta Synod 2017

On Saturday, 30 September 2017, as Kolkata celebrated Mahadashami, the curtain came down on a historic event at Barrackpore's Morning Star College and Regional Seminary. The Diocesan Synod of Calcutta – the first ever hosted by the 183 year old archdiocese – concluded with a solemn eucharistic celebration, which in addition to the synod Members, saw attendance by many laity from the city and suburban parishes.

Know your Synod

What: The Diocesan Synod of Calcutta, AKA Synod 2017.

Why: The aim of the synod was to consolidate data from the parishes into a viable pastoral plan for the archdiocese; through discussion, debate and finally consensus building. Concrete proposals for new laws, structures, thrusts and strengthening of the existing.

When: Between September 26 – 30, 2017, with the working days being 27 – 29 September.

Where: At the Morning Star Regional Seminary at Barrackpore, a Kolkata suburb.

How: Every workday the synod Members would discuss 4 of the 12 pastoral plan Concerns. They would formulate proposals which would be presented to the General assembly each afternoon for larger discussion and finally put to vote (voting at the synod was consultative – done solely to get the feel of the assembly).

Who: The synod Members consisted of members of presbyterial council, major superiors of congregations, presidents of archdiocese groups/organisations, APPCoT members, Diocesan directors and secretaries, all parish priests and lay representatives of every parish.

Culminating four years of effort, the synod was convoked by Archbishop Thomas D'Souza to consolidate all the input received and gains made into final shape as a Pastoral Plan for the archdiocese. Taking a year to plan, an expanded team of the existing Archdiocesan Pastoral Plan

Coordinating Team (APPCoT) designated Synod Preparatory Commission prepared papers, animated the selected delegates (“Members”) and dived into the myriad of logistical tasks such an event entails. A prayer for the success of the Synod was composed and churches were requested to pray it at Mass, for the success of the celebration, which was to be “Entrusted to the Lord; Established by Him.” A day before the synod began Holy Hours were observed across the archdiocese. Finally, on 26 September 2017, the synod members began to arrive at Morning Star. The movement of the synod was imminent.


The synod had not one but three versions of the anthem!Music for the official English version was a gift from the conductor of a Mumbai choir, the Bengali version was translated and set to music by Dilip Rosario and there was a third, unofficial version, performed by gospel group Voicestra at the venue in slow rock style. To listen to the anthem, visit Archdiocese of

Ceremony of the Scroll

A solemn ceremony marking the close of the working days of the synod. The archbishop hands over files containing the proposals come out during the deliberations to his Diocesan Directors and Secretaries of Commissions, charging them to study the same and keep ready for implementation, when the synodal decrees confirming them are issued. The synodal secretaries symbolically record the list of the files in a scroll, which is read from to summon each Diocesan head and then retained by the archbishop. At the close of this ceremony archbishop Thomas D’Souza imparted an apostolic blessing– a form of blessing associated with papal authority, and rarely invoked unless the occasion is deemed solemn enough.

Synod Diary

DAY 1, 26.09.2017

Delegates arrive. Registration. Mass. Health check up by Heath Care

DAY 2, 27.09.2017

Solemn inaugural Mass. Information session, working groups, general assembly working session, cultural program by hosts.

DAY 3, 28.09.2017

Mass. Information session, working groups, general assembly working session, cultural program by Kolkata Christian Choir.

DAY 4, 29.09.2017

Mass. Information session, working groups, general assembly working session, cultural program by Voicestra, Ceremony of the scroll.

DAY 5, 30.09.2017

Interactive General Session. Solemn closing Mass, including the synodal declaration of the archbishop. Fellowship lunch. Departure.

The synod officials

President - His Grace Most Rev. Thomas D’Souza, archbishop of Calcutta
Vicar General - Father Dominic Gomes
Prolocutor -  Father Gregory Monterio
Officiating Secretaries - Ms Anancia Fernandes and Ms Bemvinda Periera
Reporting Secretaries - Sr Sabrina Edwards IBVM and Fr Jothi I SJ


Priests - 88
Religious women - 23
Lay men - 37
Lay women - 13

A total of 161 Members attended the synod – over 90% of Members selected. Assisting the organisation were 6 non-members in the secretariat, 11 youth volunteers and 8 brothers from the seminary. The Rector of Morning Star College Rev. J Santhanam and Minister, Fr Harshvarddhan played important coordinating roles.