By F M Britto
Jagdalpur: The Pastoral Council of Chhattisgarh (PCCG) that met at Jagdalpur Aug 17-18 decided to celebrate next year as the Year of Family.
The five bishops of the region, along with diocesan representatives of priests, religious and lay leaders, charted various programs for the Family Year, starting with the Holy Family feast in 2017 and ending with the same feast in 2018.
Referring to St. Paul’s words, “Woe to me if I do not preach the good news,” the resource person Father Panneer Selvam, secretary for Proclamation under the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India, challenged the participants to make every family a missionary family.
Highlighting the salient points of Amoris Laetitia (The joy of love) by Pope Francis, the director of the national centre for New Evangelization, Suvarta Kendra, Pachmarhi, said, “We need to bring love to all families.”
Various proposals have been made to make every member of the family to grow in faith and love so that they proclaim Jesus through their lives.
One becomes a missionary by a life of witness and love, said Archbishop Victor Henry of Raipur, head of the Catholic Church in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh.
Proposals were made to form regional and diocesan Family Commissions to animate priests, sisters and family members to imbue Christian values at home. Discussions were made to have a common emblem, prayer and motto during this year.
Father Saleen Pushparaj, regional family commission secretary, said, since “it is in the families one receives the faith and it is nourished”, “if families are catechized, the whole church is catechised.”
He proposed to have regional training programs for Marriage Preparation courses, training the church personnel for family apostolate, to train and open diocesan centers for counseling, conducting seminars on parenting and for young married couples, and on Amoris Laetitia in parishes.
It was suggested to remedy some of the problems prevalent in families such as alcoholism, abortion, pre-marital sex, degradation of faith, abandoning the elderly, not caring the downtrodden.
Emphasis is to be given on deepening the faith and love relationships, the participants said. For that they proposed some means like family prayer, SCC, retreats, catechesis on family, marriage preparation courses, prefer to admit children in Catholic schools, encouraging movements like Marriage Encounters, Couples for Christ. Priests and religious were asked to make regular family visits, especially the families in problems.
Father Panneer Selvam exhorted, “We need to be serious to implement these programs. It should be an ongoing program beyond one year.”