Layman elected president of Indian Catholic press body

By F. M. Britto

Jharsuguda, March 5, 2019: The Indian Catholic Press Association (ICPA) has elected Ignatius Gonsalves of Kochi as its new president. He is the second layman to head the 56-year-old association.

The election took place at the association’s annual general body meeting and national convention held at Jharsuguda, Odisha, on March 1-3.

The other elected members are: Divine Word Father Sunil Damor of Jharsuguda as the vice president, Capuchin Father Suresh Mathew, the editor of the New Delhi-based Indian Currents the secretary, Holy Spirit Sister Tessy Jacob the joint-secretary, St Paul’s Father Joby Mathew, former editor of Mumbai-based The Teenager Today magazine, the treasurer.

Father Valerian Fernandes, editor of Konkani Raknno weekly from Mangalore, represents Institution members in the managing committee. Sebastian Kallarackal of Deepika was elected as the South region representative and Journalist Roman Bhatia from Surat (Gujarat) for the West.

The first layperson to head the association was Michael Gonsalves of Pune during 2004–2007.

Ignatius Gonsalves
Ignatius Gonsalves was the vice president until now.

Founded in 1963, ICPA is an association of Catholic newspapers, periodicals, news agencies, publishing houses, journalists and teachers of journalism. It is one of the oldest Catholic press organizations in Asia and has the patronage of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India. It has more than 160 members from all over India, consisting of lay persons, priests, brothers and nuns.

The ICPA chose Jharsuguda as its venue for annual meet and convention to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Kandhamal massacre. Archbishop John Barwa of Cuttack- Bhubaneswar, under whose territory Kandhamal falls, thanked the members for their support through their writings on Kandhamal.

The association plans to hold the next convention, the 25th, in New Delhi sometime during February-March next year.

The association pledged to become more effective by roping in more press personal and training the youngsters in print journalism.

Veteran journalist Anto Akkara was selected for the annual Fr Louis Careno Award for his relentless writings on Kandhamal and championing the cause of the seven innocent Christians languishing in jail by online signature campaign for their release.

Divine Word Father Herman Minj from Sundergarh district in Odisha was awarded the ICPA-CBCI SC/BC Commission award for raising the voice of the tribals through his bilingual Hindi and Sadri magazine Gangpur Awaz (Voice of Gangpur). Janobodhi, (People’s Voice), a Oriya magazine that campaigns for human rights among tribals, dalits and marginalized, was also honored.

To witness the faith of the local tribals, the participants visited Gaibira parish in Rourkela diocese for the opening of its centenary celebrations. With more than 4,000 tribal Catholics, after many bifurcations, the parish has produced a number of priests and nuns and three bishops: Divine Word Archbishop John Barwa of Cuttack- Bhubaneswar, Bishop Kishore Kumar Kujur of Rourkela, and Divine Word Auxiliary Bishop Telesphore Bilung of Ranchi. Jesuit Archbishop Felix Toppo of Ranchi also joined the number of priests, nuns, three bishops and parishioners for this jubilee program.

Archbishop Barwa remarked that hundred years before Belgian Jesuits from Ranchi came to their region to evangelize and develop them. Now Divine Word Bishop Bilung has been chosen from them to go to Ranchi to work for the people there.

Capuchin Father Suresh Mathew, the editor of the Indian Currents, with power point presentation highlighted how the present political leaders have been deviating from the Constitution; the local tribal activist Siprian William Kiro said how the constitutional rights guaranteed to the tribals have been denied to them and social activist Fr. Ajay Singh of Cuttack- Bhubaneswar spoke how the dalits have been marginalized today.

Bishop Emeritus A. S. Hemrom of GEL Church of Simdega spoke on Constitution and tribal religion, Divine Word Father Ignatius Soreng spoke on Constitution and Cultural Pluralism and Salesian Father George Plathottam, the recently appointed FABC secretary for Social Communications and a former ICPA president, spoke on Unity in Diversity versus Enforced Uniformity.

Earlier the Divine Word (Eastern) provincial Father Luvis Ronald Pereira addressed on the effectiveness of the written word.

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