By I P Sarto
Nagpur, March 1, 2019: The Small Christian Community (SCC) coordinators of India decided to empower the SCCs to be prophetic communities in their neighborhood.
As many as 70 diocesan SCC coordinators, six bishops and 12 lay representatives from various parts of India met February 25-28 at Pallottine Animation Center in Nagpur to reflect on the prophetic role of SCCs in India.
They discussed on how SCCs are the prophetic signs of the Kingdom Of God. Many priests and laity shared their successful intervention in the neighbourhood through SCCs to be a sign of prophets to stand for human rights, dignity of labor and environmental protection. Besides the SCC Coordinators of the dioceses, the Regional SCC Coordinators, Chairman Bishops for SCCs and National Service Team members for SCCs also attended the meeting.
Father Joseph Justus, Regional SCC Coordinator of Tamil Nadu, shared how the communities in Tuticorin and Kottar dioceses in southern India collaborate with other likeminded NGOs for environmental protection and human right issues. The SCCs are trained to do advocacy and lobbying with the officials and to net-work with people in the neighborhood, added Father Justus who is involved in SCC promotion for three decades.
Through their persistent efforts, the SCCs forced the government and officials to change policies with regard to building a port near Kanyakumari, he added. But some efforts are without success, shared Father Justus with various examples. The SCCs have learnt to study the issue scientifically, discuss with experts before planning any action and work in collaboration with other NGOs.
Fr. Gregory Arby, Regional SCC secretary of Kerala, shared how SCCs worked during the floods in Kerala last year for rescue and relief works. The SCC animators worked in collaboration with the district officials in Cochin for relief works, said the priest who is involved in SCC for the last two decades. Many SCC members came with their boats to rescue people who were stranded in the buildings, said Fr. Joseph Vadakkaveetil, SCC Coordinator of Cochin diocese.
Father Joachim Fernandes, SCC Coordinator of Mangalore diocese, shared how SCCs promote tree plantation in the diocese. They work in collaboration with the forest department, Lions club, etc to implement “Laudato Si Project” of Mangalore diocese. All the 124 parishes also took a pledge “Nature protection my responsibility,” said Father Joachim who is actively involved in environmental issues.
Now CCBI has established a new commission for SCC with Bishop Ignatius Mascarenhas of Simla-Chandigarh as chairman. He had a meeting with the Regional SCC coordinators to get their feedback on the progress of SCCs. All suggested SCCs to be prophetic and to collaborate with all stake holders both within the Church and in society to bring fullness of life in the neighborhood.
The priests have an important role to motivate laity for SCCs, said Bishop Mascarenhas.
The participatory role of the Church is realized in and through SCCs, thus all need to experience the Christian life in the neighborhood, said Bishop Selvister Ponnumuthan of Punalur and a member Bishop of the CCBI commission for SCCs.
India has about 86,000 SCC units in the Latin dioceses, said Fr. Thomas Vijay, NST secretary. This is a great strength for the Church. Each SCCs have about 5 to 10 animators who are trained to be effective facilitators. Thus we have strong lay leadership, Said Father Vijay, a Pallottine priest who has been involved in lay empowerment for last four decades.
The SCC is a miniature Church which experiences the same fellowship of the early Christian community of the Apostolic times, said Holy Cross Sister Christin Joseph. The SCC members inspired by the power of the Word of God become prophets to proclaim and affirm the values of the kingdom of God, shared Sr. Christin with various examples.
Every baptized person is a member of the SCC in his or her neighborhood, said Bishop Julius Marandi of Dumka. He shared how SCCs took active part in agitating when the Jharkhand government wanted to bring land alienation bill against the Tribals.
The SCC coordinators meet every three years. The members present took note of the present political situation of the country and the tension building along the borders and decided to reflect with their SCCs during the weekly Gospel sharing to get enlightenment for concrete action in their own parishes.
An SCC unit consisting of 10 to 15 families in the neighborhood gathers around the Word of God for reflection once a week or fortnightly in a family. They plan for the good of the community based on the inspiration from the passage they read and meditated.
From I.P. Sarto