By Lissy Maruthanakuzhy
Panaji, July 27, 2019: The Goa unit of the Conference of Religious (CRI) organized a course on integration for religious and priests who have come to work in the Archdiocese of Goa.
Rachol Seminary rector Father Aleixo Menezes briefed the newcomers about the history of Goa. He explained about the various invaders in the state who pushed away the original settlers (local population) and finally the Portuguese traders formed a colony in the southwestern Indian coastal state.
According to him, although Apostle St Thomas and St Bartholomew is believed to have come Goa, the major missionary activities were carried out by Saint Francis Xavier and missionaries during the Portuguese era. Christianity became strong in Goa because the missionaries abolished caste system that was prevalent. As the practice of Sati was abolished, many widows also joined Christianity.
Father Anthony Fernandes from the Diocesan Pastoral Secretariat explained to the participants the nature and mission of the Church in Goa. He said that a pastoral theme for the archdiocese is chosen in October every year in a meeting of representatives from the various archdiocesan centers. The parishes and centers ought to plan their programs for the following year, based on this theme.
The theme for the Pastoral Year 2019-2020 is “Go and do likewise” (Lk 10:37) based on the parable of the Good Samaritan. The social theme is chosen based on the statement of the Archdiocesan Synod 2002 which stated, “The process of conscientization of the people and their mobilization for the defense of human rights and social change will be taken as the priority in our social mission (SDS 184.2), he explained.
Father Maverick Fernandes, director of Caritas-Goa, briefed the participants about the various social activities of the archdiocese. He invited volunteers who could offer a service of one day to these programs
Thomas from the Social Justice Cell of the archdiocese challenged the participants asking, “Are we reacting to the situations in society around us? Are we aware of what is going on in the Church?”
CRI Goa president Capuchin Father Paul Alvares asked the participants to collaborate with all parish activities.
The archdiocese began this integration program ten years ago. This year, 18 sisters, two Brothers and two priests attended the four-hour program on July 20.
Daughters of St Paul Sister Nancy D’Souza, who attended the program four years ago said, “It was an opportunity to get to know the various centers like Caritas –Goa, reaching out to various sections of population in Goa like Prison Ministry, Ecology and Development, Women Empowerment,Tourism Health to mention a few, and different congregations rendering service in the archdiocese.”
Another participant Sister Violet Siddi, a member of the Daughters of the Cross, found the program enlightening and enriching. “It is good to have something like this at the beginning of one’s apostolate. I came to know about the history and politics of Goa,” she told Matters India.
According to her, the program helped her realize that the diocese is doing “a lot to reach out to all through its institutions and works. Working for the weakest and the suffering challenges and leads me to greater commitment.”