Diocesan News

Cardinal Gracias hails Mizoram Catholics' core values

The Catholic Church in Mizoram concluded the celebration of the 75 years of the presence of priests in the north-eastern Indian state on November 20, with Cardinal Oswald Gracias hailing the Mizo society for setting an example for the rest of the country.

"Your core values of solidarity, concern for the other, community feeling, decision by consensus, kindness, casteless society, and non-discrimination are the values of Jesus," the Cardinal who was the Chief Guest, told a public reception. The public meeting concluded the November 18-20 celebrations. It was preceded by a solemn Mass presided over by Cardinal Gracias at the Christ the King Cathedral at Kulikawn, Aizawl, the state capital. Bishops, priests, nuns and lay people attended the programmes.

Holy Cross Bishop Stephen Rotluanga of Aizawl said they organised the three-day celebrations as the event was an "important historical milestone for the Catholic Church in Mizoram."

On the first day, a seminar was conducted in Mizo at St Lawrence Parish Hall, Ramthar, Aizawl. Around 200 youth, lay leaders, catechists, priests and religious addressed the topic of the Sacrament of Marriage in a question-and-answer format at the seminar. The second day was dedicated to a Charismatic Retreat.

Cardinal Gracias commended the Mizo Church for letting its youth build on these values. "Women are given equal rights, and the rest of India has much to learn from the Mizo society," he added. He appreciated the Mizo people's community spirit saying, "Even before the Small Christian Communities were formed, you had the small Mizo communities. Even before Pope Francis introduced us to Synodality, you lived and practised Synodality."

He observed that the Mizo Church depends on its strong laity. "You need to reflect on how to deepen this participation with leadership and faith formation, to get into civil, political and social services actively," the prelate said. He called for transforming society by implementing the Church's social teaching.

The Church in Mizoram was founded with the arrival of Holy Cross Fathers George Breen and Gilbert Boucher at Aizawl on April 15, 1947. According to Sangkima, a college professor who wrote the History of the Roman Catholic Church in Mizoram, the Church was formed on February 1, 1925, with some people who lived at Tlangnuam, Aizawl. Priests from Chittagong, which is now in Bangladesh, visited the Mizoram Catholics during 1925-1947, braving objections from the provincial government. The Church in Mizoram now has 24 parishes engaged in education, evangelisation and ecumenism.

Reported by Matters India

Christmas Carol Nite at The Catholic Gymkhana

The Catholic Gymkhana’s Annual Christmas Carol Nite will be held on Saturday, December 10, 2022 at 7:00 p.m. at the Gymkhana. The programme will feature Kelly D'lima, Conchords conducted by Rohan Rodrigues, YAC (St Michael Church, Mahim) conducted by Adrian Pereira, The Cathedral Choir conducted by Mario Nazareth, The Victory Chorus Line conducted by Karen Vaswani and The Campion Chorus Line conducted by Sunny Rodrigues.

Eca: A Celebration of Music, Art & Catholic Culture!

Born out of an urge and passion to strive for excellence and kindness, Eca is a non-profit organisation that puts together events for charity. It aims to stimulate the three aspects of life: mind, body and soul through the philanthropy of social causes, mentorship of eager youth and the celebration of the Catholic culture.

Aggi Agnelo Fernandes, the Director of Eca, has more than 20 years of experience working in the music industry, having worked with big names in Bollywood. Aggi, along with Eleesha D'Souza and Clive Mario D'Souza, created Eca as a medium for Catholic youth to be enriched with technical knowledge, to be inspired and to provide them with a platform to grow, sustainably! Thereby, helping with the overall betterment of the catholic community in Mumbai. Eca's core team also includes Elisha Natalia Rodrigues who is not only an invaluable asset, but also bears testament to their mentorship programme. Team Eca works diligently, volunteering their time towards the success and creation of such events.

Eca's Easter Ball 2022 was a grand success with guests from all over the city, mentorship of fifteen youth, and raising funds close to Rs two lakhs for charity. Their current endeavour is the very first of its kind to take place in the city of Mumbai. Empyrean 2022 is a Mumbai-based gospel music festival that celebrates Christian music. This year, Empyrean will witness the likes of Open Secret, Grace Afterglow, Thomson Andrews and DJ Kerwin Fernandes, to bring in the Yuletide cheer. The intention is to bring together youth from all over the city to experience a night of spirited and incredibly talented performances of the city's most beloved gospel bands. The festival will also feature young and upcoming artists, handpicked by industry professionals, in an attempt to inspire a new generation of musical talent.

Organising an event of this scale requires a good amount of funds and generous donations, without which it is nearly impossible to make progress. The proceeds of this event will directly benefit the education of underprivileged children. This Advent season, Team Eca invites you to experience Empyrean 2022 at St Francis D'Assisi ground, Gate No. 3, Borivli, on Sunday, December 11.

The Priceless Pearl

The Pearl Jubilee celebration of the SCCs at St Anthony's Church, Malwani took place on Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022, on the spacious church grounds. The grounds wore a festive look with parishioners dressed in blazing colour codes, ranging from fuchsia pink to scarlet red, buttercup yellow, forest green, royal purple and majestic navy blue, to designate each zone – 45 communities, eight zones, 300 Animators and a huge parishioner turnout – with hearts beating in one rhythm: Let the SCC banner of love fly high!

The dramatic entry, zone-wise, with flags fluttering proudly and community banners aloft, breezed in to the tunes of foot-tapping praise and worship songs with well-rehearsed steps. On the stage was a panel of dignitaries – the warm and ever-smiling Bishop Barthol Barretto, Fr Nicholas Pereira, Parish Priest, Fr Osmand D'Souza, SCC Director, Fr Victor Dalmet and Fr Hanson, flanked by the stalwarts of the Executive Team of the Parish Council: Ms Yucca Gomes, Vice-President of the Parish Council, Abbe Fernandes, Parish Coordinator of the SCCs, and Sr Manisha Gonsalves rscj, Resource Person – cheering the energetic communities.

In his homily at the Eucharistic celebration, Bp Barthol spoke in glowing terms as he traced the early beginnings of the SCCs - five in number then, under the baton of the late Fr Vincent Gonsalves, to its present stature. It was a proud moment when Bp Barthol referred to St Anthony's as one of the model parishes in the Archdiocese of Bombay. Committed to the three precious pillars of the SCCs – Community Building, Faith Formation and Reaching out – the SCCs have grown from strength to strength!

The variety entertainment took off with a traditional Prayer Dance - Varuka Varuka, performed gracefully, followed by the lighting of the Lamp by the dignitaries. The Parish Priest, Fr Nicholas, thanked the Bishop for his gracious presence, and those responsible for making the Pearl Jubilee as priceless as the proverbial pearl.

The theme song saw an eclectic mix of 30 singers from the parish, of all ages, wearing the Jubilee sash, who sang harmoniously the specially composed song led by Ms Candida Lobo.

Lift the banner of love and let it unfurl, Give your message of love to the world: Let your light shine!

An East Indian Marathi paean to the SCCs, composed by our very own Fr Victor Dalmet, saw the troupe rendering the song with gusto, while their East Indian lugras and heavy jewellery kept in sync with the beat.

The skit aptly titled 'The Precious Pearl' won acclaim with stellar performances by the cast, interspersed with a few 'comic relief' moments. It traced the majestic journey of the SCCs over 30 years, transitioning from 'me' to 'we'. The story-telling through the interaction of a frustrated Parish Priest, struggling to make his inactive flock a vibrant one, and his encounter with a journalist who is preparing a documentary on the SCCs of St Anthony's, Malwani, made the entire exercise a priceless one!

The Gospel Music band led by Candida Lobo and her Zone was energetic, to say the least! The 'Story of a Family' traced the entire gamut of activities starting from Baptism to the various Sacraments that a Catholic encounters. The dance items were extremely lively and well choreographed.

Fr Osmand D'Souza, in his Vote of Thanks, was deeply appreciative of the hard work put in by the Executive Team, Coordinators and Animators for the success of the event.

Long after the music and entertainment faded, the mood was reflective. After the journey of searching and discovering the 'Priceless Pearl' (Mt 13:45-46) through struggle and endeavour of the past 30 years, we forge ahead with confidence, embracing Robert Frost's famous words: 'The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.'

Reported by Rudyard Gomes