Issues Vol. 168‎ > ‎

Vol. 168 No. 34 - August 26 - September 01, 2017

01 Cover

posted Aug 24, 2017, 1:06 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 24, 2017, 1:06 AM ]

03 Index

posted Aug 24, 2017, 1:02 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 24, 2017, 1:04 AM ]

04 Official

posted Aug 24, 2017, 12:50 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 24, 2017, 12:54 AM ]

05 Engagements

posted Aug 24, 2017, 12:47 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 24, 2017, 12:48 AM ]

07 Editorial - Small Christian Communities – Journeying with Jesus

posted Aug 24, 2017, 12:16 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 24, 2017, 12:24 AM ]

When I took over as Director of the Small Christian Communities (SCCs) in June this year, some people asked me how I proposed to step into the shoes of my illustrious predecessors, Bishop Bosco Penha (the architect of SCCs in our Archdiocese) and his successor, Bishop Agnelo Gracias, who also did a marvellous job in taking the SCCs forward. That question made me reflect. I found my answer, as I began interacting with the SCC Animators and Coordinators, the members of the FILMC Team (Formation and Involvement of the Laity in the Mission of the Church), priests and nuns involved in animating the SCCs in our Archdiocese. The single common factor across this diverse group of people was love – love for Christ, love for the Word of God, love for the Church, love for people around them and love for their communities. I could sense a deep underlying spirituality of loving service and sacrifice, in the name of Christ. And love would be my mantra too.

Pope Francis rightly asserted, "In virtue of their Baptism, all members of the people of God have become missionary disciples." (Evangelii Gaudium, No. 120) And I can say that all our SCCs are training hubs for missionary disciples, where we learn how to share Jesus with the world. Our Holy Father encourages families and parishes to work the miracle of a more visible community life for the whole of society. But what is more important, he says, "is the loving bond between the family and the communities must be strengthened and made indispensable," because all our families live in challenging times, plagued by materialism, division and worldly values. There is an urgent need for generous faith in order to rediscover the Church and get closer to God. He further teaches us that the Christian communities are our homes, and the Church journeys among her people.

The SCC movement is a long journey with our Lord. It is like a long voyage where the topography of the shores keeps changing,but the horizon never draws near. Sometimes, we may alter the direction, depending on changes in wind and weather conditions, or on seeing possible new openings. Over the past four decades, our SCC programme has gained critical mass and momentum. In most places, SCCs are stable and active, and have ushered in vibrancy and increased levels of lay participation in parish life. I am amazed by the variety of spiritual activities and socio-cultural outreach by our communities (most of which are not publicised) and are works of love. I am also aware that there are some areas where more needs to be accomplished, and it will be fulfilled with the grace of God.

Our Archbishop, Oswald Cardinal Gracias, would like the SCCs to be in the forefront of addressing the challenges of the 21st century Church. On three separate occasions, he has proposed that an assessment be carried out of the impact of SCCs, so as to chart the way forward. This is an imperative, considering that the challenges of 'being Church' today are increasingly diverse – from responding to the cries of the poor to empowering the marginalised, from creating space for our young people to the focus on Family – the domestic Church. In our Archdiocese, this will include strategies to bring young couples and families closer to God (clusters are a good starting point) and tapping into the talents and energy of our youth. The proposed evaluation may also help us identify new aspects of modern life that the SCCs may be able to address.

The articles in this issue of The Examiner on SCCs address this very challenge. Sr Christin Joseph offers a peek into the challenges and rewards of establishing SCCs in tribal areas. Sr Manisha Gonsalves touches on the spirituality needed to make SCCs Christ-centred. Mr Elvin Colaco dwells on three characteristics of mature SCCs. Ms Lorna D'Souza traces the growth of the Andheri Deanery Council through active collaboration between the clergy, the religious and the laity. It is evident that the authors have a deep knowledge and understanding of issues related to the SCCs.

+ Barthol Barretto, Director of SCCs, Archdiocese of Bombay

09 Three Signs of mature SCCs - Elvin Colaco

posted Aug 24, 2017, 12:01 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 24, 2017, 12:01 AM ]

Management Guru Peter Drucker once said, "The best way to predict the future is to create it." When it comes to the SCC movement, the question that arises after 40 years of their existence in India is, 'Where do we go from here?' For a movement that mainly functions at the grassroots, according to local conditions and needs, and which has grown independently in different regions, there is no universally applicable blueprint. We therefore seek inspiration and light from the many pronouncements and teachings from the Vatican documents and the Conferences of Bishops in various continents and nations (including our own), and go about setting goals and plans, trusting in the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

For a while now, we have been using the term 'Small Human Communities' (SHCs) as the ultimate goal of SCCs in India. The intention is to situate SCCs in the larger landscape of the society around us, to integrate with the socio-cultural-political mainstream. This is the direction that the Indian Church wants to move in, and SCCs are best suited to facilitate this, since they operate in neighbourhoods, in the midst of people.

While the above this is our thrust towards external relationships, SCCs, in the first place, need to mature into entities that lead the 'People of God' towards an authentic Christian way of life, of a living, loving relationship with God and fellow men and women, as the 'local incarnation of the Church'. The Association of Member Episcopal Conferences of East Africa (AMECEA), at its 5th Plenary Assembly at Nairobi in 1973, spoke about the SCCs' search for identity. It said "…it is time for the Church to become really 'local', that is, self-ministering, self-propagating and self-supporting."

Self- Propagating Communities

"Set your hearts on spiritual gifts, especially the gift of proclaiming God's message." (1 Cor 14:1)


08 The Big, Beautiful, Basic 'C's in SCC - Sr. Manisha Gonsalves RSCJ

posted Aug 23, 2017, 11:59 PM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 24, 2017, 12:00 AM ]

When I began my pastoral ministry in 1990, I was introduced to the 'BCC' (Basic Christian Community). After some years, the Archdiocese of Bombay coined the term 'SCC' (Small Christian Community) which has stayed to date. As I look back reflectively on the progress of SCCs in our Archdiocese, and particularly in our parish of St Anthony, Malwani (Malad) in its 25th year of growth, it suddenly dawned on me that many of the lived-out concepts in the SCC begin with the letter 'C'. This article highlights a few pertinent realities that have been the warp and woof of the SCCs, as I have experienced them.

The Big 'C' or rather, the biggest, the most beautiful, basic and indispensable of the 'Cs' is CHRIST - the central letter and reality of the BCC or SCC , call it what you may! For it is Christ who is our model and mission Himself, our guide, our companion, our All! We are here, chosen by Christ to share in His mission of loving and serving the family of God to the very end.

The next big indispensable 'C' is the CROSS, as there is no experience of Christ without the Cross. In trying to live our Christian values through the SCC, we should not be surprised when we encounter the Cross. In fact, is there any human person without his/her suffering which we term as a 'Cross'? But the strength of the SCC is that, together with the Cross, we find the means to carry it in meaningful, life-giving ways, with a taste of God's glory from time to time to encourage us along the way.

The means available to us to this end is COMMUNITY - following the model of Jesus living in community with His 12 Apostles, and later, the early Christians trying to emulate Him too. In Community, we experience many joys and successes, many graces and hopes, also accompanied by sufferings, struggles, and even the pain of apparent failure or seeming rejection. Any different from Christ, our Guru? The invitation here is to cling to Christ as a branch to the Vine, and stay united with Him through daily prayer: personal, in families, in the neighbourhood, as well as in the parish community. Scripture is another powerful guide to who we want to be, and how this is possible following the mind and heart of Christ. Our experience of community opens up for us new paradigms and challenges us to continuous growth processes that urge us to move "from splendour to splendour" in the words of St Paul. (2 Cor 3:18)

Failure to enter these growth processes will lead to stagnation, and even regression, with their negative offshoots - misery, depression, and even despair! The challenge here is to choose life and all that is life-giving; not death and all that is death-dealing.


11 The Andheri Deanery SCC Council - Ms Lorna D'Souza

posted Aug 23, 2017, 11:53 PM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 23, 2017, 11:53 PM ]

The Andheri Deanery has ten parishes, and stretches all the way from the shores of Versova in the west to the International Airport at Sahar, in the east. Three of the ten parishes were founded over four centuries ago, two during the first half of the twentieth century, and five between 1967-1987.

Christianity existed here since the 1500s in small settlements. From the 1960s, however, Andheri has undergone rapid urbanisation and development into a major residential and commercial destination and a hub of entertainment, shopping, clubs and dining establishments. It is a melting pot of cultures, languages, religions and ethnicities, with highrises and the rich and famous co-existing with the traditional fisherfolk and the gaothans. That explains the doubling of the number of parishes during the 20 years from 1967, to cater to the rising number of Catholics that is nearly 60,000 today.

The Small Christian Community (SCC) movement was initiated in our deanery at St Blaise parish in Amboli, during the mid/late eighties, and soon spread to other parishes. There were two late starters – Good Shepherd at Four Bungalows and Sacred Heart in Andheri East. Fr Joel Mascarenhas, SJ, started SCCs at Good Shepherd in 1996. At Sacred Heart, with a history of three unsuccessful attempts in the past, the challenge of building SCCs was taken up by a new parishioner, Mrs Rosie Fernandes, in 1999. Rosie's success through hard work, perseverance, strategy and systematic planning can be a case study in community formation.

The Deanery Council

Sr Lina D' Cruz, of the Daughters of the Cross, was assigned to animate the deanery during the late nineties, and she initiated training programmes for animators at the deanery level and parish level, besides attending community and Steering Committee meetings and visiting families. She started holding meetings of Parish SCC Coordinators at the deanery level. 


14 SCCs in Tribal Areas Challenges & Opportunities - Sr Christin Joseph, HC

posted Aug 23, 2017, 11:51 PM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 23, 2017, 11:51 PM ]

When I first thought of introducing Small Christian Communities (SCCs) to the people of Jharkhand, many objections were raised. Most of the objections were from priests and bishops who felt that Adivasis did not need SCCs, as their life is already structured around small village communities. They share their joys and sorrows in these communities. There they discuss problems and arrive at solutions. What more can SCCs offer to these people?

To answer this question, and to understand the need for SCCs in Jharkhand Region, we need an in-depth understanding of the situation there.

Though we talk about Jharkhand as a tribal land, there are at least four major and distinct tribes within this land, viz. Santhal, Oraon, Munda and Kharia. Each of them has its own religious and social practices: rituals, festivals, symbols and traditions. However, we can observe the following common characteristics in almost all of these communities.

A deep sense of the spiritual

The Adivasis have a deep awareness of God's presence everywhere, they connect their daily life of hard work with worship, they care for all creation and they have a high standard of morality. The tribal people connect with God through worship, adoration, sacrifice and offering, prayer and penance, self purification and good work. Offering sacrifices is quite natural to them. Their spirituality is centred around life, and all that life involves: freedom and food, dignity and equality, community and sharing of resources, creativity and celebration of the God of life and liberation. Their sense of humility, simplicity, poverty, hard work, sincerity, community spirit, sharing and caring comes from this deep inner spiritual life.

A natural sense of community living

This is shown in their work and celebrations. For a tribal, the family is not simply made up of father, mother and children and grandchildren, but also his brothers and sisters with their wives and children, his nephews and nieces; in a nutshell, all those persons who descend from a common ancestor. In tribal society, there is no individual life as such. For example, there are no individual or single dances like in other societies. All their songs and dances are community celebrations. In addition, the tribals live, work, suffer and die in solidarity with one another. The sick in the family and the village are taken care of, the needy are helped, agricultural activities are performed jointly. Co-responsibility is a reality here. In the tribal family, all are responsible for the education of the child. The community has the right to teach, correct, reprimand and punish the child.

A Paradigm Shift

Today, the tribal communities in India are going through rapid and radical changes. In the process of entering the mainstream, many are coming under powerful non-tribal influences. There is total cultural diffusion taking place, rather than balanced reciprocity and cultural exchanges. The new political environment tends to divide the village community on the basis of affiliation to political groups. Industrialisation has brought about its own dark shades of exploitation, injustice and displacement. Their beloved "land, forest and water" - which are the soul of their very identity - are being taken away from them by unscrupulous corporate developers, with the connivance of the ruling dispensation. People are betrayed in the name of rehabilitation, compensation and jobs. These promises are never fulfilled, and the jobs are given to outsiders.


16 Obituray

posted Aug 23, 2017, 11:49 PM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 23, 2017, 11:49 PM ]

Farewell, Anand Castelino!

Last Thursday evening (August 17), Anand was in the Sabha Office at Mahim, getting ready, as usual, for the Executive Committee Meeting the next day - a meeting which did not happen. Yes, it still has to sink in that our dear Anand is no more. He has moved to the home of our Heavenly Father.

Anand is an indelible part of the Bombay Catholic Sabha. I stand here today to offer our thoughts, feelings and gratitude on behalf of the Bombay Catholic Sabha.

While he was already involved at the Unit level, he became a part of the Executive Committee way back in 2004 as Jt. Secretary, followed by two terms as Vice President i.e. 2007-10 and 2010-13. Thereafter, he was appointed Secretary General in 2013 - a post to which we reappointed him in 2016. Yes, Anand is synonymous with the BCS.

Being an extremely intelligent person, he was quickly able to grasp all facets of the organisational work that he came to deal with - be it reporting, minutes, calling for meetings, coordinating, counselling, dealing with vendors, printing, circulars - the list is endless. You think of a job and the first name that came to mind is Anand.

Yes, his abundant qualities of head, heart and soul made him who he was. He has left an indelible mark of love and respect on all those whom he came in contact with. His deep rooted spirituality was translated into his every act of service. He was never too tired to deal with any one or any issue. And always with a smile. Believe me, after chatting with him, you somehow felt you were a few steps closer to the solution. Every morning, he sent out e-mails on important newspaper reports on issues dear to the BCS; we have already begun to miss those e-mails.

With his sharp astute mind, he was able to grasp all aspects of the BCS tasks, including finance. Come Sabha Day, Anand would meticulously work on the Souvenir and ensure the printer delivered it on time. He made sure all citations were efficiently prepared. Be it the Annual Academic Awards, Fr Salvador Memorial Award, AGM or any other Sabha activity, Anand made sure all details were looked into. He skillfully collated information from all Units for the Annual Report of the BCS Centre, and made sure not to disappoint anyone. And of course, he made sure all reports, notices etc. were sent to The Examiner on time. 


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