“Women religious are the face of the Indian Church”

February 8, 2012 by  
Filed under Church, India, Karnataka, newsletter-india

Bro. ManiKarnataka, February 8, 2012: Church’s single largest resource for fulfilling her mission. They need to be empowered for more effectiveness to bring about change. The concerns of the Conference of Religious of India (CRI) were presented by, National Secretary CRI to 160 bishops and 20 CBCI officials attending the February 1-8 plenary in Bangalore that has chosen for its theme: “The Church’s role for a better India”.

Bro. Mani said, “It may be worth noting that there are more than one lakh and twentyfive thousand religious in the country of whom 80% are Sisters.
Recently this relatively silent majority of Sisters have been more and more recognized as the real face of the Indian Church and has come to be appreciated by the Holy Father and other universal church leaders on many occasions.

These women religious break their lives among the poor of this land and have become more and more daring beyond the security of traditional convent life. Respecting their dignity and assuring justice in the context of their commitment is a matter of priority for all church leaders.

The CRI interactions across the country indicate the need to empower a large section of women religious for greater effectiveness in their life and mission. As of now they form the single largest resource of the Church for fulfilling her mission to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ and contribute to a better India.

As we all know, the modern world is powered by the younger generation. Last year the CRI brought together more than 1000 representatives of the young religious of 30-35 years age group, in 12 regions of the country to prepare an agenda and take leadership initiatives for “Consecrated Life 2020”. Consecrated life will be upheld as relevant and dynamic, by these young people, who have decided to create future in spite of the global melt down of vocations.

As we are aware, education is the most visible presence of the Indian Church and as per statistics 80% of these are managed by the religious. The CRI units across the country worked with the CBCI education policy in order to make our presence more effective. The RTE is an opportunity to work with the Government for an inclusive response to the needs of the poor and work on a national agenda in spite of some related problems.

The health sector with about 90% being managed by the women religious is the greatest contribution of the Indian Church.

A silent revolution has been taking place and I would like to reveal some data in this regard. A recent survey carried out by the Secretariat indicates that a total of 39,275 religious, which is 1/3 of the 1,25,000 religious in the country, have moved to the socio-economic sector which is bound to change the face of the Church in due course. It is also worth noting that 1/3 of these, that is 12,142, are professionally qualified, including 434 PHDs and 825 LLBs. The process is also getting strengthened with new structures in the form of institutions and NGOs.

The approach to Social Work has shifted from Charity model to developmental programmes and Right based initiatives. The CRI is in the process of a series of training programmes to speed up the shift to right based involvement among the marginalized. The new organization is called CRISEC. This shift is an opportunity as well as a challenge for leaders of the Congregations.

This year the National CRI has gone in for a national level Consultation on “Good Governance in Religious Congregations”. We are convinced that it is a matter of great priority for the congregations, the Church, as well as society. “A Charter of Good Governance” is being drawn up and the process includes nationwide consultations which are in progress by a national Team.

The CRI-CBCI jointly made a study of Indian Missionaries to other countries which have made India one of the main mission sending countries during the last 30 years. The statistical report indicates the presence of Indian Missionaries in 166 countries. The significant event was carried not only by the Catholic world press but also the national secular press. The national Times of India titled it as “God’s Word, Outsourced from India.”

In addition to a data website, the CRI launched a news website code named CRIB with about 10 thousand email connectivity, in partnership with UCANews. This news website is a small but successful attempt to articulate and communicate the marvels the Lord is doing amidst us. We have been gradually learning the process of gathering and communicating news during the last two years which included training of reporters. Considered as one of the best Catholic electronic services today and looked forward to by many for its weekly mail, the CRI has completely taken over the management from UCAN with effect from December 2011.
The CRI is convinced of the need of the Church to be present effectively in the wider opinion making media. Concrete proposal to initiate a national T.V. Channel for news and current affairs has received the approval and applause of CBCI and CRI, as well as other leaders in the Church.

Our participation in the anti-corruption movement has been specific. We have been promoting a “Corruption Free India Pledge” through all our institutions. There has been good response to the initiative and we are committed to the national movement in this regard. The corruption within the Church has been raised on many occasions but it was always felt that commitment from the top is essential to make it a success.

The Gender issues have been a matter of focus for the CRI since 6 years. In spite of a Gender Policy, tangible results are yet to be found. The CRI has integrated it into the formation of religious. If we succeed a very large number of women religious can become more effective apostles of Christ.
Another important area the CRI has been addressing is the Environmental concern. At the national level initiatives we brought together about 5000 religious and priests across the country in order to create awareness. In addition the regional and local efforts have been bearing fruits. Greening Christian campuses and enriching consecrated life with dimensions of eco-spirituality have been efforts that bore some results.
According to one assessment India has become more Christian in more than one sense. At least the Hindutva groups have taken note of it in that perspective.

As leaders we are aware that Christianity has to be mainstreamed in our country. It may be an opportune time to go beyond the minority complexes and take on the majority with courage and confidence that we can truly become the “conscience of the nation.” Leadership and media are essential dimensions of this thrust.”

– cri

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