Archbishop stresses sensitivity to needs of Dalits

November 13, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Kolkata, November 11, 2016: Archbishop Thomas D’Souza of Calcutta has urged a group of priests and nuns to become sensitive to the needs of our Dalit people, express solidarity with the poor and marginalised and empower them through skill training and educational support.

The prelate said this while opening a seminar Pilgrimage, Exposure and Training (PET) for Church people from Dalit communities at Seva Kendra, the archdiocese’s social service center.

As many as 65 priests and nuns from 10 states attended the Nov 8-10 program organized by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) Office for Scheduled Caste and Backward Castes (SC/BC). Its theme was “Be Empowered to Empower the Dalits and Leadership Capacity enhancing of Dalit Nuns and Priests.”

PET was held on the occasion of the canonization of St. Teresa of Kolkata as a pilgrimage as well as exposure to the eastern Indian city. This Training aimed at enhancing the leadership skills of the Dalit nuns and priests to be more effective ministers in their respective ministry.

Input about the present scenario, experiential sharing and sharing of success stories was the main mode of training. Psyche and personal growth for an effective ministry was given more importance in the training, said Fr. Z. Devasagaya Raj, secretary of the CBCI office.

In his address, Bishop A Neethinathan of Chingleput, chairman of the office, said, “If a priest, bishop or religious doesn’t work for the poor, the downtrodden then he or she doesn’t fulfil his or her vocation.”

He also exhorted, “It is the time to refocus our call to work for our poor people, Dalit and marginalised.” He continued, “If you don’t, who will?”

Resource person, Jesuit Father Irudayraj Jothi stressed, “Be at the side of the poor as Jesus was.”

Action plan was made on the basis of ‘Policy of Dalit Empowerment in the Catholic Church in India ‘ approved by the CBCI.

This was the first national meeting of Dalit priests and nuns after the CBCI approval of a policy for Dalit Catholics.

“God has called us especially from the Dalit community to speak for the oppressed and the marginalized as Moses was called to liberate the Israelites from the slavery of Pharaoh. As we cherish our call it is also our duty to think deeply about our commitment and dedication to the cause of the marginalized especially the Dalits,” said Father Manoj Nayak, a social activist from Odisha.

“Coming together, praying together, sharing together and celebrating our call were the objectives of this meeting,” he added.

Fr Raj stressed personal empowerment, including holistic growth in psychological, intellectual and spiritual areas. “Identifying and growing in our personal talents and gifts of God should be also the main area of interest which needs solidarity and encouragement from others. Hence helping each other to be effective and successful pastoral ministers is one of the main objectives of this meeting.

“Understanding our call in the present socio economic political scenario is another area of interest which was dealt with. Sharing of the success stories and dreams of our priests and nuns will be motivating factors for us to get involved actively in our ministry,” he added.

Dalit nuns and priests who have been successful in their call and dedicated themselves for the cause of the poor, marginalized and the Dalits care participated in this historical program.

They visited a Dalit village and had Mass at the cemetery of St. Teresa of Kolkata.

“For me it is a historic moment for Dalit Catholic community as for centuries the man-made misery suffered by us due to caste system in India may find some answer. Besides, the Casteist Churches and the persons may have an option to bring about change in their views on life of people of so called Dalit origin,” Father Augustine Singh, a priest from Archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, Odisha, told Matters India.

– matters india

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