Christianity has changed the moral culture of the Indian people

December 20, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

India, December 20, 2016: Christianity “changed the moral culture of the Indian people,” this according to Mgr Nereus Rodrigues, a noted educator and former rector of the Basilica of Mount Mary Church in Bandra (Mumbai).

Speaking to AsiaNews during the celebrations for his 67 years of priesthood, he focused on Christian values, “which played an important role in influencing [India’s] culture and society through charity work in education and apostolate in medical care across the country, both in urban and in remote rural areas.”

For the clergyman, “Through many charitable and welfare services, the Catholic presence has played a vital role in spreading Jesus’ system of values ?? and in transforming people’s lives and society.”

Catholic schools have had a decisive impact on India’s development. “Through our schools and universities,” he explained, “Catholic education achieved positive change.”

Mumbai “had many areas where Catholics lived in humble circumstances. We welcomed their children, who became the first generation of schoolchildren. At school they were treated as equals of students from wealthy families. There were no distinctions; all had the same opportunities.”

As time went by, “these children have blossomed, both from an intellectual point of view and in their understanding of religion. Later they found good jobs to support themselves.”

The former rector “is also very proud of the fact that many vocations blossomed among them. Today many of our priests and nuns serve the Church, both in India and abroad. They are missionaries in the world: all this thanks to Catholic education.”

Mgr Rodrigues is an important figure for the Archdiocese of Mumbai and India’s education system. Ordained in 1949, after studying in London and Rome, he was appointed principal at St Andrew High School in 1958.

In the mid-60s, he became president of the All India Association of Catholic Schools (AINACS). Later he served as president of the non-religious Head Master’s Association, something wholly exceptional in India. In the 1960s and 1970s, he was inspector of Catholic schools across the country.

In addition to education, Mgr Rodrigues has worked in health care. In the 1970s, he intervened when the Sisters of the Medical Mission wanted to close the Holy Family Hospital in Bandra in order to move to rural areas to serve the poor. Mgr Rodrigues opposed the closure, saying that it was “important to have a Catholic hospital to cater to the Catholic community that was growing in the city’s suburbs.”

Thanks to his intervention in 1978 and to the intercession of Card Valerian Gracias, archbishop of Bombay (Mumbai) at the time, the Ursuline Sisters of Mary Immaculate took over the management of the facility, which today is one of the country’s top hospitals with 260 beds and “continues to serve the most vulnerable and marginalised.”

When asked to look back at his many achievements, he replied with a shy smile: “We are unworthy servants; we have only done our job.”

“My life,” he said, “was spent in the service of the Church in India, moved only by service with love, a service rich in mercy and charity.”

– asianews

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