Religious life in crisis, say superiors

October 31, 2012 by  
Filed under newsletter-lead

Commitment issues, lack of media awareness and class differences among many challenges that Religious in India face.

Religious at the meeting

Religious at the meeting

Andhra Pradesh, October 30, 2012: The life of priests, nuns and brothers in consecrated life is passing through a crisis of commitment but this is just one among a wide range of pressing concerns, say Religious superiors attending the Conference of Religious India (CRI) national meeting.

About 550 Superiors General and provincials of various congregations are meeting Oct 28-31 in Hyderabad for their triennial assembly. The delegates are deliberating on innovations to give consecrated life greater effectiveness.

Delegates spoke about dwindling number of entrants to congregations as well as the number of those leaving congregations.

“The life of Religious is passing through a crisis of identity and commitment,” said Bambina Sr Matilda Monteiro, adding “individualism has made members fragile.”

She also pointed out that one of the challenges Religious face is making their charism as relevant as it was for their founders as members “are not being up to the mark” in living out their charism.

Others spoke about finding it a challenge to combine spiritual wisdom with insights from human sciences and rebalancing a lopsided formation between fostering spirituality and developing skills.

Lack of media awareness among Religious and how to be in contact with media and communicate with media persons was another concern they as a group face. This was a priority because of the fast pace of new interactive media, they said.

Superiors also pointed out to the need for inter congregational collaboration and networking. “What can be done together should not be done alone,” said Montfort Br Mani Mekkunnel.

However, others pointed to the need for “complimentary collaboration” to add on to core skills that were inadequately met by congregations and not entering into partnerships just as an exercise in fostering fraternal relations.

Given India’s diverse multicultural and multi-ethnic makeup, there exists “unbreakable class walls” not only among members within congregations but also among various congregations.

This, delegates said, was another serious concern that needed to be addressed. Jesuit Fr Francis Serrao proposed that all – individuals and groups — make an effort to “convert walls to bridges” so as to be faithful to their Religious vocation.

Another concern for much heartburn was the often uncongenial relations Religious faced in their dealing with bishops. Much of this concerned land and property owned and administered by especially women Religious that were often arbitrarily appropriated by bishops.

The way to deal with this was to ensure proper, written and legal agreements between Religious congregations and bishops, delegates proposed as well as for Religious superiors to know and understand their rights given them by canon and civil law.

The CRI has a total of 334 congregations and 822 major superiors representing more than 125,000 Catholic Religious brothers, priests and nuns in India. Most of the schools, hospitals, social service centers and other institutions of the Catholic Church are managed by this group.

– ucan

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