January 3 to February 4, 2023.
The Missionary training programme for the catechists and Lay leaders, engaged in the ministry of Evangelization, was organised by Fr. Raju Mathew, Director, Suvarta Kendra Pachmarhi (Madhya Pradesh). He is also an Associate Executive director of CCBI Commission for Proclamation!
Although there were as many as 45 applicants, due to the unusual and extreme cold winter weather, only 38 of them, hailing from different Dioceses of North India turned up.
The theme for this Training Programme was taken from the two-part Gospel passage: “When the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will be filled with power” and “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). These words were spoken by the Risen Lord to his disciples just before his Ascension into heaven. These words of Jesus remind us that the Church is missionary by nature. Bearing witness to Jesus’s teaching by disciples is the core aspect of their being sent forth into the world. Likewise, the call of every Christian is to bear witness to Christ.
The implementation of this missionary mandate of the Lord has been assigned to the CCBI Commission for Proclamation. This intensive and comprehensive training programme was organized with the primary aim of forming and animating every baptized person, as a worthy missionary disciple of Jesus. In addition, to prepare the participants to be competent Christian leaders, who will effectively be engaged in evangelizing their own people and, eventually, to train others to follow in their footsteps.
All the resource persons were highly skilled and experienced in evangelising because of their hands-on knowledge. They trained the participants to narrate the story of Jesus, contextualizing it to the present times, so as to radically alter, in a synodal way, people’s perspective and understanding of Jesus’s gospel message. It was repeatedly emphasized that the participants would be able to effectively communicate the story of Jesus only when they experience what they have learnt. The programme trained them how to go about evangelizing: relationally connecting to people, whom God has placed in one’s life; inviting someone into Christian community to experience the body of Christ; and in the classic style by having a spiritual conversation with someone you don’t know. They were taught what, why, how to say; and, especially, what to do or not do in evangelizing. They were taught how to efficiently utilize the outreach programmes to their advantage and to convert them into innovative methods of Evangelization.
Having the above objective in mind, the resource persons encouraged the participants to interact freely during the sessions and to actively involve themselves in group discussions. This icebreaker helped the participants to mingle freely among themselves and with the resource persons. Moreover, this approach assisted in fostering friendships and cordial relationships among them, a first step in evangelizing and thus gaining the beautiful experience of faith. The participants were asked to present themselves creatively as evangelizers and evangelized, first as a group from the same state and then individually. The resource persons presented many examples, especially drawn from their own life experiences and challenges as evangelizers. They guided the participants to maintain a lucid balance between theory, spirituality and practice with necessary and appropriate flexibility. They motivated the participants to transform themselves as authentic models of zeal, creativity, kerygmaticity (a Greek word meaning to herald, proclaim or cry), community and punctuality. Though these concepts are abstract ideas, the resource persons presented them as realistic clues that could be employed as building blocks to put across one’s principles, thoughts and beliefs.
The course succeeded in radically revisioning the stereotyped mindset the participants had about evangelization. They acknowledged unequivocally that this training programme had assisted them to be effective instruments of evangelization. All participants expressed their appreciation and gratitude for organizing this enriching and empowering training prgramme. They asserted that they will, from henceforth, boldly and convincingly proclaim the Good News. They opined that this programme on evangelization has also assisted them to develop a simple but deeper spirituality, apart from honing their skills in preaching the gospel.
January 3 to February 4, 2023.