27 Apr-9 May 2015 : 2-week course: ‘Pray and Plan ; Dream and Dare’ for Junior Religious This course was exclusively meant for Junior Religious. Sixty seven young enthusiastic sisters from all parts of India participated in this seminar. The focus of the programme was to energize them to form themselves into consecrated persons of joy, with zeal to proclaim the good news of Jesus to the periphery. As per the call of Pope Francis, they were challenged to become committed prophets, in a society where genuine gospel values are relegated to the background. The seminar began with a day’s reflection to situate consecrated life in our society. It was followed by a brief study on the Vatican and post Vatican documents. The other topics dealt with during the seminar were, Biblical Perspective of Religious Life, Values for Religious life based on the Parables of Jesus, ‘No’ to comfort zone and ‘Yes’ to the committed life, Jesus: the model of the consecrated life, Pastoral Effectiveness of the Religious, Eucharist and community living, Historic-cultural perspectives & challenges, Societal Analysis, Formation of conscience in the religious life and Catechetical ministry. Fr. Gilbert Choondal, sdb., summarized the whole programme and led the participant’s into evolving an emerging profile in Indian society. As the seminar concluded, the participants moved out, eager to renew their lives and to implement the insights that they had gained during the seminar.
I am energized and have become stronger in my faith and have falled in love with the Word of God. I must say NO to my comfort zones and YES to God and his poor. I understood the importance of the Eucharist . I am a missionary disciple; I am consecrated for others.
Creative ways of Communicating & Deepening of Faith
A seminar on Creative ways of communicating & deepening of faith was conducted from 13 – 19 May 2015. On the first day during the first session, Fr.Joy Pulikan, sdb., raised the question ‘What is Catechesis” and asked the 31 participants to share their understanding of catechesis. He then explained the etymology of the word catechesis and said that it is the ‘Resounding’ or ‘Echoing’ of the truth fully revealed in Christ. He further clarified the various terms, Catechesis, Evangelisation, Pre-evangelisation, Re-evangelisation and New evangelisation. On the following days brief explanation of the Compedium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Youcat and the National Catechetical Directory were elucidated. Creative tools such as drama, action songs, video clippings, different forms of prayer were taught together with the actual practice of the tools by the participants. Liturgical symbols in catechesis and the importance of the liturgical hours were clarified. Jesus method of teaching faith was illustrated with numerous examples. Conscious of the challenges in today’s world, the participants were asked to plan their catechetical ministry for different target groups.
I have learnt different ways in which I can make my catechism class enjoyable, so that I can gain the interest and attention of my children.
I am enlightened and have clarity. I have become aware that I can transmit the faith everywhere and anywhere. I realise that proclaiming the Gospel is my primary duty.
I go back today as a fully charged, electrified missionary. I realised my potential and how
I can motivate other teachers, to adapt effective means of catechism..
Celebration of Ash Wednesday – A day of reflection, fasting & Prayer
A journey of 40 days – from Dust to the Divine – a preparation to enter into the grace-filled Lenten season was organized on the 18 February 2015. More than 120 participants experienced a day of spiritual encounter with the Lord. The journey commenced with a prayer by Fr.Sagaya John. An exposition of the historical, biblical and spiritual meaning of the season of Lent was present by Fr.Gilbert Choondal, sdb. Fr. Francis Xavier, ofm., shed light on the need and significance of the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the life of every Christian. Motivated by his thoughtful talk all the participants received the grace of pardon and reconciliation with the Lord. The purpose of applying ashes and the biblical background of this practice were delineated by Fr.Colin Hendricks. He invited the participants to participate in the Eucharistic celebration of Ash Wednesday with an attitude of repentance and with a desire to unite ourselves with Jesus, the suffering Servant. At the end of the Mass Fr.Sagaya John thanked all those who had worked to make this day a deep spiritual experience to all the participants.
Pontifical Mission Society (PMS)
The National Assembly of the Pontifical Mission Society (PMS) was conducted on the 7th and 8th of February 2015 at the NBCLC. The Assembly commenced with a meaningful Eucharistic celebration officiated by His Excellency Archbishop Salvatore Pennachio, the Apostolic Nuncio. Archbishop Bernard Moras, Bishop Robert Miranda, Bishop Gerald Almeida, Fr.Faustine Lobo and other priests, Diocesan Directors of the Pontifical Mission Society of most of the dioceses of India participated in this National Assembly.
There were totally 140 delegates. During the inaugural session Fr.Faustine Lobo, the National Director of the Pontifical Society, welcomes the dignitaries and the participants. Fr.Sagaya John, the Director of NBCLC, honoured the chief guests with shawls. Archbishop Bernard Moras gave the Keynote Address. During the deliberations on the second day, Bishop Singarayan addressed the gathering. The Assembly concluded with suggestions and proposals for effective activities of the evangelizing mission in India.
CREATIVE SKILLS IN COMMUNICATING FAITH AND VALUES
Every person who has experienced Christ and his love is moved and urged to share his faith in Jesus and the values Jesus taught. Through his life and words, the person communicates the mystery of Christ to all those he comes in contact. In this sense every Christian is a Catechizer.
In the society of today, where values are formed and moulded by the media, through powerful images and sounds, a catechizer has to be creative and innovative in the methods and skills for catechesis. NBCLC organized a seminar on creative skills in communicating faith and values. The seminar was attended by 45 sisters 2 priest and a deacon.
What is catechesis?
Catechesis is an activity of transmitting the faith that the Apostles received from Jesus, which the theologians have reflected over the years. The saints have lived the faith in depth. This faith has to be communicated to the present generation to know, understand and live. Catechism of the Catholic Church is an authoritative and reliable point of reference for the faith and morals of the Catholic Church.
Youth is the age of formal thinking or logical thinking. The youth have the advantage of the both Deductive and Inductive thinking. All the same if the youth catechesis has to bear much fruit it should be experiential catechesis. Some of the techniques that can be useful in this type of catechesis are Simulation Games, photo language; inter-view and skits.
Use of media in catechetisis
Who can deny the importance of the use of media in catechesis? It is not only important, it has become inevitable today.
The important aspects in the use of media in catechetics are as follows.
The content should be age appropriate;
In songs both the melody and lyrics are important;
The gestures and actions should be meaningful according to the cultural background of the audience.
Drama in catechesis
Drama is a very powerful media of communication because it is a presentation of a human event with characters involved with their thought and emotions. It involves the whole person and brings up his emotions for careful analysis which in turn lead to identification and learning. Many of the Bible passages are dramatic in character. With some effort, the passages can be converted into a dramatic piece. Some of the techniques are dramatic reading, acting and songs, common prayers with the actions and symbolic action play.
Liturgy and catechesis are inseparable. If a good catechesis leads one to deeper worshiping of God, the deeper worship and encounter will further lead to deeper catechesis. The most important aspects of liturgical catechesis are
Preparation for the liturgy;
Participation in the liturgy ;and
Reflection on the liturgy.
Catechetical methods of Jesus
If there is one word to aptly describe the main work of Jesus that would be the word ‘teacher’. He used all the available techniques of his time in teaching like, telling stories and parables, teaching through experiences and the uses of examples of everyday life of the people like seeds, bird, and vineyard and so on. More than any technique, his life or his life-example was a great means of teaching and preaching. As the programme ended, the participants were filled with zeal enthusiasm to proclaim Christ, using the new skills that they had imbibed during the seminar.
Walking with the Word, an intensive 4-week course on Bible
There is a thirst and a longing among religious and lay Catholics for a study and prayerful reflection on the Word of God. In view of this desire, NBCLC organized a course on Bible of 4-week duration. The course was attended by 53 participants from different parts of India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. The course commenced with an overview of the Old Testament and the New Testament. This was followed by a deeper study of the various books of the Bible. The participants were moved by the rich and deep spirituality of the scripture. They appreciated the correlation of the Word of God and its message to the socio-contextual realities of the present day.
The importance of the Word of God in the liturgical celebrations and in the Divine Office helped in a deeper and more meaningful participation in the Eucharist and in praying the Divine Office. A Catholic interpretation of the scripture according to the documents of the Church gave a holistic approach to the study of the Word of God. The participants also learnt various interesting methods of proclaiming the Word of God and of Catechesis. A brief session on the Word of God in Hinduism was enlightening.
This course has rekindled in me the fire of love for God and for his Word. I have been motivated to delve further into the Word of God and share it with others. I experienced the beauty and sweetness of the Word of God through this course. I cherish the time I spent with the Word of God in the NBCLC world. I came to know Jesus more personally and to love him more deeply. I also feel a challenge and a seal to live the words of Jesus and be the Word of God.
T 20 PROGRAMME
T20 seminar held at NBCLC from 25th to 30 August 2014 was a unique opportunity for the participants to experience twenty different methods of Christian prayer and be soaked in the spirit of the Lord. The prayer methods were from ancient Christian traditions like the Jesus prayer as well as modern methods of prayer such as the Tazie prayer. As the participants imbibed each of the prayer methods, they experienced a sense of serenity and tranquility. The prayer methods led the participants to look deep into themselves and discover their strengths and weaknesses. One of the participants expressed, “We knew about journaling in prayer.But after Fr.Jose explained it to us and guided us in writing our reflections,as we prayed, we arrived at a new understanding of ourselves. We found a new opening to communicate with God and know his will for us”.
The ambience of light, music and chanting of the Taize prayer led each one to adore and worship the Lord with deep devotion.
Again prayer with Bible in the beautiful environment of NBCLC with its garden, the murals, and the labyrinth was a special experience.
The relevant scripture passages came alive with new messages. One of the participants added “We had heard of Lectio Divina and Centering prayers. But the actual practice of these guided meditations enveloped us into a deep silence. We realized that regular practice of these exercise would deepen our intimacy with God”.
The explanation of the psalms, the Divine office and the chanting of the psalms enlightened one to the beauty and rich spirituality of the Divine office and transformed the daily prayer of the Divine office from a routine recitation to a loving and meaningful expression one’s innermost feelings.
The programme also included, photo meditations, Serendipity Prayer, Iconic prayer, labyrinth prayer, Charismatic prayer, Divine Mercy Chaplet, and audio visual Rosary. Creative liturgies of each day were a profound experience of communion with the Trinity. The Indian order mass, enhanced our understanding of how the spiritual heritage of our country, can make our worship more vibrant and joyful. The audio visual programmes both during the sessions and at the end of the day were educative and inspirational.
As the programme ended the participants were filled with the hope of the deepening of our srelationship with God. Many of the participants were eager to share these methods of prayers with their formees, students and participants.
1. For me, these few days, have given a deep experience of the presence of God. Even during the classes and talks I could feel the presence of God within me.
2. All the liturgical celebrations and prayer exercises were well planned; everything that was new in the prayer services and celebrations was explained before the event, so we could participate meaningfully in the celebrations.
3. I have learned to have a deep and personal relationship with my lord, through the new methods of prayer. I have become aware that I need to focus on prayer for the rest of my life.
Counseling Skills for Religious and Superiors
Training in Basic skills in Counseling was conducted by Fr. Jose Paraally SDB for Formators and Superiors from August 4th to 9th. Fr. Jose led a, group of 62 participants step by step into the complex process of interaction in counseling. To begin with the client has to be guided in self understanding, self exploration and action. The counselor attempts to change the client’s attitude and behavior to resolve his/her problem. The counselor using the skills of attentive listening, restatement, open question, reflection of feelings and empathy challenges the client to come to self understanding and draw the action plan for him or herself. All through the counseling process the counselor communicates warmth and concern through verbal and non verbal language.
Fr. Jose trained the participants through his insightful presentations and also gave the participants experience in actual counseling in groups of three. The participants were grateful for the enlightenment they received through the seminar to be able to guide their sisters.
The new challenges to consecrated life
In his address to the superiors Generals Pope Francis said, "Consecrated life is a prophecy . God asks us to fly the nest and be sent to the frontiers of the World". The Pope also invited the religious to be the testimony of the love and mercy of God.
The seminar on “The new challenges to consecrated life”, held at NBCLC,in July .and August 2014, deliberated on various issues and motivated the animators, to become the testimony of God’s love and mercy.
The seminar began with reflections on vat-II& post vat-II documents, by Trevor D’Souza. Fr.Jerry sj challenged the participants to stand in solidarity with poor and to reach out to new frontiers.
The program also included sessions on servant leadership, canon laws related to Religious life, psycho sexual integrity, the historical development of religious life and the new challenges today. Eucharist, Parables and community life, liturgical life and leadership in conflict situations were also dealt with in detail. The sessions on “situational leadership” helped the participants, to use managerial skills in animating their communities.
The participants were deeply touched by the power point presentation on the leadership style of PopeFrancis. His simple lifestyle, love for the poor, the sick, the prisoners etc. inspired the animators to become genuine Christian leaders, like Pope Francis.
Meaningful celebrations of the liturgy, creative forms of meditations and Taize prayer enhanced the deep spiritual ambience of the seminar.
As the seminar concluded one of the participant aptly expressed, the impact of the program on her and her companions as follows.
I will be on fire for the sake of the gospel. I will be ‘Jesus’ each day making a difference in my life, and the life of my community. And create a NEW FUTURE for our society.
1.The Vibrant, enthusiastic, dynamic and inspirational sessions of the seminar have challenged us to warm up, wake up and take up challenges.
2. I am a newly appointed superior, the dynamic sessions and the different forms of prayer have empowered me to take up my task as animator of my community, with confidence.
ECO SPIRITUALITY Seminar “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children” – (Native American Chief)
A workshop cum retreat on Eco spirituality was conducted by Fr Robert Athical S J from Atmadarshan, Patna. Fifty two participants, including sisters, brothers, priests, and laymen, were led through a deep experience of gratitude to God for the gift of the cosmos. Fr Robert spoke of the imminent danger that the earth is facing today due to human greed. He invited the participants to develop a healthy cosmology based on the Scriptures and inter-religious traditions. He emphasized the urgent need to evolve an integrated Indian Eco Spirituality for our time. Every participant was asked to plan practical measures to protect environment in their own areas.