Category Archives: Bishops

Calcutta Archbishop to Meet and Greet Media Personnel

KOLKATA (C.M. Paul) –Salesian archbishop Lucas Sirkar and archbishop coadjutor Thomas D’Souza of Calcutta will ‘meet and greet’ media personnel, 17th January 2012 at 4.00 pm,  on the lawns of Archbishop’s House, 32 Mother Teresa Sarani (Park Street).  This the first time, that such a programme is being organized during the 125th year celebration of the founding of archdiocese of Calcutta (1886).

In the course of the evening, the prelates will meet and greet and interact with the media personnel who will also have chance to meet and chat with the diocesan commission heads. A short power point presentation on the archdiocese as well as the launch of  the newly designed website of the Archdiocese of Calcutta is also planned.

Besides listing information on the Archdiocese, the Archbishop, Diocesan officials and various Commissions, the website has detailed information on schools, social, health and youth services.

“We have designed the site with a simple and friendly look which allows uncomplicated access to the information to visitors. It also facilitates diocesan officials to make relevant updates easily, without any technical knowledge,” claim the website’s developers.

Christianity in India has approximately 24 million followers, constituting 2.4% of India’s population. Christianity in West Bengal is a minority consisting of about 0.6% of the population.

In West Bengal the Archdiocese of Calcutta is the Metropolitan archdiocese with seven dioceses (Asansol, Baruipur, Bagdogra, Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Krishnagar and Raiganj) linked to it.

The Calcutta archdiocese has 37 parishes and 17 quasi parishes served by 224 priests belonging to the diocesan clergy and 10 religious orders, along with 125 brothers and some 950 religious sisters.

The first Christian settlements in Bengal appeared at the end of the sixteenth century and Bandel Church, perhaps the first church in eastern India, was built in 1599. At Calcutta, the first Catholic Chapel was established in 1700. The Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Most Holy Rosary on Brabourne Road was started in 1797.

The Vicariate Apostolic of Bengal, with Calcutta as its headquarters was established in 1834 by the Society of Jesus.

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“Accept Differences,” Tells Yangoon Archbishop

Abp Charles Bo, SDB

YANGON: 27 December 2010 (austraLasia #2776) — As religious leaders in many parts of the world offered a Christmas message not only to their followers, devotees, but to all people of good will, believers and non-believers alike, so did Archbishop Charles Bo of Yangon, Myanmar, profiting, this time, from the services of Radio Veritas Asia to reach its many listeners not only in Mynamar but also in the diaspora. He spoke in Burmese, Kachin, Po Karen, Sakan Karen and English, and delivered a powerful message of peace and reconciliation intended for many ears.
Archbishop Bo began by noting “the dazzling, twinkling Christmas lights” to be found in the capital, Yangon, in a chiefly Buddhist nation. “It is so thrilling. If we look back to the very roots of Christmas, we see that the Holy Name of Jesus is very vivid and cannot be concealed. Simply put, one may ask, ‘Why was Christ born?'”.
The message then went on to draw lessons from the key answer to that question: reconciliation of man with God and reconciliation between human beings. He noted that the manger outside Bethlehem reminds us how Jesus was “one with the poor and destitute”.  He drew comparisons between the religiosity of the East and today’s faddish rejection of God in many parts of the West! “We, Asians”, he said “give God the first place in our lives”, while others “pride in saying ‘I have no religion’ or ‘I don’t believe in any God’ “.
But the message came home in a particular way when speaking of reconciliation between human beings. Here the archbishop focused his thoughts very much on his own people in his own country. The core of this message was ‘respect differences’. See them as strengths for oneself, not weaknesses in the other!  He noted that today our societies are accustomed to “multi-culture, multi-religion” and, pointedly, “multi-party”. Then turning to the Constitution of the country he noted that “The Constitution… clearly states that every citizen has a right to freedom of religion and worship… but in some parts of the country… it is too difficult even to build a small chapel for worship. Strictly prohibited!”
The archbishop concluded with a greeting of peace to all people of goodwill, taking the opportunity to emphasise his point just one more time: “Who is a person of good will?” he asks. Only one who can accept differences.


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Humble Archbishop*


Emeritus Abp Pascal Topno SJ


BHOPAL – Thanks to God for keeping an All Saints’ Day through Catholic Church to reflect the life of people around us.  This all Saints Day made me reflect the life of a Humble Archbishop who tried to live an exemplary life.  The Archbishop emeritus Bhopal Archdiocese Dr Pascal Topno SJ is known for his humility. This is better explained in the words for former Governor of Madhya Pradesh, Dr. Balram Jakhar, when the former went to introduce his successor to the latter.  The Governor said, “Father Topno I see a true human being in you….. Your presence makes me feel God, don’t feel retired, keep coming to meet me”. The Archbishop responded it with a smile. Obviously, this ever radiating presence of God in him that kept all those people who met him inspired. So much so that anyone who met him once would never forget him ever.
He is the one who found goodness in everyone and in everything.  The Johannine prologue finds meaning in his approach towards others that everything was created through the Word because it also implies that everyone and everything ultimately reveals God. One can easily perceive the encouraging  love and prodigal generosity of God the Father in this man.
A saintly person makes it on his own and encounters God everywhere and affirms that God is present everywhere and in everything.  This simple approach of life the Archbishop had made him great among equals.  He sees God even where others do not, because he tries to look through the eyes of God.  He places his life in God and is able to be calm even in the midst of trials and tribulations.  He knows for sure that such events cannot derail the design of God, but can only bring out yet another dimension of his providence.
He never felt the need for advertising himself or his projects, but put his trust in God who worked His wonders in spite of the limitations of human agents and inadequacy of systems.  He never attempted to control God, but allowed himself to be enveloped by the divine providence.  Far from claiming to have a grip on God, he allowed himself to be gripped by God.
So God showered blessings after blessings on Archdiocese of Bhopal through him.  Even though he began his journey from debt stricken state, he reached it to a plentiful situation when he humbly left his seat. He never thought he has to plan everything sitting in his room but he found God’s plan in every proposal from others. It is this godliness that enabled him to see others as precious and valuable agents of God. Therefore he contributed to all plans and put it under divine providence. He placed the entire space at the disposal of the wonder-working God.  And God filled the space with numerous blessings through others whom he believed that God has blessed them. He is a hidden pearl among many pebbles, to know him is not an uphill task like searching a saint in every ordinary person.
*By Fr. Anand Muttungal of Bhopal

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Asian Salesians at World Congress of Catholic Press

L to R = Frs. Plathottam, Fidel, Paul, Paradon and Lobo (missing). Photo by Carol Andrade.

ROME – Five Asian Salesians are participating at the World Congress of the Catholic Press (WCCP) organized by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications (PCCS) in Rome, 4-7 October. Three are from India and one each from Thailand and the Philippines.
While three Salesians are country delegates, two are doctoral students from the Salesian University Rome’s Social Communications faculty.
Among the delegates Fr Plathottam is Media Commission Secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India New Delhi, while Fr Fidel and Fr Paradon are from the Philippines and Thailand respectively.
The doctoral students at the WCCP are Frs. Anthony Lobo from Mumbai and C.M. Paul from Kolkata.
Some six Bishops and 220 media professionals (some of them priests) from 89 countries are participating.

Fr Plathottam with Indian delegates Carol Andrade Editor of Afternoon Despatch & Courier Mumbai and Jomy Thomas of Malayala Manorama New Delhi.

They will explore issues around how to be effectively present in this digital era, how to report on controversy, whether to give voice to dissent and above all how to rediscover the essential mission of the press to be of service to the Church and to the wider community.
This is the fourth congress that PCCS president Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli has called together in four years of taking office.
“While the first international study was on identity and mission of the social communications faculties of higher learning, the second was on the identity and mission of Catholic radio, and the third congress was a Communications Seminar for worldwide Bishops,” archbishop Celli recalls.
The current congress topics include “Future of the Press: Challenges and Opportunities” and “The Catholic Press: Global Challenges, Expectations and Hopes.”
Taking head on the hot potato issue of controversies and giving voice for dissent in Church media, some participants ask: How is Catholic Press contributing to the Public Forum in what he calls to the “diaconate of culture”?
What are the new opportunities offered to Catholic Press in the internet based new media age? asks the archbishop who has widely travelled discussing and promoting new communications strategies for Catholic Press and the Internet.

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Salesian Sisters Make Pilgrimage to Rocchetta Shrine

Saying Rosary outside La Rocchetta shrine.

LA ROCCHETTA LERMA, N. Italy (C.M. Paul) – The Project Mornese English language group of Sisters went on a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Graces shrine at La Rocchetta Lerma after lunch, 26 June. A group of 12 Sisters went by foot in the blazing sun on an 8 km route by road with Sr Edna Mary Mac Donald. While a second group of 12 Sisters went by bus covering 6 kms with Sr Maire O’Byrne. Four senior Sisters were given a drop by car to the hill-top shrine where Maria Mazzarello would take her girls and Sisters for outings. The last bit of the hill-cart road to the shrine is rather steep climb which takes about 25 minutes.
The main Sanctuary “Our Lady of Rocchetta“, built in 1290 is on one side of the river Piota. It depended on the monastery of Cistercian Nuns of Santa Maria di Banno. Beside the church is a building, originally used as a hospice for people travelling through the area.

Sisters await the line bus to return to Collegio.

In 1619, Agostino and Cecilia Spinola were Marquises of Lerma. They vowed to restore the shrine and place there a painting which they had in their castle if they were blessed with son. They were blessed with the birth of twins and a canvas of the children with their parents was placed above the main altar. The painting of Our Lady was inserted into the centre of this painting. Since then devotion to Our Lady of Rocchetta has grown among the inhabitants of Lerma and the surrounding areas. The shrine today is in a poor state of repair as it is seldom used. The valuables once housed there have been transferred to Lerma parish church.
The FMA Cronistoria records that in July 1876 “the day finished with a pleasant walk to the sanctuary of the Rocchetta, honoured by the company of the parish priest and the marquis and marchioness d’Oria of Mornese (II, 197).
It was here too that while the Sisters were on a pilgrimage-picnic to celebrate the feast of Mary Help of Christians, Mary [Mazzarello] made address for a little girl, who was in rags, from the petticoat of one of the Sisters (II, 249-250).
“When the assistant reported that we had been exceptionally good, Mother would arrange an outing to the sanctuary of Rocchetta. The picnic supplies would be sent ahead with a man who had a wagon. As you can imagine, the whole day was a real treat for us.” (Maccono I, 332).

Abp S. Ferrando SDB

On August 3rd 1976, a plaque was unveiled and blessed to commemorate Mary Mazzarello’s visits to the shrine. It is reported that Salesian Archbishop Stephen Ferrando of Shillong-Guwahati, founder of the Missionary Sisters of Mary Help of Christians blessed the plaque. In early 1969, when the Government of India declared that foreign missionaries must be recalled and replaced by locals, Archbishop Ferrando resigned and retired to Italy, where he died June 21, 1978. He was born in Rossiglione N. Italy bordering Ovada close to Mornese, September 28, 1895. The Diocesan Inquest of Servant of God Stephan Ferrando opened on 8th October 2003 and concluded on 3rd August 2006.

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Indian Priest Defends US Youth Ministry Model

Fr Manuel Kadankavil of Kalyan diocese.

ROME — Fr. Emmanuel Kadankavil of Kalyan-Mumbai diocese has successfully defended his doctoral thesis on a U.S. model of youth ministry in catechetics, 7 June, at the Salesian University Rome.
“Realizing the urgency of intervention in the field of youth ministry and the need for providing a stronger foundation and vision to today’s youth ministry, I did a research on the relevance and importance of the model of youth ministry propounded by Maria Harris, an renowned American author and faith educator,” says Fr. Kadankavil.
The topic of his three years of research and study was:Maria Harris’ Model of Youth Ministry: Integrating the Psychological and Spiritual Dimensions –  An Analytical Critical Study
He says that his youth ministry experience both with the Salesians in Kolkata province and in the diocese of Kalyan-Mumbai, aw well as two years as chaplain at the University of Tor Vergata, Rome, motivated him to pursue his doctoral research on the theme.
He develops the topic by dwelling upon the five-fold dimensions of the model, viz., Didache, Leiturgia, Koinonia, Kerygma and Diakonia, giving emphasis to the psychological and spiritual dimensions of it.
Prof . Cyril De Souza SDB guided the study. The other professors on the examination panel were Prof. Jerome Vallabaraj SDB and Prof. Medeiros Damasio SDB.
“The uniqueness of the American author and teacher Maria Harris’ model consists in the fact that she has propounded a theory-based model of youth ministry which is holistic and integral,” opines Fr Kadankavil.
He adds, “my research is unique in as much as it is the first of its kind.”
Following an analytical and critical methodology he has highlighted the need for reformulation and adaptation of the youth ministry model to each situation and context. The basic approach to the research was one of theological and anthropological.
Born on 18th November 1966 in Thudanganad, Kerala, Fr. Kadankavil did his initial seminary formation with the Salesians of Don Bosco. As regent he taught literature and music in Salesian College Sonada, Darjeeling. In 1988 he joined the diocese of Kalyan and served as pastor, teacher and administrator in the diocese. He also holds a BA Hons. degree in Arts and Literature from North Bengal University, and a Diploma in Counselling and Spirituality from the Dharmaram University Bangalore.

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Indian Priest Given Media Award

By Zygmunt Gutowski

The first and current festival presidents listen to Fr Paul’s brief words on receiving "Media at the Service of the Gospel" award at 25th International Catholic Film Festival Niepokalanov, Warsaw, 27 May.

NIEPOKALANOW, Warsaw, Poland – An Indian priest was given the “Multimedia in the Service of the Gospel Award 2010” at the solemn Eucharistic celebration inaugurating the silver jubilee of the longest running International Catholic Film Festival at Niepokalanow, 27 May.
The first president of the festival Mr. Zygmunt Gutowski and the current president Ms Danuta Stachyra presented St Maxmillain Kolbe statuette with the inscription “Fr C.M. Paul, Multimedia in the Service of the Gospel” honorary prize of Julian Kluenty, Catholic Film association (CFA), Poland 2010.”
Calcutta province Salesian Fr. C. M. Paul is currently pursuing doctoral studies in Social Communications at the Salesian University, Rome.
Two prizes are offered in this category “for outstanding achievements both in Poland and abroad in the area of evangelization through multimedia.”
This is the seventh year of the award dedicated to Polish film director, cameraman, author of over 100 films, as well as president for the Warsaw Branch of Polish Association of Scientific Film, Julian Kulenty (1922 – 2000).
The first year overseas award went to film director Mel Gibson of the Passion of Christ fame. The second year award went to Mother Angelica of the EWTN, the third to Sr Angela Ann Zukowski president of Unda-World and founder director of the Centre for Religious Telecommunications, university of Dayton, Ohio.
“I am totally floored with this award,” says 56 year old Fr Paul in his brief presentation on receiving the award.
Besides being the last president of Unda/OCIC India, Fr Paul was also the first president of Signis-India and first priest to serve on Government of India’s Central Board of Film Certification.
The Niepokalanow festival is holding its 25th uninterrupted screening, May 27 to 30, some 45 km west of Warsaw, capital of Poland.

Fr C.M. Paul with Archbishop Kazimerz Nycz of Warsaw and Director of Niepokalanov Monastery Fr. Stanislaw Pietka, OFM con.

Last June, Fr Paul won Fr Horace Rosario SJ Journalism Award, Calcutta and in 2008 Fr John Barrett SJ Award for best SAR News reporter given by Indian Catholic Press Association, Bangalore.
The Niepokalanow (City of the Immaculate) film festival had its genesis in the heydays of “Solidarnosc” (Solidarity) the national resistance movement against the Polish Communist Regime, in 1985. A group of activists formed the Catholic Film Association of Poland as a cultural forum.

L to R: Belarus Signis, Catholic Film Association founder president, Radio DJ and CM Paul on Radio FM 102.7 Niepokalanow Talk Show.

The festival started in the Franciscan (OFM Conv.) monastery at Niepokalanow, the national shrine of Mary Immaculate and the headquarters of the “Militia Immaculate” (Army of the Immaculate). Fr. Maxmilliam Kolbe founded the Franciscan monastery at Niepokalanow in 1927. After the fall of Communism, Poland had its first democratically elected government in 1989. The president of Poland, who recently died in airplane crash was patron of the festival along with the polish primate cardinal Josef Glemp.

Award ceremony video:

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