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Nov. 4, 2016

The Proclamation Commission held a two-day non-residential festival on 29th and 30th October, 2016, at St Pius X Seminary, Goregaon. It was a fitting theme as it coincided with Diwali (The Festival of Lights) and while everyone across the country was celebrating with sparklers and diyas, the attendees of this festival came together to celebrate the light within and help one another spread their light to the world. The main purpose of the festival was to bring together different groups actively involved in evangelization, while at the same time giving them an occasion to further hone their skills.

Day 1 kicked off at 9:45AM with a Praise and Worship session, conducted by Falguni Mehta from the Potta team, followed by the formal inauguration, when Bishop Agnelo Gracias was called to light the samai on stage, followed by a prayer dance by two young girls.

Plenary 1 was then held in the main hall, headed by Luz Maria Engineer. The two speakers – Fr. Dolreich Pereira and Mr. Minoo Engineer – dealt with the topic “Why Evangelize?” The session introduced the origin of evangelization in the Catholic Church , going back to Jesus’ own life and ministry as being chief content and inspiration for evangelists all around the world today. This was followed by an explanation on why we, as Catholics, are called to share our faith, “Proclamation” being the only mission of the Church.

Following the main session, the attendees were split into three groups – Tracks “A”, “B” and “C” (colours Blue, Yellow and Red): i.e. the beginners, the initiated and the youth respectively.

Workshop 1 for Track “A” was on “One-to-One Proclamation” – the workshop began with a testimony tracing the journey of faith: life before Christ, the encounter with Christ and life after Christ – the zeal with which people proclaim Christ after personally encountering Him. It also further talked about ‘sin’ as an obstacle in an evangelist’s mission. Both Workshops 1 and 2 for Track “B” were on “Sharing Jesus with Persons of other Faiths”. Track “C” had a workshop on “E-Evangelization” conducted by Fr. Nigel Barrett and Maria Sangeetha (also from the Potta team), which dealt with using the internet and various social media wisely and responsibly to spread God’s word in today’s digital age.

Workshop 2 for Track “A” was on “Parishes as a Fertile Soil for Proclamation” and involved testimonies by four panelists who took active part in their parishes and tried to reach out to the parishioners. The takeaway from the session was a challenge put forth to the attendees to carry out the same in their own respective parishes. Track “C”’s second workshop was conducted by Professor Melanie Andrade (of St. Andrew’s College). Sharing from her own personal experience, she talked about how it was imperative for youth to take a stand for Christ in their colleges (“campus evangelization”). A group from St. Andrew’s College called “FOC” (Faith on Campus – led by Prof. Andrade) was present, and they shared their own personal encounters with Christ, talking about how they try to reach out to their peers and guide them to Christ.

The workshops were followed by the Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3PM in the Chapel, followed by the Holy Eucharist with His Eminence, Oswald Cardinal Gracias as the main celebrant and Bishop Agnelo Gracias along with four other priests as concelebrants.

The final session for the day - “Celebrating Christ” - had Maria Sangeetha and Falguni Mehta sharing testimonies of their encounters with Jesus: how they faced and continue to face many challenges and obstacles in their own ministry, and the importance of holding on to Christ through trying times.

 Day 1 concluded with a community Rosary at the Grotto at 6:30PM.

Day 2 began on 30th morning with a Praise and Worship session conducted by three youth, followed by Plenary 2 conducted in the main hall by Maria Sangeetha on the topic “Fanning into Flame” which dealt with re-evangelizing oneself. The session ended with the Eucharistic Adoration.

Workshop 3 for Track “A” was on “Proclamation through Suffering and Brokenness”: how our own suffering can lead to a union with God. Four panelists were invited to share their own experiences, thus demonstrating the power of God, and giving out the message: “Even through our brokenness, we can proclaim the glory of God.” Tracks “B” and “C” had a combined Workshop 3 on “Introducing Jesus to Atheists/Agnostics/Secularists.” Fr. Frazer Mascarenhas, SJ and Deacon Ivan Fernandes conducted the session: both presented the views on the existence of God and how Catholics are called to be meaningful, credible witnesses of Christ to the non-believers by setting an example for them. The discussion was then thrown open to the audience, who put forth their questions on the subject.

The final workshop for Track “A” – “Proclamation through Works of Mercy” –had people sharing their personal experiences and acts of mercy that inspired and reached out to those around them. Testimonies also included those of recently baptized Catholics who were brought to the faith through the Proclamation Commission. Workshop 4 for Track “B” was on “Proclamation in the Family – Challenges and Opportunities” – the importance of togetherness in Christian families and mutual respect among both parents and children.  For Track “C”, Fr. Christopher Alvares and Dawn Cordo conducted the session on “Proclamation through Music”, touching upon the importance of music – both gospel and secular – and how it can be used as an instrument of evangelization, especially among the youth.

At 3PM, the workshops were concluded with the community prayer of the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy.

The final exhortation was conducted by Anastasia, who shed light on the mission and the many works of the Proclamation Commission through the years, and how all the attendees of the festival could carry these forward. She expressed her wish that the lessons taken away from these two days would be imparted to and shared with people all over, thus fulfilling the mission of the Commission.

To conclude, Bishop Agnelo Gracias celebrated the Holy Eucharist, thus bringing both Day 2 and the festival to a close. 

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