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Celebrating 50 Years of Vatican II: Our Journey of Faith in the Year of Faith October 25 – 27, 2013 St. Pius X College, Goregaon

Oct. 29, 2013

“The Church is not an archaeological museum, but the ancient fountain which satisfies the thirst of the generation of today as she did that of the generations of the past.” These were the words of Pope John XXIII at the commencement of the Second Vatican Council and they are as significant today. This aspect was emphasized by Bishop Agnelo Gracias in his introductory speech, while pointing out the Church’s continuing doctrinal development  since Vatican II.

The National Symposium on ‘From Vatican II to Lumen Fidei: Our Journey of Faith in the Year of Faith’ was convened by the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI) Commission for Theology and Doctrine to mark the 50 years of Vatican II. The symposium, organized by Fr. Stephen Fernandes, was chaired by Bishop Agnelo Gracias.

The first day saw the hall, at St. Pius X College, packed with an enthusiastic multitude that had come to participate in the event. Following Bishop Agnelo’s introductory speech, Bishop John Rodrigues, Rector of the College, welcomed all and thanked Bishop Agnelo, Fr. Stephen and all other visiting professors at the seminary for their constant support.  This was followed by a Prayer Dance evocatively presented by the St. Catherine’s Home Children, Andheri. After reading the message of Cardinal Peter Kodwo Turkson, President, Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Vatican City, the Apostolic Nuncio, His Excellency Most Reverend Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio delivered the Inaugural Address.  The ceremonial lighting of the lamp was followed by Cardinal Oswald Gracias’ Presidential Address on the New Evangelization Process: The Significance of Vatican II and all that followed thereafter. A special talk on the Church as Communion and the Church’s journey from Lumen Gentium to Ecclesia in Asia was given by His Grace, Archbishop Felix Machado, Chairperson, CBCI Office for Interreligious Dialogue and Chairperson, CCBI Commission for Ecumenism.

There is a need to address issues affecting women and the stand taken by the Catholic Church. Sister Daphne Sequeira, RSCJ was called upon to shed light on the Role of Women in Church and Society. Special reference was made to the Gender Policy (2010) adopted by the Catholic Church.

The Spirit of Vatican II and the Church’s Service to the Poor were covered by the next speaker, Rev. Fr. Nithiya Sayagam, OFM CAP.

The last event of the day was a dance program organized by the Cardinal Paul Poupard Foundation, Chair of Inter- Religious and Inter- Cultural Dialogue, St. Andrew’s College, Bandra, Mumbai.

The second day, which promised a packed agenda, commenced with Morning Prayer and Celebration of the Eucharist. His Grace, Archbishop Anil Couto of Delhi was the main celebrant. At the end of each session, questions from the audience were fielded by the speakers, making the experience truly interactive. The First Session, presided over by Sr. Ananda Amritmahal, RSCJ, Principal of Sophia’s College, Mumbai covered the topic: Jesus Christ, The Guiding Light for Everyone in Society, from Lumen Gentium to Lumen Fidei. Rev. Dr. Jacob Parappally, MSFS, Speaker, served up a dynamic exposition. Session II covered a panel discussion on Inter-religious Dialogue in the context of Religious Pluralism. Archbishop Anil Couto chaired this discussion and the panelists included Rev. Sr. Dr. Teresa Joseph, FMA (Christian Perspective), Dr. Kala Acharya (Hindu Perspective) and Mr. Zuhair Nathani (Islamic Perspective).  All three panelists presented their thoughts objectively and stressed the dire need for peaceful dialogue in the face of growing animosity between different communities. Rev. Dr. Errol D’Lima, SJ was the Speaker for the next session on The Role of Laity in Transforming Society: from Apostolicam Actuositatem to Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and the World. After lunch, a workshop was organized for the purpose of discussion on the five main concerns of the Indian Church vis-a-vis Catholic Social Teaching. The five topics were: Fight against Poverty with Special Reference to the Food Security Bill; Human Rights Violations, In Particular Violence against Women; The Phenomenon of Suicide and Building Emotional Defense Systems; Appropriate Use of the Social Means of Communication, and Care for Creation. These topics were divided among 28 groups which led to the compilation of topic related reports. These reports were discussed in the session chaired by Sr. Hazel D’Lima DHM.

The last session for the day covered Challenges faced by Catholic Education by Speakers Rev. Dr. Prakash Louis, SJ and Dr. Marie Fernandes, Principal of St. Andrews College. The session was chaired by Dr. Ms. Elaine Charles. This session brought out interesting insights regarding the concept of education and the Archdiocesan Board of Education.

The day was rounded off by a beautiful biographic representation of the life of Mother Teresa in Song and Dance by the Sangeet Abhinav Academy , directed by Rev. Fr. Charles Vas, SVD .

The final day began with Morning Prayer and the Eucharist celebrated by Bishop Agnelo Gracias. The first session was chaired by Rev Fr. Allwyn D’silwa and the speaker was the very famous and dynamic social activist, Fr. Cedric Prakash, a Jesuit who has won numerous accolades at both the national and International level.  The topic: The Fight Against Poverty: Global Conscience Needed to Build a Civilisation of Love.  Evangelization in the Context of Today’s Increasingly Threatening World was the topic of discussion at the next session chaired by Ms. Luz Maria Engineer. The speaker was Rev Dr. Augustine Kanjamala, SVD.

A topic which remains neglected in today’s age of lightning quick scientific development: Surrogacy and Test Tube Babies was covered in the panel discussion. The panelists included Dr. Pascoal Carvalho, who explained the medical aspects of Surrogacy and test tube babies; Rev. Sr. Annie Fernandes, SHM, who explained the pastoral options for childless couples; Senior Adv. J.F. Reis, who explained the legal concerns of surrogate motherhood and Rev. Fr. Matthew Coutinho, SDB, who talked about Catholic teaching with respect to these artificial methods of producing babies.  A lot of information was received during this discussion which engendered some very interesting questions.

The closing session of the Symposium was marked by the concluding statement by Bishop Agnelo Gracias, which summed up all that was conveyed in the preceding sessions with reference to Vatican Council II and the Challenges of our Journey of Faith in the 21st Century. The vote of thanks was given by Fr. Stephen Fernandes, Executive Secretary, CCBI Commission for Doctrine and Theology, the dynamic mover in the organization and execution of this Symposium. The Society of Helpers of Mary presented the final Thanksgiving Dance. A special prayer for the Poor and Victims of Injustice was read out remembering Servant of God, Cardinal François- Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan.

This three-day National Symposium was a culmination of the multiple efforts put in by both organisers and participants. The event brought into focus important questions and answers related to the Church’s concerns in the modern world, and we hope that this Symposium stimulates the response and action advocated by the eminent speakers. 

Source: Catholic Comunication Centre

Click here to view the pictures of the Symposium

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