11/05/2014, 00.00
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Indian Jesuits confront the crisis of vocations with 21 new priests

by Nirmala Carvalho
The new clergymen will be ordained in 2015, the Year of Consecrated Life. Fr Errol Fernandes SJ led the novices in a retreat. The Asian Church also "faces many challenges, but with its selflessness and other-centredness, it has a message to deliver to the world."

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - In 2015, at the height of the Year dedicated to the consecrated life, 21 scholastics will be ordained priests. For Fr Errol Fernandes SJ, this is a gift from the Lord, he told AsiaNews, at a time when "the universal Church faces a challenge, and the number of priests as well as men and women religious continues to decline."

The Jesuit priest, a professor at the seminary in Mumbai, is an expert in the Holy Scriptures. Last month (20-28 October), he led a spiritual retreat for these men.

"Ignatian Spirituality is a very practical spirituality. It contains themes like using God's gift of creation responsibly, striving always for the greater good and not being content with mediocrity".

One of the issues discussed at the retreat, Fr Errol said, "was that of the two 'standards', in which one is challenged to make a choice between wealth, honour and pride on the one hand, and poverty, contempt and humility on the other. This leads to give up one's self and put God and others at the centre."

"The Church in Asia faces a number of challenges," said the Jesuit. "Some of these are the seeming irrelevance of the Church, especially to youth; fundamentalism in all religions and consequently narrow-mindedness and parochialism; consumerism and its consequences like individualism and self-centredness."

By contrast, the Church "with its selflessness and other-centredness, as individuals but within a community, has a message to deliver to the world."

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