Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Fr Francis Carvalho, 65, is the new superior general of the Society of St. Francis Xavier, the first Indian missionary congregation, familiarly known as the Society of Pilar. Elected on 11 August at the general chapter, Fr. Carvalho (pictured left), a great and long time friend of PIME, says that the mission ad gentes and new evangelization are the current priorities of its community.
Fr. Carvalho, of Uguem-Sanguem, is the first to be elected after the raising of the Society to Pontifical Right. On June 27 he received his doctorate in canon law at the Gregorian University (Rome). Previously he had studied cultural anthropology in London and lived for several years in the Andaman and Nicobar, also during the 2004 tsunami and its aftermath. He has also been vicar general of the institute and director of novices for the seminarians at the Institute of the Pilar.
In an interview with AsiaNews, Fr. Carvalho speaks of the spirit and vision of the establishment, at the service of the Gospel and of the pope.
"The task of our school - he says - is to be pioneering missionaries among those who do not know Christ and among those who have become indifferent to him. In line with the call of the holy father for new evangelization and the Year of Faith our general chapter has crystallized this vision as that of breaking paths crossing horizons in communion, keeping in mind the clarion call of pope Leo XIII - your own sons of India will be ministers of salvation - our indigenous missionary society is committed to live and work as Indian missionaries For this, we want to live as missionaries in India, but also willing to go anywhere the Holy Father wants to send us. "
"As a pioneer missionaries - precise - our preferences and priorities would be to go to areas where the Good News can be preached -while we would prefer Asia first, then Africa. But we are at the service of the Holy Father to go wherever he sends us ."
Fr. Carvalho callsthe new evangelization and the Year of Faith, which Benedict XVI will open in October a "huge gift". "As missionaries - he adds - we can never claim to have done enough. The Word of God comes and gives us energy to enhance our lives, opening new horizons. The Society of Pilar is actively engaged in the new evangelization in some communities in the Diocese of Albano (Rome), two communities in Germany, one in Austria, one in London (with the chaplaincy to Goans), one in Chicago. We also received many invitations from bishops of the West, but we prefer to go to places where it is hard for the pope to find other missionaries. The Pilar Society is at the service of the Holy Father. "
"The pope's appeal to the Year of Faith serves to strengthen the faith - which is losing ground - and to spread it and proclaim it in places it has not yet reached. Pilar Missionaries are in line with the Pope's call: we go to places where Christ has not been proclaimed, but also places where people are disinterested in the Lord. But we are basically geographically pioneering missionaries and also pioneering to find new methods of evangelization. "
Fr. Carvalho final thought's go to the PIME missionaries (Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions), with whom he enjoys a long and deep friendship. "I do not have enough words - he says - to express my gratitude to the PIME fathers for their generosity: they offered me a scholarship, and their warm hospitality in the General House in Rome, during my studies in canon law. During this period my superior general permitted me also to help out as the spiritual director in PIME seminary in Pune .I will always cherish my experience in the Generalate, where I meet dedicated and experienced PIME missionaries working all over the world , whenever they came to Rome to meet their superior general, listening to their rich and varied mission experiences has enriched , enlivened and strengthened me "