Announced by Pope Francis, the international rendezvous is set for October 2019. Diocesan coordinators held their first meeting yesterday in Vijayawada, Andhra-Telangana. Renewing the mission starts with the parishes. Catholics must abandon provincialism and caste divisions.
Vijayawada (AsiaNews) – The Extraordinary Missionary Month of October 2019 provides an opportunity "to renew the Catholic Church and faith from within, overcome divisions and reboot the mission in India,” said Fr Ambrose Pitchaimuthu, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMO) in India.
The clergyman spoke to AsiaNews about the initiatives launched yesterday in Vijayawada, at the first meeting of the diocesan coordinators in Andhra-Telangana, sponsored by the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME).
For him, "there are many challenges to renew the mission in India where Catholics represent a minority". But to nurture the missio ad gentes, "we must start first of all from ourselves".
In 2017 Pope Francis announced the Extraordinary Missionary Month of October 2019 to mark the centenary of the promulgation of the Apostolic Letter Maximum illud, "with which Benedict XV wished to give new impetus to the missionary task of proclaiming the Gospel".
Fr Ambrose is the coordinator In India who will lead a national meeting on 26-27 February in Bangalore with PMO secretaries from 14 Indian regions.
For Fr Rayarala Vijay Kumar, PIME regional superior, "we must circulate the Apostolic Letter as much as possible. We need money to translate it into eight languages, in addition to English and Telegu. The encyclical must resonate throughout the country."
"I am fascinated by the prospect of renewal offered to the universal Church, which must acquire greater awareness of its missionary duty,” Fr Ambrose said about the challenges facing the mission in India. “All of us are baptised and therefore called to carry the Gospel to the world."
For the true evangelisation ad gentes, "the best way to show my Christian faith is through my life, my actions. This is why my spirituality must be deep, firm."
In India, "Catholics are a minority. But we can be the salt, light and the spark of society. We must have an uncompromising faith."
To get others more involved, "Catholics must be more united and inspired. Sometimes we notice discrepancies and incoherence in ideas, beliefs and the way we practise.”
“India’s Christian community, Catholics included, though united by baptism, is divided based on caste and a certain parochialism that does not support the Gospel values of justice, brotherhood, peace and harmony. This mental rigidity prevents us from expressing our genuine Christian faith to others."
Hence, "the new evangelisation is a proposal not only for others, but also for ourselves, to be renewed with the values of the Gospel and to realise the sacrament we received through baptism. We all belong to one family."
This can happen, Fr Ambrose suggests, "in basic Christian communities, which have a deep faith in the word of God and the sacraments. The Indian Church must become more vibrant."
The sense of God "is experienced through the liturgy, the Eucharist, prayer, the Gospel and works. It joins dynamism to spiritual life. But also through singing, which is why we have thought about singing competitions for children. Lay people, young people, facilitators and catechists must rediscover the mission in themselves.”
Last but not least, “We have a lot of work to do with 'special' need children, that is, those with physical and mental disabilities."