Those confirmed come from very poor rural areas, "but rich in spirit". The preparation they undertook was aimed at inspiring “them to cooperate with the grace of God in all the circumstances of life".
Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Mgr Felix Machado, Archbishop of Vasai, confirmed in the Christian faith 285 young people in a parish of the Talasari mission. The ceremony took place yesterday in a venue packed with the candidates’ parents and relatives.
"Such a high number of confirmed young people is really encouraging,” the prelate joyfully told AsiaNews. “It shows how the Church is taking root in the missions."
The archbishop, who will continue to lead confirmation ceremonies for the entire month of May, explained that the kids who received the sacrament yesterday "come from very poor rural areas, but rich in spirit.”
“They completed a preparatory course, during which we taught and inspired them to respond and cooperate with the grace of God in all the circumstances of life, even after the ceremony. For example, how to become good leaders, have positive relationships, pray, go to mass, etc.".
Fr Yohan Alphonso, the Jesuit in charge of preparation in the Talasari mission, said that the group took part in "residential Camps", a sort of spiritual retreat that prepared them to receive the sacrament of Confirmation.
The goal, he explained, "was not just to re-evangelise young people in the faith and life of the Church, but also to offer them an experience that would transform their lives, so that it would have a positive impact on families and society."
These kids "live as nomads and move wherever they can find work. It was difficult for them to attend preparation courses. Yet, their great commitment shows that the faith has penetrated in them, and not as a simple matter of ritual."
"This is not about proselytising,” he said. “The Catholic Church does not proselytise; we believe only in Christ’s attraction. This is my experience: If we proclaim the Good News, people are drawn to Jesus."
For the archbishop, yesterday's ceremony was "an event". Vasai has many adults and every year many choose to become Christian and attend the Rite of Christian initiation for adults (RCIA).
In the diocese, "everyone respects the right to religious freedom. Anyone who wants to become a Christian must pass careful scrutiny. If people come with the wrong motivations or out of ignorance, we do not allow them to receive the sacrament."
Precisely because of this mutual respect among religious communities, "there has never been an incident, someone trying to prevent this. We explain that nobody wants to impose faith in the Church.”
“The message of Dignitatis Humanae[i]” says “no one must be converted against his will, no one should prevent others from receiving the baptism by choice.”
Finally, Mgr Machado praised the work of the laity who put all their efforts into the mission despite their work and family commitments.
For him, "It is exciting to see how people are drawn to Christ. It's a mystery to me. They are willing to make any sacrifice just to become a disciple of Christ. I am glad that faith has reached such maturity."
[i] The Second Vatican Council's Declaration on Religious Freedom.