Card Gracias calls for the rediscovery the new evangelisation in the footsteps of Saint Francis Xavier
by card. Oswald Gracias*
On the feast day of the Apostle of the Indies, patron saint of missions and the East, the archbishop of Mumbai assess the state of the Indian Church. Catholics needs to understand, study and live more deeply their faith. Christianity "is like a jewel in our life which must be polished to make it shine more brightly."

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Today India celebrates the feast day of Saint Francis Xavier, Apostle of the Indies and patron saint of missions and the East. Goa, where the Jesuit priest began his work of evangelisation, is also home to the saint's remains.

Revered by local Catholics as "Goencho Saibh", the "Saviour of Goans," he was remembered today by a big Mass celebrated in his honour. Card Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai, attended the service.

In what follows, Card Gracias talks about the legacy of St Francis Xavier, and the path the Church in India must follow for the new evangelisation.

Today on the feast of St Francis Xavier, we give thanks to God for the gift of St Francis Xavier. So many of us owe our faith to him. I personally thank God because of my own ancestors received the faith due to his preaching. And so thousands and thousands of us have come from all parts of Goa, all parts of India and all parts of the world to pray before the relics of St Francis Xavier. This solemn Mass is the best thanksgiving we can give for this glorious son of Spain to us.

As we thank God we also ask ourselves, what use have we made of this gift? We received the Gospel; we were evangelized 500 years ago. Has the Gospel, the life of Jesus, become vibrant, brighter or dimmed in our lives? Is the Gospel still the driving force of all that we do? We come here to thank Francis Xavier for what he brought to us, but will he be proud of us? Can we say we have made good use of what he gave us? Do we feel that we have genuinely used his gifts? Pope Saint John Paul II, who came here to Goa, often spoke of a new evangelization.  And what does this new evangelization mean for us? For you and for me? Christianity is like a jewel in our life which must be polished to make it shine more brightly.

I present to you a few possibilities for new evangelization.

At a recent meeting in Barcelona, on the Pastoral Care in Mega cities our Holy Father Pope Francis outlined the challenges of mega cities.  The four challenges that the Pope outlined, is very applicable to the situation in India.  And the  Church in India, continues  the  Mission of St Francis Xavier,  with the  New Evangelisation  with "concrete mercy and tenderness",  through our Apostolates of  Education, Health Care and Welfare services,  even though the Christians are a miniscule 2.3% of the population.

Such lessons from the life of a great missionary about how to be an evangelist in our time and place will help us bear fruit as Xavier did. My dearest people of Goa, my dearest pilgrims from all over the world - A very Happy Feast to you, remembering the day when St Francis Xavier entered heaven 462 years ago. May the gift that St Francis Xavier brought to each one of us shine brightly in our lives. May the prayers of St Francis Xavier bring many blessings to each one of us. May the fire that burned in the heart of St Francis Xavier touch our hearts, and make us live our Christian faith with great fervour, enthusiasm and commitment.

Happy Feast.

*archbishop of Mumbai

(Nirmala Carvalho contributed to this article)