Pilar: tribals, young people and dialogue, missionary challenges set for 2019

The congregation's annual meeting brought together some 180 members and leaders of the Indian Church.  The "Theological Consultation" serves to give "direction" to mission of the following year.  Founded in Goa, the Company operates in all continents.



New Delhi (AsiaNews) - Dialogue with India's political leaders, protection of forests and tribal interests, relationship between social media and young people: these are the main missionary challenges that emerged at the annual Society of Pilar meeting. 

The rally, named "The 2019 Theological Consultation" took place on October 3 at the Pilar Theological College, in the coastal state of Goa (photo 2).  Speaking to AsiaNews Fr. Elvis Fernandes, a member of the Society and director of the monthly magazine published by the “Fr. Agnel’s Call ", says:" The purpose of the consultation is to prepare the members of the Society, created for the mission ad gentes, to the emerging socio-political and economic challenges of this time".

The Society of Missionaries of St. Francis Xavier (Society of Pilar) was born in the Archdiocese of Goa in 1887, by the Portuguese priest Fr.  José Bento Martins.  Today it operates in all continents.  In December 2010 Pope Benedict XVI elevated the congregation to the rank of "pontifical right".  Fr. Fernandes explains that the key value of the Society "is to make Jesus Christ present among those who do not yet know him and among the Christians who have become indifferent to his message".

This year's meeting was moderated by Fr.  Alarico Carvalho.  About 175 people participated, including priests, nuns and seminary students.  Card. Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Mumbai and president of the Indian Bishops' Conference (CBCI), thanked the members of the congregation for "the dynamic service and selfless commitment".  He reiterated the importance of the "contribution given for the transformation of society towards a more equitable and just orientation".

Msgr. Theodore Mascarenhas, former secretary of the CBCI, auxiliary bishop of Ranchi (Jharkhand) and a member of the Society, highlighted "the importance of a dialogue with political personalities and the sharing of principles, which could provide a positive and critical contribution to  the good of the population ”.  Archbishop Anil Couto of Delhi, spoke of the poor and marginalized, reaffirming the value of "integral human development".  "Coming into contact with cultures - he said - and transforming malign and unjust structures are the challenges that concern us and require prophetic courage.

According to Msgr.  Lawrence Pius, bishop of Dharampuri (Madhya Pradesh), the Indian Church must face "the threats facing young people due to the influence of social media.  Understanding the youth perspective helps us to guide them ”.  Archbishop Felix Toppo of Ranchi highlighted the risks of the Chota Nagpur Plateau, which extends for most of the state of Jharkhand.  "We need - he urged - to protect the interests of tribals and their lands".  Referring to the development of the vast mineral resources available to the State, prey to the interests of large industries, he warns: "Short-term gains can destroy human lives".  (A.C.F.)