07/03/2012, 00.00
INDIA
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The 'Year of Faith' and new evangelisation, two immense gifts for the Church in India

by Nirmala Carvalho
Fr Savio de Sales is the new director of the Pontifical Mission Societies for the Archdiocese of Bombay. The Feast of St Thomas the Apostle, patron saint of India, is a reminder of the Church's priorities in the Year of Faith, namely adult and child catechesis as well as interfaith dialogue.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The 'Year of Faith' "is an immense gift to the Church in India. It is a time of grace for the treasures and wisdom of Holy Mother Church to be heard, celebrated and witnessed," said Fr Savio de Sales, the new director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the Archdiocese of Bombay. He spoke to AsiaNews on the occasion of the Feast of St Thomas the Apostle of India about the importance of the Year of Faith for the Church in India and evangelisation.

"Our Church received the gift of faith from the Holy Apostle, St Thomas," Fr de Sales said. He "brought the Good News to the Indian shores, and [was followed] later by St Francis Xavier, patron saint of Missions. Our modern society has seen the faith witnessed through the Blessed Mother Teresa. Such is the inheritance of our faith."

In light of the past year, the year Benedict XVI proclaimed represents a crucial moment. "Our Faith has to be deepened, formed and witnessed. Re-evangelization is an answer to the challenges of secularism," he explained.

Great emphasis will be on adult and child education. "Our students and young adults will be instructed in our Catholic educational institutions," Fr de Sales explained.

The priority will be the promotion in school of "the Holy Childhood Association among children" and adults. The former "is an organisation dedicated to fostering children's awareness of the missionary nature of the Church.  It exists to be of service to schools and religious education programmes."

India's religious and cultural pluralism makes interfaith dialogue essential. "Marian shrines are" places "where India's pluralism is celebrated. Tens of thousands of non-Christian flock to Marian shrines, [. . .] especially during the special novenas" when "the Word of God must be proclaimed."

"Christians in India are a mere 2.3 per cent of the population and faith must be shared. Jesus must be made known to others, especially to those who have never heard of him. I know there are a number of people longing and thirsting for the word of God. Perhaps some of them have heard Jesus but they do not know how" to reach him.

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