Lay leaders from 10 SVD Parishes across the Northeast States of India – Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, and Arunachal Pradesh attended the SVD Lay Partners Animation Seminar at the SVD House, Guwahati, Assam on 24th and 25th March 2022. Around 40 lay leaders along with their Parish Priests participated in this two-day seminar organized by ING. Regional Superior, Fr. Maxim Rodrigues, and Mission Secretary, Fr. Clement Quadras were actively involved in the seminar along with other SVD fathers. I am deeply grateful to them for inviting me to this seminar and allowing me to share my experience as SVD lay partner.
On the 25th, the Solemnity of the Annunciation and the Titular feast of the Society, Archbishop John Moolachira, Archbishop of Guwahati presided over the Eucharist encouraging us to be the faithful followers of the Word. Later, Frs. Cyprian Pinto, Valentine Dung Dung, Jose K, Ivan D’Silva, and others spoke on the first SVD presence in the Northeast and their early experiences and challenges. Fr. Francis Fernandes gave the group insight on our Founder and the Founding Generation.
I was overwhelmed by the active participation of the lay leaders during the seminar. There was an eagerness in them to know one another and their involvement in the missions. The two-day sessions were filled with group discussions and sharing, acting out Bible passages, group activities, etc. Frs. Francis and Clement animated the participants, leading them in singing and teaching them Gospel action songs. The best action song that left me in splits was… David ne Goliath ko ghuma ghuma ke maara (Hindi).
One of the things I learned at this seminar was that my active involvement with the participants was more important than my professional PowerPoint presentation. They were simple straightforward people. I quickly became one of them. Many of the lay leaders were inspired to share their personal experiences with the SVD fathers, especially those who were among the first to begin the challenging missions in ING. ING is interwoven with mighty rivers and mysterious mountains. Diverse ethnocultural groups inhabit the Region. My visit to the missions made me realise that our pioneer missionaries have laid a strong foundation on which the activities in ING stand today. Through an empowerment process of education, and networking with Government/NGOs, the SVDs are trying to educate the tribal children. They are first-generation learners. The schools not only provide knowledge but build bridges across tribes, creating platforms to live in harmony. Furthermore, the indigenous peoples are playing a crucial role in evangelizing the region.
By Susan Noronha, SVD lay partner, INM Mumbai
Animation Programme for the Lay People
“God’s people are ordinary people who have been made extraordinary.”
By: Oswald Chambers
SVD ING organized Lay Partners’ Animation program for three days at SVD Regional House, Guwahati from March 23rd to 25th, 2022. Around forty of our lay people from ten SVD Parishes of the ING Region along with their Parish Priests participated in this event. It was an enriching experience program led by Sr. Anchal CHF and Sr. Siny Jose CHF on the first day and Mrs. Susan Noronha an active SVD Lay Partner from Mumbai on the second day.
On the 23rd evening, the program rightly began with spending time with the Lord in recollection led by Fr. Jose K. SVD, who enlightened the participants by highlighting the theme of Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission and how we can be the true evangelizers in our place. This was followed by confession and adoration. It was the powerhouse for the next two days of animation, deliberations, discussions, and other activities.
On 24th, the day began with the Holy Eucharistic Celebration led by Fr. Maxim Rodrigues the Regional Superior. He highlighted the theme of Synodality as communion, participation, and mission which is the motivating factor for the SVD Lay partners to be in communion, participation, and mission of the SVDs in the Church. The sessions began with the Bible procession followed by the session by resource persons on the Christian Family, its true nature, the value of a Christian Family, and how a family is the “Cradle of Faith.” They explained the true meaning of the Christian Family and its nature. The Christian family has its holiness and unity with God so the relationship between husband and wife should not be undefiled. (Heb 13:4) In the family, it is God who joined the relation on the foundation of love (Mt 19: 5-6) so one must live with fidelity (Tobit 8:7) so that our family may be an example for others as Jesus said, “the tree is known by its fruit.” (Mathew 12: 33)
On the 25th on the Solemnity of the Annunciation being the Titular feast of the Society, Archbishop John Moolachira, Archbishop of Guwahati presided over the Eucharist encouraging us to be the faithful followers of the Word, Jesus. The first session was spent on knowing our roots as SVDs in the World. Fr. Francis Fernandes SVD, AJS coordinator spoke about our Founder St. Arnold Janssen, St. Joseph Freinademetz, and founding generations. Then we had the sharing by our missionaries of the ING, Fr. Ivan D’Silva, Fr. Cyprian Pinto, Fr. Valentine Dung Dung, and Fr. Jose K on the SVD presence in the North East and their first experiences and challenges in the mission place. Mrs. Susan Noronha, the SVD Lay Coordinator from Mumbai explained how lay people can support and get involved with the SVDs in their missions. She shared her personal experience and the joy of working in collaboration with the SVDs and how they reach out to the people in different ways. She animated the group to share their experiences with SVDs wherever they are. This was a very encouraging moment for us as SVDs to know how we are part of the life of the people in the ING Region. She also encouraged and invited the people to take an initiative and extra interest in the parishes by helping the priests and doing small works or responsibilities related to the church like helping to clean the church, arranging for the Mass, and taking catechesis for the children… etc.
The two days sessions were filled with a lot of activities, sharing, discussions, deliberations, presentations, acting out bible passages, action songs, group activities, evaluations, etc. There was a lot of eagerness to know one another and their involvement in the missions. The animation program ended with a happy note saying all will give their best and collaborate with the SVDs in carrying out the mission of Christ. So, we can say finally in the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “Our life as a Christian should make non-believers question their disbelief in God.”
Fr. Clement Quadras SVD
Mission Secretary, ING