Madurai, India. The ASCLA West Parish Priest’s Meet 2019 took place on August 6 to 8, 2019 at the Pillar Institute, Madurai, Tamil Nadu with the theme “Claretian Parishes Going Forth.” There were 32 participants from India and Sri Lanka. It was well represented by all the Major Organisms of India (Bangalore, Chennai, St. Thomas, North East & Kolkata) and a member from Sri Lanka.
The three day-program comprised of variety of input sessions, group discussions and interactive sessions. Fr. Jess Doss, CMF, Provincial Superior of Chennai Province, aside from heading the inauguration, gave a session on “Historical Evolution of Claretian Parish Ministry with the Spirit of St. Claret and the Cordi Marian Dimension.”
He said that “our parishes shall be centered on the word of God and we form the community of the listeners of the word of God. Our parishes are identified being associated with the poor, community life and centered on the word of God. We also foster Marian devotion in our parishes and stand for Justice and peace. We need to be available for people and reach out to them under any circumstances.”
Moreover, Fr. Mariadass, CMF spoke on the centrality of the Word of God in our parishes & popular mission preaching as well as the unique characteristic of our parishes. Fr. Paul Jeyaseelan, CMF spoke on the formation of a community of disciples through small Christian communities and Family Apostolate in our CMF parishes. Furthermore, Fr. Ulagaraja, CMF talked about our parishes as a welcoming arena for ecumenical, interreligious dialogue, & Gospel inculturation.
Then Fr. Michael Francis, CMF discussed modern technology at the service of the Word in our parish pastoral ministry.
“God gave us technology as a tool to accomplish His Mission. Communication becomes faster through technology. Parish priests are encouraged to make use of digital media and engage the faithful to use the technology to share the word of God,” he said.
One thing particular of this meeting is the presence of Mr. Rosario Sundar, an advocate of the High Court of Madurai, who spoke to them about opening the doors in liturgy, evangelization, administration, economy and celebration in the perspective of a laity. He said:
“People want their priests to be role models. Priests are with strength and weaknesses. Since priests are easily identified, their mistakes are highlighted and condemned. People appreciate and acknowledge the priests and the priestly life. Priests are expected to have a healthy relationship with the sheep and with their conferees. A priest needs to be transparent in matters of economy and be prudent in dealing with money. A priest is also expected to be above caste and creed system. The duty of the priest is to lead the people in the right perspective. Be available for people especially when they are suffering. Involve laity in administration and respect the People’s feelings and opinions. Have proper prayer life and live the vows faithfully to lead the laity.”
And since the Congregation is also involved in the care of the integrity of creation, Fr. Jose Pitchai, CMF discussed about the Inclusion and Implementation of Sustainable Development Goals in our Parish Pastoral Ministry. And on the last day, Fr. Arulselvam Rayappan, Prof. Canon Law at St. Peter’s Bangalore, spoke to them about parish ministry, role and responsibilities: a collaborative effort in the light of Canon Law.