-Regional Pastor Centre Becomes a Reality-
| Fr.George Pallivathukal
Catechists training with a difference
When I Presented my programme for the Regional Pastoral Centre to the Bishops of Madhya Pradesh, I had told them that the first priority of the Centre would be the training of catechists as that was a need since all our dioceses were young mission dioceses and the catechists had the highest role in evangelization and faith community building at the grass roots level. I had also convinced the bishops that training should be given to the family for effective evangelizatiom work. I gave many reasons why the wives of catechists should be with their husbands during the training period.The duration of the training was agreed to be two years.
I wanted the wives to play a supportive role in the work of their husbands. From experience I knew that the wives were often the biggest hindrance to the effective functioning of their husbands. If the wives were motivated to take care of their families and the children the husbands could go visiting villages and catechizing the faithful without fear and tension. Secondly the salary the church was paying to the catechists was insufficient.I knew that they would not be able to meet their expenses in two places with the little money they were getting as remuneration for their work. So I thought that we would teach the wives of the catechists some skils by which they could utilize their spare time usefully and earn some extra money. So I planned to teach them tailoring , embroidery, knitting, building up a small kitchen garden, a small poultry farm which could be managed by themselves, rearing of goats and at least one milch cow. So I planned to have a grihini training centre for the ladies and a nursery school for thier kids in the campus. At the end of the course they were helped to get Government subsidy to purchase sewing machines, chicks for poultry farm, goats etc. Most of the trainees were tribels and they could avail the facilities given by the Government. Thirdly I felt that it was not appropriate to keep husbands away from their wives for a long period. I had sensed this during the two -month training I was conducting at Dhanora before I went to Manila for my higher studies. I was building separate quarters for each family and all were given sufficient land to produce enough of vegitables for their use This was apart of the training as well as a help to save their money.
The Training Programme begins.
We had built up enough of infrastructure to begin the training programme on the 8th of sept. 1980. Fourteen catechists families from various dioceses of Madhya Pradesh gathered in Tindini. Bishop Theophane celebrated Mass for them and inaugurated the training programme. I had prepared a syllabus for the training of the gents giving much importance to the Word of God and Sacraments. I wanted the trainees to have a comprehensive knowledge about the Bible and to learn skills of communicating the message of the Bible effectively to others. We started a regular grihini training programme was being conducted in the dioceses of Raigarth and Ambikapur effectively and we borrowed their syllabus to train our ladies. We also gave them orientation as wives of catechists on how to play a supportive role to their catechist husbands. With their support the work of evangelization becomes an apostolate of the entire family.
Since the Pastoral Centre was to serve the Madhya Pradesh Region the staff of the Centre was also to be of regional nature. Two sisters Sr. Anirudha and Sr. Lawrence and a lay man joined us at tindini in the first weekof September. Sr. Anirudha, a member of the congregation of St.Annes came from Ambikapur. She was a very good missionary and she spent most of her time in Villages.She was also engaged in Grihini training in her diocese. I put her in Charge of the ladies 'training programme. She would also share with the catechist trainees her rich experiences on mission tour.
Sr. Mary Lawrence was amember of the Franciscan Sisters of St.Mary of the Angels (SMA) ,Mhow. She was an excellent teacher, had some catechetical training and was a member of the Catechetical Training team of Indore diocese. She had two green hands! Whatever she would put in the soil would survive and grow into green plants. Whatever greenery we had in Tindini compound was due to the efforts of Sr. Lawrence.
Mr. Dawar was a lay man from Khandawa. Although he did not have any special catechetical training, was an excellent person, very edifying and a man of faith. He helped me in organizing the sessions, keeping discipline in the campus, and taking the trainees to varies mission stations around to conduct programmes as part of their training.
Our visiting staff
I had contacted a few eminent persons and they came and helped us in the training programme as visiting staff. Fr. R.H. Lesser, an excellent catechist, a man of knowledge and of mission experience used to spend two weeks every year with the trainees, teaching them about the Sacraments. Fr. Lesser is the author of more than hundred books.
Fr.Brono D'Souza od Udayapur diocese used to deal with evangalization. He had made a special study of the "Evangeli Nuntiandi", Lumen Guntium and other mission documents to help our catechists. He had alot of experience as a missionary in Udayapur. Fr. Amaldas from Raigarth came to teach the trainees about the spirituality of faith formators and led them through a retreat every year. Sr. and encoSolange SMMI taught them the production and use of audio-visual aids. Mr. Antony Edward Francis of Nagpur, a known musician , would come and teach the trainees liturgical music.
| Village Setment, Beiga tribe in Madhya Pradesh
We had a Baiga catechist Shri. Dayal Dhurvey, who was very talented in composing liturgical songs in tribal tunes. Fr. Peter D'Souza, the then parish priest of Dunahia, recognized this talent in Dhurvey and encouraged him to compose as many songs as he could. Fr. George Parachalil collected the hymns and songs in Gondi tune and gave them to me. I got the hymns printed in a book form and published it for the use in our mission stations. These hymns are used in our liturgy in our rural churches. That was in 1982, and since then several editions of the Gondi Bhajanmala have been published by the Diocesan Pastoral Centre.
More Priests for the Regional Pastor Centre.
After the completion of the construction work at Tindini, Fr. Peter Edappally was transfered to the Holy trinity Church, Napier Town, Jabalpur as its Pastor. In 1981 Fr. Jose Palathinkal of Indore and Fr. Abraham Pandanpadam of Ujjain joined the staff. Fr. Jose trained in Manila was appointed as assistant Director of the regional Pastoral centre and he took care of teaching about and celebration of Liturgy. He did this for two years and then went to Rome for specialization in Liturgy. Fr. Abraham functioned as the administrator and the finance in charge of the centre. Fr. Abraham was a very hardworking and gentle person, very edifying for the trainees. He was a man of prayer. After serving the Regional Pastoral Centre for three years, he went to manila for his higher studies and on his return from Manila he started a prayer centre at Ujjain where hundreds of people comes and pray or make retreats.
Service at the National level.
In the early eighties there were only seven Regional Pastoral Centres in India and I was one of the seven Regional Directors. WE often had consultation meetings and other types of programmes at the National Centre , Bangalore. Once fifteen of us worked together for more than a month to prepare an Indien Catechetical Directory. Fr. Paul Puthenangady was the Director of the NBCLC at that time. Fr. Amalore from Mysore guided us in this attempt.
I was also appointed as a member of the board of consultors to the CBCI Commission for Christian life. While being active in my own Centre I continued to help Nav Niketan Patna to conduct programmes there. Fr. Amalore and Fr. Paul Puthenangady of NBCLC Bangalore and Fr. Ed Daly sj of Patna were of great support to me.//- ***********************************************************************************************
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