From Fr. Varghese Paul, SJ

Chennai (SAR News) -

“Evangelize with enthusiasm as the Evangelists and Apostles did after receiving the Holy Spirit. After the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, Peter, a coward, and other disciples proclaimed Jesus with courage, and wisdom and no one could challenge them,” said Archbishop A M Chinnappa, SDB of Madras-Mylapore in his inaugural address in the 13th General Body Meeting of the Association of Catholic Enquiry Centres India (ACECI).

Archbishop Chinnappa in his address in Dhyanashram, Chennai on February 22, 2011 recalled that as a layman and teacher he did evangelize a lot by regularly cycling long distance to reach a village even carrying his cycle to cross a river with much water. He regretted that once we become priests or take vows as religious, we stop evangelization as we get into the routine day-to-day works of a parish or a school, or in some other institution.

Archbishop Chinnappa recalled the Evangelization of the pioneering missionaries like first the Franciscans and second the Jesuits and then other missionaries like the Society of the Divine Word, the Salesians and the Salvatorians as well as the diocesan priests and the members of various religion congregations. He paid rich tribute to the examples of enthusiasm and courage of pioneer missionaries.

Quoting the Vatican Council II document ‘Verbum Dei’ Archbishop Chinnappa called the participants of the 13th ACECI General Body Meeting to open their eyes wide and see the presence of God everywhere and in everyone’s faith, language and culture.

Earlier the ACECI President, Fr. Varghese Paul, SJ welcomed about 40 participants to the ACECI Meeting on the occasion of the silver jubilee of the Association and he set the tone for the Jubilee and the General Body Meeting when he said, “Our mission is clear. We are called to proclaim Jesus Christ and the Bible. But before we can proclaim Jesus and his message we need to be possessed by him and his message of love, forgiveness, peace, service, compassion… We need to cultivate an intimate relationship with Jesus, our Lord and Saviour.”

Later in the morning the Auxiliary Bishop of Madras-Mylapore Dr. Laurence Pius led the inaugural Holy Mass. In his homily Bishop Lawrence Pius said that the Holy Spirit is working in the Church; and inspired by the Holy Spirit we should heed to the words of Jesus Christ to go out and proclaim Him.

More than 40 delegates including seventeen Directors of CECs from Delhi in the North and Chennai in the South, from Gujarat in the West and Kolkata in the East as well as Associate members and coworkers participated in the in ACECI General Body Meetings and the Silver Jubilee celebrations. Besides, more than a dozen collaborators of Arutchudar, the Catholic Information Centre of Madras-Mylapore Archdiocese too attended the Silver Jubilee and Golden Jubilee celebrations ACECI and Arutchudar respectively.

Mr. George Amshoff of Catholic Communication Council (COMECO) Germany addressed the meeting on the importance of using modern electronic communication and information technology in evangelization. “Business people use e-mail, internet, mobile phones, etc. for advertising of their products. Why not use them in proclaiming the message of Jesus?” Mr. Amshoff asked.

Mr. Amshoff said that we need to prepare the message in short texts to suit the technology and the audience. “Conceptualize and adapt the text in audio-video form,” he said.

A well known biblical scholar and writer Fr. S. J. Anthonysamy addressed the meeting on the “History of the Local Church” based on his book “A Saga of Faith” published in 2004. Fr. Anthonysamy presented the development of the Christian community in South India from the time of St. Thomas the Apostle (AD 52-72), then the time of the great missionaries like St. Francis Xavier, John de Britto, De Nobili, Beschi and to our present times.

Fr. Anthonysamy said that the famous Tamil epic ‘Thirukural’ must have been influenced by Christianity, especially Christ’s message of forgiving one’s enemy. He also said that most probably St. Francis Xavier prayed at the tomb of St. Thomas before he went to the East upto Japan. According to Fr. Anthonysamy the first chapel at the tomb of St. Thomas was built in 1523 and the Mylapore Diocese was erected in 1606. The present Cathedral at the same place of St. Thomas tomb was built in 1893.

Fr. Anthonysamy specially recalled the outstanding contributions of the visionary Archbishop Louis Mathias, SDB in organizing the Eucharistic Congress at Madras in 1937 and the starting the Catholic Leader (Now New Leader) in 1938. The erudite Archbishop R. Arulappa started the Diocesan Catholic Information Centre, Arutchudar in 1961.

Another effective speaker in the ACECI meeting was Fr. Thamburaj, SJ who made a power point presentation of the theme: “Evangelization Today: Ways and Means.” As many participants remarked Fr. Thamburaj covered very effective the A to Z of evangelization in our Indian context.

“We are efficient and maintain the Church well but without being effective,” Fr. Thamburaj said.

Mrs. Luz Marie Engineer spoke also on the same topic of Evangelization Today. She said that every Christian can do one to one evangelization by speaking about Jesus at least to one person in a day. Mrs. Engineer and her husband Minoo Engineer have taken Evangelization as their mission in life. For evangelization Mrs. Engineer stressed the importance of God-experience and developing a personal relationship with Jesus Christ by reading the Scripture and spending time with Jesus in prayer. Giving her own example she said that she daily reads the scripture texts of the day and pray for opportunities to proclaim Jesus.

Msgr. Ignacio Siluvai gave an inspiring keynote address on Feb. 24 on the theme “Evangelization Today: Ways and Means”. A Former President of ACECI Fr. B. Anthony and the Tamil Nadu Bishop’s Council Chairman of the commission for Evangelization Bishop Anthonysamy also addressed the Silver Jubilee gathering of ACECI from February 21 to 24, 2011.

Giving vote of thanks a Governing Body Member Mr. Royce D’Souza said it all when he concluded that the ACECI Silver Jubilee Meeting was a very fruitful and energizing meeting for all the participants.