Thursday, October 30, 2014

4th National Tribal Festival Inauguration

Please click on the live reporting video

 Today was the first day of the 4th National Tribal Festival at Vyara - South Gujarat. Tribals from other states of India flocked to participate and share their life and experiences with each other. Please click on the video for tribal dances, welcoming, inauguration and interviews of various participants.

 Would request you to send this news to as many as you can, We have a poor internet at Vyara and therefore not able to send it to all

Please click on the below given link for more photos

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Youth Rocks at Youth Seminar 2014 in Kapadvanj organized by Umreth Deanery

Day 2
Family and Youth

The Day began with the Meditation on “listening to Nature’s voice” by Fr. Mayank Parmar sdb at 7.00 a.m. This was followed by Break Fast.

The First Session of the day started at 8.30 am. The Topic of the session was “Generation Gap” dealt by 

Mr. Rajesh Christian. By making use of video clips and interaction, he brought to the notice of the youth the reasons behind the generation gap.  Style of thinking, lack of communication and whatever we do is the right thing were some of the important among many reasons for generation gap. He suggested developing Love relationship is the only way of minimizing the generation gap. He also informed the youth in detail how to develop love relationship with senior person. The session was very much appreciated by the youth.

Then, Mr. Shailesh Christy addressed the youth on the topic “Youth with Parents”. He made youth reflect and think on points as being Truthful to parents, difficulties in facing parents, Communication, understanding, Love and surrendering oneself to their parents. He brought out very clearly the aspect of surrendering to the parents and being truthful to the parents in a very special way so that the rest will fall in place.

Fr. Isaac sdb the Dean of the Umreth Deanery was the main celebrant of the day. In his Homily, he cited examples of youth struggling in their life and the problems they face. He told the youth that the family prays together stays together. He appealed youth to keep God as the center of their life.
After a good meal, Youth were back for post lunch session. Fr. Joseph Appao the Director of The Kaira Social Service Centre kept youth alive with his interactive session on the topic “Family and Society”. He spoke on the challenges faced by families as the social norms are changing. He advised youth on keeping the value system clear in all changes which are taking place.

At 3.30 pm, the panel discussion was held. Frs. Joseph Appao, Isaac Arackaparambil sdb, Mr and Mrs. Christy, and Ms. Nirmala Macwan formed the panel. Fr. Mayank moderated the discussion. Youth asked questions regarding Marriage problems, Social taboos, Church Rules and Regulation for Marriage and Sacraments. They also voiced out their concerned on the persecution taking place in different parts of the world. It was really lively session.

Then the outdoor games were conducted by Bros. Jerome and Rohan. They were also given some time to practice for the camp fire.

The evening session was conducted by Fr. Isaac sdb on “The Church and Family”. Fr. Isaac taught the youth on how family is very important unit for the church. He also mentioned the Church’s position on Family life. It was really nice to see many youth participating actively in asking many questions.

After the Supper, Grand Camp fire was organized. The group was divided into six teams. They performed addvertisements and skits very creatively. Various claps and yells made the camp fire alive.

Day -3

The day began with ‘the Lamp Meditation.’ The campers were asked to sit in circles according to their groups, and were asked to meditate on the lamp which was kept in between them. The theme of the meditation was ‘I am the light of the World’. It was conducted by Bro. Rohan SDB.  The resource person Fr. Rappai SJ and his team, took off with sessions on Ecology and Ecosophy.

The first half of the day, the spokesperson used dialectic method, and he elicited the views of the participants on the subject. He asked them to draw things related to the biosphere on a piece of paper and then as they finished, he asked them to explain their drawings, and pinned them up on a tree which he had drawn on the chart paper.

Later, the session continued with the nature walk in which Mr. Jyothi took them on a tour around the campus. He showed them the various trees which were around the campus. He particularly emphasized on the Arjuna tree which was abundant in our campus. Also as he pointed towards the other trees like bamboo shoots, tamarind, Neem, Jamun etc.and plants like shoe-fower, hibiscus, and aloe-vera, he mentioned their advantages, their contribution to the bio-sphere and in a special way, their medicinal effects on the human body.  As he concluded with the nature walk, he led the students towards another visual round in which he educated the students by way of videos about ecology.

Just before the lunch, the Arch Bishop of the Gandhinagar diocese, Most Rev. Stanislaus Fernanades SJ visited us and addressed everyone. 

After lunch and a short recreation, the participants moved towards the auditorium for the contintuation of the session. With variety of activities the youngsters were kept busy. The final session of the Ecological inputs was under the title, ‘Youth and the Enviroment’.

We then moved for the Eucharistic Celebration in the lawn at 6.00 pm. The Eucharist was animated in a way, so as to be solemn and make us feel to care for the nature. Mr. Jashvant Macwan briefed the youth on the importance of the Divine Mercy rosary. Then the prayer was said.

The day ended with a talent show in which the participants came up to sing their own songs. The accompaniment was provided by a professional group from Nadiad. After the talent show, everyone participated and enjoyed in the garba and the dance session, which was very youthful, lively and enjoyable. We ended the day at 12.15 am. The day was really a memorable one for all.

- Fr. Mayank Parmar

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Umreth Deanery Youth Seminar 2014

Umreth Deanery Youth Seminar Inaugurated on 24--10-2014 at Kapadvanj

 Umreth Deanery Youth Seminar Inaugurated on 24-10-2014 at Kapadvanj

Don Bosco Kapadvanj inaugurated the youth seminar organized for 86 youngsters who came from the various parts of the Deanery of Umreth in Ahemdabad.
The inauguration took place as a part of the Eucharistic celebration in Don Bosco Kapadvanj.

Present for the Eucharistic celebration were the Rector of the institute, Fr Ivan De Souza, the Diocesan Youth Coordinator, Fr. Sandeep Madhukar who officially  inaugurated the youth seminar before Eucharist and the Deanery Youth Coordinator Fr. Mayank  Parmar.

The four day youth camp, kick started with the Eucharistic celebration in Gujarati and the symbolic lighting of the lamp. Different Youth representatives from the various regions were called upon for the lighting of the lamp.

The theme of the Youth Camp, ‘Youth and Family Life’ was highlighted in the homily and in the backdrop. All the talks and activities will be centred towards it. The motivational session was conducted by Mr. Hasmukh Vaghela from Nadiad.

“We are happy to have a Youth Camp that has us in mind” asserted SwapnilPatelia, a youngster from the parish of  Umreth, “we look forward towards fun-filled four days in Kapadvanj.”

“This is our contribution towards the catechesis of youth in the diocese” said Br Jerome Edison, a Salesian, “this forms a part of the vocation promotion in the region.”

The Camp also formed a part of the Bi- centenary project the Gujrat region.Today there will be Katha by Rev. Fr. Ignas Canis at 9:00. It will be available on BBN soon. Stay tuned


- Fr. Mayank Parmar

The Religious story telling (Katha) by Rev. Fr. Ignas Canis was at 9:00 pm. It will be available on BBN soon. Stay tuned

Please click the below given link for more photos 


Khambhodaj Medo -2014

Please click for the Khambhodaj get together

Please click the below given link for more photos
Photos of Khambhodaj Medo - 2014

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Funeral video and A Letter to BBN from Gomi Gamit( MSCJ) from Cambodia about Fr. Corral

Please click the below given video for funeral service

A Letter to BBN from Gomi Gamit( MSCJ) from Cambodia

Fr. Corral was a loving and understanding person; he had great interest and respect to the Adivasi. Being with the adivasi he had helped us to discover the values of the cultures and the ceremonies. He was really gift to the gamits of Vyara and Songodh area. We gamits have been are blessed by him. We loved and respected him very much.

As personally speaking, he used to say to me that "The missionary should be happy and loving and involve with the people" I thank the Lord for giving us a great missionary as gift. He was simple and an example of love.

 May God grant eternal rest to him. Even though he is no longer any more in this world I believe he is with us in spirit. I unite with you in prayer.

                                                         Gomi Gamit( MSCJ) from Cambodia

Gomi Gamit 

Please click the link for more photos

 - BBN

Monday, October 13, 2014

Spanish Missionary Fr. Corral Jose Antonio passed away


Fr.Corral Jose Antonio (GUJ) 74/55, passed away at 0.30 a.m on 13 Oct 2014 at Jeevan Darshan Baroda. His funeral will be held at 4.00 p.m on 13 Oct 2014, in St.Joseph's Church, Baroda.

Fr. Corral at Golden Jubilee celebration Of Vyara Mission at Zankhari. Please click to watch him

Fr.Corral Jose Antonio

Date of Birth: 16-04-1939;  Place:Tudela, Spain
Entered the Society: 07-09-1955; Place: Loyola Spain
Priesthood: 25-12-1969; Tudela, Spain
Final Vows: 15-08-1975; Umerpada, Spain
Death: 13 Oct 2014

Responsibilities Held in the society of Jesus:

Asst PP:                                                         Vyara from 1972-1975
Asst PP:                                                         Umarpada from 1975-1976
Parish Priest & Director of Social Work: Umarpada from 1977-1984
Parish Priest & Director of Social Work: Vyara from 1985-1989
Parish Priest & Director of Social Work: Mandal from 1990 to 1996
Asst PP:                                                         Pimpri from 1977-1999
Asst PP:                                                         Mandal from 1999-2006
Asst PP:                                                         Vyara from 2006 –

He was a man of  deep passion for studies and research. Above all he possessed a great spirit of adaptability to mix and live with Adivasis, in order to learn their languages and culture. He took deep interest in the culture of the Adivasis, their myths and stories. In spite of an intellectual bent of mind he could come down to the level of the ordinary Adivasis. He used to warmly relate with everyone with respect. He was a man of great energy and perseverance in seeing through projects that  he had undertaken in spite of great difficulties. He ventured to start a milk cooperative society, the first among the tribals which was then taken up by the government. Besides that he started Jagruti High School with boarding for boys and girls at Mandal.
Contribution to Tribal studies:

Fr.J.A Corral had been working among the Adivasis of South Gujarat for the last forty  seven years. For long periods of time his work was centred among the Gamits of  Vyara and Songadh talukas. He  had very many opportunities to be present, and to participate in the normal events of adivasi life, work in the fields, work in the forest, religious ceremonies, both communitarian and private, as well as in the activities of leisure, like hunting, fishing, foraging and the like. He had also the opportunity to witness, at grassroots level, the various village social institutions at work. He had also been a witness to the evolution of these Adivasi social institutions during the same period of time.

 He had written several books on tribal studies in Gujarat. The book on “the Gamit World of Meaning – Adivasi Religion and Culture”  ( Tribal sources I and II) were a tribute to the Gamit people.

 Health Hazards

On 30 July 2014, Fr.Corral was brought  to Jeevan Darshan and then he was taken to Pilar Hospital . The Doctors had diagnosed him to be suffering from cancer of the prostate.  He complained of his inability to pass urine and he was shifted to Vadodara to Our Lady of Pilar Hospital, run by Srs of Charity of St. Ann’s. The doctors found a very hard lump in his prostate, making it impossible even to place a catheter in the urinary track and were forced to make a hole to let him pass urine. He also had difficulty in passing stools. But the doctors had managed to help him to pass stools. That had certainly been a great relief for him.
Upon further investigations, they had found that the cancer had spread through the bones all over his body. The doctors at Baroda  tried their level best to contain the cancer.

 Indomitable Spirit
Even in his sickness, he showed great desires to meet and to be with the people . He made a short  trip to Mandal and then to Vyara in the company of his niece who came to be with him from Spain. People thronged to his residence to have a darshan of the pastor who loved them deeply. He reluctantly left Vyara to attend to his medical treatment at Pilar, Baroda in the first week of September.

The end
Br.Malcolm and his team at Jeevan Darshan tried their level best to contain the cancer that had spread all over his body. His niece from Spain was with him till his last day. Knowing fully well that he had only a few months to live his life on earth with his beloved Jesuits and the people, he had fully prepared himself to meet his creator and the Lord. When the final call came at .030 a.m on Oct 13, 2014 ;  he could say in the words of St.Paul “ So I run straight toward the goal in order to win the prize, which is God’s call through Jesus to the life above” (Phil 3:14).

 By Fr.Lawrence Dharmaraj s.j

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Dominican family Convention held in Baroda

Introduction for Mass

The vibration of the melodious song to Our Master Jesus invites all of us and now it is our turn to pay homage to Him. We are called to celebrate, to feast and to experience the constant unconditional love of our living and loving Master Jesus. His call to this Eucharistic table is an encounter for a communion with Him. We wish you all a warm welcome to this family bonding, in the name of St. Dominic.

We are gathered here to reflect on consecrated life from the perspective of Dominican spirituality. Today, the church gives us an opportunity to thank and acknowledge the presence of Guardian Angels in our life. In India we celebrate the Birthday of Mahatma Gandhi which is also observed as an international day of Non – violence.

The above aspects are interlinked and we see them in the person of St. Dominic. He was a man who never compromised with situations instead stood firm against all odds, proclaiming TRUTH. He was in constant search of truth about God and God’s presence. Wherever he went he showed himself in word and deed to be a man of the Gospel. St. Dominic was a man of remarkable character and broadness of vision. He had the deepest compassion for every sort of human suffering, and he saw the need to use all the resources of human learning at the service of Christ. We celebrate the Birthday of Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi gave our nation and the world the principles of truth, non-violence and honesty which are still remembered. St. Dominic and Gandhi both speak about Truth. Both the personalities gave us no written rules but their lives become the message of commitment to God in fidelity. To follow their steps, to pray for us and to guide us God has blessed all of us with Guardian angel.

The world around us is torn apart with the hatred and revenge which creates loss of happy life on a great scale. On this International day of Non-violence we religious are called to take a prophetic stand and make a difference by our way of doing, acting and living. This is possible, if we have the childlike trust in God and His Providence as per today’s gospel. During this convention let us pray for ourselves and the whole Dominican order that we may discern and proclaim the legacy we have received TO PRAISE, TO BLESS AND TO PREACH. With these sentiments let us partake in this meal of love.

- Sr. Manjula Tuscano
More photos

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Dharmsetu-Sep-2014 - ધર્મસેતુ સપ્ટેમ્બર 2014

Please click on the below given cover page to read 
Dharmsetu -Sep-2014

ધર્મસેતુ સપ્ટેમ્બર 2014 વાંચવા માટે 
નીચે આપેલ મુખ પૃષ્ઠ ઉપર ક્લિક કરશો
 Dharmsetu -September-2014

ઉપર પ્રસિદ્ધ મુખપૃષ્ઠ મૂળ માસિક પત્રનું નથી. 
આ માત્ર BBN ના ઉપયોગ માટે BBN દ્વારા બનાવવામાં આવ્યું છે 

Doot October - 2014 - દૂત ઓક્ટોબર 2014

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દૂત ઓક્ટોબર 2014 વાંચવા માટે નીચે આપેલ મુખ પૃષ્ઠ ઉપર ક્લિક કરશો 
Please click on the below given cover for Doot October 2014

 Doot October 2014
દૂત સૌજન્ય : રેવ ફા જેરી  સિકવેરા ,
ગુજરાત સાહિત્ય પ્રકાશ , આણંદ

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Golden Jubilee Celebration of North Gujarat Mission

Please click on the video for the Golden Jubilee celebration of North Gujarat Mission at Unteshwari Near Kadi.

Please click the below given link for the photos
Golden Jubilee Celebration Photos

 તા. 2જી ઓક્ટોબર 2014 ના રોજ ઊંટેશ્વરી ખાતે ઉત્તર ગુજરાત ધર્મ સભાની ઉજવણી રંગે ચંગે ઉજવવામાં આવી હતી. શ્રધ્ધાળુઓ ગરબાની રમઝટ સાથે પોતાનો આનંદ વ્યકત કરતા જોવા મળ્યા હતા

 ઉત્તર ગુજરાતની ધર્મસભાના સુકાની  રેવ. ફા. ગારીઝ એસ. જે. આ પ્રસંગે હાજર રહ્યા હતા જેમના ચહેરા ઉપર વાવેલા ધર્મસભાના બીજ જે પચાસ વરસના દાયકા પછી વટવૃક્ષ બન્યા તેનો  અનહદ આનંદ પ્રતીત થતો હતો.      

 આ શુભ પ્રસંગે માનનીય આર્ચ બીશપ સ્ટેની-ગાંધીનગર તથા રેવ.ફા. ફ્રાન્સિસ પરમાર (ગુજરાત ઇસુ સંઘના પ્રાંતપતિ)નું ઉત્તર ગુજરાતની સંસ્કૃતિ પ્રમાણે સામૈયું કરવામાં આવ્યું હતું. આ મંગલ ટાણે પ્રથમ સ્નાન સંસ્કાર લીધેલ કુટુંબીજનોના વડીલોનું આર્ચ બીશપ સ્ટેની દ્વારા સન્માન કરી વધાવી લેવામાં આવ્યા હતા.    

 અહી ભક્તોએ મહાખ્રિસ્તયજ્ઞ બાદ રાસ-ગરબા અને સમૂહ ભોજન સૌ સાથે માણી આનંદની લાગણી સાથે પ્રાથનામય વાતાવરણમાં છુટા પડ્યા હતા.

Please click the below given link to read the History Of the North Gujarat Mission

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

50 Golden Years of North Gujarat Mission

50 Golden Years of North Gujarat Mission
From Exclusive approach to Inclusive accompaniment

 On October 2nd 2014 the North Gujarat Mission (NGM) is going to celebrate her 50 Golden Years of her life and service at Unteshwari Mata Mandir, the Shrine dedicated to Mother Mary, as Our Lady of the Camels! While the church of this region has completed her service for the past 50 years, we as the members of this Church have the reason to CELEBRATE and REJOICE, for God has done wonders from 19th June, 1964 in the region of North Gujarat through Fathers, Sisters, People of God, Catechumens and the persons of good will. This was the date when Fr. Manuel Diaz Garriz, SJ placed his holy feet at Mokhasan village, near Kalol town, as a God sent apostle of North Gujarat.
Rev. Fr Garriz
From this date to till this date Father Garriz, as Garriz Bapu walks with the same enthusiasm and vigour and communicates God’s love in and through his words and deeds, exclusively for the received mandate groups of the Caste Hindu-Christians of this region. Thanks be to God that he is very much alive in our midst! Thus, we have the reason to celebrate and rejoice with him!

At this juncture, I would like to communicate that I am associated with this veteran vegetarian Bapu and his started NG Mission since 1982. So, out of 50 years I am grateful to God for making me known this pioneer missionary and to journey with him in the land of God’s Mission for the past 32 years. Thus, I, along with others, have the reason to celebrate and rejoice in full gusto. Now, let me mention a few factual informations for such meaningful celebration!
  • In May 1982, as a candidate of Gujarat I was assigned to assist Frs. Garriz and Isudas Cueli at Madurai St. Mary’s Jesuit Fathers’ Residence when they came for the ordinations of deacons Stanny Jebamalai, M.I. Raj and late Sebastian Amalraj. While leaving Fr. Garriz asked me to kneel down and blessed me; then he presented a picture of Our Lady of the Perpetual Succour with the Gujarati writing below. I did not know Gujarati at that time. But, I preserved it and later when I learnt to read Gujarati I read it. The printed words were: “He Unteshwari Mata, amara mate vinanti karo” – (Our Lady of the Camels, Pray for us). I still have this picture with me. This picture means a lot to me even today when we celebrate this Golden Jubilee – the Suvarna Jayanti ! 
  • In 1984, after my completion of higher secondary in Tamil Nadu I joined the Jesuit prenovitiate in Ahmedabad. As part of our formation some of us, the English learning group was sent to Kalol for a month long work camp experience. We laboured with other labourers (majoors) to build the existing St. Xavier’s school. Who knew that one day this majoor would become the Manager of the same school and the labourer would become the Leader for the local and District community! For this I am indebted to God and the Society of Jesus. So, I have the reason to rejoice!
  •  From 1986 – 88 along with my novice companions and the inspiring Novice Master Fr. Joaquin Castiella, SJ we toiled in the paddy fields of Santej Farm of Kalol Parish cutting, gathering and sending them to Kalol Mission centre. Indeed it was a live-in-experience with the hard working boarders and the Jesuit missionaries like Fr. Robert Mascarenhas, SJ and the Regent Bro. Raju (Rajendra Vedamuthu), a scholastic who felt at home with his boys and the boys felt at home with the scholastic!
  • After my first vows in 1988, as a Jesuit Junior for a year I was sent to Kalol for my weekend ministries. Again I was delighted to be with the boys in their formation with whom I laboured in the paddy field, in turn I was formed. This time, indeed it was a different kind of field experience in concrete. The weekend ministry never weakened me instead strengthened me to walk, sing, dance, play and learn with the bubbling boys. Being with them enabled me to be young and energetic. For this I thank the NG Mission. So I rejoice
  • As a second year Junior we had our eight days annual retreat at Unteshwari. There, one day for my prayer I went into the agricultural field of neighbours. There while praying a young man approached me and asked about me. I said that I had come from Ahmedabad for prayer and staying at Unteshwari. The moment he had about Unteshwari he was furious and expressed his anger and even told me that he would cut and throw me into the well. I was alone and pleaded not to harm me. Finally he said, “You should never come back to Unteshwari. We’ll see to it that this Mandir gets damaged and all the inhabitants fly away from here!” At once I left the place and straight went into the Mandir and knelt before the statue of Unteshwari Mata and prayed: “Dear Mother, continue to protect all those who come here as pilgrims; the religious Fathers and Sisters and the inhabitants of the created Unteshwari hamlet”. Today, while being here for the past 17 years, I must say that she very well protects all those who come here and live here. More than that due to her benevolent presence the neighbouring Budasan and Irana villagers are very supportive and collaborate joyfully in our humanitarian services. For this experience I thank and rejoice! 
  • As a scholastic whenever possible I had participated in the annual feast of our Unteshwari Matano Melo. It has been always a faith expressive and faith enriching celebrations and definitely the feast continues to attract many more Christian and non-Christian friends to experience the popular inter-faith and inter-cultural dialogue of life and mission at this Marian hillock. 
  •  In 1992 after completing my Bachelor of Philosophy, due to my love for inculturation in our evangelization process, in a symbolic manner I got my baptismal name officially changed from Gaspar to Girish! Now, the weekend scholastic Gaspar enters as a Regent Girish to the same Kalol boarding. The people and the boarders who knew me earlier started calling me Brother Gaspar. But, I explained the reason for changing my name into Girish. All because of my love for Inculturation. They respected my process and started calling me with this new name. Inculturation it meant for me as a regent was to insert myself totally in the ethos of our North Gujarat culture and to understand them from their perspective. So, except Thursday evening, which was the Jesuit community day, all the other times I was having all my meals with the students. Such insertion helped me to identify myself with them by breaking chapatti (bread) with them and this motivated the cook Babulal Raval to commit more time in proper cooking. In this way I spent two years with the boarders and for the boarders. I spent all my holidays visiting their homes to know where they come from and how they live in their village. This enabled me to understand them better and to walk with them in their boarding life. I was moved to see the poverty and the pathetic life conditions of our dear boarders. Such ongoing visits motivated me to love and serve them the way Christ served! For this realization I thank God and the NG Mission!
  • In 1994 I went to Premal Jyoti, Ahmedabad for my theological studies. As part of the contextual theology, for two years I cycled for 25 kms and was moving into the four villages of Kalol Parish, namely Santej, Khatrej, Jethlaj and Nasmed. In my first year Shekhar was my companion in this insertion process. I spent the second year alone in the midst of the same Raval and Thakor catholics and catechumens. Also I visited other communities in the villages and developed an inclusive outlook at this moment. Well, we shared; cared and grew together as villaged based humans. Sincerely, I smelt the smell of MY people in the midst of sheep, dogs, donkeys, bullocks, cows, buffalos and camels. Besides humans being my companions, these animals too were my extended members of God’s family. At night I slept next to the camel. Well, the smell of the camel used to get absorbed in my cloths (kurta) and whenever I reached back to Premal Jyoti, invariably my friends used comment – “Oh, what a bad smell from your Kurta!”. Well, such was my incarnational theology which has shaped my missionary identity and motivated me to journey with MY people. Also this process helped me to write the Funeral Rite for the Christians of this North Gujarat region as an experiment process. Truly I am formed by the Textual Professors and the Contextual Persons of North Gujarat. I have often heard from the villagers of this region – “Remember, we formed you!” For such formation I have the reason to rejoice today in the context of such Golden Jubilee!
  • I was formed through various official formation centres at Ahmedabad, Sughad, Pune and Delhi. After such formation I was sent to Mehsana as a deacon to encounter and engage fully with the Pioneer of the NG Mission. On 18 October 1997 I was ordained with my other five companions at Nadiad St. Mary’s. Plenty of people from North Gujarat Mission were present for this witnessing event of ordination. In their midst I was ordained to be the Pastor (care taker in all sense) for them and to travel with them to reach the eternal home. Man proposes but God disposes. Within six months Fr. Garriz had to leave for the Gujart Mission Secretariat at San Sebastian, Spain. This caused a few changes and I had to move to Unteshwari on 15th April 1998. All for the greater glory of God! 
  • In 1999 due to our systematic insertion into the 119 villages of Kadi taluka, there was an unexpected persecution movement against me and the Misison. 50,000 pamphlets were distributed in the villages and towns of our region. Finally, the persecution turned into blessings by we getting involved in the lives of the poor, disabled, orphans and widows of our mission area. Our exclusive mission approach was gradually shaped with the new paradigm shift of inclusive accompaniment. Truly, this has been a call within my priestly CALL. Such inclusive accompaniment of all humans according to their needs has removed the tension in the vicinities and has enhanced the entire Unteshwari Mission as a barrier free centre.
  • From 2000, as a pilgrim centre, the Unteshwari Tirthadham truly welcomes all types and all categories of people as co-pilgrims to travel with and attends to the needs without any expectations. For this realization and actualization of this new evangelization process I have the reason to celebrate and rejoice with all persons.
  • Now let me state some positive signs and the challenges of our North Gujarat mission. This is purely from my perspective though I have my strengths and limitations. I am open for any clarification and further learning through proper spiritual and apostolic conversations. 
Positive signs:
  • 50 Golden years in the North Gujarat Mission means a lot for all of us. Indeed it was a real breakthrough from our older understanding of Evangelization to newer understanding by reaching out to other communities in their socio-cultural ethos. This created the Kalol Mission by Fr. M.D. Garriz, SJ; Nalkantha Mission by Fr. Alex Thannipara, SJ; Bhal – Dhandhuka Mission by late Fr.J.L. Gorosquieta, SJ. 
  • The Spirit of God had worked through the Vat. II in 1963 and it generated a new move from exclusion to inclusion approach in our Evangelization.
  • Indeed it has been a real achievement that today we have a Christian community in the Caste Groups, who are basically poor, marginalized, backward and voiceless in many ways in the growing Global Gujarat Movement. 
  • Today, the local church does not mean only caste Hindus or Majiranas. We also have attempted gradually among the Dalit community in Vadgam area. Even this is a break through, that is, again a movement from exclusion to inclusion within North Gujarat Mission. If we are open to the Spirit, it is possible to open many more centres! Wherever and whenever we are open to the signs of times, then the true inclusion is possible within and outside the region!
  • Our Social, Educational and Medical centres, Home for the aged – Sandhya Vishram and centres for the disabled (Madhurya Bhuvan – a residential school for MR youths and Unteshwari Sammilitalayam – Inclusive Education for Disabled Children and Community Based Rehabilitation) are works of evangelization. It is again a breakthrough to move from exclusive evangelization to the inclusive NEW evangelization outlook. 
  • Local Church is not and does not mean only the baptized ones with water. While all our mission movements and methodologies continue to inspire many more persons to experience the person and values of Jesus and they in turn ask for the Baptism of water is encouraging. Though right now it is slow due to external legal process, still we, positively, have begun the process to accept the baptism of Spirit and Fire, by accepting the men and women of good will in our mission collaboration. Collaboration with the Christian and non-Christian persons are healthy signs in building up the local church. This is very much happening in our NG Church. Local church means to be local within the local region with the frontier missionary outlook. Signs of these are seen visibly in our approach. 
  • There has been always an attempt through the key of mission experiments among us to make the local church as a visible sign of God’s Kingdom through the mission methodologies of adaptation within the inculturation process. Attempts of inculturation are done more from an external point of view, though a few of us have got the right internal attitude towards inculturation. Such attempts and attitudes are positive signs. 
  • In the area of inculturation, mostly missionaries have attempted in externals. Such attempts are positive, though we are just at the periphery. Attempts are made in structural adaptation, food habits, dress; minimum in rites and rituals; iconography; cultural celebrations and maintenance of a few daily and monthly and annual customs and celebrations. Thus, God is being encountered in such local cultures just by mere external adaptation. These attempts are seen as positive signs. 
  • Bapu and Guruji terms are beautiful local words by which we are addressed with love. We need to imbibe the spirit of them through our inner spiritual emptying of ‘worldly paternalism’ and move into ‘godly paternalism’ as Yahweh. Our call is a call to become a spiritual companion in imitating Jesus the Master and to live as brothers and sisters in our religious and outside communities. Many of us understand the spirit of spiritual leadership as servant leadership. A real witnessing positive sign! 
  • Our life of incarnational involvements in the context of local church, especially the accompaniment to the poor and the needy through the educational, medical, social, livelihood, rehabilitation, empowerment, employment, etc. are holy signs of building the local church. Our church is not just built with iron, sand, bricks, cement and water. It is built with feelings and affections within the local context of the human habitat, what we call the domestic churches. To me, each poor family of our context is a ‘deri’ (domestic chapels) and collection of such chapels can generate a ‘Bhavya Mandir’ – Magnanimous Church. The positive sign of our intention is still dedicated in building such ‘domestic deris’. Great indeed! The poor are attended to, be it locals are migrants. The positive sign of our local church is that the locals are open to mingle with the migrants and migrants with the locals. The outlook of local church is wide enough to adopt and adapt according to the signs of times, without losing the essence of the local context of our North Gujarat Mission. 
  • Katha ministry is a novel way of spreading the Good News. An attempt is being done to make it more alive within our cultural ethos. The promoter Fr. Ignas Canis, SJ knows that it is not a programme but is a passion to make others experience God and to listen to the Word of God. 
  • North Gujarat is full of deity (mata) culture. Whatever may be, Missionaries maintain that our ultimate end is God. To Jesus through Mary is maintained. Mary is seen as an intercessor than ‘goddess’. The concept of ‘kulmata’ (ancestral mother) and ‘satguru’ (Master of Truth) are well understood and accepted by the locals. They very much feel one with these emerged Christian concepts. The ongoing search and research in our missionary accompaniment on New Evangelization are positive signs in strengthening the local church. The positive minded local Christians (Isupanthis) are our strength in building the local church and this seed is sown in the hearts of the Christians and catechumens by our committed and dedicated pioneer and co-missionaries.
Challenging indicators:
  • We have to decode our ‘whims and fancies’; move from ‘our’ individual ideologies to the true spirit of inculturation and inclusive accompaniment as a way to bring people to the person and values of Christ.
  • Give a chance to the one who wants to follow Jesus and be part of the body of Christ. Let him/her express his/her desire to accept Jesus as his/her Guru. We need to avoid positively any kind of enticement in our proclamation! 
  • Our life and mission involvements and application of our life to the corresponding mission situation is highly needed. 
  • Somehow our life style is getting corroded with worldly values. Net result is to lose the pastoral aspect of the Priest (‘bapupanu’) because of our loose character and become Bosses - ‘sahebs’. Getting corroded because of our over importance in ‘making’ CRORES than attending to the CORE issue of providing food and drink for the spiritual hunger and thirst for our people. We need to move from Boss to Das - servant!
  • We need to move from our centres to the margins to make the margins as important central persons. Instead of running any outreach programmes we need to reach out to the persons in need. 
  • A few attitudinal changes need to take place in our life and dealings with such locals of OURS. We need to grow more in WE feeling with them to build a viable and vibrant local church. 
  • At times over importance is given to Mary than Jesus. Mata cult is good, provided such a cult does not take away the importance of Jesus in the lives of building the local church, centred on Christ. 
  • Less preaching through words and more preaching through practicing witness is highly expected and demanded. We need to grow more like our Gujarat’s Gandhi Bapu by imitating the BEATTITUDES and we could join him by saying: “My life is my message!” This needs attention to build a viable and strong spiritual church. 
  • Greater care has to be taken not to make the means end.
  • The disgruntled persons in the mission are not to be seen as threats. Instead they are to be seen with compassion and not to judge them with our idiosyncratic ideas and principles. They need to be listened to. If nothing works, instead of cursing them, we need to continue praying for them. They are ‘fallen’ persons and they will need our ongoing support and encouragement. We should be prepared to welcome them when they return with an open mind. Better with God’s grace we become aware of our holy hypocrisy! 
  • We need to keep in mind to have a healthy infusion of TEXT and CONTEXT in the missionary approach. Ongoing formation of ourselves and others must be seen as a prime importance in the growth of the Mission.
  • In order to build the local church we, the missionaries, must first update our knowledge and make the locals to read and reflect with us in the atmosphere of mutual growth. 
  • In all, we need SILENCE to LISTEN to GOD and HIS peoples to build His Church, not ours. We need to allow God to enter into our lives and by his enhancing labour of love we must continue to CELEBRATE life and REJOICE with Him. 

 Finally, I want to confess that I am not a perfect person. In spite of my limitations and weaknesses God has graciously blessed me with various strengths and continues to guide me to walk with Him so that I may grow in His stature. My journey continues by walking with persons, things and events. I hope I do not get stuck with any worldly ways and persons! In the midst of such struggles and concerns I seek for God’s help to light a candle to remove darkness – tamasoma jyotir gamaya!

 Finally, Let us continue to be the persons of HOPE. With God in Jesus, everything is possible. I believe, Mary our blessed and beloved Mother will be all along in our way and she will guide every step that we’ll take in building her Son centred local church. Let us TRUST in GOD that He will make the IMPOSSIBLE possible. Let us be open to His Ways and welcome all to experience the redemptive love of God in Jesus. Finally, we all need to labour with God to make Jesus known in North Gujarat without fear and without counting the cost. May the local church of North Gujarat be a salt and leaven to all peoples of God in her region. Amen.

Girish Santiago, SJ
Co-missionary of NGM
1st October, 2014
World Senior citizens’ day.

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