Mission Congress – Prahhu Yesu Mahotsavam: Vijayawada
"Be the face of the poor” says Vatican Ambassador.
Archbishop Salvatore Pennachhio, the Apostolic Nuncio to India and Nepal inaugurated the Mission Congress in Vijayawada on 8th May and declared the Congress open.
Speaking on the occasion he called on believers of Jesus to be first of all a witness through their lives, modeled after Jesus. He also invited them to be a seed of hope to continue Christ’s service striving for peace and justice, true freedom and respect for the dignity of every human person. He said, Christians are only pilgrims and hence they should have no boundaries of race, caste and creed but should embrace all people.
They should become models of sacrifice and generosity striving for equal distribution of goods for the benefit of all in every aspect of one’s life. The Church stands for authentic human social relationships of friendship and solidarity even in the economic sphere.
He commended the dedicated services of 6000 nuns and brothers and 2000 priests in various spheres of education, health, social service in 23 districts of Andhra Pradesh but also exhorted that their catholic institutions become witnesses to the ongoing plea of the society. He called upon the youth to follow Mother Teresa of India who is a great witness of love and peace to all people.
The Three day event started with the curtain raiser that was a spectacular performance that kept the delegates spell bound. It payed tribute to the Christian missionaries of the past 300 years who sowed the seed of faith and reached the unreached with dedication in their lives.
A specially decorated candle symbolizing the theme of the Congress’ Let your light shine’ was lit by the Vatican Ambassador in the presence of 13 bishops representing the 23 districts of Andra Pradesh.
Bishop Govindu Joji, Chairman of the Congress welcomed the gathering while Bishop Prakash of Vijayawada greeted the delegates.
Bishop Gali Bali the Chairman of Andhra Pradesh Bishop’s council in his key note address cautioned the 4000 delegates against exaggerated individualism, dependency mentality and consumerist life style and called up on them to cultivate values of sharing and self reliance.
Archbishop Salvatore was the main celebrant at Holy Mass in Devayya Auditorium in the Andhra Loyola College campus. 13 bishops and 500 priests concelebrated. A small sized version of the Bible was released by Archbishop Salvatore.
On the second day Arch Bishop Thumma Bala of Hyderbad in his message during the Mass said that the Church should start becoming self reliant as funding from other countries for charity activities is drastically being cut down. Hence he suggested that all should contribute their ‘tithe’ a tenth of earnings towards charity.
Earlier in the morning, the Congress started with presentations on the theme of Christians being the light of the world through their good deeds.
Dr. Alphonse Thainese discussed with the delegates about the participatory Church where the ordinary Christians should have a rightful place and their voices should be heard in the higher Church circles. He said that in the beginnings the Church was more people oriented. The Institutionalized Church was a later development.
Dr. Gurram Pratap Reddy author of three volumes of Church History (Shree Sabha Charitra) in Andhra Pradesh gave a vivid power point presentation on the history of Catholic Church over the last 300 years that reawakened the spirits of the delegates. Later he released his Third volume of Shree Sabha Charitra.
In a panel discussion a senior PIME priest Fr. Melchior raj, a Nirmala Sister Sr. Nagothu Sundari, MSFS priest Fr. Mariadas presented the contributions of their respective congregations in the spread of good news and services in various parts of Andhra Pradesh. A book “Marching with the Marginalised” written by Dr. Anthoniraj Thumma was released on the occasion.
The drafting committee is on its way preparing a vision statement said the Director of Amruthavani Fr.U. Bala Showry.