Beltangady, Feb 2: It was a historic day for the Catholic community as over 30,000 people gathered at the Catholic Maha Samavesha-2020 held at Sacred Heart Church ground, Madanthyar here on Sunday, February 2.
The event started with a 'unity rally' from Madanthyar town to church ground. Bishops of Mangaluru, Puttur and Beltangady, hundreds of priests, religious sisters and thousands of delegates from the community, participated in the rally. Dr Peter Paul Saldanha, bishop of Mangaluru flagged off the rally.
Ronald Colaco, NRI entrepreneur and philanthropist, hoisted the flag of the Catholic Samavesha–2020 prior to the formal inauguration.
Bishops and dignitaries inaugurated the Samavesha by planting saplings of sandalwood and lighting the lamp.
Dr Lawrence Mukkuzhy, bishop of Belthangady Syro Malabar diocese, Dr Geevarghese Mar Divannasios, bishop of Puttur Syro Malankara diocese, Fr Maxim Noronha, vicar general, Mangaluru Diocese, Ronald Coloco, NRI entrepreneur and philanthropist, Fr Mathew Vas, spiritual director, Catholic Sabha, Fr Ronald D’Souza, director, ICYM, Fr Francis D’Souza, director DCWC, Fr Eldo Puthankadathil, vicar general, Beltangady diocese, Fr Jose, Puttur diocese, Leon Saldanha, president, ICYM central council, Fr Basil Vas, parish priest, Madanthyar, Fr Stany Pinto, assistant parish priest, Madanthyar church, Dr Ronald Fernandes, member KPSC, MP Noronha, secretary, diocesan parish council, Mangaluru, were present on the dais. ICYM Karnataka regional representative Jaison Pereira was also present.
In his inaugural speech, bishop Dr Peter Paul Saldanha said, "We are Indians. In Mangaluru, we have a 450-year history of living peacefully, respectfully, and not doing any harm to others as followers of Jesus Christ. We believe in the goodness in humans and we always give priority for humanity in our private and social life. At the same time, we believe in our Constitution. We live for our country. Fr Jerome D’Souza who also worked with Dr B R Ambedkar, has contributed during the preparation of the Constitution."
Rolphie D’Costa, president, Catholic Sabha Mangaluru Pradesh presided over the inaugural event.
“We Christians always stood for our country and we have served our country in various fields such as education, health and social service. But some incidents, false allegations hurt us. Some people who have a hidden agenda are trying to divide us. However, this will not stop us from continuing our social service. We will live here respectfully. No one can separate us from our motherland and no one can divide us,” he said.
In his speech Dr Geevarghese Mar Divannasios said, "We have gathered here to show our unity and put our demands in front of government and authorities. We are eligible for all kinds of facilities given to us by our Constitution. We are known for social service and harmony. With this Samavesha, we are announcing that we are not the people who will fall easily. Our emotions are always with our country and our faith is always with one God who brings us all together and teaches us to love. We are united with India which has a Constitution that emphasizes unity in diversity."
In his keynote address, Dr Lawrence Mukkuzhy, bishop of Beltangady said, "With the objective to unite, to reflect and to strengthen, we organised this Catholic Samavesha-2020. We are united with Jesus and the Catholic faith. We reflect the teachings of Jesus. He teaches us humanity. Without humanity there is no meaning to religion. Humanity is our faith which is centered around Jesus. Secondly, we are cent percent Indian citizens. We are in the forefront when it comes to our contribution in the fields of education and health. No one can neglect this with silly allegations and reasons. There are ministers in all governments, sportspersons in all sports fields, educationalists, scientists and intellectuals who studied in Christian management institutions. We never tried to convert them or anyone else to Christianity, nor have they left their religion. We respect all religions and accept their faiths. As citizens of India and hardcore lovers of this country, we will continue our social service. No one can stop us from this."
On behalf the Catholic community of Mangaluru, bishops of Puttur and Beltangady diocese and dignitaries bestowed the title ‘Vishwa Bhushan’ to Ronald Coloco, NRI entrepreneur, philanthropist and felicitated him with a shawl, memento and bouquet.
Acknowledging the honour, Colaco said, "I am happy to accept this title that has been conferred on me by the people of the three dioceses. I thank the Catholic Sabha and all the organisers for this recognition and felicitation. I never rendered social service for rewards or any personal benefits. As a human, it is my duty to understand the necessity of fellow human beings. Humanity always triumphs over every community, caste and religion. I am sharing what I have received by the grace of God.
"I salute the organizers for holding this Samavesha. It shows unity and strength of Catholics of the three dioceses. Same unity should continue. We are lucky to be born in India which is one of the most respectable and beautiful countries in the world. India is shining in the world as the largest democracy. India is a country of different cultures, languages and religions. But still, we are all living here united and in peace. The history of ancient India says that everyone here is a migrant. But now by birth we are all Indians. No one can deport us from this country in the name of religion, caste and creed. Some forces and individuals, are trying to give the wrong message in order to divide us. We, the Indian Catholic community, are known for social service and humanity. However, hidden forces are trying to stop us from doing social service. But they will not succeed in stopping us. I request our youths to become active in the nation-building process. Instead of going abroad they should find opportunities within the country. The government sector is one of the finest areas to work in. The community should take an interest in helping the youths become active in bureaucracy," he added.
"We Christians brought a revolution in education and health sectors. We do not and cannot entertain any conversion. In reality, conversion has happened in India because of the discrimination which prevailed in society. Still, Dalits and other socio-economic backward sections get converted to other religions for better social status and lifestyle. Even in some regions, Christians also convert to other religions and we never bother about it. Selecting and living in a religion is an individual’s private matter and we are not the people to restrict them,” he said.
"In India, many Hindu temples and pilgrim places are running by the funds provided by Christians. Many temples are accepting funds from Christians who are living in foreign countries. We always respect the rights of individuals which are granted by our Constitution. We have a history of over hundred years for running schools and hospitals. If we are engaged in conversion, by now 80 percent Indians would have become Christians. But we still are only 2 percent in our country. So don’t put false allegations on us. We are the people of this nation and will remain the same,” he asserted.
“Secondly, our youth should seriously think about their future. They need to work in our country. Our governments and private sectors give us various opportunities. But we are not showing any interest in it. It is a time to think about it. Our presence in our country as well as in our bureaucracy is very important. By this, we can expand our service to more people and we can reach people of every sector. It is true that our youth are becoming victims of drugs and few online games. Our community needs to create awareness among youth," he said.
In his presidential address, Rolphie D Costa said, "Without any coaxing or special invite, more than thirty thousand have gathered here as delegates of our community. It shows unity and strength of our community. We have gathered with an intent and to take few resolutions. We are not the kind of people who live for ourselves. We are people who have lived and are living for society and humankind.
"As responsible citizens of India, we have always been in the forefront in nation-building activities. Being a part of our state, through this Samavesha, we demand an independent 'Samudya Bhavana' with a care centre to rehabilate drug addict youths and bring awareness on drug abuse. Secondly, we demand an independent Christian Development Board and Rs 50 crore initial grant along with government land for this.
"The Christians of coastal Karnataka celebrate September 8 as birthday of Mother Mary which is a family feast. As a custom, all family members should attend this festival and have lunch and dinner together. As this falls on a working day, children, teachers and government employees of our community miss the chance to celebrate this festival with family members. So, we demand a government holiday on September 8 with prior notification. We also demand a ban on online games like PUBG which put our youth and students in depression. Finally, we also demand an equal reservation opportunity for Christian candidates in all parties. Based on population, we are eligible to get tickets to contest elections and political parties should think about it," he said.
After his speech, Rolphie read the resolutions and was backed by the delegates with a huge applause. He handed over the resolution to Ronald Colaco for submission to authorities concerned.
Joel Mendonca, convenor, Catholic Maha Samavesha-2020 delivered the introductory speech and briefed the motto and five objectives of the Samavesha. He also welcomed the dignitaries and gathering.
Harish Poonja, MLA, Beltangady and other major donors of the Samavesha were felicitated by the dignitaries. After the stage programme, Mass was held. Along with delegates, hundreds of priests who arrived from various parishes participated in the Mass.
Leon Saldanha read the oath for 'youth against drug and alcohol consumption'. Bishops felicitated the newly-elected vice-president and secretaries of various parish councils.
Dr Ronald Anil Fernandes, member KPSC gave a talk on 'Government jobs and youth towards the higher education'. Dr Harsha P S, police commissioner, Mangaluru spoke on the subject 'Crime and youths' while Lydia Lobo spoke on 'Drugs, constructive usage of social media and its control'.
Students of Sacred Heart English Medium School performed a welcome dance. Madanthyar church choir led by Prof Leo Noronha sang the prayer song. Walter Monis, secretary, Catholic Sabha rendered the vote of thanks.
Vivek V Pais and Francis V V compered the event.
Catholic Sabha Mangaluru Pradesh, Indian Catholic Youth Movement, Diocesan Christian Councils of Catholic Women (DCCW) were the organizers of this event, while diocese of Mangaluru, Syro Malabar diocese, Beltangady, Syro Malankara diocese, Puttur were the joint organizers.
Pics: Dayanand Kukkaje
Daijiworld Media Network - Beltangady (SB)