The enthusiasm with which the Bishops welcomed, the patience with which they listened and the exuberance with which they applauded to the presentation was very encouraging.
CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE OF INDIA (CBCI) APPLAUDS CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE CCR
I was invited by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) to make a presentation on the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) in India at their 33rd General Body Meeting held in St. John’s Medical College, Bangalore from 2 to 9 February 2018. It was the first time such an opportunity was given to the CCR by the premier association of the Catholic hierarchy of India that has 241 Bishops including Cardinals and Archbishops as its members from 171 Catholic dioceses in the country. This coincided with the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of the worldwide Renewal and the future National Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2022 (the Renewal having come to India in 1972) for which preparations have already begun. The Renewal in the country is extremely grateful to Rt. Rev. Francis Kalist who, in his capacity as Episcopal Adviser to the CCR, took the initiative of requesting the CBCI President for an opportunity to address the Bishops regarding the contributions of the Renewal to the Church and the country. We thank His Eminence Cardinal Baselios Cleemis Catholicos, President of the CBCI, and Rt. Rev. Theodore Mascarenhas, Secretary General of the CBCI, for granting such an opportunity.
Bishop Francis Kalist did the introduction stating that it is primarily a current of grace among the laity and welcomed me for making the presentation. It was a very humbling experience for me to appear before such an august gathering. Trying to be a modest and balanced charismatic, I greeted them with ‘good evening’, but a number of bishops responded with ‘Praise the Lord’ and ‘Alleluia’, some of them lifting their hands. During the presentation, I dealt with the origin, growth, official approval, contributions, the goals and objectives of the CCR, etc and briefed them about the Golden Jubilee celebrations that were organized at the diocesan, regional, national and international levels. During the Golden Jubilee Year, the National Service Team made special efforts to reach out to un-reached, less grown up and distant regions and organized 52 programs in various parts of the country.
The CBCI was also apprised about the vision of the National Service Team for 2022, Golden Jubilee Year of the Renewal in India. Following the exhortation of His Holiness Pope Francis, promotion of Life in the Spirit Seminar (LSS) and Baptism in the Holy Spirit (BHS) would continue to be the main thrust of the Renewal until 2022. 2018 is the Year of Prayer Groups and Charisms. The National Golden Jubilee Retreat for Bishops, Major Superiors and priests held in Goa from 22 to 27 October, 2017 was attended by 200 participants. Its feedback has been so encouraging that the Bishop of Vijayawada has taken the initiative of organizing a Bishops, Major Superiors and Priests Retreat in Vijayawada from 8 to 12 October 2018 and the Bishop of Varanasi has asked the National Service Team to organize a similar retreat in Navsadhana, Varanasi from 26 November to 1 December 2018.
The CBCI was informed that with a view to training Bishops and Priests in the ministry, the National Service Team would be organizing a Seminar on Healing and Deliverance for Bishops and Priests from 11 to 14 February 2019 in Divine Retreat Centre, Muringoor, Kerala. Invitation for the Seminar is being extended to Bishops and Priests of Asia-Oceania through the Service Teams in those countries. The renowned professor of theology in Gregorian University in Rome who is also an expert on the topic of deliverance, Fr Etienne Veto, and his team would be the resource persons for the Seminar.
It was also brought out that 2018 is the 10th Anniversary of the Youth United for Christ (YU4C), the youth wing of the National Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services (NCCRS). Taking the message of Pope Francis seriously to promote the LSS and BHS, a team has been formed to promote LSS and BHS among the youth in at least 25 dioceses in the country by the end of 2018. They intend to organize four Regional Conventions to mark the occasion and also reach out to the youth across the country. It was clarified that where ICYM or other youth groups do exist, YU4C would be happy to give them spiritual orientation through the Life in the Spirit Seminar.
Lastly I also raised the issue relating to the challenges being faced by the Christian community in India and the need to mobilize and network staunch intercession for Good Governance and next General Elections due in May 2019. The National Intercession Network (NIN) of the NST is gearing up to motivate the faithful throughout the country to join the yearlong intercession drive from May 2018 to May 2019. I appealed for the support of individual Bishops and of the CBCI as a body for the initiative. I also made an appeal to the CBCI to declare 2 October of the year as the National Day of Intercession in line with the practice being followed by NIN for the past several years. Appeal was also made to declare a day prior to General Elections as a National Day of Fasting and Prayer.
To train and motivate members, REVIVE (a Prophetic Intercession Growth Retreat) is being organized by the NIN from Wednesday, 14 (6 pm) to Sunday, 18 (lunch) March, 2018 in Jeevan Jyothi Ashram, Burari, Delhi. It will include prophetic intercession outreaches and Jericho Prayer around strategic locations like Parliament House, Rashtrapati Bhawan, Election Commission of India, Supreme Court, Central Secretariat, etc. It will be held simultaneously in 3 languages, i.e English, Hindi and Malayalam. The Bishops are being requested to nominate people from their dioceses to participate in the event.
The enthusiasm with which the Bishops welcomed, the patience with which they listened and the exuberance with which they applauded to the presentation was very encouraging. At the end His Eminence Cardinal Baselios Cleemis honoured the Renewal in India by presenting me a shawl. I was very moved and felt that it was a moment of great affirmation for the CCR in India by the Church hierarchy. Many of the Prelates later met Bishop Francis Kalist and me and thanked for the good work being done by the Renewal in the country. I thank and praise the Lord for such a blessing and for all the brothers and sisters who prayed for the session!