Jubilee Renewal Programme
Bengaluru: Province of Bangalore organized a Renewal Programme for the jubilarian members at Provincial Curia from 3rd to 5th of May 2022. During the past two years, due to Covid-19, the province could not organize such coming together and several times such gatherings had to be cancelled. There were 24 members who celebrate their 50 Years of Religious life, 25 Years of Priesthood and 25 Years of Religious Life; however only 20 could be physically present for the programme.
As Claretians, men who are rooted in Christ and adore God in spirit, initiated the renewal with some time spent together in Eucharistic Adoration. Fr. Jacob Parappallil, MSFS guided the jubilarians to reflect on Religious Life and Mission. Fr. Paulson Veliyannoor, CMF inspired the group to reflect as Claretians marching towards growth. The jubilarians had ample time to share life and mission. The coming together itself was a joy of belonging. The programme was concluded with the solemn Eucharistic celebration and fellowship meal where other Claretians also joined to thank God and appreciate the jubilarians.
Lenten Prayers at Village Chapels
Bhattiprolu, Guntur: As part of Spiritual Formation and Nourishment and to prepare the faithful for the solemn celebrations of the Holy Week, Christ the Redeemer Parish Bhattiprolu conducted Lenten Prayers in the different village chapels of the parish on different days – Abbanagudavalli, Chavali, J.J. Colony, Juvvalapalem, Peravalipalem and Surepalle. In general the celebrations of the day included praying Way of the Cross, Praise and Worship, Preaching, Adoration, Confession, and concluding with the celebration of Holy Eucharist. The faithful shared their joy for having such spiritual experience.
Annual Day Celebrations
Peeranwadi, Belagavi: On 22 March 2022 Claret Niketan Minor Seminary at Belagavi held its Annual Day Celebrations for the year 2021-22. It was the official concluding of the academic, literary and cultural activities of the seminary. The function was solemnised with the presence of Dr Antonio Carvalho (Psychiatrist, KLE Medical College Belagavi), Dr Vilma Carvalho (Paediatrician, General Hospital Belagavi) and Fr. Paschal the Spiritual Director.
In his keynote address Dr Antonio Carvalho stressed on strengthening the aspect of faith among the modern seminarians. Fr. Jose Kattath, the rector of the seminary appreciated the students for their hard work and dedication during the academic year. The day’s celebrations were more colourful with various cultural programme staged by our students. Presence of all the formators and priests of the community encouraged the young seminarians on this eventful day.
Sharing the Joy of Belonging
Bhattiprolu, Guntur: On 18th March 2022 St. Claret Youth from Christ the Redeemer Church Bhattiprolu made a visit to the Home for the Destitute run by the Sisters of Charity at Guntur. The youth spent some time interacting with the inmates and sharing some light moments with them. As a gesture of Lenten charity the youth contributed ? 5000 to the centre for a full meal to the inmates. The inmates expressed their joy and happiness for spending time with them and listening to them. This short visit was an eye opener for the youth to know the realities and struggles of the poor people; this helped them to take a decision that they will not allow their parents to face such situations rather they will take care of them till their death. As part of the pilgrimage, the youth group also visited St. Antony's Shrine, Guntur and Infant Jesus Cathedral Church at Pirangipuram.
Carmelaram, Bengaluru: International women’s day was celebrated on 13th March 2022 at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church Carmelaram. The parish had a solemn Eucharistic celebration to mark the day. All the arrangements were taken care by the women of the parish. The activities of the day included a get-together to exchange gifts, sharing of ideas, election of new office bearers felicitation of women who contribute to the growth of the parish and ending with a fellowship meal. This is a special day for all especially for the men folk in the house and society to acknowledge the gift of a mother, sister, wife and a daughter whose presence and contribution beautifies and brightens up every home. They are the morning light in the house when they wake up; the sun as they open the door for the new dawn; and they become the end too as they welcome the moon to shine in the darkness along with evening rosary and night prayer. It is the duty of each one of us to thank our mothers and daughters, wife and sister, for being wonderful persons in the life of each one; at home and in the society. It is our duty to acknowledge their services even in their illness and difficulties, as they never forget to feed the family. They are the presence of guardian angels. According to UN, the theme for 2022 international women’s day is “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”. So acknowledging and celebrating the contribution of women and girls around the world, who are leading to bring changes in the science and society as well for women to lead a life of dignity. We need to take note of that enormous contribution which is remarkable and must be appreciated. Today women are leading the march on climate change – adaptation, mitigation, and response to build a more sustainable future for all. Women are trying to help one another to restore the dignity of womanhood. Voluntarily many women have sacrificed their happiness and wealth in serving the lesser privileged women. Women chose to be in the frontline ministry and that is why many of them fought with COVID-19 to protect themselves as well as to protect the others. It is the women who show the solidarity when things go wrong in the family, neighbourhood and society. While there are women who go on to perform well in their chosen fields outside their homes, there are many who sit at home and still own the world. The last, but definitely not the least, every Indian mother is an achiever, who needs back up and support from her household and community.
Break The Bias - International Women’s Day 2022
Gauribidanur, Tumkur: On 8th March 2022 The Project Vision Rural Eye Care Campus, Gauribidanur, Karnataka celebrated the International Women’s Day. The day was observed by honoring and acknowledging the services of women in the different fields. On this occasion The Project Vision felicitated Ms. Sumaya BA.LLB (Field of Law), Mrs. Chandrakala (Panchayath Member), Mrs. Gangadevi (Field of Health), Mrs. Kalavathi (ASHA worker) and Mrs. Narasamma (Village Rehabilitation Worker). Around 50 women participated in the program.
The purpose of the programme was to promote a gender equal world, a world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination, a world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive, a world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we forge women’s equality. Collectively we all #BreakTheBias.
International Women’s Day is a Global event celebrated annually on March 8 to commemorate the cultural, political and socio-economic achievements of women. It is also a focal point in the women’s rights movement, bringing attention to issues such as gender equality, reproductive rights, and violence and abuse against women.
Animation of Superiors
Bengaluru: Province of Bangalore organised Superiors’ Meeting from 22 to 26 February 2022 at Claret Nivas Bengaluru with the main purpose of animating the local superiors in the province. The meeting consisted of different input sessions, presentations, sharing and discussions for the growth of the life and missionary activities. Fr. Joseph Lobo, SJ guided the members on understanding the Synodality in the contexts of religious communities and parish ministry. Fr. Thomas Kalariparambil, MSFS animated the superiors through the topic - Challenges of Religious Leadership Today. Fr. Paulson Veliyannoor, CMF inspired the members on how best the exhortations of XXVI General Chapter, “Querida Congregacion” can be integrated in the life and mission of the province. Provincial Superior, Fr. Sabu George Koottarappallil, urged all the superiors to understand the role of leadership in local communities by presenting the draft of the handbook for superiors. Each superior as well as the council members shared about the journey so far in the province after one year of X Provincial Chapter which invited the members to Journey Together to Transformation. It was a fruitful and inspiring time together for the leaders of the province in praying, discussing, evaluating and planning. On the occasion a book was released from the Consecrated Life Series – “Called You by Name” written by Fr. Arul Jesu Robin, CMF.
EMPOWERING RURAL WOMEN
Gauribidanur, Tumkur: The Project Vision took yet another step forward in empowering the local women at its Rural Campus near Gauribidanur. On 17th February 2022, inaugurated the Tailoring Unit as part of its Vocational Training Programme for rural women, mainly for family members of children with disabilities. This project is supported by the HID India (Powering Trusted Identities). Mr. Anand and Mr. Prabhu Raj from HID India represented and inaugurated the project in the presence of Mr. Ramkrishnappa, the Gram Panchayath President. The project aims at training 100 women in two batches during the next 4 to 5 months. At the end of the training period, each trainee will be given a tailoring machine to make them self-employed; thus making them self-reliant.
Sumanahalli Society was conferred the best Non Government Organistaion award for work among the leprosy affected in the Sate of Karnataka by the Government, in Bangalore, India. Sumanahalli is managed by the Claretians of Bangalore Province since 1987, probably the only intervention of the Claretians with the leprosy affected persons anywhere. The award was handed over by Dr Parimala S Maroor, Director, State Institute of Health and Family Welfare, at the Anti Leprosy Day program on the 31st of January jointly organised by the Government of Karnataka and Sumanahalli Society. Mr Mastan Saheb, senior most staff of the Sumanahalli society, working for leprosy since 40 years, received the award on behalf of the Society. Sumanahalli was started by the Archbishop of Bangalore in 1976, responding to the request from the Chief Minister of Karnataka who was convinced that only a Christian Center would provide the compassionate service needed for the leprosy affected persons. Archbishop brought in various religious Congregations to work together and later entrusted the Claretians to lead the activities from 1987. Presently St Joseph’s of Tarbers (SJT), Franciscan Sister’s of Immaculate and Montfort Sisters render their service in the society, coordinated by the Claretians. There are also large number of lay staff, belonging to different religions, thus making Sumanahalli a beautiful example of “working with others”. Conferring the Best NGO Award for Sumanahalli, on behalf the Health Department of the Government of Karnataka, Dr Parimala said that “Sumanahalli Society has done commendable work for the cause of the leprosy affected in its 45 years of service.” The program was organised in the Sumanahalli Campus on the Magadi road, where more than 100 persons from leprosy background are provided with treatment and rehabilitation facilities.
Welcoming the gathering, Fr George Kannanthanam, Director of the Sumanahalli society said, “Sumanahalli society has provided dignified life to over 11,000 leprosy affected persons through an integrated rehabilitation program consisting of education, vocational training, job placement, housing and family settlement.” This is in line with the theme of Anti Leprosy Day by WHO for 2022, “United for Dignity”. Four Claretian Fathers are involved with the Sumanahalli project. Provincial Fr Sabu is the Vice Chairman of the Society, with the Archbishop being the Chairman. Sumanahalli has been providing support to leprosy patients living in all 11 colonies in the city of Bangalore. It has built about 600 houses for the leprosy cured persons. Sumanahalli runs a school in the campus for children from leprosy, HIV and disabilities background. Various vocational training programs are provided for them to get employed. A garments manufacturing unit provides them employment. Sumanahlli has become a hub of various social activities with projects for orphans, street boys and juvenile delinquents apart from those affected by leprosy, HIV/AIDS and disabilities. The motto of the society is Love, Light and Life.
Bengaluru: Fr. James Kannanthanam, CMF publishes book on Initial Formation. The book titled “Christ Formation” was officially released in Bengaluru on 17th December 2021 by Rev. Fr. Richard Britto, the Rector of St. Peter’s Seminary Bengaluru. The book is seventh in the series of books on Consecrated Life brought out by Institute of Consecrated Life (Sanyasa).
Formation is an effort to form every candidate into another Christ. The book “Christ Formation” is written as a Hand Book for the purpose of the beginners in vocational journey to Priesthood/ Consecrated Life for forming in the values – Human values, Christian values, Values of Consecrated Life and Priesthood. The book outlines the basic values required from the candidates, those that they have to aim at during the stage of early formation. For every value the author provides a short description, practical suggestions to grow in, inspirational quotes and Bible words and an anecdote to make the value explicit existentially. It is also to help those adolescents and young men and women, who show signs of priestly or religious vocation to discern the call they receive and respond to it appropriately. The book also contains the basic prayers the candidates need to learn, some practical guidelines for meditation and prayer, etiquettes and good manners that they need to develop.
This modified version of “The Forge” published by the Claretian Province of Bangalore for the minor seminarians will benefit all in formation universally.
Annual Feast and First Holy Communion
Oleru, Guntur: St. Francis Xavier’s Parish Oleru celebrated its Annual Feast on 3rd December 2021. Rev. Fr. Pasala Thomas, the Director of the Social Service Center, Vijayawada Diocese presided the solemn Eucharist. On the occasion nine children of the parish received the Sacrament of First Holy Communion. Along with the large number of faithful, a good number of Claretian conferrers, neighbouring priests and religious joined the solemn celebration.
Keeping up with the tradition of the place, the faithful joined by a large number of devotees had a solemn procession with the image of the Patron, St. Francis Xavier, which lasted for hours. It was a beautiful day celebration of spiritual renewal and of family and community building for all the members of the parish.
International Day of Persons with Disabilities
Gauribidanur, Bengaluru: On 3rd December 2021, to mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the Project Vision Rural campus celebrated it with Special Children and their families. The day was colorful with cultural activities performed by the Children with disabilities. It was an opportunity for the children to exhibit their God-given talents and tell the world that, they are just ‘differently ABLE’. The event was graced by Dr. Venkatasubramanian, the director of Rangalakshmi Nethralaya Yelahanka, Rtn Jayaraman, Arasapur Panchayath President Rama Krishnappa and VRWs. The children were given prizes and Food kits.
The Project Vision in collaboration with CHAI-LF (Catholic Health Association of India, Liliane Fonds) and FNF (Fidelity National Financial) is supporting 250 children with disabilities, providing the intervention in Health, Education, Social and livelihood to these children and their families. Let us bring smiles they are the Treasures of the Society’.
The observance of the International Day of Persons was proclaimed in 1992, by the United Nations General Assembly resolution. The observance of the day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also seeks to increase awareness for an ‘Inclusive Society’ in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.
The theme of this year is, ‘Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post- COVID-19 world’. Every year the International Day of persons with disabilities (IDPD) is marked on December 3. As per World Health Organization (WHO), More than one billion people experience disability and this figure is predicted to rise, due in part to population aging and an increase in the prevalence of non-communicable diseases.
Chodavaram, Vishakhapatnam: Year 2021 has been a historic year for the members of Christ the King Parish, Chodavaram as it completed the silver jubilee of the establishment of the parish. The celebration was solemnized on 25 November 2021. Most Rev. Mallavarapu Prakash, the Archbishop of Visakhapatnam, Most Rev. Bhagyaiah Chinnabathini, Bishop of Guntur, and Rev. Fr. Sabu Koottarappallil CMF, the Provincial Superior of the Claretian Province of Bangalore were the dignitaries of the day.
The solemn holy Eucharistic celebration, procession, cultural programmes, felicitation of the dignitaries and fraternal meal for the whole parish community marked the events of the day. In his homily, his eminence most Rev. Chinnabathini Bhagyaiah, applauded the Claretians for their missionary zeal and commitment that they have shown in the mission and the parish. Indeed, it was an expression of faith and witness by the parish community. The unity, sacrifice and hard work of the parishioners was appreciated by all.
Earlier Chodavaram was a mission and a substation under the Madugula parish. It was entrusted to Claretians in the year 1993, and erected as a parish in the year 1995 and was given to the Claretians on a permanent basis. At present, the parish covers five administrative blocks and a number of villages. Over the last 25 years, the mission has grown pastorally, structurally and socially, due to the various initiatives and efforts of Claretian Missionaries.
This jubilee year is occasion to remembers and thank all the pioneer missionaries as well the present for their missionary commitment and dedication. Yet, it is the parish community of the faithful who deserve the appreciation for following the path of the Lord in their personal and family lives.
State Level Competitions for Visually Challenged
Sneha Jyothi Centre, Athani: 14th November 2021 marked a very historical day for Sneha Jyothi Centre. On the occasion of the Children’s day in the country, the Centre hosted first ever state level competition for the visually challenged students on 13th and 14th of November. The initiative received a very positive response from various similar centres as well as from the collaborators. 128 Students from 14 centres across Karnataka participated in the event. The purpose of this competition was to provide opportunities for the visually challenged to showcase their talents and abilities and to encourage them to come forward in the society.
Sri Amareshwara Swamiji of Kavalgud Mata was the Chief Guest for the function. Mr Ravasab Aihole presided over the function. There were also many other invitees. The competitions included group as well as individual categories for singing and quiz. The winners were awarded with medals, certificate and cash prizes.
In 1984 to meet the spiritual requirements of Syro Malabar Catholics in and around North Bangalore, mainly Yesvanthpur, Mathikere and Jalahalli areas, St Thomas Catholic Association Jalahalli was formed under the leadership of the Claretian Missionaries.
On 17th February 1985, His Excellency Mar Jacob Thoomkuzhy, the then Bishop of the Diocese of Mananthavady blessed the new chapel and Rev Fr. Mathew Keechira, CMF was appointed as the priest-in-charge. On 1st March 1989, St Thomas Church, Jalahalli was raised to the status of a full-fledged parish under the jurisdiction of Bangalore Archbishop, by His Grace Most Rev Dr Alphonse Mathias, the then Archbishop of Bangalore. The parish has since grown tremendously and is today a community with more than 2700 members under the Diocese of Mandya.
On 7th November 2021, the parish was elevated to the status of a Forane Church based on a request by the Parish Priest and the entire body of the faithful. His Excellency Mar Sebastian Adayantharth, Bishop of Mandya, preside the Holy Eucharist on the occasion. Provincial Superior of Claretian Province of Bangalore, Fr. Sabu Koottarappallil, Msgr. Fr. Mathew Koikara, Msgr. Fr. Thomas Thennattil, Chancellor of Mandya diocese, Fr. Jomon Kolenchery, diocesan Procurator Fr. Saji Pariyappanal, were also present during the celebration.
Fr. Jomon Kollenchery, Chancellor of Mandya Diocese readout the decree for elevating St Thomas Church Jalahalli to the status of Forane Church. On the occasion, Fr. Sunny Mathew CMF, gave a brief history of the parish.
St Thomas Forane Church, Jalahalli will have all the rights and privileges accorded to Forane Churches as per the Eastern Code of Cannon Law and will be a place of communion for all the churches under its umbrella and a key centre to promote Christian charity and above all lead the church to strengthen the bonds of Christian unity.
Bengaluru, INDIA: The celebration of the Feast of Father Claret, our Founder, added more joy to Bangalore Claretians. On 24th October Student Male Gunnanna made his Perpetual Profession in the congregation. The next day, on 25th October four perpetually professed Students received the Order of Diaconate during the solemn Eucharistic celebration presided by Most Rev. Peter Machado the Archbishop of Bangalore. Both the events took place at Claretian Seminary in Bengaluru. Owing to the Covid-19 protocol, the participation was restricted only to the local Claretian Fraternity and a few associates.
The Claret Way Youth Activities
To mark the historical inauguration of the Claret Way Globally on the Feast Day of Claret, the Youth Ministry of Bangalore Province at different places on different dates, actively conducted various activities for the Youth at the local level. The General Prefecture of Youth and Vocation Ministry has introduced Claret Way to be conducted in every organism of our congregation.
On Sunday, 17th October, Barikhajuri Parish along with other centres of our Province, celebrated a full day seminar for the Youth on the occasion of the inauguration of the Claret Way +18 Network Globally. Various activities involved were, introducing the Claret Way to the Youth, Claret our lifestyle and role model, what and why of Claret Way, group dynamics, action songs, and so on. The purpose of celebrating the Claret Way locally is to get the Claretian Youth connected globally.
The youth participated actively in the celebration of the Claret Way locally and pledged with the lighting of candles to have a network of Claretian Youth Globally.
“Love Your Eyes” – World Sight Day Celebrated
Bengaluru: On 14th October 2021, on the occasion of World Sight Day, The Project Vision organized Blind Walks in multiple locations in Karnataka, Kerala, and Chandigarh to express solidarity with 40 million visually challenged people globally. Participants pledged to donate their eyes to give them sight. ‘Love Your Eyes’ was the theme for this year World Sight Day.
Sumanahalli-Support Alumni Get-together
Sumanahalli-Bengaluru: On Sunday, 19th September 2021, Sumanahalli Centre and Support Care Centre organized a get-together for their previous inmates. Most of them are happily settled in their lives at different places; they are married, have proper jobs and houses to stand on their own. It was a happy homecoming for these previous inmates; they consider Sumanahalli and Support Care Centre as their Motherhouse.
The day’s events included medical checkup for all, sharing and interactive games and song to share their joys. The young alumni also extended their support in beautifying the campus. From the part of Mother’s Meal dry ration kits were distributed to them. It was a happy moment for all, the alumni as well as the Centre to see the fruits of love and care extended to the needy and the blossoming of life in so many families.
Barikhajuri: Seminar for Youth
On the occasion of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on 8th September 2021, a seminar was organised for the youth at Barikhajuri Parish. Keeping in mind the ongoing restrictions due the pandemic, the seminar was held only for the youth presently living continuously at homes or in the parish hostels after classes for 9th and 10th re-opened.
The seminar was organised by the parish core committee headed by Fr. Sunil CP and the team of youth under Azim Gidh. The day’s activities included input sessions by different persons on various relevant topics for the youth. Sr. Jais Maria, SD gave the inaugural address. Fr. Sunil spoke on the four dogmas concerning Mother Mary. Fr. Yashveer Minj spoke on Youth under the care of Parents. Fr. Jaipaul Thumma spoke on the Role of Mary in the life of Jesus. Fr. Regi Pymattathil spoke on St. Anthony Mary Claret and his devotion to Mother Mary. Catholic Sabha President, Mr Ajay Minj spoke on the relevance of the day and the purpose of the programme. Smt. Tharshilla Baxla, the Mukya of Madgadi Panchayat also was present during the event.
New General Government of Claretian Missionaries
Nemi, Italy. September 1, 2021. A new month dawns and with it our prayer becomes a melody to begin a day dedicated to the election of the consultors and prefects who will accompany our Superior General during this six-year term.
Our confreres of the Province of Deutschland prepared and led the morning prayer on the care of our common home, reminding us that, for our Orthodox brothers, in fact, the ecclesiastical year begins on September 1 with the commemoration of the creation of the world. Thus, we Catholics, too, have been invited to dedicate time to the care of creation during the month of celebration that begins on September 1, the Day of Prayer for Creation, and ends on October 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. We also celebrate this day the birthday of our brother Emmanuel Linus Olowo, of the Province of West Nigeria.
Already in the chapter hall, the Word of God began illuminating the election day with the proclamation of the Gospel text of the election of the twelve apostles. The presiding table was composed of the Superior General, Fr. Mathew Vattamattam, the vice-president, Fr. Gonzalo Fernandez, and the secretary, Fr. Joseba Kamiruaga. After approving the minutes of the previous day, the chapter assembly proceeded to the election of the governing council for this six-year term, according to the order established by the president.
With the presence of the seventy-six capitulars in the hall, the numbers of our Constitutions and of our Directory that concern the election and acceptance or not of the office on the part of the elected Claretians were read. In addition, a space was given for the Claretians present who had received the most votes in the previous day’s poll to express, according to their will, if they had any reason or impediment for not accepting the office in case they were elected by absolute majority.
With the due measures, the counting of the votes, the consultation and formal acceptance of those elected by the will of the chapter assembly, the consultors and prefects for the sexennium 2021-2027 are the following:
All the capitulars showed their joy and congratulations to the new general government with a loud applause and then thanked our brothers with a similar gesture Fr. Artur Teixeira and Fr. Gonzalo Fernández for their services to the mission and to the life of the Congregation during their respective terms, the former for six years and the latter for eighteen years in the General Government.
After noon, the capitulars discussed the proposals of the precapitular commission on interculturality and mission. Then, during the Eucharistic celebration, presided over by the Superior General and his council, we thanked the Lord for this new government that will continue with the processes already initiated by the previous government. Also before the final blessing, Fr. Mathew Vattamattam announced the confirmation of Father Joseba Kamiruaga as Secretary General and the appointment of Father Henry Omonisaye as Vicar General.
We wish our confreres a service that is rooted and audacious, grounded and fruitful. May the Spirit of the Lord, who is upon them today, enable them to live in communion and accompany them throughout their journey.
During the morning session of this Monday, August 30, 2021, the Chapter re-elected Fr. Mathew Vattamattam CMF, as Superior General of the Congregation of the Claretian Missionaries.
The election day began at 7:00 a.m. with the celebration of the Eucharist. During the Mass the light of the Holy Spirit was invoked to guide this discernment, transcendental for the life of our Congregation.
The formal session in the chapter hall began at 9:00 a.m., with 74 capitulars present in the hall, two of whom were virtually connected in their rooms due to quarantine, and two more, who were unable to travel to Rome due to Covid restrictions in their respective country. The session began with a heartfelt apostolic prayer.
Later, the capitulars gathered in the chapel in front of the Master Jesus to pray and be inspired by the Holy Spirit in the election of the Superior General. At 11:30 a.m. the election began in the chapter hall.
The moderator, Fr. Gonzalo Fernández CMF, who moderated the session, asked the usual question about the acceptance of the election. Fr. Mathew concluded by accepting this great responsibility. His words were greeted by the capitulars with warm applause and then everyone rose to greet and congratulate him.
Mathew Vattamattam CMF was born on October 4, 1959 in Kalathoor, Kerala (India), St. Mary’s Parish, Kalathoor. He did his basic studies at St. Mary School, Kalathoor, secondary studies at St. John’s High School, Kanjirathanam.
He entered the congregation at the Claret Bhavan in Kuravilangad on July 3, 1974. He made his first profession on May 31, 1978 and took his final vows on May 31, 1984. He was ordained a priest on May 10, 1986.
From 1986-1987 he served as assistant vocation promoter and assistant formator of aspirants at the Claret Bhavan Kuravilangad. From 1987 to 1988 he was appointed Vocation Promoter and formator in belgaum minor seminary right. From 1988 to 1989 he was assigned as assistant to the Parish Priest of St. Mary’s, Champakulam, Kerala.
From 1989-1994 he studied for a Licentiate in Systematic Theology and a Licentiate in Psychology at the Gregorian University in Rome. In 1994-96 he was appointed Director of the Claret Nivas Retreat House in Bangalore and assistant to the Master of Novices. From 1996-2003 he served as Novice Master of the Bangalore Province.
At the XXIII General Chapter, held in Rome in 2003, he was elected General Consultor and Prefect of Formation and re-elected to the same office in 2009.
In the XXV General Chapter he was elected 13th Superior General, a position he has now been ratified for six more years.
Like the disciples walking to Emmaus with the Lord beside them (cf. Lk 24:13-35), we have been journeying towards the 26th General Chapter. The storm of the global pandemic took all of us by surprise and there were times of darkness, anxiety, and uncertainty which haunted many of us. From the perspective of faith, it is wonderful to walk forward even in darkness knowing that the hand of the Lord holds us, like a loving father who holds his child closely while crossing a dangerous path.
Our Congregation is a gift of the Spirit to the Church to share her mission through the charism of our Founder. Our reason to exist as Claretians can be found only in our fidelity to the Charism and its ongoing updating and renewal in different epochs. Let us situate ourselves in the present moment of our history to assume responsibility for living our charism today knowing that the past generations ran a good race and bequeathed a great charismatic heritage to us. Now it is our turn to live up to what we are called to be at a time of epochal changes and pass on the light of our charism to the coming generations.
Six years ago, in a similar Congregational event, the Lord was asking us to embark upon a journey of transformation to be able to be relevant in our times. We know how the short meeting with Pope Francis and his words, “adore, walk, and accompany”, have impacted the last General Chapter and its deliberations. During these six years we focused on the three processes of transformation: To be congregation going forth, to be a community of witnesses and messengers, and to be men who adore God in Spirit.
The General government took the call to transformation seriously and made it the base of its service of animation in the Congregation.
I am grateful to the Lord for the team of General Government who are endowed with different gifts, competencies, and personality traits. We could create a bigger holding space for the differences to enrich our ministry because the gospel values and the good of the Congregation guided the process of discernment rather than the particular interests and likings of any members. To a large extent the wisdom saying, “we must be the change that we want to see happen”, was present in our work ethics.
I am thankful for the accompaniment received from my predecessors especially Mons. Josep Abella and His Eminence Aquilino Bocos. I valued their insights when we had to take difficult decisions. Late Fr. Gustavo Alonso was present in our journey through his mails of wishes on important occasions until he passed away last June.
The free flow of charismatic energy within the Congregation that nurtured our presence in the Peripheries depends very much on the quality of relationships celebrated within the Major Organisms and the Organisms with the General Government, keeping Christ at the center of everything and the tender love of the Heart of Mary qualifying our manner of loving.
Each Claretian is a precious gift to our charismatic community. When I see how parents take care of their babies, I imagine how each of us was cared for by our parents with much sacrifice and they let their sons leave home to be part of our missionary community. They did it because of their love for God and the Church. Our missionary vocation, God’s project for us in the Church within his masterplan for humanity, is the only reason for all the efforts and sacrifices involved in our life and mission. Our vocation is the source of our joy and meaning of life, communion in community, and life-giving dedication in ministry.
Each of us lives our call experience, fraternal life, and ministry at different levels of maturity and integrity. How proud I am of my brothers when people speak of how grateful they are for their ministry! Our brothers who endure hard realities to be true to their vocation are treasures of our Congregation. On the contrary, it is heart-rending to know of situations when the limitations and sins of our brothers hurt people or cause suffering and division in community. However, our limitations, failures, and sins can become blessings due to the paschal mystery when we are willing to learn from our experiences, and allow the Lord to act in us.
We can be a truly prophetic community in the Church when the values of mutual trust, fraternal dialogue, mutual accompaniment and spiritual discernment become part of our everyday life at all levels. In the Church we have the three principles to guide our common life: synodality, collegiality and hierarchy. Synodality boosts collective ownership of our life and mission and prevents burn out of persons in responsibility; collegiality assures teamwork and prevent abuses and excesses of individuals; hierarchy helps maintain unity and direction, and prevent dispersion and anarchy. The principles of subsidiarity, subordination and collaboration in our life and mission guard the legitimate boundaries of the freedom of action and promote creativity in shared mission. The right balance of these principles is possible only if we are anchored in the Gospel love.
We are said to be at another great turning point in history marked by epochal changes. Ecclesial life and particularly consecrated life is experiencing the heat of this change in many ways. We know how change is disconcerting for many people. One can choose to be blind to the changes around and remain with nostalgic memories of a glorious past or fall into cynical attitudes which breed depression, or welcome the path of necessary renewal and transformation that the Spirit of the Risen Lord evokes in the Church.
Our Congregation is born during an epoch of political crisis and has lived through hard times of persecution and hostility to the Church and her institutions. Our martyrs endured their ordeal by being anchored in God’s love and faithful to the Church just as our Founder remained rooted in the Lord and proclaimed the Gospel with audacity. Rootedness and audacity are essential components of our charism and we need both of them all the more today.
In many ways, this General Chapter is different from what we have been used to in the past in the way we have designed it in the Major Superior’s meeting in Talagante in January 2020. It takes time and effort to change our mode of thinking and acting. There can be some initial hurdles to get used to electronic and online media avoiding the use of papers. When we share our struggles and walk together to make the path, the very journey will make the pilgrimage a beautiful experience of walking in the Lord.
Dear brothers, you have participated actively in the preparation for this Chapter through the generative conversations that we have had at different levels in spite of the limitations imposed by the pandemic. Honest conversations water the seeds of hope within us and empower us to face hard times by embracing a process of transformation. There are certain symptoms of discomfort in our congregational body that we should not ignore. Statistics show a decline in the number of Claretians after about 20 years of stability. Even after strenuous reorganization, many of our Organisms are not able to continue for long with their important ministries. We still have a number of Claretians who ask for dispensations and secularizations after many years of Claretian life. Long years of economic dependency of Major Organisms for ordinary expenses also raise questions about responsibility and empowerment. We have concerns about how we celebrate unity in diversity of age, of personalities, and of cultures. We wonder what is happening in the young men in the course of a decade of exclusive dedication to their initial formation in view of their future life and ministry and how every Claretian takes care of the unfolding of his own unique mystery as he grows in age. Above all, the crucial question is how our personal lives, community, and platforms of evangelization make Christ known and radiate the joy of the Gospel.
A General Chapter is an event of congregational Pentecost. It is a special moment of the Holy Spirit and us (Acts 15:28) in a beautiful time of co-creation. It is not a closed event, but a transformative phase in the life of a Congregation. It is helpful to distinguish two layers of changes that we should be open to during the chapter process. One is through strategic planning to address many issues identified as important. For example, we may consider giving more attention and energy to vocation promotion, greater coordination of the apostolate of education, or better schemes for old age, etc. Strategic planning is necessary to address issues, but they do not suffice in times of epochal changes.
A deeper dimension of change is the dynamics of transformation. It is something more than planning for adaptive strategies. How do we become courageous, new, and actualized expression of the joy of the Gospel in our times?
I am convinced that we need to open ourselves to a serious inner work of transformation as individuals and as communities which cannot be replaced by cosmetic changes in external behavior. What does this transformation entail? People can perceive it from the effects it has on persons and their communities. It is catching the fire that burns within without burning us out and spreads that fire wherever we go. It is this transformation that people perceived in the small group of the disciples who went about preaching the Gospel after Pentecost. It is this transformation that people saw in Claret and his companions as they went out preaching missions. For us Claretians, the transformation entails being men on fire with God’s love and spreading its flames wherever we go. Nothing would dount us… Let us visualize this definition of the missionary that Claret gave us coming alive in our personal lives, interpersonal relationships and ministry. When that inner fire is ignited, it will light up our way forward.
Numbers are important. Institutions are necessary. When our numbers dwindle and institutions are to be closed, it is a matter of normal concern. However, I would worry more if the fire of love that burns in our members and in our institutions goes out. Claret wanted us to live and love as Jesus did. The transformative process in individual lives and our community living is a progressive, spiral journey which should align with the journey of our fellow-humans in the one pilgrimage of humanity towards the fulness of life and love. Can we envision it together with Pope Francis who has called us to work for a new world of all brothers and sisters in the encyclical Fratelli Tutti?
I invite you to enrich the Chapter through your active and responsible participation through honest conversations. I wish that you return to your communities after the Chapter with a transformative experience as it happened in the life of the disciples who were on the way to Emmaus.
Dear brothers, let us open ourselves to the outpouring of the Spirit into our hearts and into the heart of our Chapter community. The rest is the surprises of the Spirit of the Risen Lord.
I declare the 26th General Chapter open.
Mathew Vattamattam, CMF
August 15, 2021
Claretian Seminary Malleswaram formation house inaugurated its Literary Association for the academic year 2021-22 on 25 July 2021. Rev. Fr. Valentine Anthony Raj, CMF was the Chief Guest of the day.
The event was marked by various cultural and literary programmes like Skit, Comic, Group Song, Speech, Dance etc., by the seminarians. Fr. Valentine addressing the seminarians highlighted the importance of identifying the individual and common talents and developing them for the overall growth during the formation process. Fr. Valentine explained the process with the help of five characteristics of mind proposed by Howard Gardner. The Disciplined Mind; the Synthesising Mind; the Creating Mind; the Respectful Mind; and the Ethical Mind are the characteristics of the mind that each person should develop to be well equipped to deal with what is expected, as well as what cannot be anticipated, in the future.
Literary Association is a platform wherein the seminarians get opportunity to develop their talents and fine-tune their skills for the missionary life ahead.
172 anniversary of the Foundation of Claretian Congregation was celebrated with a difference by Hope Society at SS Joseph and Claret Church Dasarahalli premises. On the occasion, on 16 July 2021, differently abled people were the main guests; 132 people with disabilities, HIV affected, Leprosy affected and Transgenders were given Covid-19 vaccination. The day also marked the First anniversary of Mother’s Meal Programme; dry ration kits were given on the occasion to the beneficiaries. Fr. Sabu Koottarappallil CMF, the Provincial Superior of Province of Bangalore inaugurated the event and handed over the Mother’s Meal kits.
On the previous day, 15 July 2021, at the Project Vision Rural Campus, in collaboration with Manipal Hospital Team Covishield vaccine was made available for the youth (18+) with disabilities and their families.
On 6 July 2021, on the eve of third anniversary of The Project Vision Rural Campus, Hope Society in collaboration with TZU CHI CHARITY FOUNDATION and CARITAS INDIA distribute four Oxygen Concentrators for the neighbouring PHCs (Primary Health Centres) and 100 Medical Kits for the ASHA Workers to assist their efforts to deal with Covid-19. On the same day 200 survival kits were distributed for the vulnerable groups. Rotary Bangalore Kalyan Club distributed eight educational Tabs for the SSLC students on the occasion.
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