Indian diocese responds to Vatican II's call 'to the nations'

Diocese of Miao workshop on 'Ad Gentes'. Credit: Fr. Felix Anthony.
Diocese of Miao workshop on 'Ad Gentes'. Credit: Fr. Felix Anthony.

.- The Diocese of Miao, located in far north-east India, is conducting a series of seminars to study Ad Gentes, Vatican II's decree on the mission activity of the Church, and to apply it to the local situation.

"I hope that we become more committed in our responsibility to make Christ known among the people here and that we bear witness to our faith by words and examples," Bishop George Pallipparambil, S.D.B, commented.

The seminars are leading up to the 50th anniversary of the Dec. 7, 1965 promulgation of Ad Gentes, as a continuation of the Year of Faith – which Benedict XVI proclaimed as a year of reflection upon the semi-centennial of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.

Bishop Pallipparambil said that formulating a 10-point reflection module has enabled diocesan priests and the religious to respond to Ad Gentes' calls.

The seminars focused on an increased enthusiasm for making Christ known; the courage and capacity to bear witness and to create an option for the poor, for dialogue, to make the Church visible in society; to maintain a good rapport with the state; and to manifest collegiality among the bishops.

“The reflective study program featuring Vatican II documents, representing the pastoral diocesan realities of mission, has commenced in five different places in the diocese and has showed positive response,” Fr. Felix Anthony, social communication head of the Miao diocese, told CNA.

He noted that the first of the five group discussions was held at St. George Parish in Deomali on Sept. 20, for priests and nuns in the Tirap district.

"Ad Gentes is something we studied when were students of Theology. We did not understand much the importance and the relevance of its teaching then,” a priest serving in the Longding district said. “But thanks to this initiative from our bishop we now have a clear understanding of the document and its demands.

Important points reflecting the local realities of faith formation, inculturation, poverty, and social empowerment came up during the course of the discussion, and the priest said he hopes “to implement them to make Christ known to more people in our region."

"Discussion on the conciliar document not only makes us aware of its teaching, but becomes a big guide-book in our endeavor to take Christ to people", said Sr. Reena SSHp, who also serves in the Longding district.

The workshops intend to look back at the vision laid down at Vatican II, to address present pastoral realities in Miao, and to revive courageous mission activity for the future.

Fr. Anthony indicated that the diocese is hopeful that the initiative will “bring about the desired result for the spiritual benefit of the people under our care.”

Arunachal Pradesh, home to the Miao diocese, is a remote part of India, and part of it is claimed by China; the diocese borders both China and Burma.

The area is mountainous, home to the easternmost portions of the Himalayas. Its mountainous terrain and remoteness has led to challenges of poverty, a lack of infrastructure, and underemployment.

The Church in the area established the first local Catholic college on Aug. 2, in an effort to counter trends of poverty and underemployment.

The Miao diocese was established in 2005, and Bishop Pallipparambil is its first bishop. The diocese is home to 83,500 Catholics across an area of nearly 17,000 square miles.

Its people are served by 33 parishes and missions, staffed by 27 diocesan priests, and 60 religious. Several groups of religious sisters live and work in the diocese, including the Missionaries of Charity.

The diocese's total population is roughly 500,000, with Christians – most of them Catholic – comprising some 19 percent of the population.

The Miao diocese is a hub of inter-religious dialogue, where the largest religious group is Hindus, with large minorities of Buddhists and traditional religions, as well as small numbers of Muslims, Sikhs, and Jains.

Tags: Vatican II, Ad Gentes, Diocese of Miao