Vellore Diocese Vellore Diocese -Pastoral Message
Pastoral Message
Dear Fathers, Brothers and sisters in Christ!
As we enter into the month of September we are reminded of the birth of our blessed mother which falls on 8. The birth of Blessed Virgin Mary indicates the joy of every birth on earth because we are taking part in the creation of God where we reflect the image and likeness of Him. Here we recall what St. Augustine said “Mary is the mother of the members of Christ, because with charity she cooperated in the rebirth of the faithful into the Church” while St. Leo Said “the birth of the Head is also the birth of the body, thus indicating that Mary is at once Mother of Christ, the Son of God, and mother of the members of his Mystical Body, which is the Church.”.
The birth of Blessed Virgin reminds us also the feast of Our Lady of Veilankanni, Mother of Good Health. Let our Mother intercede for us and bring us good health of mind and body. I wish you all a very happy feast.
On this day of the birth of Mother Mary the Church invites us to celebrate the Girl Child Day. Why we celebrate this 2 day? because of the need of the time. We know from the book of Genesis that God has created human beings with absolute dignity and honor. Psalm 8 confirms this: “you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor”(8:5) If it is so then why there is discrimination between man and woman, between male and female, between boy and girl? We are facing the atrocities that take place across the country. Women are raped and girl children are molested. We have disfigured the image and likeness of God and buried human dignity and honor in our society. Not only to rectify this disfigured face of human life but also to enhance the Life of Girl Children the Church invites us to commemorate the birth of Mother Mary as the Girl Child Day. She asks us to celebrate this day as the day of human dignity and honor. Here we recall what Pope Francis has said in his homily:
“Only a feminine Church will be able to have “fruitful attitudes,” in accordance with the intention of God, who chose “to be born of a woman in order to teach us the path of woman.” The important thing is that the Church be a woman that has this attitude of a bride and of a mother. When we forget this, it is a masculine Church. Without this dimension, it sadly becomes a church of old bachelors, who live in this isolation, incapable of love, incapable of fecundity. Without the woman, the Church does not advance – because she is a woman. And this attitude of woman comes from Mary, because Jesus willed it so.
I would like to bring to your reflection what CCBI Commission for Women came out with its message: 3 Every child is a precious gift. In celebrating the Girl Child Day the Church is calling us once again to commit ourselves to the dignity of the Girl children. Though there are differences from place to place and culture to culture we all know that girl children are less welcome in Indian society. It is a challenge for all of us as we face the death-promoting forces in our society that wish to eliminate human lives specially that of girl children.
What can we do?
As followers of Christ and citizens of our country, we must spread the message of equality between girls and boys concretely by sensitization and awareness programmes. India’s young population be specifically targeted through tools of mass media, event based advocacy. We have to reach out to them through schools, and similar networks. Holding of competitions and participation in campaigns for promoting the rights and dignity of the girl children, analyzing with the young the personal experiences, events and occurrences reported in the media, and enhancing their ability to stand for their rights with self confidence are some of the ways by which we can make a difference.
The gender policy of the Catholic Church of India 2010 prioritizes the dignity and survival of the girl child as one of the special areas of concern. It clearly shows us the way to address this problem:
The Church’s love for children stems from Christ’s teachings and example. Children hold the hope for the future and must be nurtured. They form one of the largest vulnerable groups in 4 society and hence the Constitution of India has laid special emphasis on their wellbeing and protection.
Among children, the girl child is particularly vulnerable. In recognition of this, international and national communities have special provisions for the development of the girl child and adolescent girls, particularly with regard to their survival, health, nutrition, education, protection and participation in family and society. The Church supports and commits herself to these ideals
1) All forms of discrimination and violation of the rights of the girl child needs to be eliminated, within and outside the family.
2)Strictly enforce laws against prenatal sex selection, female feticide, female infanticide, child marriage, child abuse, child prostitution, child trafficking and child labour.
3)Promote girl child’s right to life, education, nutrition, health and development.
4)Protect the girl child from discriminatory neglect and all forms of abuse including sexual abuse.
5)Project a positive image of the girl child among girls themselves, boys, parents, teachers, and society at large.
6)Church institution should avoid gender stereotyping in extra-curricular activities, and provide training in skills, use of playgrounds, choice of optional subjects, handling of sexual harassment/abuse issues, gender profile of decision-making bodies including parent-teachers associations.
7)Promote awareness about the government schemes for the girl child through homilies, dispensaries, hospital, health centers, grass-root social and educational institutions and catechism classes.
Let us be the instruments of change to give each girl the dignity she deserves specially the Right to Live.
In the month of August there were two important meetings took place in the Bishop’s House:
1. Meeting for all headmasters/headmistress, principals and correspondents where the discussion took place about ‘what are the ways and means to face the modern challenges in education ministry’. Rev. Fr. Dr. Xavier Arulraj, TNBC secretary for Legal Cell facilitated the meeting with his team. There were 142 participants took part in this meeting. Rev. Fr. Dr. A.C. Savarimuthu, Manger of RCM Schools arranged the meeting.
2. Diocesan Pastoral Council meeting for Vice-presidents of Parish Council from all the parishes and the secretaries of all the diocesan commissions to evaluate the pastoral ministries that take place in the respective parishes and the diocese. Our beloved bishop facilitated the meeting. There were about 85 participants including Vicar Foranes and commission secretaries. Rev. Fr. A. Arockiasamy, Pastoral Commission Secretary arranged the meeting. Bishop expresses his appreciation and thanks to both the Manger of Schools and the Pastoral Center Director for their tireless effort for the success of the meetings. In a special way bishop thank the Vicar General, Curia Fathers, Council Members, Cathedral Parish priest &the parish council members, Priests, Religious and the Laity for their wonderful solidarity that they expressed in celebrating his twelfth Episcopal Ordination Anniversary as one family and prayed for him.
In particular he expresses his heartfelt thanks and appreciation to the principal, sisters, teachers and students of St. John’s Metric Hr. Sec. School, Gudiyatham for their exuberant entrance dance for the mass.
Let the blessings of Our Lady of Veilankanni fill our hearts. God bless all of us.
Very Rev. Msgr. I.John Robert
Vicar General