By Felix Anthony

Guwahati, April 9 : The Secretaries of the various departments of the Church in the NorthEast Region came together to evaluate their contribution to the society in Covid context over a two-day meeting held at the Regional Secretariat Building, Guwahati on 8 and 9 April 2021.

“It is a historical meeting as we meet together for the first time as regional secretaries of various commissions of the Church in our region”, said Archbishop John Moolachira, the President of the North East India Regional Bishops’ Council (NEIRBC). Introducing the purpose of the meeting, the Archbishop said, “The Church has been at the forefront of development of the people. It has always worked for their progress, safeguarding their rights and preservation of their culture. This meeting is to take stock and to evaluate what we have done for the people and the society and to take appropriate measures to serve the people even better.”

Presenting the report, Father Varghese Velickakam, the Director Social Forum highlighted its contribution to the people especially during the lockdown caused by the pandemic Covid 19. “The Church in every state of North East has always rendered a yeoman service to the society and it was visible during the lock down as it led its relief efforts to reach out to the last, the least and the lost”, he said.

Dr. Thomas Manjaly, the first Deputy Secretary of NEIRBC, addressed the 23 regional secretaries present for the meeting and gave a brief historical background to the formation of various regional commissions.

Speaking on behalf of the Legal Wing of the Church in the region, Father Owen Chourappa highlighted the need for extra vigilance in the present day atmosphere of hate and polarisation. “It is important to have proper documentation and total legal compliance to avoid all legal complications in future”, he advised.

Father Kuriakose, the Rector of Oriens Theological College, the north east regional major seminary, focussed on the need for forming the future leaders of the Church with an awareness of the importance of promoting and protecting the environment. “To help the Seminarians understand the importance of water, we are planning to start ‘a bucket of water a day’ scheme where a seminarian will be provided just bucket of water to manage the whole day”, said Father Kuriakose, who is also the regional secretary for Vocation and Formation of Priests and Religious.

Speaking on behalf of the Prison Ministry, Sister Jobina UFS said their intervention and regular visits to the inmates of the prison has had huge positive results. “Our visits to the prisons across the region, prayer meetings, cultural programmes and competitions to mark important days of the years have effected lasting positive changes to the lives of many of the inmates. We also celebrated International Women’s Day with the women inmates of the Central Prison in Guwahati this year”, said the Ursuline Sister.

All the regional commission secretaries presented their report of the work they have done for the people throughout the year especially in the context of Covid 19.
Father Vincent Carmel presented a report on the Regional Social Communication department, Father Sabu Joseph Chenackal on Catechetical Commission, Father Athnas Kerketta on Canon Law and Legislative Texts, Father K. C. George spoke on the Health Commission , Sister Esco on the concerns of the Regional Religious Commission, Sisters Bernadette Kropi and Aluti on Youth Commission, Father Tom Mangatuthazhe on the contribution and challenges of the Commission of Ecumenism, Father Jose on Inter-Religious Dialogue, Father Gravier on Theology and Doctrine, Father Sunny on Evangelisation, Father Hippolitus on Small Christian Community and Father G. P. Amalraj presented a brief report on the contribution of the Church in the field of education.

Congratulating Father G. P. Amalraj, the Deputy Secretary of NEIRBC, for convening the first meeting of the Regional Secretaries, Bishop James Thoppil of Kohima and the Secretary of NEIRBC thanked all the secretaries and their teams for their remarkable contribution in every field.

The meeting concluded with an appeal for prayer for return of peace and normalcy in conflict torn Myanmar, a country that shares its borders with Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram States of the North East India.

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