Archdiocese of Calcutta – Pastoral Plan: Report by Isaac Harold Gomes
With the launch of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Plan in most parishes of the Archdiocese of Calcutta, the emphasis now is on implementation of the plans for the following Twelve Concerns:
(1) Christian Life (2) Environment & Social Justice (3) Ecumenism & Inter religious Dialogue (4) Evangelization (5) Family (6) Education (7) Healthcare (8) Laity (9) Small Christian Communities (10) Social Communications (11) Women and (12) Youth.
While parishes can decide on the concerns they wish to adopt according to their strength, the ones that will top the list in all parishes are (1) Education (2) Health (3) Women (4) Youth (5) Laity and (6) Environment & Social Justice. Of these Education and Health should get the priority as they form the backbone for any social development. They are also complementary: “A Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body.”
The August 13 session of 50 priests along with Archbishop Thomas D’Souza to understand and implement our Pope’s Laudato Si, will add impetus to the Environment & Social Justice concern of the Archdiocese. Environment Studies should be made compulsory in all school boards. Similarly Social Justice has to be administered in the Archdiocese instead of putting issues in the cold storage. How many of us have heard of the Conciliation Committee (comprising Fr. Orson Wells, Fr. Basil Mandi and Sr. Marian Vaz) set up in the Archdiocese of Calcutta effective from 01 June 2014 to resolve conflicts? If this Committee is really sincere in administering speedy social justice, then many church problems can be solved without taking recourse to the court of law.
For Education, the following points should be implemented uniformly across all educational institutions:
Special efforts should be made to enable students:
think for themselves independently and critically;
seek, extend and apply knowledge to the solution of human problems;
continually strive for excellence in every field;
be unselfish in the service of fellow men and of the poor and socially oppressed
All Catholic schools to be made aware of guidelines of the All India Catholic Education Policy 2007 and the Pastoral Plan of Calcutta Archdiocese.
All Catholic schools and colleges to ensure that no catholic child is refused admission.
Get-together of Catholic parents and students once a year.
Orientation Programs for teachers to motivate them to guide academically weak students.
Award to students and teachers for their excellent performance and contribution in school, parish and Diocesan level.
Annual career guidance programs for Catholic students of Class X and XII.
Financial/ material assistance to meritorious students.
Implementation of child protection and gender policy in all Catholic schools.
Action Plan for Health should be:
Setting up of a Health Cell in each parish consisting of parishioners having experience in health sector.
Regular awareness programs on various health issues conducted by NGOs, Doctors or health professionals.
Emphasis on Preventive Health care
Setting up of a Christian Doctors’ Guild including a directory on their services. These doctors should be commissioned on the Archdiocesan Advisory Panel.
It goes without saying that none of the Pastoral Plans for the above 12 Concerns can be implemented without the active support of the members of the Laity which comprises more than 90% of the Church.
ISAAC HAROLD GOMES
Member ICPA and Archdiocese Social Communications Commission