April month is full of activities for all of us – priests, religious and lay faithful. In the first week of the month, we have organized a half-day study session in two batches on Evangelii Gaudium for our priests and deacons. The session on Evangelii Gaudium serves as a preparation for our diocesan Pastoral Consultation. I remind all the priests of the diocese to participate in this study session either on April 2 or 3 at the Pastoral Centre. More details are in the Internos of March, p. 49.

We have announced the dates of the Pastoral Consultation 2019 well in time so that all the priests of the diocese participate in it all the three days: April 9, 10 and 11 at the Seminary. Those who require the accommodation, please contact the Rector/Administrator of the Seminary or the Director of the Pastoral Institute. The time-table of the entire Consultation 2019 programme is announced in this issue of Inter Nos. Your inputs and insights are invaluable. This consultation, which is an expression of the unum presbyterium is geared to live the Joy of the Gospel and share it with others. The Consultation 2019 will conclude with the Recollection and the Chrism Mass.

We bring to your attention the Diocesan Socio-Economic and Pastoral Survey 2019, which is a tool for evolving an effective Diocesan and Parish Pastoral Plan. I am happy that you have
participated in the deanery level survey training sessions. The survey work is already progressing in some parishes after providing a parish level training for the parish survey team. Kindly take adequate care to carry out the survey with great responsibility and zeal for accuracy. You may refrain from taking the survey during the Holy Week so as to focus more on the importance of the Holy Week and to facilitate participation of all in the election process. I request Parish Priests to submit the survey tool/questionnaire to the office of the Vicar General by May 15, 2019. The survey answer-sheets will be returned to respective Parish Priests once the data from survey is collected, tabulated and analyzed.

General Elections will be held on April 18, Holy Thursday.I take this opportunity to highlight a few of the points from the Pastoral Letter of the Bishops (CBCI): “We remind ourselves first of all of our duty to exercise our vote. Every citizen above 18 years has the right to vote, but voting is also a sacred obligation we owe to our country. All our Parish Priests are urged to impress on our people this obligation. Every single vote does count. Hence we owe it to ourselves, to our children and to our country to fulfil this sacred duty and thus get involved in bettering the direction of our nation. I urge everyone to pray and to discern in prayer what is best for our country. We have to vote judiciously. The Catholic Church hopes that the General Elections will give us leaders who will listen to the people, understand their anxieties and their needs and respond effectively.”

Many of our institutions situated in the Church vicinity will be used for election purposes. Kindly cooperate with the election officers so that the elections are held peacefully. Encourage all our people to vote in the forenoon itself, so that all the faithful are able to participate in the Holy Thursday liturgical celebrations held in the evening.

We are heading towards the celebration of the great mysteries of our redemption. As we participate in the one priesthood of Christ on Holy Thursday, let us work together hand in hand in the diocese to fulfil the mission of our High Priest Jesus Christ. As Christ offered himself for our good, we too must dedicate ourselves to the good of the people whose pastors we are. Our availability for the people beyond any limits, ready to listen to people at any hour of the day and understand their struggles and suffering will make us Christ like priests. Let us focus on Jesus who suffered, died and rose again for the whole humanity. Let us ponder on this Paschal Mystery in faith, that we may be the instruments of salvation to the people of our time.

My hope and prayer is that during this holy time you find blessing and meaning in walking the way of the Cross, more conscious of time with your parishioners and faithful entrusted to your pastoral care and, making this season a true celebration of the joy of our salvation and the Resurrection that brings life to the world. I wish all the priests, religious and the lay faithful of our diocese the joy of the Risen Christ on Easter.

+Peter Paul Saldanha
Bishop of Mangalore