1. A Word of Appreciation : At the parish, deanery and diocesan levels, we have initiated actions to attend to the needs of the victims of Covid-19 and the families affected due to the lockdown. It is indeed praiseworthy that the Parish Priests, Parish Pastoral Council members and Associations have generously organised in providing food, food kits, and vaccination camps. The diocesan Covid Task Force has put in strenuous efforts to meet the immediate needs of our people. The uncertainty of life experienced these days, and the pain attached to it have made us reflect deeply on our interconnectedness. We have gone out of our way and helped one another to bear their burdens. I sincerely thank all the Corona Warriors, the Doctors, Nurses, other auxiliary staff in our hospitals and Government personnel who have contributed in this noble task. May God bless them.
2. Gone to the Father’s House : Our brother priests, Fr Peter Noronha († 5 May 2021), Fr Vincent Victor Menezes († 20 May 2021) and Fr Remigius Aranha († 30 May 2021) have departed for the eternal home. Our pain is greater because we could not offer even funeral Masses for them. Undoubtedly, we have offered our prayers for them. It has been the long-standing noble custom that every Priest of the Diocese offers two Masses for the repose of the soul of the deceased brother Priest. These are usually applied when we do not have specific intentions during bination or concelebration. Now due to the lockdown, the possibility of bination or concelebration is rare. However, every Priest is allowed to celebrate two Masses in a month for one’s personal intentions. I recommend that we use this provision to offer Masses in suffrage for our brothers. May the Lord grant eternal reward to the dear departed.
3. Pope Francis Announces the Synod : Pope Francis has announced XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops with the theme: “For a synodal Church: communion, participation and mission”. According to the Pope, “It is precisely this path of synodality which God expects of the Church in the third millennium” (Address on the occasion of commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Institution of the Synod of Bishops, 17 October 2015). The Pope says that “Synod” means “journeying together – laity, pastors, the Bishop of Rome”. He invites the whole Church for a “mutual listening to the Holy Spirit” at every level of the Church’s life. The Pope has given a new format for the consultations: they will begin in the local Churches, and then move on to the Episcopal conferences. The synthesis of the discussion will be sent to the General Secretariat at the Vatican, and there the matter will be collated to prepare the Instrumentum Laboris (Working Paper). This will be dispatched to the International Episcopal Conferences at the Continental level for further discussion and discernment. Their observations will be forwarded to the General Secretariat which will prepare the synthesis to be presented in the Synod Hall. The official opening of the synodal process will be at the Vatican on 9-10 October 2021. The local Church will open it on Sunday, 17 October 2021. The Synod at the universal level will be held in the Vatican in October 2023. Let us pray for the success of the Synod so that the whole Church may zealously journey together to carry the flame of the Good News of Jesus Christ.
4. Conferring of the Ministries of Lector and Acolyte to Men and Women : On 10 January 2021, Pope Francis, with the Apostolic Letter Spiritus Domini issued Motu Proprio, modified the first paragraph of the Canon 230 of the Code of Canon Law and established that both men and women can have access to the ministries of lector and acolyte in a stable manner. Earlier, Pope Paul VI, through the Apostolic Letter Ministeria Quaedam (15 August 1972), had suppressed the “the minor orders” and declared services of lector and acolyte as “ministries”. These are not reserved only for those who are to be admitted to Sacred Orders. The changed paragraph of the Canon 230 §1 reads as follows:
“Lay persons who possess the age and qualifications established by decree of the conference of Bishops can be admitted on a stable basis through the prescribed liturgical rite to the ministries of lector and acolyte. Nevertheless, the conferral of these ministries does not grant them the right to obtain support or remuneration from the Church”.
It is the competence of the Episcopal Conference to give the decree concerning the age, qualifications, and other criteria of the suitability of the candidates for ministry.
5. Addition of New Invocations in the Litany of St Joseph : On 1 May 2021, the Congregation for the Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments has sent a letter to the Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences on the seven new invocations in the Litany in honour of Saint Joseph. On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of St Joseph as the Patron of the Universal Church, Pope Francis published the Apostolic Letter Patris Corde with the aim “to increase our love for this great saint, to encourage us to implore his intercession and to imitate his virtues and his zeal”. The seven invocations are as follows: Custos Redemptoris (Guardian of the Redeemer); Serve Christi (Servant of Christ); Minister salutis (Minister of salvation); Fulcimen in difficultatibus (Support in difficulties); Patrone exsulum (Patron of exiles); Patrone afflictorum (Patron of the afflicted); Patrone pauperum (Patron of the poor). The new invocations are translated into Konkani and are available for our prayers. May St Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church and of our Diocese intercede for us.
6. Ministry of Catechists : With a new Apostolic Letter Antiquum Ministerium, issued Motu Proprio on 10 May 2021 Pope Francis has instituted the “Ministry of Catechist”, intended to respond to the urgent need for the evangelisation of the contemporary world. In the context of “the rise of a globalised culture”, the Pope wants to grant formal recognition to “those lay men and women who feel called by virtue of their baptism to cooperate in the work of catechesis”. At the same time, the Pope has asked the Episcopal Conferences to determine the “process of formation and the normative criteria for admission for this ministry” and devise “the most appropriate forms for the service which these men and women will be called to exercise”. In our Diocese, there are 3100 Catechism teachers both in parishes and schools. I thank them sincerely for their service. They should “receive suitable biblical, theological, pastoral and pedagogical formation to be competent communicators of the truth of the faith”. The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments will soon publish the Rite of Institution of the Ministry of Catechist. The Pope has ordered that all must comply with this Apostolic Letter.
7. World Youth Day : The Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life, on 26 May 2021, has brought to our attention what the Holy Father announced on 22 November 2020 regarding the annual local edition of the World Youth Day. The celebration, hitherto held on Palm Sunday, will now take place on the Sunday of the Solemnity of Christ the King. The choice of the day maintains the emphasis on the mystery of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of humankind. This initiative is to place the young people at the centre of the life of the Church, in the spirit of the 2018 Synod. The Dicastery has now dispatched the resource entitled Pastoral Guidelines for the Celebration of the World Youth Day in the Particular Churches. The thrust is to enable the young people to come together and be evangelised in dioceses and eparchies throughout the world. Those who are engaged in the youth ministry at the diocesan, deanery and parish level are warmly invited to study these proposals and adapt them to their own specific context, keeping in mind the local needs with pastoral creativity and imagination.
8. World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly : Pope Francis has instituted the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly to be celebrated throughout the Church every year on the fourth Sunday of July, near to the memorial of Saints Joachim and Ann. This year, we celebrate it on 25 July 2021, almost at the midpoint of the Amoris Laetitia Family Year. The theme of this year’s celebration is: “I am with you always” (Mt 28:20). The purpose of this day is to convey to every elderly person that God and the Church are close to them and also to emphasise intergenerational closeness between young and old. The elderly are the link between the past and the present. They bring us the treasure of wisdom and experience. Their life of faith is a source of support for us to carry on the flame of the Gospel. Let us honour and pray for them. In order to prepare ourselves well, the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life will make available a series of pastoral tools on the website dedicated to Amoris Laetitia Family Year: www.amorislaetitia.va
The Apostolic Penitentiary promulgated a Decree granting a Plenary Indulgence on the occasion of the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly. (a) The elderly can obtain an Indulgence by participating in one of the Masses celebrated on the occasion of this World Day. (b) In view of the continuing health emergency and the fact that some elderly people are unable to attend Mass in person for health reasons, the Indulgence is extended to those who participate via television, radio or the internet. (c) The Indulgence is also granted to all those who perform a ‘work of mercy’ on this World Day by visiting an elderly person who is alone. (d) In places where visiting in person is expressly forbidden by the public authorities in order to avoid contagion, it is also possible to obtain the Indulgence through a virtual meeting.
9. Need of Sending the Reports : The Parish is canonically a public juridic person and civilly a Trust. In both realms, it remains under the authority of the Diocesan Bishop, who alone can establish, alter and suppress a Parish. Parish constitutes a portion of the Diocese, and the diocesan Bishop should be informed on time about the activities taking place there. The meetings of the Parish Pastoral Council (PPC) for the pastoral activities and Parish Finance Council (PFC) for financial administration have to take place at regular intervals. The PPC holds at least three meetings in a year (Constitution, 2:13.2), and PFC conducts at least one meeting once in three months (Constitution, 3:9.1), and the minutes of these meetings are drawn up. If important matters are discussed, and recommendations or proposals are made at the Parish Assembly for appropriate decisions by the Parish Priest, the minutes of these meetings also are to be sent to the Bishop. If any decision or resolution requires Bishop’s permission, then the Parish Priest has to write a separate letter asking for permission, along with the minutes of the above official meetings. So far, we were not insisting that every PPC meeting’s minutes be sent to the Bishop unless there were decisions requiring Bishop’s approval (Constitutions, 2:9.3.5). However, I would like to modify this rule in view of the Bishop knowing the pastoral situation and environment of each parish and for having these details/minutes in the diocesan Curia under the respective parish file for reference and custody.
The following items, as a rule, are needed to be included in the minutes of the meetings.
a) Name of the Parish, Place, Council, date and time of the meeting.
b) Total number of members, number of the participants and absentees, with information and without information (PPC and PFC attendance registers needs to be signed by members. These details are necessary to verify whether there was quorum).
c) Minutes of the previous meeting and follow up.
d) Agenda items and topics to be discussed.
e) Action items based on the agenda (Decisions and resolutions taken).
f) Date of the next meeting.
g) Supportive documents to be included along with the meeting’s report and proposals contained therein.
Many times, a few of these essential details are missing in the minutes. Kindly attend to every item before sending the minutes to the Bishop. Remember to send the minutes of all meetings of both PPC and PFC within 15 days after the meetings in duplicates, with signatures of the office bearers and seal of the parish.
10. Registers and Documentation : In every field, digitisation has become commonplace, and we cannot lag behind. We also need to digitise the Parish documents with the help of experts. At the same time, maintaining separate registers in hard copies is also necessary. We have already maintained canonical registers of various Sacraments, Burials, and Legacy Masses. Many others we possess in files. However, keeping them written in formal Registers would be beneficial for recording the Parish history for many generations, and they will be available for any verification.
1. Parish Priests/Assistant Parish Priests/Resident Priests/Socius (if any)
2. Vice Presidents, Secretaries and Gurkars
3. Catechists (Parish and School)
4. Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion
5. Minutes of the Parish Pastoral Council (Handwritten)
6. Minutes of the Parish Finance Council (Handwritten)
7. Minutes of the Parish Assembly (Handwritten)
8. Register of Normative Masses
9. Register of Fixed Masses
10. Register of Binations and Multiple Intentions
11. Register of Resolutions of PPC and PFC, which have Bishop’s Approval (in English)
12. Register of SB Accounts and Fixed Deposits, and Earmarked Collections.
11. World Day of the Poor : On 13 June 2021, on the Memorial of St Anthony of Padua, Pope Francis gave the message for the World Day of the Poor to be celebrated on 33rd Sunday (14 November 2021). This year is the fifth anniversary of the World Day of the Poor, which was begun in 2017. The Pope says that “the poor are true evangelizers, for they were the first to be evangelised and called to share in the Lord’s joy and his kingdom (cf. Mt 5:3)”. The Pope asks us to have a new turn in our thinking regarding giving and receiving. As an alternative, he highlights of mutual exchange and building fraternity. He insists that the poor too have resources to give so that the poverty of the “rich” can be addressed. The poor teach us about solidarity and sharing. He invites all to join hands to fight against the culture of indifference and injustice we have created with regard to the poor.
In this context, I would like to remind the Parish Priests that 25% of the Sunday Collection is to be reserved for the poor. We give the Charity directly from the church account. Due to the Covid- 19 situation, there may not remain any balance as there was very little collection. However, in the future, when there are regular Masses, if at the end of the financial year, some balance remains of the 25%, it should be carried forward to the following year. This amount should be reflected in the Balance Sheet as Sunday Collection towards Charity, which can be used in that year.
12. Laudato Si’ Sunday : On 4 July, we celebrate Laudato Si’ Sunday in our Diocese. The conservation of water and natural resources, the protection of green environment and planting of saplings and promoting cultivation of barren lands are essential for making this earth a worthy place to live on. In the past years, our parishes and youth had taken up a special mission of promoting the green movement. Now, though we are under lockdown, this first Sunday of the month invites us again to recommit ourselves to be the custodians of the created reality. The earth is given to us by our Creator to be nurtured to make it a sweet home. We are called to contemplate upon the original design of God of the Garden of Eden. As we strive to be holy and try to work hard to bring beauty back to our common home, we give glory to God the Creator. Let all of us, young and old, engage ourselves fully in the care for our beloved earth.
Wish you all a Blessed Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. May God bless our efforts, and Mother Mary and St Joseph intercede for all.
+ Peter Paul Saldanha
Bishop of Mangalore