1. National Prayer Service: The Office Bearers of the Conference of the Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI) have sent a circular inviting all members of the Latin Catholic Church to participate in the National Prayer Service with Eucharistic Benediction to pray for the Covid-19 affected families. It will be conducted on Saturday 7 August 2021, from 8.30 p.m. to 9.30 p.m. at the churches which house the tombs of Saints and Shrines. The Prayer Service will be telecast through Catholic satellite television channels and streamed through leading Catholic YouTube channels. Let us pray as one family to Our Lord and seek the intercession of our Blessed Mother and our beloved Saints to help us in this time of pain and suffering.

2. The Feast of Assumption of Our Lady and Independence Day, August 15: Mother Mary’s Assumption into heaven epitomizes our total liberation from all shackles of sin, suffering, and death. God has granted her this unique privilege of assuming into heaven with body and soul. Her assumption foretells our own bodily resurrection and eternal life with God, as St Paul says “our citizenship is in heaven” (Phil 3: 20). Mary is the torchbearer of our hope. Pope Pius XII in 1950, through the Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus, pronounced, declared and defined it to be a divinely revealed dogma. We are fortunate, in India, to celebrate the Independence of India on the same day, which makes us to rejoice about our freedom and citizenship on this earth. This year we complete 74 years of Independence and step into the 75th year. We gratefully remember those who have sacrificed their life for our freedom and acknowledge the contribution of those who govern us. Let this day make us deeply reflect on our double responsibility towards our nation and our God. I suggest that we join with people of goodwill for common action that builds up the nation and the people beyond all borders.

3. Training of the Parish Pastoral Councils to Execute the Pastoral Plan: We had planned the training of the Parish Pastoral Councils (PPC) to execute the Diocesan Pastoral Plan. However, the pandemic and lockdown did not permit us to go ahead. In this month, we shall train the various Commission Secretaries, and they, in turn, train their executive team. Thus, having prepared the personnel, we can reach out to all the deaneries and instruct the PPC members. I request the Vicars Forane to contact V. Rev. Fr Joseph Martis, the Coordinator of the Pastoral Plan, to organize training programmes for the PPC members in their deanery.

4. Systematization of Parish Documents and Digitization: The Estate Manager and his team is checking the parish documents and systematizing them. Already 45 parishes’ documents are systematized. Some Parish Priests have done an orderly work and submitted the documents. Others are informed about the documents they need to procure. Please cooperate with the Estate Manager and come along with your property files so that we can expedite the process. Once all the necessary documents are with us, we can digitize them and keep the soft copies of the originals in our custody.

5. Catechism Classes: The Director of Mangala Jyothi, together with the members of the Commission for Catechetics has been organizing the online catechism classes. Many Priests and Catechism teachers are putting in hard efforts to prepare the video lessons to help in the faith formation of the younger generation. I am happy that many Parish Priests are taking a keen interest in this regard by attending to the organization of catechism in their parish. “There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him” (Pope Benedict XVI, during the inauguration of his pontificate in 2005). Let these words of the Emeritus Pope spur us into concerted efforts in imparting knowledge of the love of Jesus Christ, Our Lord.

6. Coming to the Aid of the Poor: Covid-19 pandemic has pushed many families to abject poverty. There have been some efforts on the part of the parishes, associations and individuals to attend to their needs. I am truly happy to note that many Parish Priests have taken a keen interest and initiative to construct or repair houses for poor families. I request the Parish Priests to find out the neediest families in your parishes and motivate the parishioners to help them as much as possible. If some more help is needed, please bring it to my notice, mentioning the type of help required.

7. Bishop Basil D’Souza 25th Death Anniversary: Our former Bishop Basil Salvadore D’Souza expired on 5 September 1996. We gratefully remember his 31 years’ Episcopal ministry for our local Church. This year is the 25th anniversary of his death. It is a God-given opportunity for us to remember him gratefully and pray for him. The College of Consultors suggested that we organize a Memorial Mass on 9 September 2021 at 9.30 a.m. at the Our Lady of Holy Rosary Cathedral. You are cordially invited to participate in the Holy Mass. Every year, St Joseph’s Seminary Staff and Students organize Bishop Basil Memorial Lecture. This year, this Lecture would focus on the life and contribution of Bishop Basil D’Souza. After finalizing the date of the Memorial Lecture, the Rector of the Seminary would send you a separate invitation. Kindly participate in this programme when it takes place.

8. New Members of the Council of Priests: The transfers of this year are complete. A few Priests elected as representatives of the deaneries to the Council of Priests and Diocesan Pastoral Parishad may have also been transferred. I request the Deans to call the Deanery Council Meeting, elect new representatives in their place and send the names of the newly elected representatives before 15 August.

9. Clergy Retreat: This year, we shall have the Annual Retreat in two batches in the Pastoral Institute. The first batch begins from 28 November to 3 December 2021; the second batch begins on 12 December to 17 December 2021. Kindly contact the Director of Pastoral Institute to register your names. Canon 276 § 2, 4 says that Clerics are “bound to make time for spiritual retreats according to the prescripts of particular law”. Every Priest must make utmost effort to participate in the Annual Retreat to nourish the spiritual life and grow in holiness. Once you participate in the Retreat, please inform Bishop’s office about the date and place of your Annual Retreat. When you come for the Retreat, kindly hand over your Personal Mass Diary for Bishop’s perusal.

10. Diocesan Pastoral Parishad Meeting will be held at Bishop’s House on 19 August 2021 at 9.00 a.m. All the members are requested to participate with earnestness.

I wish you all a Happy Assumption Day of Our Blessed Mother and Joyful Independence Day.

+Peter Paul Saldanha
Bishop of Mangalore

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