Rural Arunachal Pradesh state in northeast India, one area missionaries visit
Indian Cardinal Telesphore Toppo has expressed concern over dampening missionary spirit among India's religious men and women facing modernity and other challenges, a concern two Indian priests say religious congregations have been discussing for years, reports NCR Online.
Toppo, the archbishop of Ranchi, appealed to all the religious orders "to become missionary again" at the recent Synod of Bishops on the new evangelisation in Rome.
He asked whether religious men and women today were "working like the multinationals" and warned about the possibility of losing track of the primary purpose of religious congregations "to bring the Gospel to a lost world."
Fr James Thayil, a priest of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate in the Rajkot diocese in Gujarat, northwest India, and Fr Ivan Vas, a Society of the Divine Word priest who served in the congregation's India Guwahati region, said while change is to be expected in modern and progressive Indian society, religious congregations in their country have acknowledged the need to innovate religious life.
At their October national assembly, delegates from religious congregations of priests, nuns and brothers proposed to strengthen members' formation in mission and give priority to missionary endeavors, even if it means closing down ministries that are irrelevant.
Innovation is needed because religious life itself is in transition, and in trying to be relevant, congregations and their members must ensure they remain true to their charism, Thayil said. They must also keep the dynamism of mission alive. One model that has developed following Vatican II is that of messenger, he said.
"These missionaries witness to the presence of Jesus among people of other religions," and through their apostolic work, "proclaim Jesus' message of love" to people with no thought of baptizing them, he said. While the Indian Constitution guarantees freedom to profess, practice and propagate one's faith, various states have enacted anti-conversion laws.
Most religious orders run schools and health care services such as clinics and hospitals.
FULL STORY Religious in India push to revive missionary fervour (NCR)