Changing with the times but keeping the faith
By John Pontifex
EDUCATED and I.T. savvy Christians in India are bucking trends by becoming more involved with the Church – according to a bishop in the west of the country.
Bishop Lourdes Daniel stated that religious commitment was more prevalent than 30 years ago – in spite of increased wealth, improved education standards and more business opportunities especially in new media.
Speaking earlier this week in an interview with Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, Bishop Daniel said that youth parish involvement in his Nashik diocese had grown – in part thanks to the emergence of small faith-sharing groups and outreach schemes to the disadvantaged.
Bishop Daniel said: “I was a priest in this region in the 1980s. Back then we never heard about business degrees – MBAs – and I.T.
“But now people are much better educated and every second person you speak to is involved in I.T.
“And yet their faith is very strong and more go to church. The churches are full, especially on Sundays.
“Whenever you ask young people to do something for Church, they are very happy to do it.”
(Bishop Lourdes Daniel of Nashik, Western India)
The bishop said that parishes in Nashik diocese were divided up into ‘zones’ where young people meet regularly for catechesis and Bible sharing.
He explained how young people in the towns go to some of the poorest outlying villages to provide nursing training, adult education as well as adult formation.
The bishop went on to thank Aid to the Church in Need for supporting leadership training programmes for young people who teach the faith.
ACN is helping young people in Bishop Daniel’s diocese with programmes including an Advent retreat, a Holy Week adaption enacting Christ’s passion and death, a rally for 500 altar servers and a youth convention involving 330 youngsters.
Explaining the growing interest in the Church in an increasingly educated and developed society, he said: “There is a genuine thirst for faith.
“The [young people] may not always be able to articulate what it is they want but you can see a vacuum which people are wanting to fill with meaning.”
Directly under the Holy See, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity – helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.
The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, Aid to the Church in Need’s Child’s Bible – God Speaks to his Children has been translated into 162 languages and 48 million copies have been distributed all over the world.
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