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Strategies for evangelization were devised. “Seek the Kingdom of God” is the motto for catechetical work among children aged five to 18. This work seeks to build a strong foundation through an organized network of Sunday school classes in all parishes and mission stations. Priests, volunteer teachers and children are provided with training programs, camps and seminars to enhance the curriculum and methodology. Their efforts are directed to letting the children come to know Christ, to experience him, to follow him, to witness him and to incarnate him in their lives. This program is coordinated by “Srothas,” or the Source, a central office located in the city of Sultan’s Bathery, which was named after the munitions depot of the sultan. More than 800 trained teachers provide Christian faith formation and values to some 6,000 children.

Forming the young into responsible adults and committed Christians requires guidance, counseling and channeling the children’s talents and energies in a creative manner. The diocesan youth center, “Pratheeksha,” or Hope, functions as a catalyst in this process.

Parents, however, are the primary models and teachers of their children. God centered families create a vibrant parish community. To foster the development of these role models, parents are provided with several forums to discuss parenting problems, religious upbringing and the moral and ethical issues of everyday life.

To inculcate the habit of reading the word of God and proclaiming it in the family, the diocese has started a Bible program entitled “Place a Bible in Every Home.” Regular scripture classes and seminars at the parish, district and diocesan levels have reinforced the centrality of God’s word in daily life.

Along with these evangelization and evangelization activities, the diocese has stressed the importance of the Reunion Movement.

India’s Christian Church is apostolic, tracing its origins to the work of the Apostle Thomas. For more than 1,500 years these Thomas Christians, while hierarchically dependent on the Assyrian Church of the East, maintained communion with the Church of Rome. In 1653, in response to the Portuguese impositions of the Council of Diampur, which restricted the rights and privileges of the Thomas Christians, a group of Thomas Christians severed communion with the Church of Rome and accepted the Christology, liturgy and rites of the Syrian Orthodox Church.

In 1930, two bishops of this Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church reaffirmed their communion with the Church of Rome, thus creating the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church. The untiring efforts of the Syro-Malankara clergy and laity have restored thousands of families to the Catholic fold.

This has led to the establishment of many new parishes and mission stations. The fruit of hard work is very visible in Bathery diocese. Within a span of 19 years, parishes and mission stations increased from 43 to 110 and the number of parishioners, from 8,500 to 23,118. Some 60 new churches and 19 new presbyteries have been built since the inception of the diocese.

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Tags: India Syro-Malankara Catholic Church Multiculturalism