To all the Parish SCC Coordinators, Archdiocese of Bombay
My dear Collaborators,
As we enter the last month of the calendar year 2020, one of the questions that we could ask ourselves is: “What has the pandemic taught us?” Ever since the lockdown came into effect from the midnight of March 24, the situation has not seemed optimistic at all. Several of us have experienced meaninglessness and hopelessness in our lives; perhaps, some of us might have been angry and disillusioned with the quality of services provided to us, and a few others may have been disconnected from Christ and the Church, as the Masses and meetings in our parishes and communities were suspended, and life as we knew it was disrupted.
I believe COVID-19 has offered a God-experience to all of us: to you, as the Coordinators and Animators of the Small Christian Communities (SCCs) in your parishes, and most importantly, as Christians, men and women of faith. Just as Peter and the other apostles experienced Christ in the stormy sea, we too have surely encountered Christ during the ongoing pandemic; in the outreach activities organised in our Communities (including people of other faiths), ensuring “no one is in want” (our Archdiocesan SCC Vision Statement), our SCC Animators, feeling the pulse of their cluster families, particularly the poor and needy and offering them assistance, whether medical and/or even financial, the youth running errands, in short, our desire to be connected with our brothers and sisters in our SCCs has surely given us an opportunity to experience God in our midst.
An important event in the month of December is Christmas – celebrating Emmanuel: God-with-us. In order that we celebrate Christmas joyfully in the pandemic, Fr Vincent D’Cruz of the Diocesan Catechetical Centre, Bandra, has prepared the attached Advent Penitential Service. May I earnestly request you to disseminate the Penitential Service to all the families in your respective Communities and motivate them to conduct it in their families. While we may prepare Christmas sweets and perhaps go shopping, could we also think of the less fortunate brothers and sisters in our SCCs, and reach out to them, offering them some Christmas cheer? We remember the words of Jesus: “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you do it to me.” (Mt 25:40)
I take this opportunity, as Bishop in-charge of the SCCs, to thank you and all the SCC Animators and Coordinators for your selfless service towards the needy in your Communities. You have been right there when your people needed you, perhaps, even at the cost of your own health. What has struck me most is that you have reached out in service cheerfully, without counting the cost. I also bring to mind those who have been victims of the coronavirus; may they rest in the loving embrace of God, our Heavenly Father.
My one desire and wish for you is that we continue to be men and women “keeping a watch” on those who are on the periphery, the lost, the marginalised and those who need a listening ear in the SCCs. In our outreach towards these, our brothers and sisters, may all of us experience the birth of Jesus Christ once again. A Happy Christmas and a Hope-filled New Year 2021.
God bless you and the members of your families.
Yours in Christ,
✠Barthol Barretto Auxiliary Bishop of Bombay & Bishop in-charge of SCCs, Archdiocese of Bombay
November 30, 2020