To all the Parish SCC Coordinators,
Archdiocese of Bombay
My dear Collaborators,
As we enter a new month, the situation on the ground appears far better than it was last year. The deadly variant, Omicron, seems to have disappeared, with things steadily returning to normalcy. Thank God, our churches have been opened, with fewer restrictions now; our school students (including the Pre-Primary ones) have resumed school with their masks; students are preparing for offline Class X and XII final examinations; people are returning to their workplaces; yes, the situation is comparatively positive.
What has begun an anxious period for the world is the fact that the Russian military breached the border of Ukraine at several points since the morning of February 24, 2022. Russian shelling and missile strikes on Ukrainian military headquarters and airfields have been reported. While we are wondering what will happen next, Pope Francis, our Holy Father, has invited everyone to make Ash Wednesday - March 02, 2022 - a Day of Fasting and Prayer. He said, “May Mary, Queen of Peace, preserve the world from the madness of war.”
With Ash Wednesday on March 02, 2022, the Church Universal begins the Holy Season of Lent, a grace-filled season of reflection and renewal – a God-given opportunity to step back and take a good 40-day intense look at our lives to see if our values and priorities are in conformity with God’s desires, so that we “return to God with our whole heart”, as the Prophet Joel instructs us in the Old Testament. To help us “return to God with our whole heart”, Fr Gerard Rodricks SJ (St Ignatius Loyola Church, Ambadi Road, Vasai)) has prepared a reflection paper for all the SCC Coordinators, Animators and cluster families entitled, ‘Our Lenten Forty Days Desert Journey’. I am sure you will find it interesting and helpful. (click here to download reflection paper) Fr Ajit Tellis OFM Cap, Parish Priest, Our Lady of Bethlehem Church, Dongri, has been kind enough to translate the paper into Marathi. May I request you, as usual, to forward the SCC reflection paper to all the families of the Small Christian Communities of your parish.
Pope Francis, our beloved Holy Father in his Lenten Message for 2022, has stressed, “Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time, we shall reap our harvest, if we do not give up. So then, while we have the opportunity, let us do good to all.” (Galatians 6: 9-10)
Right through February 2022, the SCC Coordinators and Animators in the parishes were busy with the Synod 2021-2023 process. I take this opportunity to thank you for supporting the Synod process. Please ensure that the answers from your parish SCCs and clusters are collated and sent to the Archdiocesan Resource Team (ART) for SCCs who, in turn, will send it to the Synod Coordinating Committee. For any assistance to contact the ART member of your Deanery, please contact the Deanery SCC Lay Coordinator and/or send an email to email@example.com.
I sincerely thank all the Parish SCC Coordinators who sent their SCC Quarterly Reports for the period October - December 2021 via email. If you have still not sent your parish SCC Quarterly report, I request you to do so immediately, but not later than Wednesday, March 09, 2022. The reports give me first-hand information of the ground reality as far as the SCC happenings are concerned. Hence, this request to please keep me up to date.
I wish to inform you that as per the latest video recorded message of His Eminence, Oswald Cardinal Gracias (February 14, 2022), he has extended the term of the Parish Pastoral Council (PPC) for one year. Accordingly, the term of the Parish SCC Coordinator will also be extended by one year. Some of you who have completed your six-year term may have already identified your successor. I am proposing that the person chosen as your successor works in collaboration with you for the academic year 2022-2023; this will serve as a good training period and ensure a better handover in June 2023. I have already communicated this important information to the Parish Priests of our Archdiocese.
I request your assistance for the following:
Formation of clusters: At the November 2020 Parish SCC Coordinators’ meeting held in the Deaneries, I had explained to you the method of grouping the families of the SCCs into clusters. A number of parishes, I guess, have completed the exercise. May I request you to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org confirming that you have completed this important exercise.
Quarterly Reports (January to March 2022): Please remind the SCC Coordinators of your parish to keep their SCC quarterly reports for the above period ready. These reports must be submitted via email to email@example.com by April 15, 2022.
Lenten Devotions, etc.: It would be a good idea to plan and conduct the various Lenten activities in your SCCs – Way of the Cross (as a group (physically or online) or in the homes of the elderly, sick, etc.), outreach to the needy, activities for children (good deeds box, art and craft,…), etc. Let us aim at greater participation of all sections of our SCCs, using all the creative and other means at our disposal. A short report of these activities (with some high resolution photos) may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, for the SCC website.
Meetings: In view of the ground situation becoming better, I am earnestly recommending that you begin your Steering Committee and Core Group meetings physically - following COVID-19 protocols. Those parishes/SCCs that had begun cluster meetings are requested to resume these meetings. You are setting an example for many parishes to follow. Minutes of the Steering Committee meetings may be sent to email@example.com as and when held. An official reply will be sent to you.
Strengthening the system: Please identify those SCCs that need help – either in terms of increasing Core Group members (Animators), or organizing regular events for your SCCs and/or clusters. Please discuss this point at the next Steering Committee meeting. Should you require help in this regard, please discuss this important point at the Parish SCC Coordinators’ meeting in your respective Deaneries. This meeting will be conducted in the month of March in the Deanery itself.
Prayer for the success of the Synod: Please ensure that the enclosed Prayer for the Synod is recited daily in the families. We need the grace of God to accompany us so that we become a fully alive and vibrant Church, and to ensure that no one is in want in our SCCs.
Thank you for all the selfless services you render in your parishes; God bless you and your families. Yours in Christ, ✠Barthol Barretto Auxiliary Bishop of Bombay & Bishop in-charge of SCCs, Archdiocese of Bombay March 1, 2022