Bishop Salvadore Lobo of Baruipur has profound sympathy for the poor and handicapped. While still a young seminarian, he met Mother Teresa and decided there and then to help as a volunteer in her Kaligat House of the Dying in Calcutta, washing and tending to the dying. It was an experience that remained with him throughout his life.
In Bishop Lobo’s deeply impoverished diocese, the Holy Year of Mercy, proclaimed by Pope Francis, is being commemorated with exceptional and intensive solemnity. This is why the bishop has consecrated a church dedicated to the Divine Mercy. It took him three hours by car and then another hour by boat just to get here, as this church stands on an island in the river. But then, many places in his diocese are hard to reach.
The concern that is nearest the bishop’s heart is to ensure that the people here truly take to their hearts the message of God’s Mercy. As a result, he wants to establish a pastoral program that will not just last for the Year of Mercy but for three years altogether. In this way he wants to help the people to grow in a spirit of love, peace and mutual forgiveness. There will be a range of different courses, workshops, retreats and days of reflection for the various different target groups.
One of the main focuses will be on the work with children. In this region, the Church has only a few of her Catholic schools, with the result that children often do not receive sufficient religious support and accompaniment. Then there is the influence of the modern media. Too many children spend their time in front of the television or playing computer games, and fewer and fewer go to church. As a result, the Bishop wants to intensify the work with children and young people in order to root them more profoundly in their faith.
There will also be special programs for women, since they often receive very little support and are sometimes perceived as counting for little in society – and indeed even in their own eyes. Then there is the fact that Catholics frequently belong to the ethnic minorities who are at the bottom of Indian society. It is precisely people like these, people who suffer exceptional disadvantages, that the bishop wants to reach with the understanding of God’s love for them.
ACN is supporting this project and has promised $34,200 on behalf of the pastoral program of the Diocese of Baruipur.
Will you give to support this pastoral program to help women, children and ethnic minorities to mark the Holy Year of Mercy in India?
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