CCI India members gathered at Sacred Heart, Poonamallee near Chennai to celebrate New Pentecost with a special Mass celebrated by Father Thomas Joseph, 92, a worker chaplain since 1950.
“Thomas Joseph stressed on the message of ‘peace’ in his homily. He said peace cannot be achieved without justice and so our struggle for justice is struggle for peace,” CCI Convenor M.J. Ruben reports.
“At the sharing session afte the mass, the CCI members and contacts shared how they are building peace throught their involvement in various fields.
“Lazar Fernando had to give up his good prospects in the Gulf and returned to India to take care of his spastic child. He underwent training and took up a job in a school for spastic children. When the school closed down, the parents of the special children requested Lazar to start a school for their wards. In the meantime, Lazar’s son died at the age of 14. Lazar realised the pitiable state of the children as well as their parents who were mostly poor fisherfolk. He collected some donations from traders and friends besides loans from his wife’s workplace and rented out a house and started a school for special children. Now, the school ‘Mercy Niketan’ has 35 children.
“After joining CCI Lazar is able to share his work and get more contacts and know how to run the school. Susairaj and Ruben are in the Trust and they are planning to develop the school; the parents are now pressing Lazar to open a hostel like facility for children above 18 yrs since it is very hard for the poor parents to look after them. The school gets a small percentage of the teacher’s salary from the state social welfare department.
“Gnanaraj who is a railway employee offered to help out Lazar to find local donors through the network at his work place.
“Sebastian, a worker leader with years of trade union experience hinted that there may be a possibility of getting a house for Lazar’s Trust through one of his contacts who wants to help some genuine organisation. He said he cannot promise now but hopes to convince the donor after seeing Mercy Niketan’s work.
“Susairaj shared how Pentecost is a special day in his life as a motivation for his dedication to work among children and women.
“Heston George felt that people should be motivated to help development organisations by offering their skills free of charges. He said that many such base organisations do not know how to present their activities or to seek funds.
“The group also analysed the social commitment of the Church; many felt that the parish structure keeps the lay people out of social commitment. The young people do not involve actively since they do not find a meaningful role.
“Rupert Rathnaraj initiated a lively discussion on how ‘consumerism’ is promoted by globalization. An image is created that people have lot of money to buy; acutally people are made to buy not from their surplus but because it gives an identity.
“Fr. Thomas Joseph spoke about the child workers and social commitment of the Church.
“Ms Glynis Joseph, Coordinator of Chennai CCI coordinated the discussions and said that more such interactions will be organised. She also presented the CCI message on New Pentecost 2011.
“M. J. Ruben, International Convenor gave an overall picture of CCI and its evolution. He traced the life of Cardijn and how his method see judge act has been acknowledged as a tool of social analysis around the world; he also mentioned that this year is the 50th anniversary of see judge act being accepted as part of social teaching of the Church.
“Ruben also shared with the group the efforts of YCW and Sr. Jeanne Devos and others from the National Domestic Workers Movement who are lobbying in Geneva at the ILC to get the convention on dometic workers passed without any hiccup.
“A brief information about the forthcoming CCI 10th anniversary International Forum and General Assembly in Bangkok was also shared before conclusion.
“While concluding Ms Glynis Joseph thanked Fr. Thomas Joseph and others for making the New Pentecost event a memorable one despite the long distance each one had to travel.”