by Spero News

The Church has contributed to democracy and literacy through education programs, social work, and welfare activities.

There are historical records of Christians in Kerala from the 8th
century onwards. The high per cent of literacy in Kerala is due to the
Catholic Church which started universal education from the 18th
century, said Dr. M.G.S. Narayanan, a renowned historian, author and
former chairman of the Indian Council for Historical Research (ICHR).

Narayanan was delivering the keynote address at the 26th Annual Day
celebrations of Malayalee Catholic Fellowship (MACAF) together with the
Independence Day and the feast of Assumption.

The celebration of the triple events was held at St. Xavier’s Loyola School here August 15.

Narayanan recalled that the Catholic Church was the first to recognise
the dangers of communism and started the liberation struggle which led
to the dismissal of the first democratically elected communist
government in Kerala.

The historian acknowledged that the Church had contributed to the
awakening of the backward communities in Kerala through universal
educational programmes, social works and welfare activities.

He appreciated the fact that the Christianity was the only religion
that introspected, acknowledged its mistakes and failures, apologised
and corrected them.

At a public meeting following the Holy Mass, the first lady president
of MACAF, Grace Joseph, said the Fellowship’s silver jubilee had paved
the way for greater participation of women in community-building,
abreast with the change and attitude of the world at large and the
Catholic Church in particular. She called on the members to concentrate
on social spheres and women empowerment for creative and productive
works in social sector.

MACAF secretary general, Gigi Philips, highlighted the salient points
of his annual report. The many services and activities of MACAF showed
that it was involved in spiritual, social, educational, welfare,
cooperative, economic and voluntary fields and doing a lot of services
not only for its members but also for the society at large.

Earlier, celebrations of the triple events began with a High Mass led
by the Auxiliary Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Delhi, Archbishop Stanislaus
Fernandes of Gandhinagar, Gujarat, and a dozen Malayalee priests
working in Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar dioceses.

In his homily, Bishop Franco stressed the importance of fully
integrating oneself with the local language and culture while
maintaining Christian religious values and Christian traditions.

He warned the Malayalee Christians to be aware of the anti-Christian,
anti-minority and anti-Dalit forces at work attacking religious freedom
in states like Orissa, Karnataka and elsewhere.

At public function, Bishop Thomas Macwan of Ahmedabad Diocese
congratulated MACAF on electing a woman as its president. He
appreciated the fact that women form 50 per cent of the Church and many
of them were supporting and serving the Church in many ways.

“We Catholics in Gujarat need to be united among ourselves as well as
with other ecumenical groups. Jesus Christ has called us for unity; and
united we will face many challenges which are thrown at us. Even today,
after a year of anti-Christian attacks in Orissa, 2,000 Christians are
still staying in tents, as they are unable to return to their villages.
This situation and anti-Christian attacks can happen anywhere in India.
Christ has told us that as his followers we will have suffering. We are
often moving against the tide. So we may have to face persecutions.

But, in spite of persecutions we pray for our enemies,” Bishop Macwan said.

Appreciating MACAF’s motto ‘Christ our Leader’, Archbishop Stanislaus
Fernandes said that “we accept Christ as our leader and he is our
uniting factor”.

He appreciated the services of MACAF not only to the Gandhinagar
Diocese but also to other places like Kandhamal in Orissa. “We should
not remain confined to our parishes or organisations but we need to be
open and play a national role through contributing our share to the
building of the nation and enjoy true freedom,” he said.

Bishop Mulakkal stressed the need of serving the needy people. He
called on the MACAFians to march ahead. “God is with you; God loves
you. And we are all with you.”

The celebrations included two-hour-long cultural and variety
entertainment programmes from nine parishes and distribution of
scholarships and awards to outstanding MACAFians in various fields like
studies, sports and cultural performance.

Source: SAR News: