Bhagalpur Diocese; Giridih Parish
THE BUILDER-PRIEST BECOME ANIMATOR OF PEOPLE:
Fr. Gregory Kootickal of Bhagalpur Diocese was a great builder. The Bishop always chose him when a Church or school or any other structure is to be built in a place. He proved himself to be a great builder. Since he was confirmed in this even by authorities, he always went about building structures and not much work to build people. Wherever he went he found some construction work. He had to do it and he found satisfaction in it. When people came with their problems he tried to send his assistant or a catechist to that village. When he had to go for any Sacramental service he did it fast and tried to return home. The problems of people were not his real concern. When SCCs were introduced in the diocese and even the bishop took it as a pastoral priority of the diocese. Fr. Gregory did not consider it so important and did not introduce it in his Parish. He said that it was not practical to introduce it among the poor and illiterate people of his Parish. Then a sister who came to the Parish spoke about SCCs to him. He wasn’t too excited about it and told the Sister that she can try it if she wants it. After the initial visits she invited Fr. Gregory to meet the people who were interested in SCCs. The village where it was being introduced was a place where people always revolted against the Priest and created problems for them. Being with this people and seeing the change in them made Fr. Gregory to re-think about his pastoral approach. Gradually he became a full-time animator for SCCs. He said that out of the 38 years of his priestly service 32 years he was a builder of structures and in the last 6 years he was a builder of people and that during these past 6 years he has not put one brick on another. The last 6 years of ministry was far more satisfying and sanctifying than the previous 32 years’ ministry, as he testified. He has come to love his poor people and they, him.
As shared by Fr. Gregory himself
Giridih parish is in Bhagalpur diocese. Giridih parish has 2000 people, 4000 families in 300 houses. People are poor and illiterate except for a few who are working as teachers and in Govt. offices. The farthest village is 52 Km away from the Parish house and people have to spend a minimum of Rs. 80/- for coming to attend the Sunday Mass, which is too much for them. Anything beyond Rs. 5/- is a big amount. The parish is spread out into 13 blocks.
Father Gregory Kuttickal, Parish priest organized a retreat from 26th to 28th March 2014 as preparation for Easter. He had no means to finance the program as he was expecting a big number of people for retreat. He took the Scripture passages John 2:1 ff “The Wedding at Cana” and Mark 6:30-44 “Jesus Feeds the five Thousand” for SCC meetings. People were inspired by the Word of God. To Father Gregory’s surprise on 23rd March one lady who is a teacher (she wants to keep her name unknown) came with 2qunitel rice, 10 kilo sugar. The next day came another with 25 kg rice, 10 kg dal, and more people came with things, some with Rs. 500/-, 100/-, 50/- etc. The retreat was successful.
Fr. Gregory is overwhelmed with the experience of the Power of the Word of God and is once again determined to promote SCCs in his parish. Fr. Gregory says, “SCC is the only way to renew the parish. All the bishop conferences and people of the parishes, when they understood this, express their joy and desire to establish SCCs. This is the voice of the Holy Spirit. In the golden jubilee year of the diocese I do not see any other means better than SCC, which is centered on the Eucharist and the Word of God, for the renewal of the Church in the locality.”
shared by Father Gregory Kuttickal
SCC IN MASAURHA VILLAGE
Masaurha is a village, 15km away from Durgawati parish of Buxur diocese. 5 years ago, when SCC was started in the parish, there were only five Christian families there. There was a strong feeling of caste and untouchability. When these five families came together for any prayer or meeting, people belonging to other castes made fun of them. But the people kept coming together to listen to the Word of God and for sharing with one another their faith experience. In their meetings, they read the Word of God, reflect on it and then discuss what could be done in the light of the Word of God they heard. As a result the Lord added to their number and they have 18 Christian families now. The untouchability is wiped out. People who never even took water from them now share common meals with them. The whole village, irrespective of caste and creed, shares their joys and sorrows like birth of a new born, death, marriage, success etc. They come together to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries.
These were people who wanted the parish or the priest to do everything for them. But now, with the new understanding of ‘shared responsibility’, there is a marked difference in people’s attitude. One of the ladies, called Kumari Kuwar, gave half a khatta (2 and 1/2 decimal) of her land to build a center for the common good of the village. The SCC members contributed money and built a small center where all catholic families gather everyday in the evening for praying together. They sing Kirthans, thank God for the gifts received during the day, read the Bible and share their faith and pray.
Sr. Christin, along with Fr. Bhaskar, went to visit the SCC in Mausarha. Usually the people in the village go to sleep at 8.30 pm. The team was supposed to meet them at 5pm. Due to some unavoidable reasons on the way they reached at 7.45pm with no hope of meeting anyone. But to the surprise of the team, the people (men, Women, youth and children) waited more than two and a half hours singing kirtans and reading the Word of God. The people greeted the team with great joy and love without a word of complaint or demanding to know the reason for their late arrival. The team members were touched by the patience, love and welcome they received in spite of being so late to reach them.
The members of SCCs shared:
“We now can share a common meal sitting together without a sense of caste and creed unlike in earlier times”
“We now come together every day for prayer”
“Church is a community and this community is here where we live”.
“The Word of God guides us”
“Our priests now come here oftener; it was not so before”.
“We are growing in faith”
Dumka Dioces; Madhpur Parish
Chechali is a Santhal village in Madhupur parish of Dumka Diocese in Madhpur (Dt), Jharkhand. The people in the village (50 families) were living in total misery and starvation. They had no means of livelihood except farming and cultivation. They had no forest nearby to collect the fruits, seeds and other means of income, and there were no factories to get a job. There was problem of water for cultivation and they had no means of irrigation. If they were fortunate they got rain once a year during monsoon. They depended on this rain for farming and cultivation. People fought among themselves out of jealousy, superstitions and hatred.
In the month of May, 2008, Madhpur Parish arranged a Small Christian Community (SCC or BCC) awareness programme for the people of the parish. 20 Catholic families from this village attended the program. They were inspired by the exercises and the Word of God, especially, Isaiah 55: 10 -12 "For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so will My Word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. For you will go out with joy and be led forth with peace; the mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.…” Inspired and empowered by the Word of God, they decided to change their situation in the village.
They began SCC in their village and named it St. Monica SCC. Their regular meeting and Gospel sharing brought unity among them and bound them as a community. In the month of June 2008, in their Gospel sharing they were challenged by the Word of God, "
I have come in order that you might have life - life in all its fullness.” John 10/10. They asked themselves if the Lord came to give us fullness of life why are we starving and living in poverty and misery. So far they were cultivating their land individually. They spent their time protecting it from animals and other people. So they decided to do farming collectively and help widows and other helpless people to cultivate their land. They welcomed whole heartedly this idea which emerged from among them.
Challenged by the Word of God the SCC members started collective farming. When an NGO called Lok Jagriti Kendra heard about the collective farming, they offered the SCC members a pump set free to help them for irrigating their farm. This made their work easier.
In the next SCC meeting they were informed by one of the members that there is a fund available called “Mukhya fund” for the people who do collective farming in the village and they could have instruction for farming and better seeds for cultivation from the Block. The SCC members decided to go together to the Block Development Officer to request for these helps available. To their great joy they were rewarded and help was made available. Now the SCC members included all 50 families of the village saying. “We the SCC (the neighbourhood Church) will see that we have no one in our village, going to bed hungry.”
Mr. Jerome Tudu the animator says, “I am reminded of the multiplication of 5 loaves and 2 fishes. The Lord has done miracles in our village with the power of His word.”
Another villager says. “the Word of God instills confidence within us”.
Mariam Handsak says, “ We need not buy anything from the market now except oil and Masala”
John Murmu says, “ The Lord rewarded us in abundance for the little work we have done”
The unity and love among the members of SCC instilled confidence in Shanti Devi, a Hindu widow. She approached them for help in the unjust treatment she was getting from some people in the village. Shanti Devi was accused of being a witch and was put out of the village because some powerful people of the village wanted to grab her property. The SCC members of the parish took up her cause. They called for a village meeting. During the meeting the SCC members made the Hindu brothers and sisters understand that it was not right to put the poor, helpless widow out of the village. They made it clear to the villagers that injustice to a poor voiceless woman is a great crime. They even quoted from the Hindu scriptures to show that it was a sin to deprive the woman of her property and throw her out in the street to die. The SCC members then, with the help of others, built a house for the poor widow and sheltered her in her own land. The SCC families took care of her needs till her death in the year 2014.
The most significant changes the peopleexperienced in the village:
Growth in their faith and trust in God
Growth in faith in the Power of the Word of God
Love for the Word of God
A sense of being Church in the Neighbourhood
Growth in Self Confidence and in a sense of Dignity
Unity and oneness among them
Growth in the sense of belonging to one another
Growth in the sense of belonging to the human family
Ability to rise above one’s caste, creed; with a sense of universal oneness
Growth in leadership qualities
Better knowledge of farming
Better standard of living
Eradication of poverty from the village
Narrated by Mr. Jerome Tudu, SCC Animator
LEARNING TO BE CO-RESPONSIBLE THE DIOCESE OF DUMKA, 2016
Dumka Diocese is one among the eight Catholic Dioceses in the State of Jharkhand. At present the Diocese of Dumka is blessed with fifty (50) Parishes and Quasi Parishes. Small Christian Communities (SCCs) were born here in the year 2004. The first Parish where the SCCs started is Shikaripara. The following year, 2005, the SCCs extended in five more Parishes. Thus, by 2010 thirty three Parishes got SCCs in the Diocese. In the recent years 2011 – 2016 in the period of five years again nine more Parishes embraced the SCCs. Thus, at present in the Diocese of Dumka forty two Parishes are with SCCs, with a total of 430 units.
Generally the style of function in SCCs is same in all the units. The units gather once or twice in a month, the venue rotating to different families; a passage from Holy Bible is read and the "seven steps ‘Gospel Sharing’(GS) method" is followed. At this exercise an ‘Action Plan’ (AP) is made, which usually consists of seeking solution to a family problem or some activity for the benefit of the entire village or parish.
When we plan to do something good collectively the Spirit of the Lord strengthens us. This was our experience in a parish called Shikaripara where the SCCs started in the year 2004. The parish is at the outskirt of Dumka about 30 K.M. to the East. There are at present 54 SCCs all over the parish. Mr. Albert Hansdak is the head animator there. He is associated with SCCs in the Diocese of Dumka right from 2004. He is in-fact the SCC member of his village called Jambad. Members of SCCs there come for GS meeting once or twice a month. From the beginning people have seen that all come for GS meeting, but they had no interest for the AP work. Only a few were doing the AP work and the rest of them were always absent from it. It went on this way for six months and more.
In one particular GS meeting all of them expressed their mind about the present situation of SCCs, whether their SCCs were going on well or not? Some, especially those who were not interested in AP, raised the question whether they should make AP, or do they really need to do work together. At this point some asked “if they do not keep the AP what sort of SCCs would that be called? ” After discussing for a long time everyone said sincerely, “Without AP our SCC is incomplete; and it will be called only a ‘Prayer Group’. Therefore, if we are deciding for SCCs to continue in our place, in the name of the whole group each one of us will sacrifice our personal time and come for common purpose”. They also said that if all of them were ready for it, only then they would call for GS meeting. All of them agreed to that and till today their SCC units are going on well. By now many APs have been carried out. Some of them are as follows:
1. In the Summer season, digging ditches on the side of the fields to avail water for cattle to drink.
2. Making exit drainage in the village for the waste water from hand pump.
3. Reaching out to the sick and suffering people in the neighborhood.
4. Repairing the houses of others.
5. Paddy transplantation and the harvest work doing in the group.
6. Repairing the village road, etc.
In the month of May, 2016, the SCCs members helped a boy to get married. He was a poor orphan boy from the village called Jambad. His name is Jeshil Marandi, and belongs to a family of eight children, five boys and three girls. He is the forth boy in the family. Both the parents passed away when he was young. The boy married a girl who is also an orphan from a village called Dhopahar of the same Parish. The name of the girl is Elshi Soren. She has only a brother younger to her. The SCCs in the village of Jeshil is known as St. Abert’s Unit. The members of St. Albert’s unit arranged everything and took care of the whole marriage programme for them. First of all they helped him to repair his house. They did the white washing; contributed thatch for the roof; helped in cleaning the surroundings, organized reception of the relatives on the day of celebration, and arranged whatever was required for the marriage, including two witnesses from both sides, for the bride and groom. All the members of St. Albert’s unit contributed as they could. Thus, their marriage celebration was carried out smoothly. Neither of the bride or groom felt the lack of their parents who had died long go.
Now, both the couples are living very happily. They have become active and regular members at the SCCs meetings. Their faith in the Lord too has grown stronger after their marriage because they found that in the Church there are people, or rather neighbors, who would always stand in support of them in the time of difficulties.
Here is another example of how the SCCs awakened in the people the awareness that they are the Church.
Shikaripara village chapel was broken down and was neglected for three to four years. The people thought it was the duty of Bishop and Parish priest to repair it. In the month of May 2013, the SCC leaders of Shikaripara were taken to Bokaro steel city Parish for a training cum live in experience with SCCs of Bokaro. The one week program changed the attitude of SCC leaders from Shikaripara. The experience in Bokaro made them aware, as Mr. Raphael put it, “we realized that we are the Church and we need a place to gather for worship.” They came back determined to repair and rebuild their village chapel. The broken down chapel was built and blessed solemnly.
In May 2013 all the SCC members of Shikaripara gathered to meet Sr. Christin (representative of NST in Jharkhand) who paid a visit to the SCCs at the grass roots. At the Gospel sharing meeting they discussed with her their fearful situation in the village. There was the news of land grabbing by the DVC company. Hundreds of people would be displaced. One of the SCC members who informed the villagers about this plan for land grabbing being made by DVC, was arrested. There were tears in their eyes, fear in their face, anger and helplessness in their voice. Together with Sr. Christin the SCC members decided to join hands with other people of the villages which would be affected and with the NGOs who are working for the welfare of the people.
They held meetings with all the villagers, met the NGOs as decided. With the help of the experienced NGOs they wrote a letter to the President of India about their situation. After that so far the villagers are not approached for land again. (names of persons are not mentioned for security reasons.)
Narrated by Fr. Christopher Hembrom
Kamanta is a village in Khunti where there are 18 Catholic families who live together with Protestants and Sarna brethren. These 18 families are very regular in Gospel sharing and helping others. Last year they helped each other in transplantation of the paddy fields. In early days this was the custom in all the tribal villages to help each other in transplantation, weeding and harvesting. But for quite a few years in the past it has disappeared. People face a lot of difficulties for lack of money and lack of laborers. Last year the Catholic families together transplanted paddy in the fields of five families in five days. At an appointed time all used to go to the fields and joyfully finished all the work in no time. The better off families gave food, some gave money and others didn’t give anything but all were happy that they had worked together. This year they have planned to do the same.
Just recently they helped to repair two old buildings and worked together to build a new house of a neighbour. Some carried bricks, others sand and still others helped carrying water etc. These activities could not remain unnoticed by the neighbours. Three Sarna families are deeply touched and expressed their desire to join the Catholic Church.This is good news but the head man of the village wants to know that it is a genuine case, so he has advised them to go to church regularly on Sundays for six months. Only after that they will be given proper religion classes and Baptism. This I feel is a very positive effect of the SCC in Kamanta.
The second example is that of Amritpur. There a retired couple had started building a small grotto of Our Lady in their courtyard. They had difficulty in collecting small stones. After the Gospel sharing they expressed their frustration of not being able to complete the grotto for the month of May .The SCC group decided to help. Whoever found one stone or two brought it to their house. Soon after, their little grotto was completed and blessed .This event filled them with joy and gratitude. Those who contributed stones are also very happy and the little grotto belongs to everybody in the village. It faces the common path through which they pass.
This year on 20th May we lost one of our most important members of the team. Mrs. Grace Bhengra had an accidental fall in the well. She was deeply injured and expired by evening. This is a great loss for our team. She was the backbone of our team. May she rest in peace.
Narrated by Sister Roshni Baxla OSU.
A SISTER ANIMATOR OF RARE COURAGE
Sr. Rosita, SCCG
Kubajpur is a Santal village 3km away from Kurmun parish of Asansol diocese. It is in Burdwan district. The SCC in this village has 30 families. Sr. Rosita, SCCG is their animator. The women came regularly for meeting but not many men. Sr. Rosita began to look for the men of the SCC families. She then found them out in a place gathered around liquor bottles, while their women were gathered around the Word of God. She was also aware of the situation in the village. Every evening the men came home drunk and picked up fight with their wives. People who passed by could hear the abusive language they used while fighting. Sister Rosita took a decision to change the situation.
When the women gathered for SCC meeting, Sr. Rosita asked them to sit and pray while she went to bring the men from their drinking place. Sr. Rosita then went and sat with the men who were gathered around the liquor bottles. The men initially felt embarrassed and tried to hide their bottles. Then one of the men said, “why should we feel ashamed. Sister is also a Santal.” Sister Rosita was patient and told them not to hide their bottles. She asked them to finish the drink they had with them. She said she was in no hurry and she would return only with them. She waited and when they finished drinking, she accompanied the drunken men to the SCC meeting. There she asked all the men and women to sing and dance to their content as the men were drunk. This continued for a few months.
Gradually, as a result of the Sister's effort and the women’s prayerful support, the situation changed. Now there is peace in the families. 5 broken marriages were restored. Men have reduced their drinking and have come out of their habitual drinking. On the days of the SCC meetings, the men abstain completely from drinking and attend the meetings faithfully.
SCC DAY CELEBRATION AT ST. MARTIN’S CHURCH SAHEBDANGA
ON 23RD JAN 2017
Preparation for SCC day celebration begn with SCC input session every three months in the the villages. For this we we invited SCC animators from the diocese and from the region as resource persons. It was like one day celebration with the community members. Along with Bishop Cyprian Monis of Asansol, we fixed the date 23rd Jan 2017. We called for planning meeting in which we were aware of the poor parish finance condition. We could not expect any financial help from the parish. The people responded posistively saying, “don’t worry this is our program and we will do it”. We estimated 600 parcticipants for the SCC day celebration. The parish has only five SCCs. We divided the responsibility among ourselves according to our strength and capacity. With the support of friends and well wishers we bought needed rice and chicken. The rest of the items such as vegetables, spice, fire wood, sound systems, tent, labour and other required things was managed by the five SCC units. There was no collection of money, but only the required things.
On 23rd January 2017 the parish SCC day was celebrated solemnly. The day began with Bible veneration at 8:30 am and concluded at 4:30 pm by closing of the Bible. The participants were more than our expectation. We expected around 600 people and prepared the food, but there were more than 800 people as the food distributors informed us. Miraculously everyone was fed and were well pleased with the food and program. The neghibouring parish members also witnessed the day’s program.
We could say the Lord worked miracle and made the celebration possible. The generosity of the people was blessed by the Lord.
Maria Busty Parish came into existence when the British donated some land to the French MEP Fathers in 1891. In 1999 Small Christian Communities sprouted after a seminar given by Fr. Jagdish Parmar SJ.
Mr. Joginder Masih is from Patiala Parish and he lives in Bank Colony. He is a daily laborer and lives with his three children and wife. He is a very cool catholic and not very much interested in the Church activities. However the Parish Priest convinced him to attend SCC seminar which was being held at St. Thomas Church Rajpura. From the beginning of the seminar he was sitting very quiet and not speaking much. At the end of the seminar there was a session on the importance of WORD OF GOD in the FAMILY LIFE. After this session, Mr. Joginder Masih came forward and confessed that he was a sinner and was leading a kind of sinful life. He was determined change his life. He said, "Today I have come to Know about the value of Word of God for my personal life and Family. Today onwards I am a new person and my Family will walk according to the Word of God. As the head of my family I will make sure that we all will walk by the Word of God and obey the word of God."
1. Personal Conversion
2. Awareness about the WORD OF GOD
3. Personal decision to live by the word of God
4. Profession of his faith in the Word of God in front of all.
5. Taking up the responsibility as head of the family to lead the family in the light of the Word of God.
6. Asking everyone present for the same to obey the Lord and read the Word of God always by seeting an example.
Narratec by Fr. Robin Sahaya
I am Mr. Osmond Valerian Sun, husband of Mrs. Sweety Kharkongor, son of Mrs. Resina Sun and (Late) R. Habubit Suting. My place is from Laitpynter Synrangkaban Parish U Khrist Jingshai Marbisu. I have 2 children.
The testimony I wanted to share with you all is that how God healed me through the prayers of the SCC members from Mawphlang Village of Marbisu Parish under the leadership of the local church lay leader and Mrs. Wiat Rapthap. This group came to pray for me when I met with a very serious accident in GS Road as I was travelling down to Guwahati. Together with me there were other three friends but only me and the driver were injured. The accident took place on July 26, 2009 at 2.00pm., where in this accident; all my bones and muscles of the right hand and left leg were broken.
As they rushed me to the Nazareth Hospital in Shillong on the same day, the operation took place from 4.15pm to 11.45pm Thursday night. Dr. Phanbuh who operated me said, it takes not less than 8 hours to complete the operation. I was unconscious from 29th onwards till Friday July 31st. I was conscious again only at 3.00 pm July 31st as the above SCC members as I mentioned came to me with the recitation of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy which took place at 3 oclock sharp. After the prayers they massaged me with some holy oil. Immediately after this I came to my consciousness, I gained the power to get up and sat down; I started to talk and to eat. From that day onwards till today I am again normal as usual, I am able to walk and to continue my duty as it used to be. I thank the SCC members of Mawphlang Village, and I praised and thank Jesus for He worked wonders in my life through this simple community.