The Indian Catechetical Association held its ninth annual convention last week to evaluate the central challenges to both the evangelization and catechesis of families on the subcontinent. “The family, this basic cell of society and the Church, is going through a social and ecclesiastical evolution,” said Fr. Gilbert Choondal, S.D.B., president of the Indian Catechetical Association. “It is our task to reflect, review, renew and respond together to the challenges of family from a catechetical perspective,” Fr. Choondal told CNA Feb. 16. The convention was held Feb. 11-13 in Shillong, the capital of India's Meghalaya state. Meghalaya, which is bordered on its south by Bangladesh, is one of only three Indian states with a Christian majority. More than 75 catechists, including priests, religious, and laity from across India met at the Bethel center of the Missionary Sisters of Mary, Help oof Christians. The convention explored the “Challenges and Concerns of Family Catechesis,” in the context of realities facing the new evangelization. Archbishop Emeritus Thomas Menamparampil of Guwahati, in his presentation, insisted that “we need to seek more to understand the families, than to be understood, in this era of varieties of difficulties facing families.” The particular situation facing families in India, they noted, are migration and couples living apart; intercultural and interfaith families; suicide; divorce; multiple relationships; alcoholism; abandonment of the elderly; domestic violence; and human trafficking. “Communicating faith to these families would primarily mean seeking to understand them and enabling them to build bridges,” the participants stated. The participants adopted a final statement noting that the family has taken the “center stage of the world’s concerns.” They acknowledged that “the Church is concerned about the situation, namely the loss of sacredness of marriage and family, the erosion of Christian values, tendencies toward individualism, consumerism and relativism, and ignorance and negligence of faith matters.” They emphasized that the challenge is in helping “parents to take responsibility as primary agents in the transmission of faith and bringing up children rooted in spiritual riches and moral and ethical values.” However, stressing the crucial role of the parents' personal faith life and the “parish-parent partnership,” they appreciated the efforts made by families despite challenges that the parents face in responding to the imminent questions of the new generation. In light of this, the convention urged that clergy learn the “art of accompaniment.” The participants also underlined the importance of the Bible and of the Christian initiation of children in the family, which need to be given extra emphasis to bring about a deep renewal of Christian communities. The event's analysis suggested a roadmap of proposals to address blindspots and to encourage inculturation of the faith. The Indian Catechetical Association's next plenary meeting will be held Feb. 3-5, 2016 in Bangalore, on the theme “Catechesis toward a healthy social life.”
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