‘May They All Be One’-Celebrating Togetherness MCC hosts Sauhardha Christmas & Golden Jubilee

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‘May They All Be One (In Bible: Mark 17:21) -Celebrating Togetherness Mangalore Christian Council (MCC) Celebrates Golden Jubilee & Sauhardha Christmas

Mangaluru: Christmas Season is the perfect time to share joy and peace among people. Rejoicing the coming of Jesus, the organizations shared the spirit of Christmas among the august gathering, consisting of priests, nuns, men and women, youth and children. During this joyous season, we should set aside our indifferences to become better humans. India, a land of 29 states and 7 union territories, over 3000 castes and 10 religions, has catered for brotherhood and peace. Unity in diversity makes our country special. We follow different religions but our religious scriptures lead us to follow brotherhood, love, tolerance, concern and non-violence.

We should first learn to be humans and work towards building society. Every religion is established based on promoting peace and love. Religions survive only if principles of love and peace are established and followed. When we understand other religions, we can live in peace and love. Presently we are working hard towards destroying humanity by remaining adamant about our views. Patience is most rewarded; when it is lost, society tends towards destruction. India is a land of rich culture and everyone should work hard towards building India and protecting its culture. Mothers should nurture young minds by filling them with moral values and love. When we work towards educating children, then our festivals find meaning.

And for that matter right in time during the Christmas Season, ‘Mangalore Christian Council’ celebrated their Diamond Jubilee, along with SAUHARDHA CHRISTMAS-2022′ on Wednesday, 14th December 2022, at 4:30 p.m. at Rosario Cultural Hall, Mangaluru. The function was presided over by Most Rev. Dr Peter Paul Saldanha, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Mangaluru; and The new Bishop of CSI-Karnataka Southern Diocese Rt Rev. Hemachandra Kumar; Bishop of Malankara Catholic Diocese of Puttur Most Rev. Dr Geevarghese Mar Makarios; and Fr Baptist Menezes-the National Ecumenical Secretary (CBCI) as Chief Guests/Guests of honour.

The programme began with a Prayer Song invoking God’s blessings by Karnataka Theological College (KTC) students, followed by an Audio-Visual Presentation on MCC Activities of the past 60 years. Rev. Dr Ronald Serrao -the Rector of St. Joseph’s Seminary, Mangaluru offered special prayers on this occasion, followed by a Welcome Dance by Sacred Heart School, Kulshekar students. The programme was inaugurated by lighting of the lamp by the dignitaries on the dais, namely Rev. Dr Peter Paul Saldanha (Bishop of Mangalore Diocese) Rt. Rev. Martin C. Borgia (Moderator’s Commissary, CSI); H.E. Most Rev. Dr Geevarghese Mar Makarios (Metropolitan of The Eparchy of Puttur); Rt Rev. Dr John S. Sadananda [CSI Church]; Fr Rupesh Martha and Rev Dr Sandeep Theophil (both Secretaries of Mangalore Christian Council)l; Fr Baptist Pais; Alfred Manohar (All Karnataka United Christian Forum for Human Rights –Western Zone); Rev Dr H M Watson (Principal Karnataka Theological College); Rev Fr Prabhuraj (Area Chairman CSI-DK Area); Fr Clifford Fernandes; Rev Sagar Sunder Raj; F M Lobo; among others.

Addressing the audience H.E. Most Rev. Dr Geevarghese Mar Makarios said, ”Christ gave the message of love to the world and preached brotherhood, and that all are children of God and hence we must treat each other as brothers and sisters. Christmas is the most awaited Holy period in the calendar for the followers of Christ. Christmas means the celebration of God’s incredible love towards mankind. God sent his Son to mankind to spread the message of peace and love. Sad to note that today the world is drifting away from God and spiritual values. During the Christmas season let us spread Christ’s message to the world to love one another and maintain peace throughout. Let the light of Christmas shine upon us and take away the darkness and give us peace and prosperity.”

“Jesus gave a message of peace and love to the world. The birth of Jesus is celebrated throughout India as a national festival. In a world where there is corruption, terrorism, and violence, Jesus needs to be born again to create peace in society. Christmas is a feast of happiness and brotherhood. Jesus taught us humanity. Our forefathers did not have the facilities which we have today but they lived in peace. Today we have everything but no peace. People used to care for others but now people have become sadists. Love is not a discovery of science. Religion teaches love. The messages of Jesus and other prophets are essential for the 21st century. Human beings are under a lot of pressure and pain which leads to a lack of peace in society.” added Rev. Dr Geevarghese. (LISTEN TO HIS SPEECH IN THE VIDEO BELOW).

In his presidential address, Rev Dr Peter Paul Saldanha said, ” Christmas is a grand celebration observed by the Christians worldwide. People rejoice when a child is born into the family. When Jesus was born, the entire world was rejoicing. It was the shepherds who had the first privilege of witnessing the good tiding. The birth of Jesus was symbolic. The shepherds were treated as outcasts in society and Christ’s birth amidst the lower strata of society meant he was in the world not for the rich but for the downtrodden. These shepherds were very poor yet pure at heart and could witness the manifestation of God’s love for mankind. We have to love one another to make this Christmas meaningful. At a time when society is wrought by evil designs, we have to dedicate our lives to others and spread the message of peace this Christmas season. This programme is to bring in love, peace and harmony”.

“Today Sauhardha Christmas has brought us all together, all the believers of Jesus Christ. Christ gave the message of love to the world and preached brotherhood, and that all are children of God and hence we must treat each other as brothers and sisters. Christmas is the most awaited holy period in the calendar for the followers of Christ. Christmas means the celebration of God’s incredible love towards mankind. God sent his Son to mankind to spread the message of peace and love. We welcome Jesus, the Son of God who became man, and that is what we call Christmas. Today the world is drifting away from god and spiritual values. As Christians, we must bring Christ into ourselves, our society and our home, to spread his message to the world,” added Bishop Saldanha. (LISTEN TO MORE OF HIS SPEECH IN THE VIDEO BELOW).

The new Bishop of CSI-Karnataka Southern Diocese Rt Rev. Hemachandra Kumar was felicitated at this occasion. The former Secretaries (between 2012-2022) Rev. Dr J B Saldanha, Rev Clifford Fernandes and Rev Sagar Sundaraj and Treasurer F.M Lobo were also felicitated.

FRANK MARTIN LOBO:

F. M. Lobo has been an active member of the Mangalore Christian Council from its inception. He has been the Treasurer for the past 60 years and meticulously takes care of the accounts. As a musician, with his violin, he was found at the forefront of organising musicians from various choirs for the cause of Ecumenical unity. He worked hand in hand with Rev. Fr Augustine Agnoletto SJ the inspiration for Ecumenical solidarity in Mangalore. He is an able organiser who has organised several Ecumenical activities. Through his contacts with Catholics and Protestants, he strengthened the arms of the Mangalore Christian Council. He has motivated several people to partake in Ecumenical activities.

Rev. Dr JOHN BAPTIST SALDANHA:

Rev. Fr John Baptist Saldanha was appointed as the Secretary of the Mangalore Christian Council on June 1, 2008, and continued to be the Secretary till January 2013. Under his able leadership, the Mangalore Christian Council has moved in the direction of wider Ecumenism. Several programmes related to women’s issues, ecological concerns, youth, and medical camps for the poor have been organised. During the Church attacks, in 2008, he took the initiative to animate the community to stay together. He also took the initiative to organise protests by joining hands with like-minded people in condemning the harm done to the Christians.

Seminars were organised on themes like Secularism and Religious Freedom, Conflict Resolution in the Context of Religious Violence etc. Musical compact discs of Christmas Carols and Ecumenical Prayer Songs were produced during his time. He gave importance to the Ecumenical formation of the leaders and the faithful. Ecumenical laity gatherings and Ecumenical clergy gatherings were organised.

Rev. SAGAR SUNDAR RAJ:

Rev Sagar Sundar Raj was appointed as the Secretary in June 2016 and served until January 2020. He is an Old Testament professor at the Karnataka Theological College. During these years he took the initiative to organise prayer Octaves services in Churches, laity fellowships, Pastor’s fellowships and Sauhardha Christmas. During his time Tamil CSI congregations from Kodical began to participate in Ecumenical programs.

Rev. CLIFFORD FERNANDES:

Rev Clifford Fernandes became the Secretary in 2013 and continued to serve till March 2022 April. While he was stationed in the seminary initially and later in Parishes, he took the initiative to organise prayer Octaves services in Churches, laity fellowships, Pastor’s fellowship Lenten Meditations and Sauhardha Christmas.

REV HEMACHANDRA KUMAR:

Born in HeggadadevanaKote in Mysuru, Rev Hemachandra Kumar completed his theological studies at KTC, Mangaluru and later served in various capacities at CSI churches in Karnataka. He was an Evangelist at CSI Nazareth Church Mettalavady and Singanapura; at CSI Christa Krupa ChurchHundimala; Area Chairman to Chamraja Area; Additional Charge to CSI Bishop Church Talavady and Chikka Gjanur; Area Chairman to Kodagu Area; Evangelical Committee member; KACDES Committee member; Synode Council Member; Christian Education Area Coordinator; and presently he is the new Bishop of CSI-Karnataka Southern Diocese

The Prizes were distributed to all those winners of the Essay Competition conducted on the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee. Names of the Essay competition Prize winners: Konkani (16-30 years) 1. Naveen Shervin D’Souza, Bantwal 2. Viola Mascarenhas, Gantalkatte 3. Leesha Vinisha Lobo, Bantwal English (16-30 years) 1. Ann Mary Varghese, Mangaluru 2. Diona Lita D’Souza, Ferar 3. Daniel Thomas, Kerala Kannada 1. Saujanya J, Chikmagalur 2. Geetha Hans, Mangaluru 3. Susheela Idora, Mangaluru Konkani (Above 30 years) 1. Lavina Leera Menezes, Balkanje 2. Richard Alvares, Cordel 3. Odrin D’Souza, Bantwal English (Above 30 years) 1. Rosina Florence D’Souza, Mangaluru 2. Melena Jyothi Gonsalves, Bantwal 3. Prema Melita Pinto,

The Mangalore Christian Council is a voluntary Body of Christians, under the patronage of the Bishops of the Church of South India – The Southern Karnataka Dioceses and the Catholic Diocese of Mangalore. It also has membership drawn from the various mainline Christian denominations in Mangaluru, calling people to live in harmony and peace, promoting unity among Christians and the values of Christ Jesus. The Members of the Mangalore Diocese Ecumenical Commission were instrumental in organizing the event. Members of various denominations, Christian institutions and faith communities presented the Christmas message through Music, Singing, Dance and Drama and entertained the audience. In the Cultural Programme, the performances were by Kanthi Church, Jeppu (Christmas Medley); Christmas Tabloid (Casia Church); Dance St Alphonsa Church, Kankanady; and music by Band Ecumenical Commission

The programme was meticulously and eloquently compared by Anil D’sa from Cordel ( Core Team Member, Council for Ecumenism, Mangaluru) and Mrs Glory Deznold. Rev. Rupesh Martha Secretary of Mangalore Christian Council welcomed the gathering and Rev. Dr Sandeep Theophil delivered the vote of thanks

In conclusion, while Mangalore Christian Council aimed to spread love, peace and harmony during ‘Sauhardha Christmas 2022’, I end this column with lyrics from the song “Season of Love” by Jaci Velasquez/Pete Orta-

“Where a prayer could be enough
Our hands open up and give a little more
Crowded hearts make room
Kindness falls like the snow
Tenderness like a row of dominoes

Season of love
A chance to shine in the darkness
To be hopeful, to give joy
All over the world, it’s Christmas
The season of love
Christ is here with us
In our hearts, through our hands
Love is the season

Holy infant Son of God
You are the light inside of everyone
of us
Miracle on earth
We see your star, feel your peace
You are why this will always be the…
Love is the season”

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