Rachol Seminary Empowers Laity in Goa with Theological-Pastoral Formation
The Good Shepherd Institute Theology, Rachol Seminary of the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman, India, successfully concluded its theological-pastoral course for the 2023-2024 academic year, drawing participation from 116 faithful individuals across the state. 102 participants were honoured with diplomas, while an additional 14 received certificates of participation. On January 14, 2024, a Diploma Day ceremony marked the culmination of the program, with Archbishop Filipe Neri Cardinal Ferrão, the Archbishop of Goa and Daman, presiding over the Eucharistic celebration.
Fr Donato Rodrigues, the Rector of the Seminary, along with other seminary staff, joined in the concelebration. In his homily-themed “Know Christ, Share Christ,” Cardinal Ferrão urged course participants to deepen their experience of Jesus and emulate the apostles in bearing witness to Him.
Following the Eucharistic celebration, a special programme unfolded, with Fr Donato Rodrigues extending a warm welcome to the dignitaries and participants gathered for the occasion. Addressing the participants of the course, Archbishop Filipe Neri Cardinal Ferrão emphasized the collective commitment of the entire church to the synodal journey. The overarching theme for this journey is centred on Communion, Participation, and Mission, elements that many have actively engaged with. Reflecting on the recently concluded first phase of the Synod (4-29 Oct 2023), Cardinal Ferrão highlighted the three key parts of the synthesis report: “The Face of the Synodal Church,” “All Disciples, All Missionaries,” and “Weaving Bonds, Building Community.”
Cardinal Ferrão underscored a common thread woven through the 20 chapters of the Synodal report in three parts — the imperative need for ongoing formation. Emphasizing the urgency of educating the entire people of God, he stressed that continuous formation is crucial for fostering a truly synodal church. The Prelate emphasized the responsibility to be firmly rooted in Jesus, urging participants to witness the Gospel. Notably, he pointed out that the ongoing formation course for the laity, now entrusted to the Patriarchal Seminary of Rachol, has been a recurring initiative, previously conducted by the Pastoral Institute. He concluded by emphasizing that the course aims not only to provide information but, more importantly, to instigate a transformative process through comprehensive formation. Archbishop Filipe Neri Cardinal Ferrão appreciated the Course Coordinator Fr Macson Fernandes and the Rector and the Staff of the Seminary for conducting this course successfully.
Seminarians presented an instrumental and a choral piece -mhonn’nneo (Proverbs in Konkani) conducted by Fr Mathew Rebelo, Professor of Music at the Seminary. Seminarian Newton Colaco anchored the programme. The diploma and the Certificates of participation in the course were presented to the participants at the hands of Cardinal Filipe Neri Ferrão. Prizes were distributed to the seminarians at the hands of Sr. Evelyn Monteiro SCC, Visiting Professor at the Good Shepherd Institute of Theology, Rachol Seminary. Stella Fernandes thanked the organisers on behalf of the participants. Fr Nelson Sequeira, Director of Good Shepherd Institute of Theology proposed a vote of thanks. Fr Macson Fernandes, Coordinator of the programme also addressed the participants.
Cedrick Costa from Margao and Sheina Castelo from Nagoa-Verna shared their experiences of participating in the course, during the programme.
Objectives of the Theological-Pastoral Formation Course:
The Patriarchal Seminary of Rachol has meticulously designed this course for the laity with a set of fivefold objectives:
1)To help the Lay faithful deepen their knowledge of the faith and develop their pastoral abilities so that they may answer with confidence the call to spread the Gospel in word and deed, acting as leaven in their parishes and society.
2) To provide enrichment for those who seek adult ongoing formation in their Catholic faith by providing a firm, systematic and practical foundation in Scripture, Christology, Ecclesiology, Liturgy, Sacraments, Ethics, Mission,etc.
3) To call forth, affirm and support the gifts and talents of the lay faithful and to foster a deeper appreciation of their baptismal call.
4) To develop an awareness, appreciation and respect for the diversity and complementarity of vocations and states of life, of ministries, of Charisms and responsibilities in the Church.
5) To prepare Lay leaders with firm theological and spiritual training to promote active collaboration at all levels so that the Church in Goa may become a Communion of Communities.
Topics like Revelation and Faith, Introduction to the Bible, God and Trinity, Christology, Pneumatology, Mariology, Theological Anthropology, Canon Law, Ecclesiology, History of the Church, Liturgy, Sacraments, Eucharist, Moral Theology, Marriage, Spiritual Theology, Mission and the Lay Faithful were included in the course which began on 18th June 2023.
Fr Donato Rodrigues, Fr Nelson Sequeira Fr Aleixo Menezes, Fr Henry Falcão, Fr Daniel Pereira, Fr George Dias, Fr Ashley Alphoso, Afonso Mendonça, Fr Jorge Fernandes, Fr Agnelo Pinheiro and Fr Macson Fernandes were the resource persons.
Helped to deepen their Faith Experience:
After completing a course, Dr Shirley Telles, who hails from Colva, Goa, and had spent many years in Uttarakhand, where the Catholic community is small but devout, shared her experience speaking to us. Dr Shirley, holding both an MBBS and a PhD in Neuroscience, highlighted the pivotal role of the theology-pastoral course in rekindling her connection to her roots. As an academician and researcher at the Patanjali Research Foundation in Haridwar, Uttarakhand, Dr Shirley commended the well-informed, inspired, energized, and humorous priests, alongside the enthusiastic and joyful young seminarians.
Her key takeaways from the course emphasized the significance of (1) implicit faith in Jesus, (2) praying to the Holy Spirit for inspiration instead of relying solely on personal knowledge and inclinations, and (3) reading the Bible with faith and focus. Dr Shirley also suggested potential future additions to the course, such as incorporating Catholic beliefs within the context of Indian culture.
Eston Mascarenhas, hailing from Pernem, and serving as keyboardist for the Church Choir, expressed that he completed the course to address specific queries raised by fellow Christians from different denominations. Enrolling in the diploma in Theological Pastoral Formation for the lay faithful, Eston, who is a Staff nurse at the Community Health Centre, Pernem, found not only answers to his questions but also a reinforcement of his faith in the Roman Catholic Church. While the diploma may not have turned him into an expert, it provided him a foretaste of the ordained, to be a priest to my family and an enthusiast laity for the Lord in my church.
Sr. Justina Vaz, a member of the Congregation of the Handmaids of Christ, has shared her transformative journey following her participation in a Pastoral Theology course. She highlighted the diverse sessions that delved into theological principles, significantly enriching her understanding of pastoral care and leadership. Sr. Vaz, a General Councillor of her Congregation emphasized how the course provided a platform to deepen her faith experience and establish a profound connection with spirituality and spiritual values. She enhanced essential pastoral skills through insightful discussions and practical applications.
Sr. Vaz, also a teacher at St Anthony’s High School Veroda, emphasized that beyond developing leadership qualities specific to pastoral roles, the course played a pivotal role in fostering guidance and inspiration within the religious community. She expressed feeling empowered to navigate real-world pastoral challenges with compassion and wisdom. Overall, Sr. Vaz described the course as an invaluable exploration that equipped her with newfound confidence and insight to effectively serve and lead within a pastoral context.
Seminary’s Annual Magazine “LUCEAS” Unveiled by Cardinal Ferrão
During the Diploma Day programme of the Theological Pastoral Formation course held at the Rachol Seminary, Archbishop Filipe Neri Cardinal Ferrão unveiled the latest edition of LUCEAS, the annual magazine of the seminary. The Cardinal commended the dedicated efforts of its editor, Fr Heston Ferrão, and his team of editors in bringing the publication to fruition.
Fr Heston, speaking at the event, highlighted the magazine’s role in fostering communication and sharing ideas, experiences, and insights in various realms of priestly formation and ecclesial life with both clergy and laity. The chosen theme for this year, “In your priestly formation and ministry: Do as I have done,” urges individuals to emulate the profound teachings and actions of Jesus Christ, reflecting values such as compassion, love, empathy, humility, and service in their priestly journey.
Emphasizing the magazine’s longstanding history, Fr Heston expressed gratitude for the collaborative efforts of staff and seminarians over the past 44 years. He noted the magazine’s gradual progression toward desired goals and development.
Explaining the title “LUCEAS,” Fr Heston revealed its origin from ‘Luceas sicut luminare,’ translating to ‘that light may always shine.’ This phrase serves as the seminary’s guiding motto, symbolizing the enduring influence of the light of Christ throughout its existence.
by Br. John Malvino Alfonso OCD