The Serra Club of Bangalore hosted the much-awaited 17th Serra Asian Convention from May 2-4, 2014 at the Hotel Park Plaza in Marathahalli, Bangalore. It was attended by over 200 delegates from 6 Asian countries and the United States as well as by Lay Catholics, Priests and nuns from all over India.
Most Rev. Dr. Bernard Moras, Archbishop of Bangalore, who has been the guide, mentor and supporter of the Serra Club movement over the years, welcomed the Vatican’s envoy to India H.E. Most Rev. Salvatore Pennacchio, Apostolic Nuncio and celebrated the Inaugural Mass with him.
and Archbishop Emeritus Dr. Ignatius Pinto. In his homily, the Apostolic Nuncio referred to India as the ''Rome of the East”.
He continued: ''It has the duty of giving to the Communities new impulse to identify resources, expectations and values of the new generations, in order to offer them at the same time concrete suggestions to elaborate a life project inspired by the Gospel. You need, therefore, to make all efforts so that young people may put Christ at the center of their life and follow with docility a possible call," he said.
Lauding the commitment of Serra Club members in favour of the pastoral care for vocations, the Apostolic Nuncio said, ''Because of you, the question of 'Vocations’ does not remain an exclusive problem of the Bishops but is shared with everyone."
''Vocations to priesthood and to religious life are a major concern in the Church," he said and mentioned that the service and ministry of the Serra community is needed for the life and sustenance of the Church. ‘I encourage you to have no fear of reaching out to young people and helping them to build their life on the indestructible pillar of the plan of God. I congratulate you for having undertaken this great responsibility to seriously support and sustain the Catholic Church in promoting and fostering vocations," he said.
A Latin Mas was sung by the Cecilian Choir which was appreciated by all. A special invocation dance in Bharatanatyan style was performed at the start of the Mass by 3 novices of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate (fsi) to portray our Indian culture.
''The Diocesan Churches are debtors to you, because you commit yourselves in your specific service; your find in the Church all the help to be authentic Christians; the faithful, on their turn, find in priests the fruits of your commitment for their formation. For these reasons we can today rejoice and thank the Lord," he said extending his since appreciation and thanks to the ''service" of Serra Club members.
In his key-note address, the Apostolic Nuncio asked the Serra Club members to continue to work in harmony with your Bishops. ''Be always people of communion, accompanying with affection and commitment your priests. Continue to support with your charity the needs of the vocations of the poor. The good that the Church gains will be for you a pledge of abundant blessings, which I invoke upon each one of you and for the entire association, through the maternal intercession of Mary Queen of the Apostles."
The dignitaries lit the inaugural lamp and Mrs. Jeanette D’Souza, President of the Serra Club of Bangalore welcomed the delegates both global and local, to the Convention which revolved around the theme: “Come follow me”.
Most Rev. Dr. Ignatius Pinto, Archbishop Emeritus released the Convention Souvenir. He has been closely associated with the Serra Club of Bangalore since he charted it in 2003.
An interactive group discussion with Priests, Religious and Laity was held on the inaugural day to determine the challenges and solutions regarding the decline in vocations to the Church. The following day a Panel Discussion was held with four leaders of all the groups. It was moderated by Rev. Fr Eric Rodrigues,the Chaplain of the Serra Club of Bangalore. Some very relevant challenges concerning Catholic youth were discussed with practical solutions and an open forum to which the delegates contributed their ideas.
Rev. Dr. Joseph Ivel Mendanha C.Ss. R enlightened the delegates on ‘Discipleship in the Gospels” and its implications with particular reference to the message contained in the 4 Gospels.
The day’s function drew to a close on a spiritual note with Adoration of the Holy Eucharist and Intercessory Prayers by Rev. Fr. Joseph Royan C.Ss.R and Rev. Fr. Eric A. Rodrigues C.Ss.R, proposed the Vote of Thanks for the first day.
On Saturday , 3rd May, the second day of the Convention, Most Rev.Dr. Felipe Neri, Archbishop of Goa was the main celebrant at the Mass and spoke on” The Vocation and Mission of the Laity” in the Church and the world. This was followed by a very interesting review of “The role of Lay people as Disciples, Responsibility and Challenges” by Ms. Mary Joseph of Mumbai.
The presentation by Msgr S. Jayanathan , Vicar General, Arch Diocese of Bangalore revolved around “ To be a witness in the World today” and was also appreciated by all. The day ended with Thanksgiving and Adoration.
A formal networking entertainment programme was the highlight of the evening which featured Indian dance and the martial art of Kaalripaityattu. This was followed by the traditional Networking Dinner during which the ConventionFlag was handed over to the Serra Club of Bangkok where the next Asian Convention will be held in 2016.
The concluding High Mass was held on Sunday the 4th of May, with His Eminence, Oswald, Cardinal Gracias being the Chief Celebrant, with His Grace Rev. Dr . Bernard Moras concelebrating. Beautiful music and hymns commencing with the ‘Aspereges me’ sung in Latin by the choir, enhanced the Mass.
Mrs. Jeanette D’Souza, President, Serra Club of Bangalore, delivered the Vote of Thanks and acknowledged her appreciation to all present, including Mr. Sean Yeo, the President, Serra International and the dignitaries who had graced the occasion.
His Grace Rev. Dr. Bernard Moras also addressed the delegates of the 17th Serra Asia Convention and congratulated the Serra Club of Bangalore for hosting the event.