Diocesan Catechetical Centre celebrates 50 years

Fr Romeu Godinho

 

Today the Diocesan Catechetical Centre is celebrating 50 years since its initiation. The formal inauguration of the jubilee year was held on June 3, 2018, at the Basilica of Bom Jesus, Old Goa as St Francis Xavier is the patron saint of the Diocesan Catechetical Centre. The Diocesan Catechetical Centre was established by the then Apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Goa, Daman and Diu, Msgr Francisco Xavier da Piedade Rebello, who through a decree dated March 7, 1969 substituted it for the secretariat of the Christian Doctrine which was established on September 25, 1952.

This catechetical year 2018-2019 the activities were focussed on the jubilee celebration. School students and catechism children will present their faith related to themes based on Catholic faith. The concluding Holy Eucharist, presided by Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrão, at 4 p.m. will be followed by a cultural programme and fellowship dinner. The celebrations will take place at the Pastoral Institute St Pius X, Old Goa.

Christianity in Goa

Though the Christian faith was brought to India in the first century by apostle St Thomas, and probably also by St Bartholomeu, the chapter of the expansion of the Catholic Church in the East can be said to have begun after the European discovery of the sea route to India in 1498. This helped the advent of the European missionaries to these lands, one of them being St Francis Xavier. The first seeds of Christianity in Goa were sown by the Franciscans who arrived in 1517. Goa was called the Rome of the East due to the central role it played in the evangelisation of the East. One Goan priest, Fr Joseph Vaz, who distinguished himself in the evangelisation of Sri Lanka and is therefore acclaimed as the Apostle of Ceylon, was canonised by Pope Francis on January 14, 2015. Another Goan priest, Fr Agnelo de Souza, a member of the Society of the Missionaries of St Francis Xavier (Society of Pilar) has been declared venerable and is on the way to beatification.

Shift of language from

Portuguese to Konkani

Viceroy D Francisco de Tavora, Conde de Alvor, by an ordinance dated June 27, 1684, required all Goans to apply themselves to the study and use of the Portuguese language and ordered severe penalties against the offenders. He ordered parish priests and school masters to teach children the Christian doctrine in Portuguese, instead of in Konkani. However, later on both civil and ecclesiastical authorities gave impetus to the development of the language. Thus, the Provincial Councils of Goa urged priests to learn the vernacular and translate the catechism into Konkani.

Catechetical structure in the Archdiocese of Goa

Goa had its own secretariat for Christian Doctrine (Secretariado da Doutrina Crista) since 1952. It was founded by former Archbishop of Goa and Daman and Patriarch of East Indies, later Cardinal José da Costa Nunes. The secretariat rendered service to the cause of Catechetics in the Archdiocese.

Creation of the Diocesan Catechetical Centre of Goa

Then Apostolic administrator, Msgr Francisco da Piedade Rebello, by a decree dated March 7, 1969, raised the Secretariat for Christian Doctrine to the Diocesan Catechetical Centre (DCC), with its headquarters at the Pastoral Institute St Pius X, Old Goa.

Organisation and coordination of catechesis

Before the liberation of Goa, there was no organised catechesis held in parishes. Formerly, the catechesis was basically held in families. After the evening Angelus bell, from every balcony came the sounds of the teaching of dotorna (catechism) to the children after which the Rosary was prayed. This was the mode of catechesis during those years. Gradually after liberation catechesis started evolving in parishes and Catholic schools.

Catechetical units/

association in parishes

At present, every parish has a Catechetical unit/association which gives impetus to Catechetical apostolate in the parish. This unit consists of a core committee and all the catechists are its members. The committee is headed by the parish riest and is run by a catechetical animator.

Catechetical activities

The Diocesan Catechetical Centre since its existence has been organising and coordinating Catechetical activities in the Archdiocese at different levels: diocesan, deanery, parish and school. The catechetical year begins in the Archdiocese of Goa on the first Sunday of June. Every year, the Diocesan Catechetical Centre brings a catechetical planner focusing on the theme of the pastoral year. Some of the activities conducted by the Diocesan Catechetical Centre are meetings, special days celebrated for the members of various committees like DCC, editorial boards of bulletins, finance committee, TICCAZ, ACAZ, JESUZ and Jezuche Sondexkar; seminars, courses and recollections for religion teachers and catechists; faith sharing programmes for children of schools and parishes; and solemn celebration of the Catechetical Day.