Envisions Bangalore Diocese towards a new path of ‘direction and growth’
Moots pastoral counselling, setting up counselling centres for youths
BANGALORE : Dr Abraham Mar Seraphim, Metropolitan Bangalore Diocese, has made a fervent call for improving relations between churches and various religions in his diocese.
Calling upon the Orthodox church to work effectively for the greater good of the society and humanity as a whole without losing faith and heritage, the Metropolitan calls upon the church to strive hard to reduce religious friction that may crop up in the society and aim for ecumenical movements.
This along with many other pertinent issues were the focal points of his address The Expectations of Bangalore Diocese during the visit of Catholicos and Malankara Metropolitan Moran Mar Baselios Marthoma Paulose II to Bangalore on March 26, 2011.
The occasion was the Sunthronito or Enthronement ceremony of the Bangalore Metropolitan.
The young Metropolitan’s address also dwelt on the standing of the present Orthodox church, relevance of Christ in the life of an individual, counseling centres which will foster mental health of the parishioners, ministries for educational institutions and techies, setting up more places of worship, taking up social responsibility and towards improving ties between churches and religions.
Dr Mar Seraphim begins his speech with a quote from Prof A P J Abdul Kalam’s power of dreams. “The endeavour is to open up new pathways to usher similar vision for the diocese.
A life without visions and dreams is barren, ” he says and envisions his dreams of a diocese taking on a path of new direction and growth.
Tracing the history of Malankara Orthodox Church in Bangalore, which has established itself for the past 67 years, His Grace envisions dreams of his Diocese retaining its moorings in the mainstream of ‘Orthodox’ traditions and faith and challenges to retain one’s identity in the face of severe onslaught from many alien influences, especially from the West.
The Metropolitan notes with concern that the family structure and the church fellowship of the present century was inadequate to safeguard spiritual traditions and calls for ‘revival of family ties’ and ‘ church fellowships.’ He adds: “The fellowship that is lost both in families and in the church gatherings needs to be regained. We need to devise novel ways towards reviving some of those time-tested practices that mark us to be steadfast in our spiritual quest. To keep the lamp of our faith burning, newer approaches need to be explored to boost our involvement in church worship and fellowship.”
Stressing upon to focus on the individual, His Grace notes that the presence of Christ was diminishing in the life of an individual and they were getting more enchanted to the evil ways of the society. The shepherd prefers to create a counter culture that is rooted in Christ to tackle this menace which will percolate into the lives of individuals and families.
The Metropolitan favours a return to the life style of the early Christians which brought about a path breaking transformation, following a lifestyle of simplicity. He calls for practicing the believers of Ethiopian Orthodox church who shunned the busy life of the cities and moved to the solitude of ashrams in villages and forests towards a life of prayer and meditation. New ministries must spring to spread the teachings of Christ to the needy, he says.
Dr Mar Seraphim expresses that the services of the laity can be effectively utilised to bridge the widening gap between the church and the priests. His Grace notes that the services of dedicated individuals who are leading a life of prayer and piety and loyal to church traditions, and suvisesha sangams can be effectively utilised towards this end. Thus, a way of life can be evolved where the spiritual organisations of the parish can explore more time towards study, prayer and meditation.
The youngest metropolitan of Malankara Orthodox moots the exploration or possibilities of pastoral counseling which will offer counseling facilities and programmes to families and individuals especially the youth and calls for establishment of counseling centres with modern amenities established in all metropolitan cities.
In a growing metropolis like Bangalore and Hyderabad, the distance to the places of worship and traffic woes in cities increasingly make it difficult for people to attend church services. It becomes next to impossible for priests in big parishes to visit all homes or build individual rapport with members of the parish. Hence, the Metropolitan suggests that more places of worship can be established which has the potential to evolve into new parishes and all individuals and families interwoven into the church’s spiritual framework. Hot and arid regions in districts of Karnataka like Bellary and Raichur have been identified as new places of worship.
Calling for creating an effective means to cater to the spiritual and mental needs of individuals flocking to Bangalore and Hyderabad, Dr Mar Seraphim wants ministries that rejuvenate the spiritual and moral growth of such individuals and thereby helping to retain them in the mainstream of the various activities of the church.
The Metropolitan admits that the Orthodox community has not been able to effectively involve in the maladies facing the society barring few initiatives like palliative care centre for Aids patients and a children’s orphanage at Kunigal, Tumkur, Karnataka. “The church must be able to mitigate the hardships of the marginalised and those who have been denied justice without the stigma of religious conversion.”
Finally, the Metropolitan calls upon the community folk to strive earnestly towards making above dreams come true for the greater glory of God.