Apr 6: Thousands of people took part in the diocese convention of Catholic Sabha Mangalore Pradesh in the premises of St Sebastian Church, Permannur here on Sunday, April 6.

Most of the speakers asked the participants to strengthen the community and activiely participate in politics and join administrative and corporate sectors.

In his inaugural address, Eugene Gonsalves, president of All India Catholic Union (AICU) said, “The huge turnout today is a manifestation of faith. Catholic Sabha, Mangalore is among the top five dioceses in the country.”

Speaking about the activities of AICU, he said, “To promote economic, administrative, social and political awareness among the Catholics, AICU was formed as an apex body of the laity. It will complete 100 years of existence soon. It works actively all over the country with an aim to safeguard the interest of the community.”

Stressing that more number of Catholics should get into politics, administrative and corporate sectors, he said, “It is these sectors that rule the country. Start your own business. Government has various schemes for minorities. The Catholic Sabha should engage in creating awareness about these issues. There is free coaching available for civil service exams. If there is good representation in all these streams, the Catholic community will flourish.”

Bishop of Mangalore Dr Aloysius Paul D’Souza showered praises on the good work rendered by the Catholic Sabha. He said, “Catholic Sabha is our strength. The huge turnout of more than 4,000 speaks for itself. I thank the organizers for this event. Our representation in politics is very poor. The organization must try to motivate leaders to enter the political arena.”

In his keynote address, M P Noronha, convener of Mangalore diocese political awareness committee said, “The huge turnout for this convention is a testimony to the fact that we all are united. But we need to strengthen further. A lot of good has been done to the society through Catholic Sabha. Whenever there was any atrocity against Christians, the organization has brought people together to protest against it.”

He said the Catholic Sabha was formed in 1977 when the Thyagi Report favoured the imprisonment of those who were involved in the act of conversion. This resulted in protests, agitations and the enactment of this report was stalled.

“In India, people have bad opinion about conversion and Christians. However, people who criticize it should also be aware that a lot of such conversions take place across the globe. There are hundreds of people who have converted from Chirstianity to other faiths in the western countries, and no one talks about it. The yeoman service of Christian community is sidelined and the tag of conversion is hyped all around.

“We have hundreds of institutions, but have failed to make any influential steps. It is like having flower without fragrance. We should not keep quiet whenever there is any atrocity against us. We have been afraid to fight back. Let us come out of the party culture and work for the community,” he said.

“There is a need to bridge the gap between the laity and the clergy. In Dakshina Kannada, Christians enjoy nearly 15% population, but there are only a few leaders in the political stream,” MP Noronha added.

On the occasion, Bishop Dr Aloysius Paul D’Souza launched ‘Mangalore Christian Minority Women’s Multi-purpose Development Cell’. The cell has been formed with the intention to strengthen and work for the betterment of women.

In addition, Joseph Crasta of Snehalaya Ashram, Talapady and Corrine Rasquina of White Doves were felicitated for their exemplary service towards the downtrodden and the poor. Besides, scholarships were distributed to students to support their education.

Mangalore Lok Sabha candidate from Congress Janardhan Poojary, health minister U T Khadar, MLA and J R Lobo too were part of the convention. Fr J B Crasta, Fr J B Saldhana, Roy Castelino, president of Konkani Sahthya Academy and John D’Silva were present.

Nigel Pereira, president of Catholic Sabha also spoke. George Ligory D’souza, Albert D’Souza, Joslin D’Souza and officer-bearers of Catholic Sabha shared the dais.

Priot to the stage programme, thousands of people took part in a procession from Thokkottu railway bridge to the church compound. A Eucharistic mass was held as part of the convention.