Thursday, 7 February 2013

Revisiting Vatican II at DVK: Welcome Address by Saju Chackalackal

“REVISITING VATICAN II: 50 YEARS OF RENEWAL” Welcome Address for the Concluding Session by the President of Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram (3 February 2013) When I left the novitiate for Dharmaram, way back in 1985, I was given three source books: the Bible, the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, and the Documents of Vatican II, edited by Austin Flannery. I did make use of all these three sources and I still continue to have the same copies of these even today with me. I had already started reading Vita consecrate, etc., when I was in the Novitiate: thanks to my holy novice master who encouraged me to do those readings at that time. As I came over here, I continued to do the same, but the Dharmaram legacy and ambience made me – though a student of philosophy, then – to continue to read documents such as Gaudium et spes and Nostra aetate. This was certainly an enriching and empowering experience. My interest in them increased, as I could locate more and more rich expressions and, certainly, a welcome but rather a new way of thinking and conceiving the Church. For my young mind, this was a promise: as I said earlier, those documents, and the ideas that were inbuilt into them widened my horizons. The Dharmaram of those days certainly encouraged and contributed to the development of a Church and theology along the breakthroughs that the Second Vatican Council had delineated. Today, during this conference, as we theologically and ecclesially celebrate the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, I feel like asking, as a Christian, do I have the right to fall in love with the documents of Vatican II, and to get stuck with it. Certainly, I should cherish a love for these documents, but a love that would also be characterized by the spirit of openness to the world that was the hallmark of the Council. It is the approach and attitude, outlook and perspective of those who were instrumental in giving shape to the fruits of this Council that we must cherish. These documents of the Vatican II are certainly important; they have given us a new horizon and a blueprint for Christian life in the contemporary times: but they do invite us to move further and farther – along the path that is opened up by the Holy Spirit in our attempt to understand and respond to the signs of the time. Hence, after having spent two days on the documents of the Council, yesterday and today, we deliberated about the important themes that emerged from the Council so that we could chart our course on our way forward. Although sometimes clarity and focus may be missing, even after 50 years of the aggiornamento, the Spirit continues to guide the Church and her members in designing a better and more effective Christian life. This was the task that we have been trying to fulfil in and through this conference on “Revisiting Vatican II.” I am glad to state that this attempt is successful both in terms of the participation and presentation, and the critical and creative approaches that are called forth for maintaining the momentum of aggiornamento in the Church of twenty-first century. Let me, therefore, congratulate everyone who is part of this international conference, particularly Rev. Dr. Shaji George Kochuthara CMI and his team, Asian Horizons and every staff and student of Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram, for having made this conference a great success. I was amazed by the keen interest shown by the participants, the quality of the papers presented, and the earnest and challenging discussions that ensued inside and outside this auditorium. Congratulations, Shaji: indeed, the “Shaji Event” is certainly a huge success, and I along with all those who have joined us for this conference, appreciate and thank for your commitment to quality and your quest to “feel with the Church” in taking it to the greater heights, especially in its theological depths. As we are ready to bring the curtains down on this successful event of “Revisiting Vatican II: 50 Years of Renewal,” it is my privileged duty to welcome the dignitaries. First of all, our guest of honour is His Eminence Oswald Cardinal Gracias, who would also deliver the Concluding Message for the Conference. I am glad to have His Eminence, especially because he cherishes a very loving relationship with Dharmaram and has high regard for the academic culture that is developed on the Campus. Born in Mumbai in 1944, His Eminence Oswald Cardinal Gracias was ordained to the priesthood on 20 December 1970. From the Pontifical Urbaniana University he obtained a doctorate in canon law. On 28 June 1997, Cardinal Gracias was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Bombay. After being the Archbishop of Agra he assumed the office of the Archbishop of Bombay on 14 October 2006. He is currently the President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) and the Secretary General of the FABC. Being a Cononist, he had also been one of our visiting professors at DVK. On 24 November 2007, he was created a Cardinal. He is credited to be the "most simple and approachable" Church leaders in India; with my limited knowledge for last few years, I can personally vouch for it. Despite his pressing needs, His Eminence has accepted our invitations and respected them with utmost commitment and sincerity, even when there were other pressing demands on His Eminence. I thank His Eminence for accepting our invitation to be the chief guest of the concluding session of the conference, and I extend to His Eminence a most cordial welcome in the name of Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram and all the participants of this conference. The President of this Concluding Session is Rev. Dr. George Thanchan CMI, the Vicar General of the CMI Congregation. He is a permanent staff of the Institute of Oriental Canon Law at DVK, and is now on leave as he is our major superior. He had also been the Provincial of the CMI St. Paul’s Province Bhopal. He has to his credit a Licentiate and Doctorate in Oriental Canon Law. He is acclaimed to be an excellent professor, who is able to enlighten the students and all those who consult him with clarity and precision. Further, for DVK, he is a source of inspiration and guidance: I thank him for accompanying all of us both in the academics and administration. May I extend to him a cordial and warm welcome to this concluding session of the conference. Archbishop Patrick D'Rozario, CSC, the Archbishop of Dhaka, was consecrated bishop on 12 September 1990. Before his episcopal consecration, His Grace had completed his studies at KU Leuven, Belgium. From 22 October 2011, he has assumed the office of the Archbishop of Dhaka, and now is also the president of Catholic Bishops' Conference of Bangladesh (CBCB). The keen interest with which he arranged a delegation from Bangaldesh to participate in this conference is telling about his enthusiasm for the Vatican Council. While appreciating Your Grace for your presence amidst us, may I extend to Your Grace a cordial welcome! Rev. Msgr. Philippe Bordeyene, the rector of Catholic University of Paris, is an expert in moral theology with special emphasis on the Gaudium et spes. I see his enthusiasm in the proceedings of this conference and I am glad about his appreciation for Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram. We cherish the relationship that we are building and in the name of all gathered here, may I extend to you a cordial and warm welcome! Prof. Mathijs Lamberigts, professor of theology at KU Leuven, Belgium, is currently the coordinator of the Research Unity, History of Church and Theology; also he is the president of the Centre for the Study of Second Vatican Council. His academic expertise in the area of the second Vatican Council we cherish, and we extend to you a most cordial welcome! Rev. Sr. Rowena Miranda is the Provincial of Medical Mission Sisters. She is basically a teacher, but is very much interested and engaged in psycho-spiritual formation: of course, Vatican II gives her a new edge. May I extend to Sr. Miranda Rowena a very hearty and warm welcome! In a very special way, I also welcome Rev. Prof. Dr. Thomas Aykara CMI, our beloved Rector; I thank him for his continued support to DVK and especially for this conference on the Second Vatican. His sincere and personal engagement empowers us and we welcome him to this Concluding Session. Hearty welcome, dear Fr. Rector. Second Vatican Council is a signpost; it has offered us new horizons in Christian living. The blueprint prepared for us by the Vatican II needs to be updated and further enhanced by our creative engagement. If we believe that the Holy Spirit has been instrumental in establishing and in promoting the Church through the centuries, and if we still continue to believe that the same Holy Spirit guides the affairs of the Church – of course, through human hands – then, we have every reason to let the Church to be left to the new winds of the Spirit. Instead of we ourselves playing ‘God’, we have to learn to play to the tunes of the Spirit. Once again, welcoming one and all, I remain. Saju Chackalackal CMI President, DVK

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