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Indian bishop wishes RVA to continue to fulfill its mission of spreading Good News to all people

Father Babu Joseph, SVD, interviewed Bishop Chacko Thottmarickal, SVD, the Bishop of Indore Diocese, the oldest in Madhya Pradesh, India

During an interview for a special episode of Father Babu Joseph's SVD-hosted program "Voice of Asian Bishops," Bishop Chacko Thottmarickal, SVD, expressed his desire for Radio Veritas Asia (RVA) to persistently disseminate the benevolent message to all people of Asia.

I wish that Radio Veritas continues to be at its mission of bringing good news to all people in Asia. And the people of Asia are by far still very much ignorant of the good news that Jesus has brought,” said Bishop Thottmarickal, chairman of the RVA Hindi Language Service.

Bishop Chacko of Indore Diocese, the oldest in Madhya Pradesh, India, explained that the establishment of RVA was particularly imperative due to China's transition to communism, which restricted the freedom of missionaries to travel and operate there.

The diocese of Indore was constituted in 1952, although as a prefecture apostolic, it had already existed since 1935. Thereafter, the diocese was divided among the present four daughters.

The first was the Archdiocese of Bhopal in 1964, then the Diocese of Ujjain was formed in 1968, and later the Diocese of Kandahar was formed in 1978. Then the Diocese of Shajapur was constituted in 2002, where Bishop Chacko was the first bishop.

Bishop Chacko said he took over the Diocese of Indore in December 2008.  Then they had a planning meeting and planned for the diocese.  

In 2012, they set up a vision for the diocese and then a course of action during the Pastoral Council of the Diocese and representatives from the priests, sisters and laypeople participated in informing the vision and then we decided to go step by step.

I say a vibrant community where all people of this diocese are nourished by the Word of God and sacraments,” he said.  

Every year, they hold the Bible convention, with the first convention initiated by the Society of the Divine Word under the leadership of Father Matthews, which turned out to be a huge success.

In their evaluation, all the people said that it should be done every year. People in large numbers from all parts of the diocese, usually from parishes with a large community, have been participating in it, so Bishop Chacko said they involved small Christian communities to keep them more alive.  

At the beginning of the year, they have planning and evaluation sessions of the various programs by different commissions.  

The dates are fixed one year in advance, and they make sure that we also look back and see how these plans have been executed on the ground.

With the strong institutional network in and through which Bishop Chacko renders service to the larger public in Indore and the surrounding areas, he said he has tried to strengthen the various services that were already running in the diocese, like the educational network.

We have expanded the schools that we already had, and we have also started new schools. Presently, the diocese runs 16 schools in the towns and villages, and the religious school also runs 24 schools in various places. So we have our strong educational services; presently, about 55,000 students are learning in these schools,” said the bishop.

“We also started a new college, - Saint Paul Institute of Professional Studies. We chose such courses to give them a job and the ability to earn their living,” he said.

The college has a strand of about 2,500 students in various courses, including nursing college, which they started four years ago.

Bishop Chacko said the religious are an integral part of a diocese and cited Pope John Paul II in his encyclical letter Vita Consecra that the “religious are in the heart of the church  

So they do serve with their apostolate in the diocese, whose vision the congregations observe in their ministry’s services, like education, health services and social development, observe.  

We are having an integrated approach. It is not that the religions do their work and we are raised to do our work. We will do it together,” he said.

As to the Holy Father’s synodality approachhe says there are already existing structures in the diocese for participation, which is one of the key elements of synodality, like the priests council, the diocesan council and the different, small Christian communities, parish councils, and pastoral councils.  

The other aspect of synodality is communion, which is experienced at various levels, like in the annual Diocesan Pastoral Council and the three-time-a-year gatherings of diocesan priests.  

On the challenges of the Christian missionary institutionsBishop Chacko said that while it is true that the general atmosphere in the country is changing, at the same time, at the root of Indian culture, there is a universal outlook that is expressed by Sanskrit terminology called Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (The World is One Family).  

He said that, as far as the opposition to the Gospel or the church's activities is concerned, this is nothing new for the Church.  He cited Jesus himself and the 12 apostles, who were opposed to and experienced the church in terms of persecution and opposition throughout the centuries and even today in different parts of the world.

On the question of how he has been promoting ecumenism given the fellowship among different denominations of the Church in Indore, he said, “Unity among all Christians is prayed for by Jesus in the Gospel of John, Chapter 17.

We have common celebrations like Christmas, Easter or national festivals like Independence Day and Republic Day. We come together to see how we can celebrate together. Not only among Christians but also with people of other faiths,” said Bishop Chacko.

Asked how he sees the threefold dialogue (with cultures, religions and the poor) being translated into the church's life in Asia, particularly in India, with which the Communication Commission has been associated with the Federation of Asian Bishops Conference, he said it is a specialty of Asia.

We have different cultures. We are, and religions are, different languages. And therefore. And the need to understand each other and work together,” he said.

Asked how he stays content in his 20 years as a shepherd, he said, “I have always given an emphasis to caring for the poor. whether it is in our, in Indore or, for that matter, anywhere in the world. Jesus himself said, You allow the poor to always be with you.

They have made it a policy that in their diocese, no Catholic, because of his poverty, will be deprived of quality education, so they have made funds available for going to the college. if he has such courses available at our college(MTV)

Father Babu Joseph, SVD, interviewed Bishop Chacko Thottmarickal, SVD, the Bishop of Indore Diocese, the oldest in Madhya Pradesh, India.

Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.”  Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.