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'Priests and religious people are God’s gift to humanity,' says Archbishop John Barwa


“Priests and religious are God’s gift to humanity,” said Divine Word Archbishop John Barwa of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, Odisha, eastern India.

He was presiding over the inaugural Holy Mass refresher program for formators in the Odisha region at St. Vincent's Pro-Cathedral, Bhubaneswar.

In line with Pope John Paul II's 1996 apostolic exhortation "Vita Consecrata" (Consecrated Life), he emphasized the significance of priests and other religious people as divine gifts to humanity.

He commended the dedication of missionaries in Odisha and honored the Kandhamal martyrs, revered as 'Servants of God,' emphasizing the need for future priests and religious leaders to embody the divine presence transcending human boundaries.

The Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI) Commission for Vocations, Seminaries, Clergy, and Religious (VSCR) and the Odisha regional Association of Rectors of Major Seminaries (ARMS) collaborated to convene a two-day refresher program for formators in the Odisha region at the Archbishop's House in Bhubaneswar on March 22 and 23.

The program, with the theme 'Strategic Planning for Priestly and Religious Formation in the Digital Age,' was a continuation of the discussions that started at the ARMS general council in November 2023.

Bishop Niranjan Sualsingh of Sambalpur, serving as the regional chairman of the VSCR Commission, highlighted the imperative of personal sacrifice ineffective formation amidst the digital era, stressing the importance of adapting positively to contemporary challenges.

The program convened 35 formators from diocesan and religious formation houses, including rectors of diocesan seminaries, directors of regional propaedeutic formation, formators from study houses, rectors of major seminaries, and provincial superiors of the region.

Father Charles Leon, Executive Secretary of the VSCR Commission, facilitated study sessions. Bishop Sualsingh, the regional chairman, coordinated the refresher program with the regional VSCR secretary and ARMS President Divine Word Father Lancy Rodriguez, leading to the decision to conduct a one-day staff development program to incorporate the discussed content into future formation initiatives.


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