The meeting of the diocesan directors of the Commission for Ecumenism and Dialogue in the Telugu region was held at Bishop’s House, Vijayawada on November 16 -17, 2022.
The meeting was presided over by Bishop Thelagathoti Joseph Raja Rao SMM of Vijayawada, the Commission Chairman of the Telugu Catholic Bishops Conference.
The main purpose of the meeting is to learn and discuss the importance of seeking and promoting effectively the Unity of Christians and Dialogue with people of other religious traditions in the local church in the context of present-day reflection on Synodality.
"This meet gave us a platform to review the ecumenical efforts being made in archdioceses, diocese and to formulate a plan of action for the ministry of ecumenism in the Telugu region at the diocesan and regional levels finding ways to move forward on the path of Christian unity," said Father Anthaiah Kondaveeti, Regional Secretary.
The event started, with the ecumenical prayer service for Christian Unity by Monsignor Muvvala Prasad, who is the Executive Secretary of the Andhra Pradesh Federation of Churches.
Father Baptist Pais, Executive Secretary of CCBI Commission for Ecumenism, enlightened the participants on the need for establishing unity among all Christians.
The resource person of the program Father Dr. Anthoniraj Thumma said, “In order to seek the Truth, promote harmony and peace in the society, we need to promote dialogue with people of other Religions and Faiths at various levels - Asian, Indian and Telugu Region.”
The Regional Report of the Commission was presented by the Regional Secretary Father Anthaiah Kondaveeti highlighting its main ecumenical activities and participation in inter-faith programs. The participants made several suggestions to promote Christian unity and dialogue among people of other religions effectively in the Telugu Region.
The highlight of the meeting was, an interactive sharing session, animated by Msgr. Muvvala Prasad, in which the diocesan directors and representatives shared one by one the ecumenical activities taking place in their archdioceses, as well as their personal experience and efforts in the ecumenical ministry, suggested ways and means of promoting practical ecumenism effectively in the Telugu region.
At the end of the meeting, Chairman Bishop Joseph T. Raja Rao, while appreciating the role played by the Diocesan Directors, asked them to break the barriers and take initiative to get to know each other. He urged the Directors to take charge of the ecumenical ministry of their arch/diocese and function effectively.
The main vision of TCBC Commission for Ecumenism is a fraternal united Telugu Christian community as prayed for by Jesus Christ (cf. Jn. 17.21); and the communion and fellowship of Telugu Churches and Ecclesial Communities.
The objectives of the commission are to Promote Christian unity and ecumenical fellowship of Churches and Ecclesial Communities in the Telugu region of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana State, through common prayer, mutual understanding and forgiveness, fraternal relationships and solidarity, constant conversion and renewal, dialogue meetings and theological studies, and collaborative actions of witness and joint service.
TCBC Commission for Ecumenism began to function in 1999 with the appointment of Dr. M. Prakash, who was Bishop of Cuddapah at that time, as the Chairman. Dr. Gali Bali, then Bishop of Guntur, took over as the Chairman in 2001.
Dr. Thelagathoti Joseph Raja Rao SMM, Bishop of Vijayawada, became the Chairman of the Commission in 2016. Father Anthoniraj Thumma, a Professor of Systematic Theology at St John’s Regional Seminary, Hyderabad, was appointed as the Secretary (part-time) in 1999.
Later he was appointed full-time Secretary of the Commission in 2015 after he completed his tenure as the Deputy Secretary of APBC / TCBC. In June 2021, he handed over the charge to Father Anthaiah Kondaveeti. - Pujitha Nagalli
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