About Me

My photo
Trichur / Hyderabad, Kerala / Telangana, India

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

IDENTITY OF THE ST. THOMAS CATHOLIC MIGRANTS

IDENTITY OF THE
ST. THOMAS CATHOLIC MIGRANTS

Mar Thomas Elavanal

Introduction
It is with immense joy and gratitude to the Lord that I
stand before this august audience gathered together at this
ARC in Panvel, to address a few words on this occasion of the
Silver Jubilee Symposium of the Eparchy of Kalyan. Just as
when a ship sails through the vast ocean, making ripples and
waves to float along through the sea far and wide, the
Eparchy of Kalyan, though small in population having around
one lakh faithful only, yet wide in its territory, comprising of
15 districts of Maharashtra, has sailed along for 25 years,
making its divine, spiritual, and social impact over the
humankind, having its effects far and wide. 25 years is not a
short span of existence nor can we call it a long period of time
of performance as regards the existence of the Church. Yet by
the Grace of God, we have gone far ahead, and farther than
our own expectation. May I call it a 25 years of Glorious
Existence!
1. Aim of the Silver Jubilee Symposium
Adhering faithfully to its Vision Statement, “An Ideal
Syro-Malabar Catholic Community with holistic pastoral
care, committed to effective evangelization and integral
development of the people of Maharashtra,” the Eparchy of
Kalyan is convinced and committed to the all-round wellbeing
of the Syro-Malabar catholic migrants who have moved
out from Kerala to the various parts of Maharashtra. It is our
earnest desire to contribute, from our experience, our share
to those who are committed to gathering the folks which are
still in the Diasporas both inside and outside India.
In this symposium we want to discuss about the ‘Identity
of the St. Thomas Catholic Migrants’, and to emphasize how
important it is to keep up the ecclesial identity of the
migrants of any sui juris Church. We have to think also about
the ways and means of keeping up this identity. We begin our
study and discussion with a search for the origin of
Christianity in India.
2. St. Thomas Catholics
The origin of Christianity in India is traced back to the
Apostle St. Thomas. There is a living tradition and strong
faith that St. Thomas came to south India and established
seven churches and Christian communities. Recent scholarly
study makes it clear that St. Thomas on his first missionary
journey came to different parts of North India too. The
Apostle might have journeyed through Western Maharashtra
and the Konkan region and have established communities in
the first century itself, of which the prominent one was that
of Kalyan, where St. Bartholomew also is believed to have
preached. Here we need to look into the origin, growth,
extinction, migration and reestablishment of the St. Thomas
Christians in the various parts of the country. We have to
make also a concerted effort to rediscover the lost Christian
heritage of Maharashtra.
3. The Syro-Malabar Liturgy
By the title ‘St. Thomas Catholic migrants’ we mean
primarily the members of the Syro-Malabar Church. But it
implies a question whether the name of the Church ‘Syro
Malabar’ is to be preserved everywhere even outside India as
integral part of the identity of the Church. Whether the
identity of this Church, and the community of faithful is
identical with this name. There was a proposal that the name
of the Church be Indo-Chaldean or Chaldeo-Indian. What is
intimately related to its identity is that its liturgy has been
East Syrian or Chaldean from the early centuries. Though
there are four constituent elements for any particular
2 Mar Thomas Elavanal Chapter 1
Church, its theology, liturgy, spirituality and canonical
discipline, a Church is usually named after its liturgy like
Latin Church, Syro-Malabar Church, Syro Malankara Church
et al. But when we talk about identity we have to take these
elements in its integrity.
4. Migration
First of all it is necessary, to have a clear idea about
migration. Migration in simple terms means a temporary or
permanent transfer of residence. In this sense migration
seems to be a universal phenomenon of all ages and today
migration on an unprecedented scale is taking place all over
the world. Indian cities too have witnessed increasing
presence of migrant Christians. Besides, many people
migrate to the metropolitan cities of the world in search of
job opportunities. There has been a continuous process of
migration of Syro-Malabar faithful too out of the traditional
hub of Christianity, i.e. Kerala to the various cities, the world
over.
Migration has many implications due to demographic,
religious, political, cultural and economic changes. Usually
the life of the migrant Christians is exposed to many
problems and difficulties in the new socio-cultural
atmosphere because of the inadequate living conditions and
due to the lack of pastoral care. This calls for the urgency of
rendering adequate and immediate attention including the
proper pastoral care for these migrant Christians.
5. Care of the Migrants
The first generations of the migrant families are
reluctant, sometimes, to go to the local parish community
except perhaps for an occasional Mass and liturgical services
in Lent or Christmas season. They may not have much
contact with the local parish either. Language and culture are
big barriers for these migrants. Even the reception of
sacraments becomes difficult because many are not able to
Chapter 1 Key Note Address 3
make their confessions and recite prayers in English or in the
local language. Hence these migrants have always faced
difficulties in their Christian life and spiritual practices.
There are several thousands of students belonging to
Syro Malabar Church pursuing various courses in
institutions run by Catholic as well as non-Catholic agencies
in the big cities. The number of employed bachelors also is
big. Since they have come for studies or for temporary work,
and will go back after a few years, they do not take interest in
learning the language of the place nor do they get integrated
into the local community. Most of them will like to be
anonymous and would not live their faith unless they get
proper attention in their own language and tradition. This is
the case in all the metro cities of India, and of the cities
abroad.
So far the Syro Malabar Church could not make a
scientific survey of our migrant faithful outside the proper
territory in India and abroad because of the lack of
permission from the concerned authorities. Still the Synodal
Commission for Evangelization and Pastoral Care of the
Migrants made a study to get the number of our migrant
faithful both in India and abroad. It is given in the directory of
Syro Malabar Migrants published in 2013. The study shows
that there are more than 8, 00,000 Syro-Malabar Catholic
migrants living outside the jurisdiction of the Syro-Malabar
Eparchies. Almost half of them are in Gulf countries. Only a
well-founded statistics will help us to formulate and
understand how this migration process takes place and what
its spiritual, religious and theological implications are. It is
also necessary that the Church involves itself in forming an
appropriate theology of migration.
We want to discuss in this symposium also about the
various steps taken by the Holy See for the pastoral care of
the migrants. The Eparchy of Kalyan, Chicago and Faridabad
are prominent examples. In this context I would like to
gratefully remember and acknowledge the meaningful steps
already taken by both the Latin and Syro-Malabar hierarchy
for pastoral care in India. Here the initiatives taken by the
former bishop of Pune Rt. Rev. Valerian D’Souza is worth
mentioning. He established separate parishes for the
pastoral care of the members of Syro-Malabar Church
already in 1984 and requested the Syro-Malabar Bishop’s
Conference to send priests to be appointed parish priests in
charge of Syro-Malabar faithful. Accordingly MST fathers
were entrusted with the responsibility of pastoral care in
these areas.
6. Urgency of Action
It is needless to say that Churches have the duty to give
due pastoral care to their faithful wherever they are. Hence,
there is urgency in taking adequate measures for the pastoral
care of the Syro-Malabar migrants both in India and abroad.
It is urgent because the slower the pace of action the more
the time required to bring them back to the consciousness of
the identity as belonging to an Oriental Church. One of the
results of migration is that a community becomes uprooted
from the soil of its cultural background and context. The first
generation of migrants who are uprooted are usually
estranged in the local situation. They often become
anonymous in the large majority of the faithful of other
Churches and peoples of other religions. It may lead them to an
indifference to the practice of religion and even to the loss of
faith. Some, on the other hand may join non-Catholic
communitiesbecausetheyareverymuchinfluencedbythem.
The second generation of these migrants may not even
have the awareness that they belong to another sui juris
Church. It has become the need of today, to hand over
faithfully the ecclesial tradition and spirituality of the St.
Thomas Christians to the next generation. At the same time it
is also necessary that, keeping up the identity of the Church,
the migrants try to be inculturated especially in their
language, practices and customs. Thus the Church is called to
take creative initiatives to preserve its ecclesial identity in a
multicultural-linguistic and religious context, living it
faithfully and imparting it meticulously.
The reality that the faith dies out if proper care is not
given for the nourishment of faith life of the migrants in their
unfamiliar situations has motivated the Church to be actively
involved in pastoral care of her children. The lack of proper
pastoral care for the migrants has several consequences such
as: the loss of sense of oneness with the Mother Church, lack
of proper liturgical life, lack of proper religious instruction, a
feeling of isolation from the rest of the community and steep
decline of priestly and religious vocations. Hence the
pastoral care within the same country or abroad has been
one of the growing concerns of the different churches both
Catholic and Non-catholic, in the modern times.
7. Theological Basis
The reason for separate pastoral care is more theological
and practical. In Canon 11 of the CCEO the basic dignity and
equality of all Christian faithful is enshrined. This
fundamental right to spiritual care has been given legal
protection in Canon 16 and 17.
It is the belongingness to a particular sui juris Church in
the Catholic communion that entails special pastoral care.
The right of the faithful to worship in one’s own liturgical
tradition and to live as a Christian in accordance with one’s
ecclesial heritage is rooted in baptism by which a person is
incorporated as a member in a specific sui juris Church.
Parallel to the right to worship in one’s own sui juris
Church, there is also an obligation of the Christian faithful to
know, retain and promote their rites (CCEO, cc. 39-41). This
juridical norm is underlined again in Erga Migrantes Caritas
Chrisiti No. 52. The members of each sui juris Church are
bound to foster the knowledge and esteem of the rite of their
Church and to observe them everywhere.
6 Mar Thomas Elavanal Chapter 1
India is a country where the faithful of the three different
sui juris Churches namely Latin, Syro-Malabar and Syro-
Malankara live in the same geographical area. They may have
the same language and the same cultural traits, but they have
different rites as far as their Church belongingness is
concerned. Therefore it is essential that the migrants from
each of these Churches get pastoral care consonant to their
ecclesial traditions. It is in this context that we have to think
about the need of pastoral care in view of the ecclesial
identity of the Syro-Malabar migrants. Sometimes this
question is asked: Why should there be special parishes and
chaplains for the Syro-Malabar faithful? Is it not sufficient
that one of the Latin priests be deputed to celebrate liturgy in
their language? Here ecclesial difference is forgotten and
seen merely as difference in language.
8. Eparchy of Kalyan
The Eparchy of Kalyan is the first one erected for the
Syro-Malabar migrants. Even before the establishment of the
Eparchy, the faithful of the Syro-Malabar Church were
particular to keep up their ecclesial traditions. They availed
themselves of the spiritual services of the priests and
chaplains from Syro-Malabar Church. They were more
concerned about having liturgy in their language and to have
celebrations of feast according to their tradition. But, when
this Eparchy was erected even some of these faithful
questioned about the need and relevance of a new Eparchy
where there is already Latin diocese and parishes, because,
they identified Sui Juris Church with language groups. I think
the same persons who have become the members of the
Eparchy are now in a position to give the answer to these
questions. Here we place on record the zealous and
committed efforts put in by the first bishop of the Eparchy
Mar Paul Chittlapilly and the pioneers who collaborated with
him. They have sailed us along all the thick and thin of its
growth and existence. They laid the strong foundation for the
Eparchy. The Eparchy of Kalyan will ever be greatly indebted
to them.
9. Double Jurisdiction
There were apprehensions whether the question of
double jurisdiction of Latin and Syro-Malabar Churches in
the same territory will cause confusion or tension among the
Eparchies. But the experience of the past 25 years is a strong
witness not only of the peaceful co-existence but of
collaboration and mutual enrichment.
The Eparchy of Kalyan gets involved in the organization
of the pastoral care, evangelization and integral
development in 15 districts of Maharashtra, being coexistence
with five Latin Dioceses. I would proudly acclaim
the collaboration and the unified action of the Syro-Malabar
and Latin Dioceses in this regard. Both together have
contributed much to the social and religious development of
its members and the Society and the proclamation of the
Gospel.
10. Fruits of Pastoral Care
Due importance has been always given to the proper
faith formation of the children and the youth. One of the
visible fruits of the pastoral care in the proper ecclesial
tradition is the increase in the number of vocations to
priesthood and religious life. From among the children who
got pastoral care and faith formation after the establishment
of the Eparchy, we have 35 vocations to priesthood and 28 to
religious life.
Besides all the youth remain always dynamically
involved in the various activities of the Church. We made a
study among the youth of our Eparchy. The study is very
revealing. The youth who got ecclesial formation after the
establishment of our Eparchy are very much attached to the
Church. From among them almost 95% are very active and
are in the main stream of the activities of the Church,
whereas from among those who were grown up as youth
before the establishment of the Eparchy, almost 60 % only
nominally or rarely get involved in the activities of our
parish. Some of them do not even prefer to be considered as
the members of the Syro-Malabar Church. Now they have
become young couples in the Eparchy. Here I want to
emphasize the importance of proper ecclesial formation to
children and youth so that they may know and love their
Mother Church.
Our Family Unit System has lead to better relations and
understanding among the families and better collaboration
with the activities of the Church both in spiritual and social
fields. As a result the grown up members of the parishes are
also equally active. Our experience teaches us that only
proper pastoral care for the migrant community will keep
them attached to the Church. I think that, all will agree when I
say that, the Eparchy of Kalyan may be taken as a model for
the successful pastoral care of the migrants. Following the
model of the Eparchy of Kalyan, other ecclesial units are also
awaiting their actualization into an Eparchy. At present they
render pastoral help to the faithful through parishes and
pastors appointed by the local hierarchs.
11. Vision Statement of the Eparchy
The mission of the Eparchy is envisaged to have three
dimensions. Our vision statement clearly delineates them:
“Holistic pastoral care, effective evangelization and integral
development of the people of Maharashtra.” The Eparchy is
not concerned exclusively about the pastoral care of
migrants but contributes equally towards the
evangelization.
The Eparchy has a vast area of 10 districts as mission
fields entrusted to four religious congregations. There are
almost 95 Priests and 180 Sisters working in these four
mission territories where there are only very few Catholics.
As a result of the intense missionary activity of the priests
and religious in the missions a few centres of new Marathi
Christian communities could also be established.
Our Eparchy could contribute towards the integral
development of the people and the society. Through the
Department of Social Action of the Eparchy including the
four missions, the Eparchy of Kalyan is rendering
commendable social service especially in the fields of rural
development, empowerment of women, education for the
marginalized, support for the HIV infected and affected
people, orphans, and the physically and mentally challenged.
12. Vision for the Next Generation
One of the central themes of Lumen Gentium of II Vatican
Council is that the Catholic Church is the communion of
different individual Churches. Hence all the faithful should
have the basic knowledge about the existence of different
Rites in the Church and that diversity of Rites is not against
the unity in the Church. Everyone must understand that
one’s membership in the Catholic Church is only through the
membership in a Sui Juris Church. Hence one should know
one’s Church, love and be proud of being the member of that
Sui Juris Church. In our Catechism Anthem children are
taught to sing “We are proud of being a community of love .....
in the Eparchy of Kalyan, as children of one God.” The
ecclesial tradition and the spiritual patrimony of our Church
should be well explained to them and they should be initiated
to the Christian life in accordance with the spirituality of our
Church. Pope Francis in his encyclical letter Lumen Fidei
teaches us that ‘The Church, like every family passes on to her
children the store of her patrimony. It is through her
sacraments celebrated in the Church’s liturgy that this
patrimony is handed over to the children’ (No. 40).
So, Catechism should help the children to understand
and to participate meaningfully and actively in the Liturgy
and to live meaningfully the ecclesial life. The role of the
parents and especially the grandparents is important in the
faith formation of the children. Their example through life
and prayer is the decisive factor in the formation of the
children. Here we are reminded of the context of Kerala
where the grandparents took special interest in the faith
formation and religious instruction of their grandchildren
which may be lacking among the migrant families.
13. The Futuristic Vision
The symposium shall be aimed at creating a futuristic
vision on the migrants too. In the present global scenario, at
the ecumenical and inter-religious fields, unity of action
becomes imperative for the faith transmission, pastoral life
and evangelization. The roles of the migrants are not
forgotten in these aspects too. The migrant Church has a
great contribution to make to the society, especially in the
spiritual, social-charitable, cultural and political fields. We
also try to discover and distinguish the contribution which
the migrant community has made towards peace, harmony
and development of India. We have to learn more about the
major issues and challenges that the migrants face especially
the moral values and principles practised among the
migrants, decrease in birth rate, unstable family bonds,
social insecurity, anonymity, loneliness and such other
issues.
Having the vision statement clear in our minds, we wish
to push ahead our dreams with greater fervour and
faithfulness, following the example of St. Thomas the father
of our faith. May this Silver Jubilee Symposium be fruitful and
enriching for all of us.

CHALLENGES OF THE MIGRANT FAMILIES IN MEGA CITIES



CHALLENGES OF THE MIGRANT FAMILIES IN MEGA CITIES

Fr. (Dr.) Francis Eluvathingal

1      Issues Related to Migration:

The entire history of humankind has been a history of migration. People are always on the move. Generally the reasons for migration are desire for improvement of one's own life situation, a search for new goals, an attempt for survival, quest for a new meaning and fulfilment in the transitory existence on earth etc. Migration is one of the characteristics and integral part of the modern world. The adventurous mind of the people, looking for greener pastures, was always encouraged by own family and the Church. The contribution of the educational institutions in Kerala equipped them to go far and wide across the globe. The migrants, having settled in different places across the globe, are grown to the second and further generations and have become the children of the soil.

2     Adaptation of First Generation and Integration of their Children:

A migrant is transplanted into another culture, language and environment. He loses his friends and relatives. But this sense of loss is substituted by the inner urge for economic success. The first generation migrant works hard and is ready to bear hardships so that he can get settled in the new situation. Often his psychological and religious needs are not satisfied. In this stage, normally one tends to lose or willingly lose his former cultural identity which he thinks would be a hindrance to his future progress. And yet, his is nostalgic of the past and cherishes his previous identity. He is adapted and not integrated. The second and further generations of the migrants learn in the new mother tongue and possibly speaking parents’ language at home, could be living in two worlds. They are forced to grow with two allegiances. Often parents speak of their old tradition and customs with great pride and instruct the children of the ‘lost values’. At this level, integration is most difficult and the children face a cultural dilemma. In this situation, the children themselves learn to take a balanced level of adjusting to the newer demands of the present environment, still retain a core experience from their parents’ identity. Neither losing their parents’ identity fully nor merging to the new culture totally would be ideal. Even though the second generation goes through this problem severely, for the third and further generations, integration would be easier.

3     Difficulties the Families Face:

Migrant families have suffered tremendous difficulties to live their faith as per the mind of the Church. Ignorance or negligence of living their patrimony caused them to lose the original traditions, rituals and spirituality of their mother church. The parents continue to toil hard to transmit the faith and tradition to the new generation through living the family value system, cultural traditions and ritual practices. By upholding sanctity of marriage, fidelity in marriage, maintaining family ties and reputation they carried forward this legacy even in the multi-cultural situations of the migrant areas. The onslaught of globalization, consumerism, nuclear family culture, imitation of the western culture, development of technology and the resultant misuse of it, workaholism, wreaked havoc in the faith life have shaken the family roots among the migrants in the mega cities. Mixed marriages and disparity of cult marriages are on the increase among the catholic migrants. Our traditional arranged marriages, where parties could reflect about the qualities of the other persons for a successful married life are reduced to 60-70%, and the love marriages are glorified as individual freedom in making the choice about the partner. The youngsters grow in school and colleges where girl-boy friends system is depicted as sign of manhood/womanhood. The dangers involved in these marriages and failure of family life among the migrant young couples cannot be neglected. Not finding a suitable partner from own community, not getting married even in forties, not having a proper vision for life, luxuries and frequent weekend vacations, serious lack of human and family values, egoistic and self-centred life are some other dangers that have badly affected the migrant younger generation. 

4     Family Relations among Migrants:

Present migrant situations carry with it new problems in the family relations. Most of the migrant families are very small. They suffer from lack of family bond and hence lack of strength. The children are provided with everything. They are not given the training to take up hardships. They are unaware of the pain and hard work even the value of money. The life time hard work of the parents is lavishly spoiled by some irresponsible children. Once the children grow up, the parents totally depend on them as they do not have other relatives in the migrant places. This situation affects the growth of their wedded children. The strain and stress of the job situations, increased financial burdens and loans, lack of other family members for offering a helping hand, etc. contribute tremendously to the pressure of the young families and they are not able to cope with the rigorous schedule of family life. These situations force them to neglect their prayer life and Sunday obligations etc. For the growth in faith, the small children need models and witnesses. The grand-parents who were also god-parents used to take initiatives for handing over the faith to their grand-children.

5     Youth and the Young Families:

Youth and young families are the highest in the number of migrants. Modern communication systems, lifestyle, entertainments etc. influence them very fast. There is anonymity in the cities and the Churches are not able to identify the migrants in their respective areas, due to the lack of information, infrastructure, systems etc. The young men and women lack initiatives to reach out their parishes as their priority is their work, financial stability and social living status. Among the migrant families, also because of lack of space in small flats or houses, most of the young families live separately from their parents and no much chance to hand over the faith their newly born grand-children. The young parents with their hopes and dreams for their children’s future reserve little space for their spirituality. Spreading secularized mentality deviate the younger minds to have only secular values. The children are not trained to share the time, talents and gifts with the less privileged brethren. Family prayer, family meal, family sharing and family entertainments, family pilgrimages and picnics become more and more absent.

6      Modern Marriages:

In this changed times, one may be surprised to see different types of marriages among the migrants such as arranged marriages, love marriages, civil marriage between two free persons, civil marriage between one divorcee and the other free, marriage between two divorcees, marriages between one/both living separately without obtaining civil divorce or ecclesiastical nullity, marriage into other religion, marriage of convenience, living together of free or divorced, etc. On observing deeply the marriages contracted in the Churches, one will come across different categories of marriages which may sound incredible. They are the marriages between two staunch Catholics, one practising and another non-practising catholic, two non-practising Catholics, one practising Catholic and another practising non-Catholic, one practising Catholic and another non-practising Non-Catholic, one non-practising Catholic and another non-practising Non-Catholic, one Catholic and another Oriental non-Catholic, one Catholic and another non-oriental non-Catholic, one Catholic and another from Christian sects, One Catholic and a non-Christian with a Religion, one Catholic and an atheist so on and so forth.

7     Tribunal Experiences:

Falling in love is on the rise nowadays. The parents insist that a Catholic should get married only to another Catholic especially when they come to know about the religiosity of the other party. This situation often forces the Catholic party to heed the plea of the parents and finally give consent to marry a Catholic, at the same time; they secretly continue the relationship with the person in love. This obviously leads to the break of marriage and they approach the tribunal for the declaration of the marriage null and void. Some love marriages between Catholics and non-christians are contracted with the provision of the disparity of cult. But when they start living together, the faith matters a lot for each one. But the disparity leads to conflicts especially when there are children. Undue interference of the parents in the family life and decision making of the children leads to the break of marriage. Over possessiveness is found to be another reason. The Church insists that a person must have sufficient development of their faculties of intellect and will, to be able to judge and to will a truly human act. As marriage involves a decision, discretion of judgment refers to the capacity of intellect and will to specifically evaluate, decide and freely enter marriage. Intellectual maturity is the most basic level expected in the adults who make a commitment for whole life. But unfortunately in some adults this reasoning is overpowered by only emotions. Still worse situations occur when this reasoning is done by some other minds like parents, or other kith and kin other than the contracting parties.

8     Some Solutions:

a.      Living family traditions will help the effective preservation and transmission of faith among the migrants. They are to identify these traditions and should take efforts to follow them faithfully. The spirituality of daily Family prayer should be brought back at a fixed time by all the members of the family. Bible reading, dedication prayers, prayer of the faithful, etc. are to be also made part of this prayer. Apart from attending the Holy Qurbana, the Sunday Observance and other spiritual nourishment are to be encouraged. Fasting and abstinence are very dear to our family tradition. The practice of abstinence (nombu for 50, 25, 15, 8 and 3 days and all Fridays) is to be observed besides the days of fasting. The observance of Friday abstinence is to be promoted intensely. Theerthadanavum vazhippadum (Pilgrimages and vows) to religious and holy places are to be promoted and families to be helped to fulfil this religious practice.
b.       Sunday Catechism is an effective means of transmission of faith which needs to be effectively conducted for migrant children. As migrants have left the natives at their 20’s, the lost enthusiasm is to be renewed and enkindled. The traditional method of catechesis may not be always suitable for catering to the needs of the migrants and hence we need to broaden the horizons to effectively carry out this mission to all the migrants. To renew the faith and spirituality of the elders in the family, adult catechism through some seminars and sessions should be implemented on priority.
c.       The role and significance of fatherhood needs to be emphasized and empowered institutionally and individually. The boys should be groomed and empowered. The newly married should be accompanied by the elders in the family to make sure their mature growth. They are to be encouraged to take up the role of responsible parents. The Church needs to take special pastoral accompaniment for them.
d.      There should be an insistence that all those who get married in the church should attend the marriage preparation course and no exemption is given whatsoever. In fact the marriage preparation course shall not be restricted only to three days programme just before the marriage but it should be planned in such a way that in every state they prepare with sufficient information for a successful married life. Non-Christians attend the course with reluctance, but after the course, they show satisfaction of having participated and find it an enriching experience. Apart from sessions on various topics related to family life, this three-day long marriage preparation course includes opportunity for marriage counseling, confession, etc. The course is conducted in English.
e.      The concept of arranged marriages is to be understood with clarity especially about the decision making on marriage. Decision forced on their children by the parents is undesirable as per the letter and spirit of the law. At the same time, many feel insecure for a decision taken by the contracting parties alone as it lacks perfection. I would say, a perfect decision making on marriage should be a process where the contracting parties take the final decision with the constant assistance and involvement of the parents who help them to evaluate and decide. A decision for marriage made by the parents against the will of the contracting parties is unjustified.
f.        Marriages are made in heaven, which we solemnize on earth. Human person is a composite of body, mind and soul. Solemnization of a marriage is not just a spiritual ceremony happening in the church where only the soul is involved. But it is solemn moment of officially exchanging the consent for an already taken decision where mind and body are involved. A boy and a girl who take a decision for their whole life need to have basic knowledge about the other person. The migrant community must uphold the traditional values of entering into marriage with sanctity of life but at the same time the parents show much openness towards knowing each other.
g.      Unfortunately “falling in love” is a trap where many of our youngsters are unable to take decision with due discretion involving their intellect and will. The youngsters say that they just fall in love. One is blind to the demerits of the other when one falls in love. It is dangerous when the youngsters get married only because they are in love. In such cases, being in love is the only reason or quality for marriage. They do not consider many other key factors that are very important for a successful married life. Love need not be the only component that sustains a whole life together but rather is one of the many components. Rather than just marrying the one whom one loves, it is necessary to love the one whom one marries.
h.      Nowadays, one of the major problems in love marriage is having different faiths. If our youngsters consider disparity of cult marriages as the fashion of the day, living our faith as one family will be almost impossible and it will result in the disintegration of the family; thus the stability of the family and community will be at stake. Conversion of heart only should lead to conversion to another religion. Sometimes some non-Christians get converted only for the sake of getting married. In these cases usually there is no living of faith in the families. The children, even if they are baptized, are not given opportunities of family prayers, Sunday obligations, nor sent for catechism classes. In some cases, once the marriage is over, even if they are converted Catholics, they go back to their original religion and do not care for living their new faith.
i.        It is very much opportune to begin some family oriented courses for the parents before the marriage of their children. One or two children in the family sometimes prevent the holistic development of the children. They get all they want and need not share with anyone else. This leads to selfishness and egoism. It is surprising to see the young families resist in sharing together including their salaries. These are against the basic concept of family values of giving and sacrificing.
j.        The parents want to make sure that their children do not face the same difficulties that they faced. Many parents do not share their problems with their children but they suffer in private. And some others do not include their children in the decision making process. The parents take care of each and every need of the family and of the children. Hence most of the children lack practical knowledge and experience even to do small or big house hold activities. When their children get married and found new families, they do not know to take decisions, to handle many family situations and do household activities.
k.       The young families undoubtedly need follow up programme after their marriage and looking at the current development it goes without saying. The strain and stress of the job situations, increased financial burdens and loans, lack of other family members for offering a helping hand, etc. contribute tremendously to the pressure of the young families and they are not able to cope with the rigorous schedule of family life. These situations force them to neglect their prayer life and Sunday obligations etc.
l.        For the growth in faith, the small children need models and witnesses. In the Catholic tradition, the grand-parents were also god-parents at the time of baptism of their grand-children and they took initiatives for traditionally handing over the faith to their grand-children. They were either living together or close by and it was possible. Now among the migrant families, also because of lack of space in small flats or houses, most of the young families live separately from their parents and there is not much chance to hand over the faith to their newly born grand-children. This will definitely affect the future practising of the faith of the young families.
m.    There are some traditions of which we need to imbibe their spirit into our present day. The spirit of modesty in our traditional and cultural dressings should be followed. Even the food we eat and time table following in the eating habits are to be seriously noted and followed as far as we can.