Bangalore is known for its large number of religious houses and the variety of religious congregations. There are over four hundred (!) religious houses in the territory of Bangalore Archdiocese, with probably 7000 religious. Their annual gathering, called Sanyasa Sangamam, tends to be a huge affair. This year the attendees numbered 1200. They met in Christ University Auditorium.
Two initiatives of CRI-Bangalore show a vision we can all learn from:
1. Inter-Congregational Effort for Development (ICED): This is a platform where religious congregations can come together and share resources—land, personnel, training, talent, money—for the development of people. Some congregations—Salesians of Don Bosco, the Holy Spirit Sisters, the Daughters of Wisdom, the JMJ Sisters, the SMI Sisters and the CSST sisters—are already into it, and have people working full time in this line. Other congregations partner with them, or will do so in future.
May such collaboration increase! By coming together, we learn from one another, avoid unnecessarily multiplication of activities, and give better witness to the people.
2. “Colour the Fallen Stars”: This catchy title refers to the destitute people who live and die on our streets. To quote Bangalore CRI’s lovely statement, they are “not the last, nor the least, but they are lost.” Behind this slogan there seems to be a serious stock-taking of what happens to the many poor people who flock to our cities, namely:
- Thousands are on the streets waiting for a support system.
- ‘These people do not want to remain in the rehabilitaion centres.’ This is a myth. If good support systems are provided and people are treated well, they would opt for rehabilitaion and support.
- Experience shows that globalization and rapid economic growth will push some people to the periphery due to defects in the policy framework.
- It is the responsibility of the government and the civil society to monitor the situation of the most disadvantaged in our cities and help them to have a dignified life.
- Various ministries have isolated programs, but an integrated program to accompany the most disadvantaged in cities is not in place.
- An integrated program should be developed which will coordinate all the efforts already done, yet to be done, fill the gaps and bring in best possibilities to deal with the situation.
To respond to this urgent need, the Bangalore CRI has come up with this scheme: TO COLOUR THE FALLEN STARS. Efforts will be made to raise funds to help them, and to get more religiosu to work among and for the children and adults whose home is the street.
May more of us show a similar concern, and come up with practical steps to help the neediest and the most forgotten. We do not become, as one ex-religiosu put it, to make the lives of those who already have much more comfortable, but to bring hope to those who have no one to turn to.(JTM)
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