Laity Sunday was celebrated on June 25 in the Archdiocese of Bombay around the theme ” Promoting a culture of mercy”.
The programme commenced with a prayer session led by Fr. Savio de Sales which invited the laity to consider their own unique call. Using the parable of the talents, the laity was urged to use the resources that God has gifted us.
Bishop John Rodrigues blessed the newly renovated auditorium of Antonio da Silva which was the venue for this programme. In his address, he commended those attending for the ministry they carry out in their respective parishes through associations and cells.
Fr. Jervis D’souza, the Director of the OLCM, emphasised the message of the Holy Father calling all of us to be missionaries of mercy and our role in stopping human trafficking and working for the release of undertrials.
Sr. Sagayamary, SCSA, shared her experiences as an advocate working with undertrials. 60% of prisoners in India are undertrials. She spoke about the overcrowded conditions in prisons which results in prisoners taking turns sleeping and rampant depression. The Prison Ministry India is a way through which God’s love and mercy is experienced by the undertrials. The laity can help in this ministry by providing financial aid to the Prison Ministry India and by volunteering, especially if trained in psychology and counselling.
Sr. Sahaya, FMM, then spoke about human trafficking which is modern day slavery. The second largest organised criminal activity in the world arises due to various factors including poverty.
AMRAT (Asian Movement of women Religious Against Trafficking) focuses on creating awareness about human trafficking, protecting rescued victims and working for human rights.
This was followed by a panel discussion led by Adrian Rosario with the panelists being Roque Coutinho from Justice & Care, an NGO involved in rescue and rehabilitation of trafficked persons, Sr. Grace Rodrigues fdcc and Sr. Sahaya.
The laity can get involved by serving as witnesses during raids, volunteering time and skills and through donations.Parishes can hold awareness programmes. We must be aware and act upon stories of children serving as child labourers around us. Also, missing children can be referred to this NGO (www.justiceandcare.org).
As the children of these rescued and rehabilitated women find it difficult to get admissions in schools, a system needs to be put into place to provide for the education of these children in our schools. Also, assistance is required in providing jobs for these rescued women. Parishes could assist in donating learning materials, pulses and food grains and sanitary napkins besides sponsoring the children’s education. Donations of chairs, tables and blackboards are welcome too.
The evening ended with a vote of thanks by Rohini D’souza.
All in all, a very informative evening for the attendees with suggestions on making a difference through concrete acts of mercy. More information on getting involved can be obtained by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.