Santwana - new Lay Center inaugurated in India

New Delhi, India, August 01, 2009 - “The 'Santwana' (Consolation) Lay Movement is a great gift to the Church in India.” These were the words of Archbishop Vincent Concessao of Delhi, in inaugurating the new Lay Center, recently opened in Delhi by the Movement.

The 'Santwana' Movement is formed by lay men and women who wish to be disciples of Christ, on the “way of love,” building up and proclaiming His Kingdom. Thus, the movement leads programs of formation for evangelization, pastoral training for the laity, correspondence courses, and mission initiatives in various Indian dioceses.

The Archbishop, in inaugurating the new structure, mentioned the Santwana laity as an example of the laity's role in the Church and in Indian society.

The movement began 20 years ago, founded by Fr. Dheeraj, of the Indian Missionaries Society (IMS), and is now led by Mr. Alexy Pallan, former businessman from Kochi.

The movement has contributed to a greater reflection on lay leadership in the Church in India, reflecting on the role and challenges of the Catholic laity in Indian society. The laity, Santwana says, should be the leaven of society and instruments of social changes, to create a more human and fraternal society.

Thus, there is a need to form the Catholic laity for pastoral service and for a more incisive testimony in society. The laity are called to be “disciples of Christ” so they can work in the Church and society and build a community with harmony and solidarity.

In the last 10 years, missionary awareness among the laity and the youth has heightened in India. Many decide to dedicate several years of their lives to the missions, leaving behind their job to work on evangelization, in works of charity or service to the Church. The laity today takes part in missionary work, beginning with the family, from small groups that later grow, placing the Word of God, the Eucharist, and love for the poor at the center of their lives. There is a growing awareness among lay Indians of their responsibility in spreading the Gospel in society and in the world.

“The laity, through the Sacrament of Baptism and Confirmation, have great potential, in their state of life, to be Church and to receive the power of the Holy Spirit to complete the saving mission of Christ in the world.”

-Agenzia Fides

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