Tanzania, March 29, 2019
Interview taken by: Rev. Fr. Victor Machado
1. Dear Bishop, Congratulations on completion of six months as a Bishop. Will you please share your experiences during this period?
In the past six months after my ordination, I had to do a lot of adjustments in my life, from academic to administrative and pastoral. Meeting priests, religious and lay faithful, listening to them, forming various councils and committees for the smooth functioning of the diocese, attending to various problems made great demands on my regular time table. It was really demanding a lot of time and energy. But now things are falling in place.
2. What do you think are the more important priorities in the diocese of Mangalore?
The important priority of the diocese is the building the faith community, deepening the faith we have already received and spreading the faith. Here, lay faithful, religious and diocesan clergy need to work together. Second thing is protecting the environment and conserving water – Laudato Si Project. Third is to build bridges between the people of various faith traditions and create a fellow feeling, Bandhutva. We belong to one earth, we are nurtured by her ingredients, we must learn to love all and teach others to love one another.
3. What was your notion about Same Mission before you came to this mission?
I had known Same mission by the various reports of those who worked here, especially through Fr. Alwyn D’Souza. I had learnt that Boys’ Science Secondary School is established. I knew that life is tough here being in another culture with very few facilities. We need to depend totally on the providence of God and generosity of people as there was no regular financial support system.
4. What are the things you appreciate in this Mission after coming here personally?
I appreciate the mutual, brotherly affection of priests working here. You testify that you belong to each other. That’s wonderful. I appreciate the progress done in such a short time in establishing the parish mission, “Rupert” project and above all the school infrastructure and academic performance. I appreciate the forward looking attitude to grow further by adopting farming, providing water and other facilities to the poor.
5. What do you say about the faith of the people over here?
The people have the simple faith. They are poor financially but they have a generous heart. They love sincerely. They have understood that God is at work amidst them. They are ready to come from distant places and spend time together to nourish their faith. Your sharing of responsibilities in this direction is exemplary as each takes care of different sub-stations.
6. Do you think this Mission is on right track? What are your suggestions to improve this Mission?
I think the mission is on the right track and is being stabilised. The mission as pastoral care of the Christians is taken care of. Yet a little more visiting of individual families and learning about their situation will help to focus on the right approach to inspire them to Christian values. The school ministry will help in mission ad gentes. The boys are to be trained in the practice of Christian and human virtues, keeping Christ as model. The mission inter gentes, among the people, needs to be taken up, so that people of other faith traditions, cultures and also the poor get sufficient amount of attention, and we must get them engaged with us in common action.
7. What are your comments about priests working in this Mission?
There is a lot of care and concern and sharing of responsibilities among priests. That is really praise worthy. Each one is interested in the wellbeing of other and there is mutual trust and brotherly spirit. Other priests can learn much from you.
8. Do you think the priests of the diocese of Mangalore should be more involved in this mission?
I believe so. Every priest and every religious and lay faithful should feel that the Mission belongs to each one of us. At the same time, the message and updates from the Mission should also reach priests and people. Internos and Raknno should be used to spread the news
9. Do you feel happy that this Mission was taken up? What are the ways do you think the diocese of Mangalore should be involved in this mission?
I feel happy that our diocese has taken up this Mission and with lot of hard work it has been brought to the present level. We are the first diocese in India, I believe, to take up a Mission in African continent. Fidei Donum priests of other dioceses have gone already to Latin American countries other than prayers and financial assistance. The diocese can take up adopting students and families.
10. What is your message for us?
First believe that God is working in you and through you. You are doing Christ’s mission. Second, bring Jesus Christ into the lives of people and students by living the Gospel so that many may be attracted to Christ. Third, inspire the youth here to be missionaries in their own land.
Few glimpses of Bishop Peter Paul Saldanha’s visit to SAME Mission