2. About Laity Commission
CCBI National Commission for Laity is at the service of promoting the mission of living and proclaiming the Gospel of Christ in the Latin Rite dioceses of India. It looks after the ongoing formation and animation of the lay faithful so that the laity can truly exercise their apostolate in accordance to their state of life. (Can. 208). The Commission deals with the pastoral concerns of the bishops, the Church’s mission in the Indian society and serves both as a Think Tank and as an arm of the CCBI to execute its decisions. The Laity Commission also collaborates with other agencies associated with the formation of the laity namely the NST for SCCs (CBCI) for the promotion of Participatory Church through formation and sustenance of SCCs. This also happens to be the pastoral priority stated by the Bishop’s Conference of India and one of the top pastoral programmes of the laity commission.
We dream of transforming lay faithful in India to truly exercise their apostolate in accordance with their state of life.
We are committed to promote and empower the laity for a vibrant Church.
1. To form the laity to be disciples of Christ and authentic witnesses.
2. To promote SCCs and PPCs in every parish of the diocese for greater participation of the enlightened laity.
3. To promote lay ministries (religious and secular) to fulfil the Church’s mission.
4. To network with every laity director for effective collaboration.
6. History of Laity Commission
In compliance with the Apostolic Letter of Pope John Paul II to the Bishops of India in May 1987, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI, constituted already in 1944) decided at its General Body Meeting in 1988, that each of the three Ritual Churches (the Latin, Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara) should have their own Episcopal Bodies in accordance with their own ecclesiastical legislation. Accordingly the Bishops of the Latin Church started their own Episcopal Conference in the same meeting and named it “Conference of Catholic Bishops of India” (CCBI). CCBI is thus the Conference of the Bishops of Latin Rite Church in India.
At its Third Plenary Assembly in Goa (1991) a full team of office bearers was elected for a term of four years and an Executive Committee consisting of the office-bearers, all the Metropolitans of the Latin Ecclesiastical Provinces and the Chairmen of CCBI Commissions was constituted. The Holy See permanently approved its Statutes in the year 2000.
Since then CCBI Commission for Laity had a full team comprising of a Bishop Chairman, two member bishops and the Executive Secretary of whom some served one while others two terms. Laity Commission is one among the other 9 commissions of the CCBI and it coordinates the formation and empowerment of laity in the 13 Ecclesiastical Regions of our country. The Laity Commission assists in carrying out the pastoral concerns of the bishops by animating the laity to carry on their baptismal responsibility.
Over the last 25 years of its existence the Commission under the able team of various Executive Secretaries and member bishops have been striving in forming the laity through various programmes at the national, regional and diocesan level to make the Church in India a Participatory, Christ-centred, and truly Evangelizing Community. This vision remains as a mighty task to be fully realised and even 50 years after the Second Vatican the results may not be very satisfactory but sincere attempts have been made to re-dream this vision with the laity in India through local and sponsored programmes.
The Plenary Assembly (PA) held in January, 2007, seriously took up the issue ‘The Vocation of the Laity in the Life and Mission of the Church’ in India. At the conclusion of the PA, the urgent need to train and involve the laity both in the Church and in the temporal world was decided upon. Each region, since then has been working with the commission on concrete action plans for every 2 years with an evaluative and monitoring mechanism with some hiccups due to various reasons.
The CCBI promulgated a Pastoral Plan for the Church in India on its Silver Jubilee Plenary Assembly, at Vailankanni on 8th December, 2013 and asked all commissions to revisit their vision-mission in the light of the new developments. This Pastoral Plan was a response to the call of Vatican II for a renewed Church in India. It is also a response to the call for a New Evangelization – new in ardour, methods and expression.
The future planning’s were urged to be taken seriously putting this vision into reality. In the light of the new Pastoral Plan the Laity Commissions re-examined their focus and reformulate their vision & mission as appealed in the same. The goals of the Commission have been adapted to the developing vision and formation programmes are being conducted accordingly.
7. Former Chairmen
1. Bp. Leon Tharmaraj: 2003 – 2006
2. Bp. Stanley Roman: 2007 – 2010
3. Bp. Gerald Mathias: 2010 –
8. Former Secretaries
1. Fr. Mathias: 2003-2004
2. Fr. X. D. Selvaraj: 2004-2008
3. Mr. Gordon Morris: 2009-2013
4. Mr. Joseph D’Souza: 2013-2014
5. Rev. Fr. Joseph Dias SVD 2015-2016
6. Rev. Fr. Philip Kattakayam: 2016 November -2017
7. Rev. Fr. Anthony J. Fernandes: 2018 –