Lay social Activitists, priests, religious and Bishops of Bengal jointly spent time to reflect on the socio- economic, political situation of the region and formulated a Vision for the Church in West Bengal under the theme "Church in 2020", on March 16-17, 2009 at Raiganj. "A sustainable and just Society where Gospel Values of Love, Truth, Equality and Peace are nurtured and lived at all levels" is the vision for the region of West Bengal and Sikkim.
More than 100 participants from all over West Bengal and Sikkim had long sessions at Raiganj, about 400 kms north of Calcutta to plan for Church in 2020.
Detailed social analysis of the region was done by Mr. Roshan Rai, a social activist from Darjeeling. He highlighted the concerns of environmental issues, political domination and land alienation. Mr. Lukose, P.J. From Caritas India Delhi helped the participants to make SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis. The participants from all the eight dioceses of west Bengal had open discussion on the shortcomings in the church and the domination of clergy and religious. Looking into the weaknesses and how we could transform the same into strengths is our strategy, said Mr. Lukose.
The youth exhorted the participants to plan for the church which is participatory, cordial and reconciling one.
They developed the mission as : "To build a vibrant and Eco friendly society by promoting human dignity through collaboration, empowerment and Rights Based Approach for the poor and the marginalized in West Bengal and Sikkim."
It was a joy to hear them share their experiences and longings for the Church. The interaction of the participants made the programme very success. The Bengal Regional Forum orgnanised the programme along with Raiganj Social Service Society known as Social Welfare Institute.
Mr. Eugene Gonslaves, President of the Catholic Association of Bengal, Bishop Stephen Lepcha of Darjeeling, Loreto Sister Sabrina Edwards of Darjeeling, Bishop Clement Trikey of Jalpaiguri and Dr. Prabir Chatterjee, Consultant to UNICEF shared the longings of the poor rural people, tribals, youth and women. They provoked the audience to think loudly how they could work for the welfare of the marginalized.
The Church has a vision of Christ. He wants us to be liberators, said Bishop Salvadore Lobo of Baruipur who is the chairperson of the Bengal Developmental apostolate. The formulation of the Perspective plan for Church in 2020 is a good family experience, said Bishop Lobo while concluding the session. Very often our residences are not proportionate to the dwellings of the people with whom we live and work, he reminded all.
Fr. Gerry Machado from Asansol invited the bishops, priests and religious present to use their property, resources and skills for the welfare of the vulnerable population.
Mr. Sanjay Rozario, regional Manger of Caritas India , Fr. Sarto, the Director of the Regional Forum, and Fr. Puthumai Nazarene Director of Social Welfare Institute, Raiganj facilitated the sessions to help the participants to identify the strategic choices and focus groups who need our special interventions for their self empowerment.
The participation of the diocesan directors of Social works and their staff made the sharing a fruitful and enriching one. The Staff of Association of Bengal Collaborators for Development (ABCD) and the Staff of Social Welfare Institute took all pains to ensure that the meetings and deliberations went on well.