Asia’s oldest Catholic laity group promises to serve church and the people of India
Keynote address by Justice Kurian Joseph on “Constitution and Minority Rights in India”
Ø Union Minister for Health and Family Affairs and Chief Minister of Delhi to join the celebrations
Ø 5 Catholics to receive Centenary Awards
AMN /New Delhi
The All India Catholic Union, perhaps the oldest organization in Asia of Lay Catholics [women and men who are not priests or Nuns] celebrates 100 years of its founding in the then Madras city, with a series of grand jubilee functions in the national capital from 23rd August 2019.
The Union Minister for Health and Family Affairs, Dr Harsh Vardhan, and the Chief Minister of Delhi, Mr. Arvind Kejriwal, are expected to grace the main function which will showcase the cultural heritage of the Catholic Community which traces its roots to St Thomas, the Apostle’s coming to India and his stay in Kerala and what is now Tamil Nadu. The Community marks its presence in every state and union territory of India, where the church runs some of the most illustrious education, medical and social work institutions in the country.
As the clergy and men and women in religious orders administer institutions, the lay Catholic community are the interface with the social, economic and political life of the country. Over the decades before and after Independence, Catholics have played an important part in the political life, defence services, administration, and above all, as teachers, and activists.
Within the Church, the All India Catholic Union [AICU] is active in propagating the social teachings of the church which have evolved over the decades to equip the people to play a meaningful role in church, community and secular society.
The AICU is a federal body, recognised as a representative of the Laity by the Catholic Bishops Conference of India, the national umbrella organisation of the three streams of the Catholic Church in India – the Latin church, the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church and the Syro-Malankara Catholic church. The two Oriental Rites have their origins in Kerala and are today also present all over India and in many other parts of the world.
Addressing the media at Archbishop’s House, AICU National President, Mr. Lancy D’ Cunha along with the Secretary General Mr. A. Chinnappan and Spokesperson, Dr. John Dayal – a former national President – said a special highlight of the Centenary celebrations was the national seminar in which retired Supreme Court Judge, Justice Kurian Joseph, will deliver the keynote address on ‘Constitution and Minority Rights in India: Problems, Experiences & Apprehensions’ on the inaugural day, 23rd August 2019. Eminent scholars and civil society leaders including Dr. John Dayal, Prof Achin Vanaik, senior Supreme court Advocate MP Raju, and lawyers P I Jose, Sister Tresa Paul and Tehmina Arora will also speak.
Mr Lancy D’Cunha stressed that the AICU since Independence had made important interventions in the Supreme Court on Minority Rights, specially the rights of Dalit Christians. The AICU was committed to moving the courts as also the legislative apparatus to strengthen rights of freedom of faith, education, livelihood and social work.
The mega event will be held on 24th August 2019 in Edmund Rice Hall of St. Columbas School at which Dr. Harsh Vardhan, the Hon’ble Union Minister for Health and Family Affairs will be the Chief Guest and Shri Arvind Kejriwal, the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Delhi will be the Guest of Honour along with former Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, Mr. Nabam Tuki and many Members of Parliament and eminent dignitaries will grace the occasion.
The official Flag of the Catholic Union ha travelled in almost all parts of the country in the past several months and was welcomed in Delhi on the eve of the Centenary celebrations.
Mr. D’ Cunha told the media that as part of centenary celebrations five Indian Catholics selected by a national jury will be presented AICU Centenary Award for their outstanding contributions in the fields of media, environment, public affairs, sports and social activism in the development of the country.
Secretary General Mr. A. Chinnappan said AICU was grateful to Archbishop of Delhi, Most Rev Anil JT Couto and Vicar General Monsignor Susai Sebastian for the importance they had given the 3-day centenary celebrations. More than four hundred delegates are coming to the national capital from across the country for the celebrations. He also made a special mention of the Principal of St Columbas School, Brother E L Miranda, for his magnanimity in providing the school auditorium and facilities.