Oral Presentation of D.Min. Treatise
Rev. Thomas John Varickamthotty
for the degree of
Doctor of Ministry
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
2:00p.m., Caldwell Hall, Happel Room
The Relationship between the parish eucharist and the life of small christian communites in Their neighborhoods
Director: Rev. Msgr. Paul McPartlan, S.T.L., D.Phil.
The Sunday Eucharist is mostly a routine ritual performed without anyone bothering much about the link it has with daily life of the people. In our parishes we talk about people who do not come for Sunday Mass, but not about the huge majority of people who appear and disappear weekly in the church. Generally, people are still fulfilling Sunday obligation and not celebrating and living the Eucharist. Unlike the early Christians for whom the breaking of the bread led to fellowship, sharing and services (Acts 2:42-45), today for most Catholics Eucharist is an obligation to be physically present in the church and these celebrations have to helped much in the transformation of the communities. They believe in sustaining their caste-cultural differences and remain passive for years.
The introduction of Small Christian Communities (SCCs) in parishes of so many dioceses of India is showing a significant change in this parish situation. In Redemtoris Missio no. 51 Pope John Paul II stated that SCCs are instruments of evangelization, centers of formation and seedbeds for new ministries; they decentralize and organize the parish with a plan for common commitment to respond to local needs. Reaffirming what Pope Paul VI stated in Evangelii Nuntiandi no.58, he said that SCCs are true expressions of communion and a means to construct a more profound communion in the Church. Thousands of SCCs in India bears witness to this in varying ways.
This study attempts to map the historical development in the understanding of SCCs and its impact on parish communities in celebrating and living the Eucharist in their families and neighborhoods. The research done in Barde Nagar SCC of the parish of Mary Queen of the Apostles in the city of Nagpur in Central India, showed that the members of the SCC experienced a deepening of their Eucharistic faith and spirituality. They spontaneously expressed their desire to seek reconciliation through a communal rite of reconciliation service; it was followed by Eucharist celebrated together and a fellowship meal. Realizing the importance of growing in fellowship, they decided to meet with those members of their SCC who do not attend SCC meetings. They resolved to prepare for Eucharist more sincerely and participate in the Eucharist more devoutly. Some of them received a deeper insight into translating the Eucharistic sacrifice into their daily sacrifices of life.
It proves then that SCCs can make a significant difference in living the Eucharist in daily life. SCC life verifies the truth of Henri Lubac’s position that the Eucharist makes the Church and the Church makes the Eucharist.