Oct 6, 2016

First Friday Challenge

First friday devotion is something we hold close to our heart. So why not challenge our life with something new? So this first friday, 7th October, Jesus Youth Bangalore, celebrates #nointernetday #cuttoconnect challenge.

No internet for a day. So what can you do in the mean while? Spend time with your family, with God and yourself.

If you want to be part of this challenge, change your status to #cuttoconnect.
See you on the other side!

Apr 8, 2016

Jesus Youth receives Pontifical Approval

Dear Rev Fathers, Sisters and Friends,

This is truly a moment of gratitude and joy!  
A moment to bow our heads yet again before our mighty God who honours the promise He gave us in the early days of the movement - "I will lead you step by step." A moment to lift our hearts and praise Him with songs of thanksgiving! 

From its small beginnings in Kerala, He took our movement to different parts of India and carried us across 35 countries around the globe! And now, He has given us the privilege of being the first ever Ecclesial movement from India to receive this Canonical approval from the Holy See and the second movement in the history of the Church in Asia.  
In the coming days, I will be writing three mails - this is the first one in the series. In this mail I shall try to narrate the ways in which God led us to receive this approval. In the second mail, I shall share some of the responses from leaders of other movements. In the final one, I shall try to explain the meaning, implications and practical aspects of this approval.

The Process and the People:
The approval from The Pontifical Council for the Laity (PCL) was not the result of the work of a few months. The first meeting I had with the PCL was in Nov 2003 - where Mons. Delgado (the present Under-Secretary of PCL) clearly told me that going in for this process of approval was not 'optional’ but ‘mandatory’ if we had dreams of working globally. He advised me to start with the local recognition.  
The first concrete step for the approval was taken in December 2005 when we approached Bishop Thomas Chakiath - who took us to the Kerala Catholic Bishops' Conference (KCBC) meeting and presented the movement to KCBC on the 7th December 2005. The KCBC asked us to approach the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI),  as our movement was functioning on a national scale in India. Along with a covering letter from Archbishop Cyril Mar Baselios, we first approached the CBCI in this regard in January 2006. Following the submission of our statutes, the CBCI instructed us to submit the statutes to a local Bishop in Kerala as the movement originated here, specifically to Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil of the Syro-Malabar diocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly. We approached His Eminence on 22nd January 2007, and he suggested in his letter dated 25th January 2007 that it would be better if we sought approval from a Bishop of the Latin rite as the movement had spread to a number of countries around the world. Hence we made a request and were given a letter of approval by Archbishop Abraham Viruthakulangara of Nagpur Archdiocese on 8th April 2007. On approaching the CBCI with this letter, we were once again advised to get a letter of recommendation from a local Latin Diocese in Kerala. Accordingly we sought and received a letter of approval from Archbishop Daniel Acharuparambil of Verapoly Archdiocese on 20th August 2007. We submitted the approval letters from both Archbishops to the CBCI and after several meetings,  the CBCI approved our statutes and appointed His Grace Archbishop Abraham Viruthakulangara as the Ecclesiastical Advisor for Jesus Youth in India - in October 2008. This is a time when we must voice our heartfelt tributes to the late Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil, the Late Archbishop Daniel Acharuparambil and the Late Archbishop Cyril Mar Baselios who played key roles in the initial stages of this journey. 

We started the process of Pontifical Approval on 24th Aug 2009 at 4 p.m. in the Vatican. Here is the mail I sent soon after our meeting, with the subject “Another landmark in the history of Jesus Youth”  
"Just a few minutes ago, we officially began the process of being recognised as an 'International Private Association of the Lay faithful with Pontifical right'. Four of us representing Jesus Youth led by Archbishop Abraham, Fr Chilton, George and  a team of officials from PCL - led by Bishop Joseph Clemens, Msgr Delgado, Fr Kevin and Prof Guzman met in the official conference room.  We had a beautiful meeting with them and submitted the documents (it was around 7kgs of materials including recommendation letters from 21 Bishops). They announced that the process has officially begun now. Praise God! The presence of Archbishop Abraham was a great blessing!”

We received the first response on 30 April 2010 from the PCL asking us to restructure and redraft the statutes in a given format. They recommended that we seek the advice of one of the listed Canon lawyers in Italy. We went to Milan and met one of them - but the cost involved was far beyond us. At that time, I heard about the dean of the Department of Canon Law of Santa Croce University in Rome - Fr Luis Navarro (one of the best Canon lawyers in the Church, especially for guiding movements). Several people told us that he was very busy and there was no point in approaching him. But with the help of Msgr Antony Kollamparambil, I met him and to my surprise Fr Navarro agreed to guide us! Looking back, I see this was one of the crucial moments in our journey towards recognition. 

Back in Kerala, we approached two eminent Canon lawyers, Fr Alex Vadakumthala (Now Bishop of Kannur) and Fr George Madathikandathil (now Bishop of Kothamangalam) to help us in drafting the statutes according to the Code of Canon law (CIC) and code of Eastern Churches (CCEO). We took almost 3 years to prepare a new draft of the statutes - mainly because we wanted to put down what we live in the movement - we never wanted to write something and then try to adjust our lives accordingly. Between 2013 and 4th April 2016, we went through 6 revisions - each revision involving many prayerful discussions and consultations, always trying to follow His will. 

From the beginning to this very moment, it was  a small team that worked together for drafting the statutes - Dr Edward (our incomparable master drafter) and Raiju. We had innumerable consultation meetings with Bishops, Priests and leaders over the last 11 years to format the drafts articulating the work of the Holy Spirit in this movement in the last 30+ years. The last three International teams - specially the last two teams under the leadership of George and Raiju contributed a lot in giving this a proper shape. C.C Joseph played a pivotal role along with the present Council in running the final lap. Fr Pallivathukkal SJ, Fr Bitaju OSST, Fr Thomas Tharayil, Fr Cheriachan, Fr James Anaparampil, Fr Fio Mascarenhas SJ, Fr Shibu OCD, Fr Mathew Abraham CSSR, Babychayan, Sunil Nadarajan… (the list goes on) played key roles in guiding this drafting process. Msgr Antony Kollamparampil from Rome guided us and helped us with the right contacts, while Fr Chilton and Fr Tomy helped us in Rome to make this happen locally. Beena, Anu and Shelton helped us in editing the language.

Siju and Nolly, thank you for hosting us in your family whenever we travelled to Rome; serving food; taking us around for different meetings. May God continue to bless you! And our sincere thanks to our dear Archbishop Abraham Viruthakulangara - who accompanied us, guided us and blessed us with his wisdom and experience.  Above all, I gratefully remember all the leaders in the movement - from the beginning till now - you gave your very lives for the growth of this movement because of your love for the Lord… Your commitment and sacrifices have gone a long way in making our movement what it is today...

Personally, this was a long journey for me. And coordinating the Canonical approval process was the only responsibility I accepted even during my sabbatical year break.  It was a time to understand the wisdom, beauty and richness of the Church; it was a time when I closely witnessed the mysterious ways in which the Holy Spirit leads the ‘ one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church’; it was a time when I learned to be patient, and yet persistent and focused on this God given mission. There were moments of joy; there were disappointments (I still remember a 3.5 hour long, tough meeting I had at PCL from which I took a really long time to recover). There were too, moments of criticism, humiliation and pain mainly because many were not aware of the true meaning of being placed at the heart of the Church, of the importance of having a charismatic and dogmatic foundation; but I gladly accepted it knowing that this was the price I would have to pay in order to witness a greater victory! Looking back now, it is such a joy to see the hand of God opening closed doors, leading us step by step, helping us to grow in ecclesial maturity. I thank the leadership of the movement for the trust you have put in me; I thank my family for coping with my long absences from home; for bearing with the long meetings, conference calls and discussions. 

And thank you Lord, for another experience of the beauty of walking with you, assuring me over and over again that this is a movement that was born of your will within the Church for the mission of the Church and that you are in absolute control! The only thing I have to do is blindly follow you! 

I pray that every Jesus Youth may be transformed by the power of Pentecost and sent forth to be true ‘missionary disciples’ of Jesus, and that we may continue to be a Missionary Movement at the Service of the Church - in the fullness of its meaning. 

Let His name be glorified!

God Bless, Manoj Sunny

Jan 11, 2016

Jesus Youth Bangalore Service team 2016 - 18

On the evening of 8th January, the gathering to discern and decide on the new service team of Bangalore prayerfully began. After the two day Bangalore servant leaders gathering, the new team was elected. 

The new team members are

1) Sebastian George (Coordinator)
2) Teddy Abraham (Asst. Coordinator)
3) Baslica Mary M
4) Tiara Jose
5) Stephen James
6) Sibya Elsa Sunny
7) Sherry Jess Francis
8) Anushikha Abraham
9) Mejo Jose and Jincy Mejo (Family representative)
10) Fr.Joy (Chaplin)
11) Shine T Jose (Animator)
12) Soni Thomas (Ex-officio)

During the gathering we had Shoy Thomas, Coordinator - Jesus Youth National Council India, John Joseph, Jesus Youth National Council India,  Livin Varghese Coordinator Jesus Youth National campus team and Jose Sebastian, Coordinator - Formation base team, Bangalore during the process.

I appreciate the efforts invested by the outgoing team during the last term. Let us assure our prayers and support for the newly elected team.

Shinto Antony

Nov 24, 2013


We live in a world where volunteerism is becoming fashionable. In any poor place, we can see hundreds of volunteers serving in that area. I have seen youngsters staying in a Catholic centre - helping children living on the streets. These youngsters are Catholics by birth but don’t practice their faith - they don’t go for Holy Mass even on Sundays - but they are whole heartedly involved in the work of charity. Is this the kind of charity that the Church looks for? I recently came across a few people from one of the parishes in Kerala who had made a visit to a mission centre in North India - their Facebook pages were full of photographs of them posing with helpless, struggling faces. I thought then that their compassion might last for just a few days. In the Jesus Youth movement, we have been using the phrase ‘Every Jesus Youth, a Missionary’ for the last two years. How can we distinguish between a visitor, a volunteer and a missionary especially in the context of the beautiful Lenten reflection written by our Holy Father on faith and charity?

First of all, a missionary’s work flows out of his relationship with God. It is not a project that needs to be completed; it is not for his satisfaction that he works; the fundamental reason is the love of God - as St. John states, “We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us” (1 Jn. 4:16). “Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction… Since God has first loved us (cf. 1 Jn. 4:10), love is now no longer a mere command’; it is the response to the gift of love with which God draws near to us” (Deus Caritas Est, 1). “Faith is knowing the truth and adhering to it (cf. 1 Tim. 2:4); charity is ‘walking’ in the truth (cf. Eph. 4:15). Through faith we enter into friendship with the Lord, through charity this friendship is lived and cultivated (cf. Jn. 15:14ff). Faith causes us to embrace the commandment of our Lord and Master; charity gives us the happiness of putting it into practice (cf. Jn. 13:13-17). In faith we are begotten as children of God (cf. Jn. 1:12ff); charity causes us to persevere concretely in our divine Sonship, bearing the fruits of the Holy Spirit (cf. Gal. 5:22). Faith enables us to recognise the gifts that the good and generous God has entrusted to us; charity makes them fruitful (cf. Mt. 25:14-30)” (Lenten reflection by the Holy Father for Lent 2013).

A volunteer is often more concerned about providing for the physical needs of the people, bringing a temporary solution to their sufferings. But a missionary is concerned first of all about the souls of the people that he is serving. Being with the poor and caring for their physical needs are means to fulfil this genuine concern of love. That is where the Holy Father warns us in his Lenten message, “Sometimes we tend, in fact, to reduce the term “charity” to solidarity or simply humanitarian aid. It is important, however, to remember that the greatest work of charity is evangelization, which is the “ministry of the word”. There is no action more beneficial – and therefore more charitable – towards one’s neighbour than to break the bread of the Word of God, to share with him the Good News of the Gospel, to introduce him to a relationship with God”.

For a missionary, the mentality is not “us and them” but only “us” because we are the Body of Christ - we share the brotherhood of Christ with them.

Volunteering often brings satisfaction to the self that comes from serving others - the self satisfaction of doing good for others. Often, this can happen without truly getting involved in the sufferings of the poor. On the other hand, for a missionary, work involves suffering and a painful stripping off of vices.

Once, during the course of a meeting I was attending, a young man who had just returned from a mission trip told us of the beautiful ways in which God had used him to touch the lives of the many poor and suffering people there. When his sharing was over, an elderly gentleman in the group who had been working for decades as a lay missionary said, “Son, I’d like to hear about the change that has come about in you as a result of this mission experience”. In the brief silence that followed, when the young man was struggling for words, I was convinced of an essential characteristic of a true missionary. For when a missionary returns home, his reflections mainly focus on how the trip transformed him internally. A volunteer, on the other hand, is more prone to talking about how the people and place changed as a result of his/her service.

The Holy Father beautifully shows how the relationship of faith and charity resembles the relation between the two fundamental Sacraments of the Church: “Baptism and Eucharist. Baptism precedes the Eucharist, but is ordered to it, the Eucharist being the fullness of the Christian journey. In a similar way, faith precedes charity, but faith is genuine only if crowned by charity. Everything begins from the humble acceptance of faith (“knowing that one is loved by God”), but has to arrive at the truth of charity (“knowing how to love God and neighbour”), which remains forever, as the fulfilment of all the virtues (cf. 1 Cor. 13:13)”.

I am sure that the Jesus Youth movement is looking only for missionaries – knowing that the journey can begin with a visitor who becomes a volunteer and then proceeds to the real call as a missionary. This, then, is the question we should all ask ourselves - “Am I a visitor, a volunteer or a missionary?”

Manoj Sunny