Maktaba-e-Anaveem Pakistan (MAP) organized Summer Theological Training Session (STTS) 2019 from 11-14 June, 2019 at the premises of its head office Theological Institute for Laity (TIL), G. T.RoadSadhoke, Distt. Gujranwala. The theme of the STTS was “Leadership of Laity and Women in the Church”. The teachings of Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) with regard to the Laity and Women were introduced in the seminar. 95 (37Women+ 58men) participants were present in the seminar from different places of Archdiocese of Karachi (Christian Town, KorangiNo.1, Korangi No.2, Zia Colony, Clifton, Saddar, LaluKhaet, EsaNagri, Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Bhattaiabad, Manorra, Orangi Town, Baldia Town, New Karachi, Nasrat Nagar), different cities of Hyderabad Diocese (Mirpurkhas, Hyderabad City, Latifabad, Kotri, Khairpur Maris, Sakkhar, Kunri), Archdiocese of Lahore (Lahore, Gujranwala, MorrEmanabad, Hafizabad-Jurian, GhakkharMandi, Harpoke, FatherSataniSelas Town, Sadhoke), Faisalabad Diocese (Ghulam Mahammad Abad), Rawalpindi-Islamabad Diocese (Sargodha, Chakwal). MAP chief coordinator, coordinators, assistant coordinators, members, and MAP board members also attended STTS 2019.
Aims and Objectives
The STTS 2019 commenced with Eucharistic prayer. Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Asi was the celebrant. Welcoming participants to the STTS, Mrs. Alishbah Javed Akhtar (Director-MAP) introduced MAP and its services for formation of laity, publication of theological literature, research and social networking.
While presenting Aims and Objectives of STTS 2019 she said, MAP organized STTS especially for its coordinators to enable them to spread MAP slogan Participation, Training and Leadership. MAP giveslaity a new vision and opportunities to learn the new theological knowledge, and spirituality to bring positive change in the society, family and in the church.
Mr. Kamil Khan Mumtaz (Director-Anjaman-e-Mumaran Lahore), Ms. AyraIndryas (Incharge-Women Desk Church of Pakistan), Dr. Farhana Anthony (Gujranwala Theological Seminary), Mr. Syed Ali Raza Shah (Operational Manager MCB, Sadhoke), Mr. RiazMehmood (Asst. Prof. Department of Islamyat, Gujrat University) and Baba Najmi (well-known Punjabi Poet) shared their views regarding MAP 30 Years Pearl Jubilee, congratulated and appreciated MAP services. Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Asi elaborated “MAP 30 Years Services”.
The Role and Relationship of Laity in the Church
Mr. Hamid Henry (General Secretary –MAP) presented FABC paper on The Role and Relationship of Laity in the Church very effectively. He started with present situation of laity and clergy, who carried the God’s mission along. He said the laity needed to be empowered to play its role in the Church and the society. Moreover, the laity should realize importance of its role in the Church in line with teachings of Vatican Council II and FABC.
Defining laity, he said that the Vatican II describes the laity members of the Church by virtue of their baptism. Therefor it is more central for the lay person to live the vocation of the church then to play a special role of laity in the church.
Summing up FABC Paper he talked about incarnational church, servant church, Asian Context and its priorities for Church ministry and laity. The laity should realize her mission and serve the church and humanity in God’s way, as Christ did. The laity is the center of church which is a servant church. The teachings of FABC also emphasis on laity and its role in the Asian context.
In the conclusion the speaker added; FABC teachings urged to build a new church ministry which are led by the lay people, and they serve church and social life. We should look for the practicable possibilities to develop the church of laity. We should take a practical stand.
Families in Asia, Serving and Being Served
Ms. Noureen Akhtar (Lay theologian) introduced FABC Paper No. 143 Families in Asia, Serving and Being Served through a multimedia presentation. Evangelization is infact transfer from one to another. Until the Christian families have faith of evangelization they cannot play their vital role in the evangelization of Jesus’ Mission in society. Sometimes as laity we underestimate ourselves, we consider ourselves inferior from Clergy but the Bible itself narrates the role of laity and family in the church as well as for the betterment of society. She gave references from the Holy Bible to highlight the importance of laity. Love and honor are the basic elements of Christian family. If we see the Christian family in Asian, here the sacredness and dignity of each person is valued. The family should stay in touch with Jesus through prayer. Pope Francis says, “The families are way to the church”. In Catholic families there should be transformation of faith, create discipleship (disciples of Christ). In the Christian Catholic Families your daily experiences of love, grace and gratitude reflect your faith formation. There are number of challenges the Asian families are facing, poverty, lack of communication between parents and children, globalization, increasing rates of widows, not sufficient counselling before and after marriages, lack of faith formation etc. We should realize that there is so much work to be done for flourishing the families in Asia.
Women and Church’s Service to Life in Asia
Mrs. Alishbah Javed Akhtar (Directress-MAP) introduced FABC Paper on “Women and Church’s Service to Life in Asia.” The FABC urges us to think and revise our practices for the women of Asia. This FABC paper introduced women’s leadership role, their challenges and delicate situation in Asian context. The Asian women are being neglected by church and society. Women are 55% of Asian context, but they are discriminated in every field of life, they haven’t enough and proper food and as a result their physical condition is very deplorable and miserable. On Asian level we should know women’s vocation. We can see discrimination against women on workplaces, schools, and even in the literature. Women are being denied as an economic activist in social life. They are unpaid household workers. In the religion too the gender discrimination is common. They worked harder than the men but they are being treated as slaves. In Asia women are being neglected in their homes so much so that even their opinions considered worthless. The illiteracy rate in women is higher than men. They are not allowed to get higher education. But for a developed and progressed country we should give them equal opportunities of education. The religious communities should take steps to improve the women’s situation. The church should make space for women to learn, to become stronger theologically, morally and spiritually.
In conclusion she added that we should enhance lives of women and their abilities. The outcome of better resources for women help them to strengthen their self-determination, confidence, health and education and this will be beneficial for the betterment of family, church and society.
After every session there was a workshop conducted by the speakers. The groups discussion was very productive. During the workshops, groups discussed women’s and laity problems, the role of clergy and services of Laity in church. Women and laity are the target of church teachings, we should enable them to learn and know their abilities and more practicality should be done in our actions. They should be provided with equal opportunities and better resources.
Recommendations by the Participants
1. The training program should be started on church level.
2. Women should provide opportunities to learn the feminist perspective and leadership role in the church and society.
3. Promote MAP slogan Participation, Training, Leadership
4. Women Theological seminar should be conducted all over Pakistan.
5. To eradicate communication gap between church and women.
6. To eradicate communication gap between clergy and laity
7. Conduct Biblical session
8. To Motivate women and laity to take part in Church activities.
9. Encourage laity and women
10.Catholic Christian families should be agent of God Evangelization for the transmission of faith.
11.To discover the basic reality of family ministry on national and diocesan level
12.Try to raise the awareness of ministry among the families
13.Make the commission to guide the churches in Asia to build up loving and serving families and communities.
14.Every group should make their theological library in their local communities
The feedback from the participants was very positive and responsive. The STTS 2019 urges the participants to learn the Leadership role of women in the church in Asian context with a new perspective. The laity is the integral part of the church they should be warmly active in playing their role. The Christian family is a fundamental unit of the society. We should build up our families in the light of Jesus Christ teachings. We should stay in family prayer to transform the faith in our new generation. STTS 2019 provided opportunities to utilize abilities of laity in productive and better way. It enabled them to envision the MAP vision on local level.