Priests take a leaf out of 'sanyasi' tradition

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Kochi, Oct 11 (UNI) In an effort to train its priests better in the Indian tradition of 'sanyas', the Syro-Malabar Church has, in its new 'charter for priestly formation,' emphasised that seminarians become acquainted with the Hindu concept of 'varnashrama dharma'.

Talking to UNI here, the church spokesperson Fr Paul Thelekat, one of the the major Christian denominations in Kerala, said the church was gearing up to train its priests for the challenges posed by the ''modern consumer-oriented era.'' The charter, promulgated by Major Archbishop Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil on August 15, 2007, recommended an introductory course on 'sanyas in the Indian traditions of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism' during the priests' seven-year training in major seminaries.

The new charter also stressed the need for priests to be conversant with computer applications, modern media technology, spoken English and public speaking.

At the same time, they should be rooted in their own traditions and culture and this was where the lessons on 'sanyas' come in, Fr Thelekat said.

''Our stress is to combine newness with rootedness,'' he added.

The charter recommended the minor seminaries to invite Hindu and other 'sanyasis' to help the priests incorporate elements of the traditional Indian lifestyle, including asceticism, singing of 'bhajans' and the concept of the four-fold 'varnashrama' (brahmacharya-grahasthashrama-vanprasthaa-sanyas).

The charter was discussed at a meeting of the rectors of major and minor seminaries here yesterday for better enforcement of its principles, he added.

The Syro-Malabar Church had five major seminaries, where priests spend seven years in training after undergoing three years of training in minor seminaries in their respective diocese.


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