Syro-Malabar Church takes a leaf out of Indian '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-Malbar Church has in its new 'charter for priestly formation' emphasised that seminarians become better acquainted with the Hindu concept of the 'varnashrama dharma'.

The charter, promulgated by Major Archbishop Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil on August 15, 2007, recommends an introductory course on 'sanyas in the Indian traditions of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism' during the priests' seven-year training in major seminaries.

Talking to UNI here, Fr. Paul Thelekat, spokesman for the Syro-Malabar Church, one the major Christian denominations in Kerala, said that the Church was gearing up to train its priests for the challenges posed by the ''modern consumer-oriented era''.

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

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

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

The charter recommends that minor seminaries 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 with a view to better enforcement of its principles, Fr. Thelekat added.

The Syro-Malabar Church has 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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