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Conference on ''Lay Minisitries in North East India'' held at DBI, Guwahati
By Father Bivan R. Mukhim
Guwahati, Sep. 10. The North Eastern Regional Pastoral Conference, a gathering of the Catholic Church leadership was inaugurated by His Excellency Giambattista Di Quattro, Apostolic Nuncio to India and Nepal 9th September at Don Bosco Institute, Guwahati, on the banks of the mighty Brahmaputra.  The conference is attended by a total of 200 leaders from across various rank and file of the Catholic Church in NE. His Excellency Giambattista Di Quattro inaugurated the conference in an official function in the presence of CBCI General Secretary Rt. Rev. Theodore Mascarenhas, Archbishops and Bishops from 15 dioceses of North East India and a large number of priests, nuns and laity representing all dioceses and religious communities of North East India. The theme of the conference is, ''LAY MINISTRIES IN NORTH EAST INDIA''.
His Excellency Giambattista Di Quattro, Apostolic Nuncio to India spoke at the inauguration of the Pastoral Conference of North Eastern Region.
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The day began on a spiritual note with the Apostolic Nuncio Giambattista Di Quattro officiating at the solemn Eucharistic Celebrations at 6.30 am and wishing the conference a great success. He was full of appreciation for the Bishops, priests, sisters and laity for the marvelous evangelizing works undertaken to keep the Church more vibrant and active. He called for an increased role of the lay people in propagating the message of Christ to the rest of humanity.

A beautiful prayer dance by the students of DBI and the traditional lighting of the lamp by His Excellency, the Apostolic Nuncio, Most Rev. Theodore Mascarenhas, Most Rev. Dominic Jala, Rt. Rev. Bishop John Thomas and Ms. Angela from Kohima. marked the beginning of the conference. Archbishop Jala welcomed the nuncio while Rt. Rev. John Thomas, the Bishop of Itanagar and Secretary of North East India Regional Pastoral conference, welcomed all the participants of the conference.

In his inaugural message, the Nuncio emphasized on ''Faith, Charity and Service'', to be made inseparable elements of the life of every Catholic. He reminded everyone saying, ''Baptized Christian is a vital part in the mission of the church'', and called for meaningful deliberations in the conference for taking the mission of the church forward.
Most Rev. Stephen Rotluanga, the Chairman of Laity Commission introduced the theme of the day, ''PROMOTING LAY LEADERSHIP IN THE CHURCH''. He highlighted the role of the laity  in the church, especially their proactive role in taking the mission of the church forward in North East and called for  greater involvement and collaboration. Elaborating on the theme he affirmed that our ''common vision is Kingdom of God, our mission is common good and our action is commitment and service of humanity irrespective of cast and creed''.

The first session of the conference was animated by Fr. Philip Kattakayam, the executive Secretary of CCBI commission for laity and moderated by Mr. Barnabas Nongbah, from the Archdiocese of Shillong. Fr. Philip spoke at length on the theme of the day, which deals with the role of lay people in the church. He gave a brief history of the church when the laity had a very limited role in the affairs of the church-and highlighted the need for involving the laity in the management of temporal goods of the church. To validate the point, he quoted Lumen Gentium of the Vatican II which had an elaborate discussion of on ''Laity'', calling them the ''people of God...through one Covenant''. Further, quoting the words of Cardinal Newman he reminded ''the Church will look silly without the Laity'' and called for giving a better place to the laity in the functioning of the church all over the world to make it more appealing and acceptable. He said that ''all share the same priestly, prophetic call of Christ'' in the Church without any discrimination between hierarchy and laity.  Emphasizing the need for a more dignified role of the laity in the church, he urged the church authorities saying ''the pastors must discover and promote charisms of the laity''.

The sessions continued with two panel sharing on the role of laity in the church by Sr. Elizabeth George, FMA Provincial and Ms. Daya Basumatary, the executive body member of NERCC respectively. The afternoon sessions were moderated by Fr, Wilbert Marwein, Vicar General of Diocese of Nongstoin on the theme, ''Clergy-Laity Relationship'', and Mr. Romanus Horo, IAS (Retired) from Guwahati diocese on ''Lay Power in the Work of Evangelization''.
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