High lights of the activities of the Laity Commission are given below:
Programme I - One day seminar on 29-03-2014 at POC
KCBC Laity Commission organized a one day Seminar on 29th March 2014 to discuss the contemporary issues affecting the common people of Kerala like
(1) The Kasturi Rangan Report affecting the toiling masses of High ranges
(2) The Coastal Regulation Zone Notification issue affecting the coastal people of Kerala and
(3) The Dalit Christian issues affecting reservation rights of the Dalits in India.
His Excellency Rt. Rev Dr. Varghese Chakalakal, Bishop of Calicut and Chairman of the KCBC Laity Commission inaugurated the one day seminar held at POC. In his inaugural address, his Excellency exhorted the Union and State Governments to take appropriate urgent measures to redress the grievances of the affected people. He said that the issues raised by the people residing at the Coastal and High range area are the issues affecting their survival itself and he added that the KCBC Laity Commission declares full solidarity with the affected people and their struggle for survival.
First session of the Seminar was dealt with the issues affecting the people of High range area due to the Kasturi Rangan Report and related ecologically sensitive matters. Fr. Sebastian Kochupurakal, the veteran leader of the High Range Protection Samithy presented a detailed paper. The President of Malankara Catholic Association Shri. K. M. Philip moderated the session.
Second session of the Seminar dealt with the problems affecting the caostal area due to the CRZ notification. Sri Shaji George, President of the Kerala Latin Catholic Association (KLCA) presented the paper and the session was moderated by Rev. Fr. William Rajan, the Secretary of the KRLCBC Laity Commission
Third session of the Seminar dealt with the crucial issues of Dalit Christians in the country at large. The General Secretary of the Dalit Christian Mahajana Sabha (DCMS), Sri Shibu Joseph presented the paper. The President of the DCMS, Sri. James Elavunkal moderated the session.
The then Deputy Secretary General of KCBC Rev. Dr. Stephen Alathara chaired the inaugural session. Secretary of the KCBC Laity Commission Adv. Antony M. Ambat welcomed the gathering of delegates who came from various Catholic Dioceses in Kerala
Shri. P. I. Lazar Master, President of the Kerala Catholic Federation (KCF), the coordinating body of the laity organizations of the Sui Juries Churches in Kerala, felicitated. Shri Nelson Fernandez, General Secretary of KCF proposed a vote of thanks.
Programme II : One day Sub Regional seminar at Kannur
The Sub Regional Seminar was held at Kannur which was hosted by the Kannur Diocese. The Seminar was held on 16th August 2014 at Burnassery Holy Trinity Parish Hall, Kannur.The Seminar discussed the contemporary issues affecting common people especially the Christians in Kerala. Delegates from the northern Dioceses participated. Bishop of Kannur His Excellency Rt. Rev. Dr. Alex Vadakumthala inaugurated the seminar which was presided over by Sri. P.I. Lazar Master, President of the Kerala Catholic Federation (KCF). Local Member of Parliament Smt. P, K, Sreemathy, Peravoor MLA Adv. Susmy Joseph and KCBC Laity Commission Secretary Adv. Antony M. Ambat felicitated. Sri. Devassy Kongala, Secretary KCF proposed vote of thanks. The inaugural meeting was followed by Paper presentations on contemporary issues affecting the people of Kerala especially those residing in the High ranges, Sea shores and also of the Dalit Christians.
Prof. Josekutty Ozhukayil of Nirmala College, Moovattupuzha presented the paper highlighting the issues affecting the people of High range area due to the Kasturi Rangan Report and also on related ecologically sensitive matters. He added that vested international interests have influenced the Report and hence the implementation of the same in toto is against the interests of the people.
Adv. Antony M. Ambat presented the salient features of the CRZ notification and related issues affecting the people of the Coastal area. The implementation of the CRZ guidelines without appropriate modifications will be against the people’s right to life guaranteed in the Constitution of India, he said.
Programme III : Seminar on Religious Intolerance held on 24th January 2015 at POC.
A one day seminar was held at POC on 24th January 2015 to discuss the emerging trend of religious intolerance in terms of “Ghar Vapasi” initiated by Hindu fundamental groups. The Seminar was inaugurated by Archbishop Most. Rev. Dr. Francis Kallarakal. The theme of deliberation was presented by Justice Cyriac Joseph and the same was supplemented by Dr. Sebastian Paul, former M.P. Secretary of the Laity Commission, Adv.Antony M. Ambat moderated the discussion.
A subsequent discussion on the same subject was held on 2nd March 2015 at POC.
The Laity Commission held periodical Meetings and the same was attended by the officials of KCC, KCF and delegates of Lay Organizations like All Kerala Catholic Congress (AKCC), Kerala Latin Catholic Association (KLCA) and Malankara Catholic Association (MCA).
The General Meetings of Laity Commission discussed contemporary issues affecting the Christian Community in general.
A report on the activities of the Laity Commission was presented at the meeting of Commission Secretaries held at POC on 3rd June 2014 and 10th December 2014.
Adv. Antony M. Ambat,
Secretary, KCBC Laity Commission