Fifteen members of the Karnataka Region of the Vincentian Family of India, belonging to three religious congregations and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, gathered at SCN Provincialate, Chandapura, Bangalore, for three days from 25th to 27th of January 2015, to participate in a workshop on “Systemic Change” under the direction of Father Francis Puthenthayil, CM, Sister Manisha Azhakathu, SCN, and Mr. Joseph Pandian, SSVP. The SCNs who participated were Anima Pulikkiyil, Ann Palatty, Gracy Thombrakudiyil, Sheela Palamoottil and Mary Stella Ambrose.

The resource persons referred to Manisha Azhakathu as the “Backbone” of the Systemic Change Commission of Vincentian Family of India as it is her expertise and experience which enabled the other resource persons to conduct such a beneficial workshop. The workshop consisted of inputs on the theory of Systemic Change, the roots of systemic change as seen in the Scripture, Social Teachings of the Church, and the charism and writings of the Founders of the branches of the Vincentian Family, the mission-oriented strategies to be used in using systemic change efforts and the criteria of systemic change. Video and power point presentations on stories taken from situations in the Philippines and Madagascar, where systemic change efforts have brought about radical social transformation, helped participants to further grasp the concepts more deeply.

It was heartening to see some stories taken from the Indian scenario of Sister Joel Urumpil in Chatra, Jharkhand, Sister Valsa John in Pachwara village in the Dumka, Jharkhand and Mr. Rangaswamy (a Hindu) in Tamilnadu. The participants were given opportunities to analyze the situations presented, and to further their understanding of systemic change through formulating goals, objectives and action plans to suit their individual situations. The spirituality of systemic change, as emphasized by Father Francis, laid emphasis on recognizing the dignity of each human being, respecting the local customs and culture. The participants realized that in order to bring about real systemic change in all our ministries, every Vincentian Family member needed to be educated on the concept. A Karnataka Regional Commission was set up to educate all the Vincentian Family members across Karnataka. The participants expressed their gratitude to the resource persons and pledged to use methods of systemic change in their respective missions.

Sister Gracy Thombrakudiyil

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