National Biblical, Catechetical and Liturgical Centre (NBCLC)

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Official name National Biblical, Catechetical and Liturgical Centre (NBCLC)
Country / Continent India / Asia
Director of the institute Fr. Cleophas D. Fernandes
Legal holder of the institute Fr. Cleophas D. Fernandes
Sponsor of the institute Catholic Bischops’ Conference of India (CBCI)
Year of foundation 1967
Number of staff (employees, freelancers, volunteers) 25
Staff members of your institute 3 Priests, 2 Brothers, 3 Sisters, 3 Lay men, 14 Lay women. We have on our staff Catholics, Hindus and Muslims.
Contact Post Bag 8426, Hutchins Road, 2nd Cross

Bangalore – 560 084 India

Tel: (080) 25 47 23 69 (o)

                25  46 67 16 (p)

Fax: 25 46 01 94 (o)

Mobile: 09 00 89 99 236

dirnbclc@yahoo.com

www.nbclc.org.in


Contents

Particulars of your pastoral institute

Official name

National Biblical, Catechetical and Liturgical Centre (NBCLC).

Director of the institute

Fr. Cleophas D. Fernandes.

Legal holder of the institute

Fr. Cleophas D. Fernandes.

Catholic Bischops’ Conference of India (CBCI).

Vision / mission statement

Vision Statement of NBCLC: The NBCLC is an Animating Organism under the auspices of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) to promote renewal of life and the missio of the Church in India as inspired by Vatican II. It achieves the objective by the Ministry of the Word relating it to the context of India so that the community emerges as fully Indian and authentically Christian at the service of the society.

Mission Statement of NBCLC: The NBCLS seeks: To promote and coordinate renewal of the Church in India through the contextualized ministry of the Word encouraging inculturation in all aspects of life. To be at the service of the Church in India particularly in the areas of Biblical, Catechetical and Liturgical Apostolate. To undertake this Ministry of the Word in mutual understanding and cooperation with the three individual Churches in India. To promote this Ministry of the Word through a triple dialogue: with the poor, with the cultures and with the religions.

Main areas of work

Bible, Catechetics, Liturgy, Inculturation, Inter-religious dialogue, Indian Spirituality, Socio-Pastoral issues, Women empowerment (Gender), Eco-spirituality.

Addressees of your work (course participants[1])

Our courses are attended by Bishops, Priests, Religious Sisters, Lay Men and Lay Women who are actively involved in the parish work, in the pastoral centres in the dioceses and at regional centres.

Year of foundation

February 1967.

Organisational structure of the institute

The NBCLC is headed by a Chairman, Archbishop Bernard Moras (Bangalore) appointed by the CBCI. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India covers all the three Ritual Churches, Latin, Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara. Under the Chairman is the Director of the Centre, Fr. Cleophas Fernandes, appointed by the CBCI for a term of 6 years. The Centres functions with the help of the Governing Body, appointed by the CBCI. The Centre has three main responsibilities in the fields of Bible, Catechetis and Liturgy.

Number of staff (employees, freelancers, volunteers)

25.

Staff members of your institute[2]

3 Priests, 2 Brothers, 3 Sisters, 3 Lay men, 14 Lay women. We have on our staff Catholics, Hindus and Muslims.

Qualifications of staff members of your institute

Fr. Cleophas Fernandes: Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, University of Poona and a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Theology, with specialization in Catechetics from the Institute Catholique de Paris.

Fr. Anthony Kalliath, cmi: PhD in Systematic Theology, Gregorian University, Rome.

Fr. Elias Moses, ofm: M.Ph in Philosophy and MBC in HR – Training and Development.

Questions relating to the work of your institute

What pastoral options do you feel obliged to?

Our pastoral opinions are assigned to us by the CBCI. They are: Bible, Catechetics, Liturgy and Laity formation. We also work towards building up of a holistic spirituality.

What are the pastoral focus areas of your institute?

Our focus areas are: Inculturation, Social Justice, Inter-religious dialogue, Ecological concerns, Laity empowerment.

What pastoral aims does your institute pursue?

Our aim is to work towards the renewal of the Church initiated by Vatican II. Our special thrust is the formation of the laity because there are other Centres that cater to the formation of priests and religious.

What pastoral services does your institute provide?

We provide the following services: Formation programmes for specific groups, Research in key areas of pastoral life, networking between Regional and Diocesan Centres and Commissions, Providing resource material in key areas of pastoral life.

What pastoral processes have you initiated or accompanied recently?

We have re-worked our courses to suit the needs especially of the laity. We are also making our courses more pastorally inclined. For example, the course on the Bible now not has three sections, pray with the Bible; learn the bible through lectures and communicate the Bible, covering pastoral skills for the Biblical apostolate.

What does this mean for the areas of catechesis, deaconry and liturgy?

In all our formation programmes we maintain an integral dimension of formation that touches the lives of the participants, intellectually, personally (life) and pastorally.

What notion of God inspires your work?

The notion of God that inspires our work is very much the God of the Incarnation – God-with-us in all aspects of our lives, personally and socially.

In how far does Christian spirituality shape your work?

Christian spirituality, understood in a holistic manner permeates all aspects of our own lives and our programmes. Since our programmes are residential, we deal with the participants in the course of the day which touches personal prayer and reflection, community prayer and the celebration of the sacraments in a relevant manner. In order to help build up a holistic spirituality, we offer three retreats with the following slants: Socio-Pastoral Retreat; Indian Contemplative Retreat; Earth-centred Retreat and now a retreat that reflects on the vocation of the laity in the Church.

What processes do you use or develop to analyse reality? How are these elaborated and how are they linked to pastoral care? How do you pass these processes on?

We use a social analysis to understand and analyse reality, always keeping in mind a Christian slant to the analysis. This analysis touches the socio-economic and meaning systems we life and operate in. This analysis is not just an isolated topic in a programme but the analysis is often the basis for building up a social perspective in all our programmes. For example, when dealing with the bible we have a session on a social perspective of the Word of God. We also introduce a social perspective in courses on spirituality.

What prophetic approaches does the institute put into practice with a view to shaping society?

Our prophetic approach is one that is very holistic, touching on the personal, social, very much inculturated and always keeps in mind the inter-religious reality of India. In this sense our Institution is pioneering institution of the country.

What does the work of the institute involve exactly? (Framework conditions? Publications? Courses? Lectures? Congress?...)

Our work involves: Residential seminars of various duration, three days to one month. Publications, books and audio-visuals. Correspondence course on the bible. Publication of a series of books for the teaching of Catechism in schools. Publication of a series on Social Themes. Publication of a quarterly entitled, “Word and Worship”. Networking with various groups. Meetings of a pastoral nature. Research seminars.

What magazines, periodicals, books, manuals, work aids, methodological instructions etc. does your institute publish?

We have the following resources published: ‘God-with-us’ series, a catechism text book for schools. ‘Bible Correspondence Course’ for a personal study of the Bible. ‘India Social Challenges’ a series that touches on Social Themes. Audio-Visuals, connected with dance and drama. Several books of personal and pastoral interest. Liturgical resource books.

What do you consider to be the most important service of your institute?

Our most important service is towards renewal in the Church for a transformation of society. Unlike other regional and diocesan centres, we are able to provide a national platform for reflection and pastoral action.

How do you evaluate the work of your institute?

After every programme we have a systematic oral and written feed-back. This feedback is always taken into consideration for planning future programmes. The staff of the Centre beginning with the director keeps in close contact with the participants so that we are also able to make adjustments in the programme according to the needs of the participants. This evaluation is also presented to the Conference of Bishops’ and the Governing Body. Their reactions are also taken into consideration for the work of the Centre. To give an example, we have introduced 7 new programmes in the coming year 2011, based on the feedback received.

What are the most important developments that you are dealing with at present?

One of the developments we are dealing with at the moment is a re-thinking of ‘inculturation’ which was initiated by the Centre after Vatican II. We are also looking at more ways and means of getting more lay persons to participate in formation programmes that will empower them in their involvement in the Church and the world.

What are the main difficulties your institute is confronted with in its work?

When the Centre was started in 1967 it was the only one of its kind. Now there are several centres stared at the regional and diocesan levels and also centres initiated by religious congregations. We have to make sure we do not duplicate these services and we want to work towards greater collaboration rather than competition. A second difficulty came after the Bishop’s Conferences were split along Ritual Church lines. We now have the over-all conference the CBCI and then each of the Ritual Churches have their own conferences. In the initial years the three commissions were under the umbrella of the NBCLC but now they function independently. To some extent we have lost the juridical right to call up meetings and oversee the work of the commissions and the national, regional and diocesan levels.

What challenges do you perceive for your institute at present?

We face the challenge of offering something new and fresh from the National Centre which is uniquely different from the other centres of formation in the country. We also face the challenge of getting the involvement and participation of all the three Ritual Churches we are called to serve. The tendency of each of the Ritual Churches is to function on their own and independently. We could establish greater collaboration and cooperation. While the liturgical life of the Churches is different we could collaborate in the other ministries of the Centres. We have already planned a meeting of the National Secretaries of the Ritual Churches.

What hopes, dreams and visions do you have for your institute?

Our hopes and dreams are in the line of: Establishing greater coordination and collaboration between training centres. Offer greater direction and leadership for other formation centres in the country. Offer training to trainers of regional and diocesan centres of formation (Please refer to our Vision & Mission Statement I,59).

To what extent does your institute support laypeople in the Church and in society?

We have regular training programmes for the laity to empower them for their work in the church but much more for their mission in the world. To facilitate their training, we have also introduced their training in a few regional languages, especially of the south– Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, and Marathi of North. There are now requests from the north for training in the national language, Hindi. However we do not want to multiply these languages training programmes because of the multiplicity of languages in India. We have also introduced new programmes to suit the needs of the laity.

How do you communicate your experiences and results to the respective local church, to neighbouring local churches and to other addressees (e.g. institutions affiliated to you)?

We regularly present reports and receive feedback at the Bishops’ Conferences and at other meetings of pastoral services in India. We have a news letter, ‘NBCLC Web’ which is sent to all institutions of the country. Every year we prepare a yearly programme for the following year which is dispatches to all diocesan institutions of the country. Prior to each course a brochure indicating the objectives, content and the target audience of the course is sent to all the relevant categories of people who would be interested in applying for the course. We are presently working on up-dating and up-grating our website. With these means of communication, we are able to get across to the relevant persons within the country and also to neighbouring countries who avail of our services.

To what extent does cooperation with the Bishops’ Conference of your country or with your diocese take place?

We work under the patronage of the common conference of all the three Ritual Churches. This requires regular reporting and we are open to their guidance and suggestions. While we work under these conferences, we do not receive any financial assistance from the Conferences. We have to generate our own resources through our publications, course fees and most of all from funding agencies abroad. This can be difficult and uncertain. We are not able to charge high seminar fees especially if we are to involve lay persons. Our publications have been reduced because the respective commissions of the ritual Churches handle these essential publications like the Roman Missal and Prayer of the Church.

What linkages/networks are in existence at national level?

A lot of our linkage takes place through the Bishops’ Conference, especially the common conference known as the CBCI (Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India). We are also linked with the commissions for Bible, Liturgy, Catechists and Proclamation.

What linkages/networks are in existence at international level?

Our linkage at the International level is through: Some Select meetings of the FABC (Asian Conference of Bishops). CBF, The Catholic Biblical Federation, Germany. Hopefully we are building up a net work of the CBF at the Asian-Oceania level.

What kind of interreligious cooperation does take place with non-Christian religions?

We maintain an inter-religious outlook in all our programmes. For example we study the Word of God from the Hindu, Islamic, Sikh perspectives. We integrate

different forms of meditation from other religious perspectives. On important occasions we organize inter-faith prayer services. We have one programme in the year on Value Education which is attended by teachers and professors of different faiths. We also undertake visits to other religious places of worship.

What kind of ecumenical cooperation does take place with non-Catholic churches?

We are in regular contact with the training institutes of other denominations in the city of Bangalore and we also invite resource persons from these institutions for our formation programmes. There is a very positive rapport with these Ecumenicial Centres.

Which theological mergers/associations are you affiliated with (personally or as an institute)?

One of our staff members is the Secretary of the Indian Theological Association and the meetings of Doctrinal Commission of the CBCI are held at our Centre. We participate and assist in the same.

How can we assist you with your intercontinental exchanges and with exchanges between the continents?

Since ours is a National Centre, we need to find ways and means of collaborating and inspiring each other at the International level. We often have difficulty firstly because very little is organized at the Asian or International levels. Secondly, our travel expenses cannot be always be met by the Centre due to a severe shortage in funds. Your assistance is welcome!




  1. It would be interesting to know among other things whether course participants are active at parish, diocesan or supra-diocesan level and whether courses are attended by priests, religious or laypeople.
  2. It would be interesting to know among other things whether the staff members of the institute are priests, religious or laypeople.