Manjula, Sandhya, Vimalraj and Jonathan, four children from the neighbourhood of Don Bosco Parish (Lingarajapuram) in Bangalore narrated their personal experiences about praying to the 40 Salesians and collaborators gathered together at the start of the National Seminar, “Praying with Children in Multicultural Contexts“. Then they lit the traditional lamp to inaugurate the seminar. For the guests of honour, resource persons and the participants the inauguration ceremony was a very touching and a meaningful experience. The children came from multi-religious backgrounds. “Praying helps me to behave well and to forgive others“, said Jonathan. Manjula, the smallest child from the group said, “To pray I go to the temple as it is God who takes care of me from all harm“. Whichever religions they belonged to, their words did reveal that prayer is something that is very much part of their daily lives.
In the presentations that followed, the noted Salesian theologian, Fr. Jose Kuttianimattathil talked about Christian Perspectives in Praying Together with People of Other Religions with exceptional clarity and openness. Many issues that impede this effort and open up possibilities were explored at length. He concluded his well researched presentation saying, “We are all sisters and brothers as we all come from God. Let us adore, worship and praise God together“.
Fr. Joe Mannath SDB, the multifaceted personality of philosophy, spirituality and psychology, spoke about Children, Spirituality and God-experience in his inimitable attractive style of humour, simplicity and profoundness. All through his presentation he emphasized that spirituality especially for children must have a happy face. That alone will help children to relate to it.
The presentations on understanding the Muslim practice of praying with children, use of stories/fables/parables for spiritual awakening were led by Dr. Ali Khwaja, Banjara Academy, Bangalore. Br. Mani Karott of the Little Brothers of Jesus shared his experience of praying with children of other faiths. He dwelt on the importance of having prayer occasions and sessions that are attuned to our Indian and oriental cultural and religious ethos. It was followed by an experience in inter-religious prayer led by Mr. N.R. Menon, Master Coaching Board, Kochi.
In the morning at the start of the seminar Fr. Mathew Thomas, the Executive Director of YaR Forum presented the concerns of the seminar. Fr. George Mathew, the Economer of the host Province of Bangalore welcomed one and all. Fr. Kuriakose Pallikunnel explained the logistics and dynamics of the seminar. The seminar is a collaborative effort of the National YaR Forum and the YaR Commission of Bangalore Province. JEW Austria, supports the financial needs of this seminar.
Fr. Mathew Thomas, the Executive Director of YaR Forum.