Pondicherry Archdiocese

“Let us make the New year Really New by a New Way of Life”


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This Sunday and New Year’s Day we celebrate together as the whole Universal Church the great celebration of the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, as we also mark the last day of the Christmas Octave, that is the eighth day of Christmas. On this day we honour Mary whom the church has honoured greatly with the title of the Mother of God, which is also one of the four Marian Dogmas, the dogma of the Divine Motherhood of Mary, stating that Mary is truly the Mother of God by her being the Mother of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the World and the Son of God. Because we believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, therefore it is only natural that Mary should also be the Mother of God, as the Mother who brings forth into this world God Himself, incarnate in the flesh.

We, Catholics are the most privileged people to enter into the New Year 2023 with a Mother. It is like Mary Mother of God giving birth to us into this New Year. My question to you all is, what is new in this New Year? The same sunrises, we live in the same house; we have the same people around; the same world; Everything is exactly the same as was on 31st December. Then why do we wish “Happy New Year?” what is new in it?


So we need to make the New Year really new by our new way of life.

One way of marking 2023 as something new is to follow the clarion call of our Holy Father Pope Francis to make the Church a Synodal Church. The Synodal journey inaugurated by the Holy Father last year, looking to the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in October 2023 and 2024 is a gracefilled opportunity for the Church to rediscover her real nature as a community of believers, walking together in communion of hearts and minds, engaging with one another in a sincere participation of faith commitment and life, prepared to listen, dialogue and pray together, all geared towards Mission. The Church is thus called to witness to the love of God in the midst of the whole human family, especially with those who live on the social, economic and other existential peripheries of the world.

The year 2022 is different from the previous years, Having just got out of the pandemic and the lockdown restrictions, there is a sense of relief and we try to erase these bad memories. But a look at the world scene does reveal so much that is not alright. The war in Ukraine is carrying on unabatedly; The situation in Myanmar continues to be very distressful; In Sri Lanka there is

no indication of any relief for the common people; The situation of migrants continues to be grim; Indigenous people are regularly displaced; There is no sign of justice becoming prevalent all over;

The caste factor in the Church is a real obstacle for the Church to be Synodal. In Fratelli Tutti no. 87, Pope Francis reminds us that “no one can experience the true beauty of life without

relating to others, without having real faces to love . . . . Life exists where there is bonding, communion, fraternity; and life is stronger than death when it is built on true relationships and

bonds of fidelity. On the contrary there is no life when we claim to be self-sufficient and live as islands; in these attitudes, death prevails.

In the New Year 2023 let us give heed to the call of our Holy Father Pope Francis for a Synodal Church. The Church constantly goes through renewal and becomes anew. Jesus says, “Behold, I make all things New” (Rev. 21:5). The flood brought destructions (Gen. 7:12-23), immediately new life and new creation came into existence with a covenant between God and Noah.

Everything that has old and corrupt had been wiped out completely and everything new had come into being. It is a sign that God does not leave anything to remain static or completely dead. But he teaches us that, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains a single granin. But if it dies it bears much fruit” (Jn. 12:24), He always wills to make things new so that they bear fruit in abundance.

We just celebrated the Synodal Christmas and we are entering into the Synodal New year 2023. His Eminence Oswald Cardinal Gracious in his article, “Christmas in the year of Synodality”, mentions about the results of the Synodal process in India where the same needs are reported.

1. The first one he mentions; the need for a more faithfilled Church: Jesus came into the world to fill it with true faith, to answer all our questions about life and the world, enlighten our minds and hearts and to give us the right orientation. “I am the way, the truth and the life” he told the disciples, we strive to understand more and more the meaning of His coming and the message of the Gospels. We are called to build up faith communities. But, most of the time we are preoccupied with building big structures, institutions and also massive and ornamental churches. And also most of the time through our Novenas, feasts and erecting Shrines and having plenty of statues we are creating devotees and not people of faith. What is needed is to deepen the faith of the people which helps them to take up and live the radicality of the Gospel.

2. The second one is the need for a more collaborative Church: With every baptized person understanding his/her responsibility and wanting to fulfill it and discerning his/her vocation and wanting to respond to it. The Synodal process will help us to deepen our understanding of the need for a Church where all are involved. The Second Vatican Council with this in mind made it compulsory that every parish should have the Parish Pastoral Council and other structures to

involve every member of the parish and make active participation a reality. But even after more than 50 years in some of our parishes still the Kariyakarargal and Nattanmaigal are dominating and controlling the parish. This need to be stopped and every parish should function with properly elected Parish Pastoral Council.

3. The Third point is; the need for a more inclusive Church: Where no one feels left out or left behind. Did not Jesus come for all? When his arms were stretched on the cross, was anyone excluded from his embrace? Can we not make this year new by giving up caste feelings and accept the power of the sacrament of Baptism which washes everyone clean of all sins,

separations, divisions of caste etc.

4. The Fourth point; The need for a more relevant Church: We are called to respond to the signs of the time and make a radical shift from maintenance model church to a church that responds to the challenges of the present. This will be possible by making ourselves more and more people related. In this regard my humble request is that we priests, Religious get out of our comfort zones and meet the people. Family visit is a must. Every priest and religious in the parish must regularly visit their parishioners. We need to give more importance to Ecumenism,

Inter-religious dialogues etc. to make the Synodal Church possible with Communion, Participation and Mission.

And so instead of wishing Happy New Year, let us on January 1, 2023 wish each one a Happy Synodal Year.