Yesterday(April 1st 2013) the priests, religious and laity felicitated Bishop Thomas Macwan on the completion of TEN years as Bishop of the AHMEDABAD Diocese, TWENTY-FIVE years as Priest and SIXTY years of age...Here is my TRIBUTE to him!-CP
Bishop Thomas Macwan: A Person for Others!
-Fr. Cedric Prakash sj*
There are several enduring and endearing qualities which characterise Bishop Thomas Macwan! As someone who has known him very closely for several years now, I would like to highlight three of these qualities which, in a way, are his forte:
- Bishop Thomas is a compassionate Pastor.
Bishop Thomas is truly a Pastor with a compassionate heart. In the most insignificant places in the rural parts of his diocese, among the poor and neglected or among the dying destitute of the Mother Teresa home, ‘Shanti Nilaya’, Bishop Thomas is completely at ease reaching out in a manner which few can do. In this great gift of witnessing, he clearly shows that his compassion is for all, irrespective of the background of the person.
On February 28, 2012, when several groups and individuals came together to observe the tenth anniversary of the Gujarat Carnage, he made it a point to visit Gulberg Society to console the victim-survivors and to assure them that he stood by them in their quest for justice and for truth.
- Bishop Thomas consults.
Fifty years ago, Vatican II, gave the Church a new way of proceeding, as it tried to create a more participatory approach at every level of its functioning. Unfortunately, as we look back, the sad truth is that the Church today is hardly a participatory one. But taking a cue from the directives of Vatican II, Bishop Thomas has ensured that the Diocesan Pastoral Council, the Priests Council and several of the Parish Councils in the Ahmedabad diocese are in place and even operational!
The high point, I guess in his consultative approach is to put together a ‘Think-Tank’ in the diocese which meets regularly to deliberate on matters concerning Church and Society and to see how best the Bishop and the diocese could respond to various situations. This ‘Think-Tank’ is a fairly broad umbrella consisting of Priests and religious with no juridical standing; but in bringing together diverse minds, Bishop Thomas proves that the best way to run a diocese is through a consultative process.
- Bishop Thomas is a person of commitment.
Commitment is another key quality of Bishop Thomas. He is able to radiate this - both in small and big things. If he knows that there is someone who is sick, old and lonely, he makes it a commitment to go and meet and spend some value time with that person.
In one of the first CBCI General Body meetings in which he participated (in Trichur in 2004), all the Bishops of India had pledged to put together a Commission for Social Communications in their respective dioceses. Today, thanks to Bishop Thomas, the diocese of Ahmedabad is one of the few dioceses, to have such a Commission (and which works)!
Much more can be said about Bishop Thomas but his three outstanding qualities are that he is a Bishop who with a compassionate heart, who has the humility to consult with others and above all with a high degree of commitment.
Bishop Thomas is truly a person for others!
(* Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ is the Director of PRASHANT, the Ahmedabad-based Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace)
- A Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace
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