Religious in India have been given 40 suggestions on how they can observe the Year of Mercy. In this 2013 file photo, nuns, priests and brothers in New Delhi appeal for the rights of women and children. (ucanews.com photo by Bijay Kumar Minj)
The Conference of Religious India has suggested a range of ways that clergy can observe Pope Francis' Year of Mercy, which ends this November.
"We are already in June; half the year is over. It may be also a good time to check what we are doing — personally and as communities, provinces and religious orders," said Salesian Father Joe Mannath, national secretary of Conference of Religious India in a note sent to members.
The conference has a total of 334 congregations and 822 major superiors representing more than 115,000 Catholic brothers, priests and nuns in India. Most of the schools, hospitals, social service centers and other institutions of the Catholic Church are managed by this group.
Father Mannath circulated a specially prepared four-page brochure of 40 actions that they can choose from.
"Year of Mercy is something real, not simply a matter of saying a prayer and having a conference," said the note along with the brochure.
The action plan has five focus areas such as actions for personal and community reconciliation, spiritual and corporal works of mercy and besides actions to become a caring and responsible church.
It lists actions such as asking pardon while stressing concrete actions to end divisions in the community and dioceses. Caste, ethnicity, language and regions are often used to divide people in the church and religious congregations in India, it said.
The plan's list also includes keeping celebrations simple, organ donation pledges and being active in the fight against drug abuse and human trafficking.
Father Mannath said since most of the religious "are busy, a simple set of action plans like this list" might help them plan their activities in their religious congregations.
The list is just a set of suggestions but he said: "The more creative we become, more good gets done."
The Salesian priest said some 1,600 nuns from one religious congregation have already donated blood.
"We can all learn from each other the best practices among us. That is more useful than complaining about what is not done," he said.
Pope Francis has declared a Jubilee Year of Mercy starting Dec. 8, last year to Nov. 20 this year. Through it the pope has exhorted Catholics to observe the year with works of mercy to experience God's forgiveness and unconditional love.