A number of our parishes and stations are in the villages and they are mission stations. The people of our missions are mostly very poor. Most of them obtain their livelihood by daily work. In some of these mission stations we run boarding, where we give education up to the high school level for children. The youth often do not have possibility of higher education. Hence there is the need to establish a permanent set up in the Province to organize Social Apostolate. We need to explore the possibility of setting up non-formal and work-generating educational centres, such as tailoring, technical schools, etc. which will bring employment opportunities for the poor, particularly for the youth in our mission stations. We need to open up collaboration with the NGO groups in organizing social work projects that will benefit the poor people of our missions.
When we look at our involvement in Social Ministry, we can notice following areas. In our Parishes and Stations we do undertake informal social work activities like running tuition centers, educational help for the poor children, building houses for the poor people and similar charitable works. We also try to empower women economically through running of tailoring centres. We too run a school exclusively for the quarry workers' children at PILLAR, Madurai. The above mentioned social work activities are done in an individual or localized way. There is no co-ordination of all these activities. Therefore our Social Ministry is not noticed by others and is not very effective. In the light of what we have said, the need of the hour in Social Ministry within our Province is a centralized system of doing social work. In other words, we must have separate Department for Social work.
After looking at socio-economic situation of our Stations and Parishes, we could suggest following areas, where our Social Apostolate can be carried out in a systematic and in a more effective manner.
1. Integrated Child Development:
It must focus on the following areas:
1.1 School - Going Children
1.2 Children with Disabilities
1.3 Child Labourers and Street Children
1.1. School-Going Children
This implies the following:
- Educational Assitance
- Supportive Education Programme by way of Supervised Study, Free Tuitions and Special Coaching.
- Carreer Guidance.
1.2. Children with Disabilities
It would involve:
- Education based on Functional Assessment.
- Physiotherapy Services
1.3. Child Labourers and Street Children
This would involve in providing:
- Counselling Cell for Children, Parents and Employers.
- School Enrolment drive and follow-up.
- Awareness Programmers in the Community on child labour through publication and street plays.
2. Youth Development
This will involve the following areas:
2.1 Self -Employment
2.2 Social Awareness
2.3 Training Programmes
2.1. Self - Employment
- Orientation for Self Employment.
- Training in Self Employment
2.2. Social Awareness
- HIV / AIDS.
- Alcoholism and Drug Addiction
- Legal and Consumer Rights
2.3. Training Programmes
- Leadership Training Programmes.
- Guidance and Counseling
- Family Life Education
3. Non Formal Vocational Training, Job Oriented Courses offered
This will involve the following areas:
- Two - Wheeler Mechanism.
- Basic Electrical and Electronics
- Tailoring and Embroidery
4. Women Development
This will imply:
- Leadership Training.
- Health Care Programmes
- Matter relating to Reproductive Health
- Mental and Chronic Illnesses
- Skill Development Programmes like Tailoring, Food Processing, Handicrafts etc.
5. Care of the Aged
It could focus on the following areas:
- Day Care Centres.
- Supplementary Nutrition and Medical Intervention
- Spiritual and Leisure Activities
6. Rural Development Programmes
It will involve:
- Dairy Development and Animal Husbandry.
- Primary Health
- Ecology and Environment, like Planting Trees, Providing Seeds etc.
Recognizing the importance of the Social Apostolate the Provincial Council has decided to constitute a Coordinating Team for Social Apostolate in the Province. Each of the three members will coordinate the Social Apostolate in the three areas of the Province. The team will devise ways and means to enhance the Social Apostolate in the Province. It will also get in touch with different NGO groups and explore diverse possibilities to begin non-formal and job-orientated programmes for the poor of our Stations/Parishes. The members of the Coordinating Team are the following:
Social Work Commission
Fr. Jerome Mariadhasan - Coordinator
Fr. Bhaskar Rao Gangolu - Member
Fr. Caetano Crasto - Member
Fr. Daniel Prakash D’Souza - Member