Spiritual Conference | Option for the poor | Fr. Lancy Pinto
As part of the spiritual formation, the seminary organized a spiritual conference for the brothers on Nov 15, 2021. The theme of this conference was ‘option for the poor’. The speaker for the conference was Fr. Lancy Pinto who has dedicated his life in the service of the poor and presently heads the justice and peace commission of the Archdiocese of Bombay.
Fr. Lancy began the session with a very simple question – who are the poor? He answered it, ‘those who are deprived of roti, kapda aur makan (economically poor) as well as those who are socially ostracized, the widows, orphans, prostitutes etc.’ He continued to explain, that a basic test for our parishes is to see how the most vulnerable are faring. Ex 3:7 opens God’s heart to us. God says, ‘I have seen my people’s misery… I have heard their crying… I am concerned about their suffering.’ Knowing the struggles of His people, God plunges into their suffering that He may uplift them from their misery, poverty and suffering. Throughout biblical history we see that God has been on the side of the marginalised, the poor and the suffering. If we claim to be on God’s side, we are left with no other choice but like God, to plunge into their misery, poverty and suffering that we may uplift them.
After pointing out the heart of God for the poor, Fr. Lancy, with many examples pointed us towards the actions of our spiritual Father, Pope Francis, who has had a deep connection with the poor. This love for the poor can be noticed in the themes chosen by him for the world day of the poor from the time of his election as Pope. In a society disfigured by the ever-deepening divisions between the poor and the rich, Pope Francis has at every opportunity highlighted our moral obligation to uphold the dignity of the poor and empower them so as to guarantee that their basic needs have been met.
Fr. Lancy concluded by indicating the steps we need to take as we journey with the poor. Firstly, he stressed the importance of prayer, simply because we are soldiers of the Lord. We cannot build, empower and sustain our mission of reaching out to the poor without His grace. Secondly, we should fully participate in the life of the poor which gives us a profound understanding of their struggles caused by social and economic factors. In order to achieve this, we must meet the poor, listen to them and stay with them. Finally, together, we must help them discern the future course of action and assist them to achieve what they have set out to achieve.
Following his presentation, Fr. Lancy opened the floor to questions. After the vote of thanks, the congregation sang a hymn in thanksgiving which brought the conference to a close.
Br. Rolwyn Lobo
1st Year Theology