The orientation towards people belongs to the very essence of the Christian and missionary vocation. Imbibing the spirit of Jesus’ option for the poor and marginalized, Ruhalaya Major Seminary gives great emphasis for missionary formation in her curriculum. Our brothers of both theology and philosophy sections, under the guidance of the professors and with the help of religious sisters from neighbouring convents, are involved in various apostolates in and around Ujjain. These are occasions for us to share the compassionate love of Jesus with the people and the Gospel of Jesus through word and deed. Formation given at Ruhalaya aims at preparing candidates for mission ad gentes and hence formation in its different states and aspects has a basically missionary character. Even the human, spiritual and intellectual formations acquire specific content and characteristic because of its orientation to missionary formation. Missionary formation necessitates study and practice and hence an action-reflection method is followed in the theological programme. This involves training the students to be open to values, cultures, and civilization different from their own and active involvement of the students in the socio-cultural context of the place. Some of the important apostolates undertaken by the members of Ruhalaya Major Seminary are the following.
According to The Mission Policy of Syro-Malabar Church missionaries should be trained in the mission context in mission seminaries with various exposures and interactions with the people and culture of the mission (The Mission Policy 8:3). The students of philosophy visit several villages in the vicinity of the seminary on every Thursday in the afternoon. During the visits they build up personal relationship with people. They visit the people in their houses, console the sick, conduct tuition for students and take classes for the youth. Brothers also conduct cultural and literary competitions for the children in the villages. All the children in the contact of the brothers are brought together into the seminary once in a year. That day is celebrated with games, competitions, cultural programme and classes on important values in life
Along with the philosophical formation the staff and students are actively engaged in the social and developmental activities in the nearby villages. We consider it as part of missionary formation. On Thursdays the students go to villages to teach the students and to form the youth. In the evenings of other days they give tuition to the school students who are weak in English and Mathematics.
The students of philosophy have after the first semester ten days live-in-village programme. They go in groups of ten each and live in a house in the village. It is an occasion for the brothers to come into close contact with the village life, their culture, way of life, struggles and hardships of the people, their sacrificing mentality, their respect for the elders, their faith life, etc. Brothers also avail themselves of this opportunity to give tuition for the children, conduct classes for the youth, elders, etc.
One hundred self-help groups are run by the seminary together with the dedicated service of DST and CMC sisters. Majority of the groups are for the women in the neighboring villages. Brothers from both theology and philosophy sections are also introduced to the self-help groups and they help priests and sisters to conduct group meetings. All the members of the group gather in the seminary for Christmas and International Women’s Day celebrations. Training and animation are conducted for the members of the groups at regular intervals.
The fourth year theologians are involved in pastoral ministry. They go to mission stations on Saturday afternoon and come back by Sunday evening. They assist the priests in parish activities. They deliver homily during the holy Mass, teach catechism to children, visit houses, etc.
On every Thursday afternoon from 2.00 to 4.00 five brothers with a staff member and two sisters visit the central jail in Ujjain. There are around 2300 prisoners in the jail. They are in need of guidance, love, prayerful support and encouragement. Many share with us their painful and awesome experiences. Some of the important activities in jail are spiritual guidance, personal counseling, teaching languages, musical instruments, conducting cultural programme at important festivals and Christmas, helping the release of the prisoners, etc. A few poor children of the prisoners are given assistance for their studies.
Juvenile Home Ministry
Juvenile home is a centre run by the government for poor children. Every Sunday one staff member and four brothers visit the centre and spend two hours with the children. There are around 70 children in the centre. We take classes, conduct cultural programme, and teach them to play musical instruments. Competitions are conducted and winners are given prizes. Personal guidance is also given to children. We share with them love and give them support and encouragement.
With the financial support of UNICEF we have launched special programmes in the Juvenile home and Remand home. A teacher of yoga teaches the children yoga everyday. Besides, teachers impart to them the basics of language, mathematics, general knowledge, etc. Two counselors give them regularly group and individual counseling. Cultural programmes, sports and games are conducted. Children are also taught to build up kitchen garden.
Remand Home Ministry
Remand home is a centre for children with criminal background. There are around 25 children below the age of 18 in the centre. Every Sunday from 10 to 12 am two brothers visit remand home and spent the time with the children. We encourage them to share their painful experiences and problems. We listen to them and give them guidance, love and support. We teach them English and music. Cultural programme and competitions are conducted at regular intervals. The winners are awarded.
Ministry in Bal Samrakshan Grah
This is an institution run by the government for the children of lepers. There are 48 children in this institution. Every Sunday from 10 to 12 am three brothers and one staff member visit Bal Samrakshan Grah and spent the time with the children. We extend love, guidance, support and encouragement. We take tuition classes for them. Besides they are taught songs and stories with moral lessons. We conduct cultural programme. Competitions are conducted and the winners are given prizes.
Four brothers engage in slum ministry on every Thursday afternoon. Slum is the dwelling place of the poor and the marginalized of the society. Through this ministry brothers come to know the miserable living condition of the poor people and show them love, concern and solidarity. Brothers visit houses of the people and conduct tuition classes for the children. House visiting is an occasion to listen to the people and thus to share their sorrows and guide them. Children are offered life-guidance and orientation classes.
Shramik Vidhyalayas are non-formal educational centres established for the purpose of providing primary education to the poor and unfortunate children. In Ujjain city there are 16 such schools. Four brothers on every Thursday from 2 to 4 pm visit one such school. Around 50 children attend classes regularly in the school. We help the children in their studies. They share their joys and sorrows with us. We show them concern, love and compassion. We give them guidance and encouragement. We conduct cultural programme and competitions for the children.
Five brothers are fully involved in youth ministry. Brothers have built up personal relationship with the youth in the neighboring villages. Brothers visit them on Sundays and Thursdays. Brothers listen to them, walk along with them trying to know and understand their pulses. Brothers also conduct six self-help groups for the youth through which they are helped financially and empowered morally.
Ministry among the Mentally Challenged
Seven brothers are involved in ministry for the mentally challenged children on Thursdays and Saturdays. They visit two special schools, Manovikas and Prem Sagar Special School, for the mentally challenged children. Brothers actively take part in training, teaching and helping the children. Brothers find real joy and happiness in taking care of these children.
Ruhalaya brothers are involved in AIDS ministry in Saathi, an institution run by the eparchy to take care of AIDS patients. They visit AIDS patients and their houses on every Thursday. Since AIDS patients feel alienated from the society, they are very happy to receive the brothers, share their sorrows and agonies. Through our visits we bring consolation and joy to the sick and dying. Brothers from the seminary provide blood to those who are very weak. Brothers also take AIDS awareness classes for different categories of people. Classes are also taken for the children of AIDS patients.
Eight brothers are involved in media education in two high schools in the vicinity of the seminary on every Thursday. Brothers teach basic lessons on communication skills and help people to become effective communicators. Basic lessons are conducted on low cost media, stage art, chart making, news paper evaluation, film evaluation and public speaking. Group games, project works and workshops render the classes more active and lively.
Service for the Destitute
Three brothers visit once a week the centre for the destitute run by the Missionaries of Charity. The inmates are abandoned by the family members and the society. The visits give the brothers an opportunity to know the hard realities of life. They express love and concern for the destitute people through their service, by being with them, teaching them songs, telling them stories, arranging some entertainment programme, etc.
The students of the second year theology are sent for an exposure programme for a week to centres of different specialized ministries likes homes for the AIDS patients, rehabilitation centres for mentally retarded, for deaf and dumb, SOS village, social action centres, etc. They observe and learn the services rendered in those centres. It is an occasion for them to know the hard realities of life and to develop aptitudes for compassionate love and service to the less-privileged and marginalized people.
Asara: Ruhalaya Animation and Empowerment Centre
Asara is the Ruhalaya Animation and Empowerment Centre. Animation, empowerment and developmental programmes are regularly arranged in Asara for the people of the neighbourhood. Around 55 students from the vicinity of Ruhalaya benefit from the tuition programme which is conducted regularly in Asara. Some of the past pupils of Asara excel in higher classes in different schools.