Bangalore, Feb 11, 2010
The Catholic Directory of India of 2010, known as CDI 2010, to be published in August will turn out to be the ready-reckoner for Indian Catholic Church comprising Latin, Syro-Malankara and Syro-Malabar rites and their roughly 23 million faithful.
In a country of over a billion people, 23 million is just a drop in a huge ocean and a miniscule percentage even among the 13.5 % total minority population. Catholics along with other denominations of Christians have an enormous presence in the national life, mainly on account of their vast network of educational, healthcare and social service institutions and initiatives in all over the country since the last several decades.
Though anti-Christian and anti-minority feelings are being aroused in recent years, most often without justification by raising the bogey of forcible or induced religious conversions, Catholics or Christians cannot be termed as total strangers in an ancient civilization like India.
In fact, if accounts of St Thomas, one of the 12 Apostles of Jesus Christ, visiting India in 52 AD are accepted, Christianity in India can certainly be described as old as Christianity itself – well, almost.
There are sufficient historical records to show that several Christian missionaries had visited and settled in India centuries ago and their work was well-appreciated, patronized and supported by the erstwhile princely Hindu rulers.
There may be some aberrations of forcible conversions in the past. But such incidents are not confined to any one religion or their followers but have been reported among the votaries of almost all the major religions at different points of time.
The early Christian missionaries had lived, worked and died with local people and were instrumental in enriching the local culture, folklore, literature besides working in education, healthcare and other diverse fields in almost all states, be it Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Bengal or the North-East.
It is pertinent to record the pioneering role played by several Christian leaders in India’s freedom struggle and after Independence, who had rubbed shoulders with Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru, Tilak, Gokhale, Ambedkar, Rajaji and others.
For a numerically small minority community, several Christian leaders were part of the Constituent Assembly, which framed the Indian Constitution under Dr Ambedkar, and the community continued to play its leading role in nation-building activities.
The Claretian Publications, belonging to the Congregation of Missionaries sons of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary or Claretian Missionaries (cmf), have been entrusted with the task of compiling and publishing the Catholic Directory of India for the second time after their phenomenal success in bringing out the 2005-06 edition.
The Claretians, who have been working in as many as 64 countries, started their activities in India as recently as in 1970 and their publication division is mostly confined to bringing out books on Bible, Biblical or Theological Studies and the like.
In a radical departure from its past practices of entrusting a relatively unknown outfit like the Claretian Publications, that too based in far off Bangalore, the New Delhi headquartered CBCI authorised the Claretians to bring out the Catholic Directory of India on their behalf for the first time. While it was a challenge to Claretians, CBCI too probably had its own reservations.
Embarking on a venture like publication of the Catholic Directory of India is a time-consuming, pain-staking and most challenging task. Though such Directories are being compiled and published in different countries, the American Catholic Directory continuously published by P J Kennedy and Sons since 1817 is said to be the oldest. Widely popular as the Kennedy Directory, this official Catholic Directory is being published since 193 years—clearly an enviable record.
However, though the Claretian Publications are involved in the second venture of its kind, scholars have confirmed that the publication of Catholic Directories in the country dates back to the middle of 19th Century.
The Vidyajyoti College Library of Jesuits in New Delhi has the 1903 edition in its possession, which is described as the 53rd annual publication of the Madras Catholic Directory. This indicates that the first Catholic Directory of India was probably published in 1851 or roughly 34 years after the American Directory.
The Vidyajyoti College Library in New Delhi also has the 1950 edition, bearing the title, The Catholic Directory of India, Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon, and is described as the 91st edition.
Going by these records – though all the past copies are not available, which is quite common in a country like India where historical records, manuscripts or monuments are not meticulously preserved as in the West or European countries -- the CDI 2010 must be the 106th edition.
The CDI 2005-06 spanning 1740 pages, weighed almost 2 kgs and exceeded all expectations – especially those of Claretians. It incorporated data pertaining to as many as 155 Dioceses belonging to three rites of Indian Catholic Church, over 20,000 parishes and mission stations, their addresses and telephone numbers, thousands of educational institutions from the nursery to colleges and even professional medical or engineering institutions and their addresses and telephone numbers besides hundreds of religious congregations comprising general, provincial or regional houses throughout the country with over 73,000 priests and above 77,000 nuns and sizeable numbers of religious brothers or novices.
In addition, statistical information pertaining to Catholic Church in the country and worldwide, the Vatican and Roma Curia and various institutions of the Church along with names of all Popes and Saints and several such details were incorporated. The data published in the CDI 2005-06 is simply mind-boggling. After all, information is strength.
If the CDI 2005-06 was stupendous, the CDI 2010 proposed to be released in August, promises to be even more comprehensive with several new and additional as well as innovative features.
To maintain consistency, the cover design, size and presentation of the text content – of course with meticulous updating – will be as in the previous edition for easy handling, unique identity and better recall. All the text pages will be in 2-colour. There will be special multi-colour pages at the beginning and at the end, in a separate Product and Services Guide section. The number of pages, however, is expected to be around the same as in the previous edition or slightly more.
The CDI 2010 will also have several specially commissioned articles of interest not just to the Indian Catholic Church but all Catholics, Christians and even outsiders, written by scholars or experts.
"We want to avoid the mistakes that crept in, in the 2005-06 edition despite our best efforts. A lot of planning and spadework has been done. We have finalized a detailed format for collection of data from all the 160 plus Dioceses and hundreds of religious congregations, which is now in the process of being dispatched,’’ said Fr Benny Kanjirakatt, Director of Claretian Publications.
Said Fr Benny: ``We propose to print 50,000 copies and make them available to the people through all leading bookshops, dioceses and the vast network of religious congregations. The print order could go higher depending upon the pre-publication orders received by us till March 31.’’
"Though the actual price of the Directory works out to around Rs 1,000 per copy, taking into account the design, DTP work, data collection, postage, telephone and communication as well as printing and staff salaries, we have deliberately kept the price for pre-publication orders at Rs 650 per copy and for post-publication orders at Rs 750 (plus Rs 100 for packing and postage),’’he said.
"We intend to raise the funds through advertisements, donations, contributions and sponsorships from our generous and philanthropic individuals and companies besides parishes, congregations and their vast network of institutions, to whom appeals are being sent,’’ he said stating that the CBCI gives the authorization to collect the data and raise necessary funds through advertisements and/or contributions on its behalf for the project.
"Individuals, small business establishments or even parishes interested in supporting a noble and laudable cause like CDI 2010 which will benefit the entire Indian Catholic Church but not in a position to make a big contribution, will also be able to be part of the project by exercising the option of Strip Boxes contributing as small an amount as Rs 4,500. Parishes, for example, can briefly highlight some of their salient features to people in other parishes of the same diocese or among the 160 plus dioceses in India and even abroad,’’ said Fr Benny adding: ``The innovative feature of Strip Boxes will be restricted to a maximum of two rows of 2cms each or together 4 cms in height so as not to affect the text. Each advertiser, big or small, will be supplied a free copy of the Directory.’’
"Surplus funds, if any, would be utilized for the welfare of the poor and support the various educational ministries of Claretian Missionaries.’’
Those interested in booking orders for the CDI 2010 or making donations, contributions or advertisements, can download the relevant forms from the website: www.catholicdirectoryindia.com , or write to:
The Manager, CDI Project,
28/12, 18th Cross, 14th Main, P O Box 5577,
Malleswaram West, Bangalore 560055, INDIA
Tel: 91-080-23446977/23564477 Fax: 23469445