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Fr. Faustine Lobo, a visionary for Christ

Fr Faustine Lucas Lobo is a priest with an administrative calibre and a religious zeal. The visionary and young-at-heart person is currently the National Director of Pontifical Mission Societies in India.

Earlier in his sacerdotal career he rendered his service selflessly as Director of Bhalki Mission, Bidar, as Assistant Parish Priest of Our Lady of Dolours Church, Vittal and St Joseph’s Church Pezar, as Parish priest of Fatima Church, Miyapadav for a brief period.

At the diocesan level he served as the Assistant Secretary and Secretary of Canara Organisation for development and Peace (CODP), Director Catholic Charities, Director RUSEMP (Rural self-employment programme), Pakshikere, Director of St Joseph the Worker Agricultural School, Vamanjoor, Director of Institute of Social Development, Nanthoor.

He was instrumental in building diocesan service societies in Bangalore, Gulbarga, Belthangady, Belgaum and Bellary.

Excerpts from an interview with Fr Faustine Lobo

What is your vision as the National Director of Pontifical Mission Societies in India?
My vision is that ‘they may all know that Jesus is the Saviour’. Let us all join hands in this enormous task of spreading this Good News and reaching out Jesus to the ends of the world. Some may do it by actually being missionaries in distant lands, some being missionaries in the neighbourhood, in the office, in the school or in one word in the place we are planted. If this is not possible at least have the zeal for mission and support materially, financially or through daily prayers.

Priesthood is a ‘calling’, a ‘vocation’ how did you realize your calling?
It is a beautiful question for me. My philosophy is “Bloom where you are planted”. I loved my priesthood and was ready for doing my part to help the people who are entrusted to my care. Wherever I was appointed for ministry I only asked to myself ‘If they can, why can’t I?’ I have accepted appointments in all the trying situations. I worked in the Bidar Mission in my initial two years as a priest and later as Assistant Parish priest in two parishes for three years and parish priest for a short stint of 11 months in Miyapadav parish in Mangalore Diocese.

Later I have been in CODP for 9 years (2 years assistant and 7 years Director), as Coordinator for Karnataka Regional Catholic Bishops Conference (KRCBC) Commissions for 6 years along with being the Public Relations Officer for the Church in Karnataka. I did ordinary things in the best way possible for me. Opportunities came on my way for greater responsibilities and I did my best.

Today a priest or a nun is not just confined to imparting education but also educating themselves – pursue higher education. They are exploring newer options, newer fields. What is your opinion on this?

The dictum is “You cannot give what you do not have”. So, acquiring more and more knowledge is a must or priests and the religious. They have to help people to come to God and live their life in the existing situation. The world is changing and the priests and the religious have to be enlightened about this reality. Newer areas are emerging and we have to be abreast with the changes. When people are looking for new avenues we have to offer them those possibilities. So, the leaders of the people must understand the contexts.

You have been in different places, taking up different roles as a student, a parish priest, an administrator, now a director. Which has been your most favourite so far and why?

First and foremost I should confess to you that I liked all the assignments and the people to whom I was serving also liked me. I am grateful to all those people who have put up with me. If you ask me to single out from among all these it is difficult for me but the assignment as the ‘Coordinator’ of the commissions under the Karnataka Region Catholic Bishops’ Council was most satisfying. There I had the privilege of helping the entire Karnataka Region to come up with the most needed and desired Karnataka Region Pastoral Plan, which was later replicated in different parts of India. The Pastoral Plan is unique with definite Vision and Mission statements and Goals and Objectives. This gave an opportunity to the Church for a focused intervention. This has set in a culture of planning in the Church in Karnataka.

The world today is mainly trend oriented. How are you coping with this?
The world today is changing rapidly. We need to keep pace with the changing scenario. We need to update ourselves with the changes that are coming in. We have to accept some and reject others. There are inventions that are useful and there inventions which are harmful. There are many innovations that are ‘market driven’. For e.g., the changes in the features of cell phones are only to show to the customer that his/her mobile is obsolete and induce buying a new one. In reality, many of the features in the mobile are decorative. Seldom have we used them or in many cases we do not know how to use them.

We need to make a well-informed decision. I keep abreast with the changing things through reading, observing, discussing and analyzing the trends. My experience as a Social worker helps me in this regard. I conduct seminars and attend seminars. I learn both in conducting seminars and listening to lectures. I have travelled extensively and have seen people and things directly. I have conversed with people of different socio-cultural backgrounds.

The media brings the news at your doorstep and makes the events vivid. So, knowing is easy but sifting and finding out what is good and what is not is left to us.

What according to you is the biggest challenge the world is facing today?
The biggest challenge to the world today is ‘individualism’ – the ‘I for myself’ principle’. The “I do not need any one, even God” attitude. This is the main reason for all the troubles. Consumerism, hatred, fascism, fundamentalism, the communalism, terrorism are all the different manifestations of this individualism. It has led a sizable number of people even to ignore the existence of God. Man is almost now nearing a false belief that he can make things happen by himself.

What is your message for the generation of today?
My only appeal is ‘Live and let live’. Unless I realize the fact that I have to depend on others and others have to depend on me life is miserable. There is need for mutual dependency. In a country like India with the multi-religious, multi-cultural and multi-lingual context we need to accommodate all and exercise utmost tolerance and harmony. This comes only when we realize that we are limited and therefore, others have a role to complete our life. This feeling of ‘limitedness’ must bring us to God – ‘With God we have everything and without God we have nothing’.