Historically speaking, since the SCCs emerged as a response to the pastoral needs of local churches, they are truly churches at the grass roots level. Since they are ways of decentralization of the parish (RM 51) to foster deeper fellowship and witnessing within the local context, SCCs are referred to as a communion of communities. They are called the New Way of Being Church since they bring the church to the neighbourhood to where people live and interact daily and invite people to experience the power of the Kingdom present in their midst through allowing the Word of God to enlighten their hearts and minds and respond together in love. From being anonymous and inactive Christians, SCCs help to transform them to become active and evangelizing communities locally.

From information available we have sketched a short history of SCCs, showing its origins and contexts of development in different continents. We will study development of SCCs in India in greater detail.


The origins of SCCs can be traced back to Jesus himself when he founded the first community of the Twelve with whom he lived and imparted to them the sense of a true Church which he commanded them to promote (Mt. 10:1-15). After his resurrection and ascension, the early Christians, in their strong desire to live this deep fellowship and communion, started under the guidance of the Holy Spirit house churches where they experienced the Lords presence through their listening to the teaching of the Apostles, the communal breaking of the bread and common prayers, fellowship and sharing. (Acts 2:42-47, 4:32-37).

In fact, we cannot refer to a specific date or a particular location where the first SCC was formed. Since the emergence of SCCs was spontaneous in the Church in general, it would be more apt to say that they emerged more or less at the same time in the post Vatican II Church in different regions of the world.

1Development of SCCs in Latin America

The SCCs began in the late 1950s and early 1960s in Latin America for the purpose of promotion of community evangelization. Building on the Vatican II councils decision to promote the participatory approach in the Church, the Brazilian bishops designed a pastoral plan that led to the formation of the SCCs. In fact this was inevitable, in communion with Church le aders the people were searching for a way to live out their faith amidst extreme poverty, suffering, exploitation, violence, and a longing for liberation.

It is worth noting here that 3 popular movements of the era viz. Peoples Catechetical MovementBasic Education Movement and Better World Movement have played an important role in the formation and development of SCCs in the South American continent.  

2Development of SCCs in Africa

The East African countries also faced similar serious pastoral challenges. Due to large territorial parishes, priests attention to mission stations was minimal which the Pentecostal churches were exploiting to indulge in sheep stealing. The Mary Knoll Fathers who have been pioneers in mission work in the region responded to this by asking MarieFrance Perrin Jassy to do a research on the social structures and community values of the Luo Ethnic Group. Her research showed that priests unavailability to meet the pastoral needs of the faithful was the main reason for their joining the Pentecostal churches. The research also found an interesting and pertinent phenomenon: there were some places where the faithful were living as small faith communities wherein they felt belonged to. According to MarieFrance Perrin Jassy, the very beginning of SCCs can be traced back to Nyarombro parish in Musoma diocese, Tanzania in 1966. Initially the term used for such small faith communities was chama (small group).

Subsequently in 1976 the Eastern African bishops in their plenary conference took up SCCs as a pastoral priority for countries such as Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia and Malawi. Later Central Africa, Western Africa and South Africa also adopted SCCs as a pastoral priority.

The SCCs got a major fillip from the African Synod of bishops in 1994. For right from the beginning, the Synod Fathers acknowledged that the Church as a family cannot reach her full potential unless she is divided into communities small enough to foster close human relationships among the members. According to the Synod, they (SCCs) should be communities which pray and listen to Gods word, encourage the members themselves to take on responsibility, learn to live in ecclesial life, and reflect on different human problems in the light of the gospel. Above all, these communities are to be committed to living Christs love for everybody, a love that transcends the limits of the natural solidarity of clans, tribes or other interest groups. (Ecclesia in Africa, 89)

3Development of SCCs in Asia

Philippines is the first Asian country where SCCs sprang up. The Filipino SCCs  emerged in the 1970s in the midst of widespread suspicion about them during the rule of the dictator Marcos. It was a time when many bishops, priests and lay people who were associated with SCCs, were branded as leftist or subversives, and when some of them were tortured and martyred. In such a context, it was obvious that due to fear, many would not accept or support the formation of SCCs. Only after Marcos was deposed, did the SCCs begin to expand in the Philippines. Subsequently the second Plenary Council of the Philippines in 1991 granted official endorsement to the SCCs. As a result, the SCC became the pastoral priority of the whole Filipino Church and became an inseparable part of the vision and mission of dioceses and parishes. And at the grass roots forming of SCCs was a concerted effort of the whole Church and not due to the individual initiative of some priest or a lay person.

The 5th Plenary Assembly of FABC at Bandung in Indonesia in 1990 was the turning point for SCCs in Asia. Fr. Oswald Hirmer from the Lumko Institute, South Africa was invited to facilitate the sessions whose theme was A New Way of Being Church in Asia in the 1990s. These Lumko sessions made the bishops of Asia to declare SCCs a pastoral priority for Asia and to open a desk within the FABC office of Laity for the promotion of SCCs.
Fr. Hirmer himself gathered a team from all over Asia and prepared programmes suitable for the Asian context which he called AsIPA (Asian Integral Pastoral Approach). The first AsIPA workshop took place in 1995 at Las Pinas parish in Manila, Philippines. Fr. Hirmer continued to assist the Asian team until he became the bishop of Umtata in South Africa in 1997. The AsIPA methodology, which is an adaptation of  the Lumko method of the SCC building, grew fast in the Philippines and soon spread to 17 other countries. Subsequently the AsIPA Desk formed a resource team named ART (AsIPA Resource Team) for the promotion of SCCs, both for producing literature and training of resource persons and animators in different Asian countries.  Until now the AsIPA desk has held 5 Asian level SCC assemblies which gathers AsIPA animators from all over Asia to share, study and promote AsIPA way of building SCCs.


Paul VI was the first pope to recognize the presence of SCCs in the Church and to speak appreciatively about their contribution to the betterment of the church. Referring to SCCs he states in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi: they spring from the need to live the Church’s life more intensely, or from the desire and quest for a more human dimension such as larger ecclesial communities can only offer with difficulty, especially in the big modern cities which lend themselves both to life in the mass and to anonymity (No. 58). According to him such communities can quite simply be in their own way an extension on the spiritual and religious level-worship, deepening of faith, fraternal charity, prayer, contact with pastors-of the small sociological community such as the village, etc. (EN 58). He also highlights the importance of meditating and sharing the Word, celebrating the Sacraments and the bond of the agape that is built in the process among the members. And finally calling the SCCs as nurseries of evangelization he declares that they give hope for the universal Church (cf. EN 58).

John Paul II has also spoken encouragingly of the SCCs especially in his Encyclical Redemptoris Missio. According to him, these ecclesial basic communities are good centres for Christian formation and missionary outreach (RM 51). He held that these communities are a sign of vitality within the Church, an instrument of formation and evangelization and a solid starting for a new society based on a civilization of love (RM 51). He appreciated the specific focus of SCCs among the less privileged: They take root in less privileged and rural areas, and become a leaven of Christian life, of care of the poor and neglected, and of commitment to the transformation of society (RM 51).

Pope Benedict XVI, too has supported the cause of the SCC. He expressed his appreciation for the SCCs when he said to the Kerala Latin bishops and Andhra Pradesh bishops in Rome on May 30, 2011: it is a source of satisfaction that the proclamation of Gods word is bearing rich spiritual fruit in your local Churches, especially through the spread of Small Christian Communities in which the faithful come together for prayer, reflection on the Scriptures and fraternal support.


The Indian Church had to wait until late 1970s for the formation of her SCCsBut surely that involved a gradual process. 

1. First Efforts to Form SCCs in South India

Growth in social consciousness in general in 1960-s and post-Vatican II ecclesial awakening in the Indian Church in particular made way for the Indian clergy searching for ways of renewing the church. It is said that the 1969 Church in India Seminar organized by Fr. Amalorpavadas at NBCLC, Bangalore acted as a trigger in  challenging the Indian clergy to make the Indian Church more participatory in her approach.

In responding to this 2 southern dioceses, Kottar and Trivandrum took the lead when some of their clergy felt that the Church must respond actively to the struggles of the poor fisher folk who form the vast majority of these dioceses. Priests like  C. Amirtha Raj and MJ Edwin began the process of starting SCCs as a means of making the people participate in the life of the parish already in 1978. Fr. Edwin working in a very traditional parish of Kodimanai in Kottar, divided the parish into 18 groups in an effort to make them work together to solve the many socio-political problems the people faced.
As part of the Golden Jubilee celebration of  the diocese of Trivandrum Bishop Jacob Achariparambil initiated a 5 days Live-in of all the diocesan priests in the diocese of Kottar animated by NBCLC director, Fr. Amalorpavdas, from August 31st to September 4th 1987. That Live-In gave Trivandrum diocese the new thrust to the proclamation of the Good News in the context of the poor people of the diocese.

In December 1989 the appointment of co-adjutor Bishop Susa Pakiam and his takeover of the Trivandrum diocese later, speeded up the renewal process in the diocese and the formation of SCCs. In 1990 The Christian life 2000 committee set up by Bishop Susa Pakiam, with the support of the clergy, decided to intensify efforts to promote lay participation in the church. A review of the renewal process initiated by the Live-In of the priests showed that the clergy-controlled structures are a hindrance to developing peoples involvement in parishes.

In 1991 Bishop Susa Pakiam wrote a pastoral letter to all the parishes asking them to start SCCs and make them the basis of pastoral ministry. He appointed Fr. Rufus Pius Lean and Fr. James Culas to animate and promote formation of SCCs and train those who are appointed to take up various ministries in parishes. The pastoral activities of the diocese were grouped into 4: Pastoral, Education, Social Service and Finance. Under these ministries all the major need-based ministries of the diocese were developed with peoples participation at all levels (SCC, Parish, Vicariate and Diocese). Under this new system, peoples involvement became central to all exercise of pastoral ministries, and justice and development of the people became a central concern of the Local Church. And the SCC became an important part of the Local Church because all ministry roles were exercised by SCCs only and all Church services were made available to the parishioners only through SCCs . The animation team led by Frs. Rufus and James Culas continued to train and enable hundreds of ordinary lay people to actively participate in the various ministries of the diocese, attending to the needs of people.

It is worth noting here that Trivandrum is the first diocese in the country that made the SCCs the basis for all pastoral activities. Sure enough, these efforts influenced the other dioceses in Kerala several of whom started their own SCCs in the course of time and today all the Latin dioceses of Kerala have SCCs.

2. Beginnings of SCCs in Mumbai Archdiocese

The Mumbai SCC story began with the 1980 Bombay Priests’ Synod which declared that the SCC was the need of the hour and was to be given pride of place in the ministries of the archdiocese. Fr. Bosco Penha (who later became bishop), although he was the Rector of the St. Pius College, took the initiative to start SCCs. The fruits of his efforts became visible in the first SCCs which took shape in St. Thomas Parish, Goregaon in the year 1983. Soon 11 more parishes requested him to assist them to start the SCCs in their parishes. By June 1984 there were more than 70 lay volunteers and several seminarians animating SCCs in different parishes of the archdiocese.

By June 1986, the number of parishes requesting assistance reached 25.  At this stage, Archbishop Simon Pimenta constituted the FILMC (Formation and Integration of Laity in the Mission of the Church) office to promote the SCCs. The Bombay Priests Synod of 1990 re-affirmed the resolution of the 1980 synod on the SCCs and decided to intensify the efforts in the archdiocese to establish SCCs in all the parishes of the archdiocese.

According to an SCC Survey conducted in 2008-2009, 118 out of 122 parishes in the Mumbai Archdiocese have started SCCs and the total number of SCCs in the archdiocese is 2021.There are 13,271 lay animators in these SCCs, averaging around 7 per community, 101 out of 118 parishes had formed Steering Committees and 62 out of 118 parishes had initiated the formation of clusters (smaller group of families) .

Bishop Bosco Penha had a passionate zeal to promote SCCs and was widely accepted nationally and internationally as a trainer for SCCs. He with his FILMC Team, devoted themselves completely for training SCC animators all over the country and they played a significant role in spreading SCCs all over India.

3.  SCCs in Andhra Pradesh

In the early 1980s, the regional conference of Andhra Pradesh set up a pastoral body named Andhra Pradesh Jyothirmai Society (APJS) to coordinate the regions pastoral activities. In 1984, its secretary Fr. Raphael Etukuri was convinced of the merits of the Lumko Pastoral Training programmes for SCCs got the permission from Lumko Institute South Africa to translate them into Telugu. Eventually the whole of Andhra church started SCCs and today the SCC is in operation in all the 12 dioceses of the region.

4. SCCs in Karnataka

The existence of a local tradition of dividing parishes into wards with a leader called the ‘Gurkar’ was a help in initiating SCCs in Mangalore. Similarly the identifying of the members from each of these wards right from the start of the Parish Pastoral Councils, way back in 1960’s was a also positive factor that contributed towards the building of SCCs. In the year 1987, SCCs were started in Karnataka, especially, in Mangalore diocese by Bishop Salvadore Basil DSouza and Fr. Alphonsus  DLima  who  was then the director of Pastoral Institute of Mangalore diocese. The real booster for the SCC building process was the 1989 Pastoral Consultation on lay leadership in the church. For it was during this consultation that Fr. Arthur Pereira was appointed as the coordinator of the pastoral plan implementation in the diocese and an unanimous resolution was passed declaring that all the parishes should establish at least one SCC.

From 1991 Mangalore diocese was introduced to the Lumko Method” of promoting SCCs. A series of Lumko workshops were held in the following years. In the following year a national level 10-day Lumko training was organized by the Pastoral Institute of Mangalore with Fr. Oswald Hirmer of the Lumko Institute in attendance for 7 days.

Regional level coordination of the SCC in Karnataka got a major fillip when the Mangalore Bishop Aloysius Paul DSouza, was appointed as the coordinator of SCCs in 2005. Subsequently in 2011 Karnataka Regional Catholic Bishops Conference (KRCBC) appointed Fr. Gilbert DSouza, a priest of the Mangalore Diocese as the first part-time secretary in 2011 and Fr. Harold Pereira of Udupi diocese as the full time secretary in 2012. And in the same year was formed a regional commission for SCCs with representatives from each of the 12 Karnataka dioceses to promote the activities of the SCCs in the region.

The Karnataka SCC Commission has its own vision, mission, goal, objectives along an action plan. In some dioceses Diocesan Animation Team (DAT) and Parish Animation Teams (PAT) have been formed. There is also a Pastoral course on the SCC conducted in the seminaries and in the religious formation houses in the region regularly. And the regional SCC news letter called COMMUNION is published regularly and circulated widely in all the dioceses of the region.
All this has led to the formation of SCCs in 158 out of 160 parishes in the region with a total of 1438 SCC units in the region by January, 2012.


The story of BIJHAN SCC is quite different from above discussed regions. Although the first Lumko workshop was held in Ranchi in 1990 and many dioceses in the region received workshops over and over again , SCCs have not taken deep roots in the region in a systematic way.

Sr. Christin Joseph arrived in Patna in 1990 and began promoting the SCC. In 1991, under the auspices of the Faith Education Department of Navjyoti in Patna, Fr. Sebastian Kanekattil, SJ and Sr. Christin prepared a book called, Naya Akash, Nai Prithavi the first ever published book in Hindi on SCCs. The first of the training programmes for the SCC for the region was held at Navjyoti Niketan, Patna in 1992 by Sr. Christin and Fr. Sebastian Kanekattil SJ. 150 participants took part from 12 dioceses of BIJHAN. With the support of Bishop Thomas Kozhimala of Bhagalpur Sr. Christin  played a major role in starting the SCC in his diocese. Between 1999 and 2005 there were 410 vibrant SCC units covering 45 parishes in his diocese. In 1999, Late Bishop Michael Minj, S.J of Gumla, initiated SCCs in the diocese with great enthusiasm as preparation for  Yesu Khrist Jayanti Jubilee in the year 2000.  It is unfortunate that the enthusiasm in the promotion SCCs in Bhagalpur and Gumla died away slowly after Bishops sudden demise in 2005.

Reflecting on the challenges and the need for a coordinated effort in the region for promoting SCCs; with the initiative of NST, a two day meeting was held from 26th to 27th June 2007 at (—-?) SDC, Ranchi, to form a regional council and Regional Service Team (RST) for the SCC in the region. Since then regional SCC council meets annually to report and share the progress in the region. On 29th June 2009, the RST drafted a vision-mission statement for the regional SCC council. Since 2011 renewed efforts are being made to enable all the 15 dioceses in the region to promote the SCCs actively. As a result DAT is being trained in 10 dioceses in 6 phases. In November 2012 the Regional Resource Team was formed with 12 members. It is hoped that with better coordination, regular training programmes and the active collaboration of the Bishops and parish priests of the region the SCC scenario in the region would improve in the coming years.

At present among those who are active in promoting SCCs in the region the names of Bishops John Thakur of Muzaffarpur , Charles Soreng SJ bishop emeritus of Hazaribag, Bishop Ananad Jojo of Hazaribag, Archbishop William DSouza SJ of Patna,  Bishop Gabrieal Minj SJ of Daltanganj, Bishop Binay Khandulna of Khundi and  Bishop Julius Marandi of Dumka the current chairman of the regional SCC commission and Fr. Alex Kurisummootil, the current secretary of the regional SCC commission are worth noting.

 6.  West Bengal

In West Bengal, Krishnagar diocese began SCCs already in early 1990s under the patronage of Bishop Lucas Sirkar and later under Bishop Joseph S. Gomes and animated by Fr. Arul Rozario. At the same time Mr. Dominic Asvedo initiated SCCs in Christ the King parish of Kolkata Archdiocese. Bishops Stephen Lepcha in Darjeeling and Thomas Dsouza in Bagdogra initiated SCCs in their dioceses. Sr. Christin Joseph who was then transferred to Kolkata and took great initiatives in organizing SCCs in West Bengal Region. She was appointed as the first Regional Coordinator for  West Bengal by Archbishop Lucas Sirkar in the month of October 2006. Within the next few years she facilitated the formation of the WB Regional SCC Council and all the 8 dioceses of the region began to take up SCCs seriously. In March 2012 the meeting of the National SCC Council was held in Calcutta which culminated in a Bible rally involving more than 5,000 people; a special feature of this rally was that every family in the region contributed Rs. 10 to meet the expenses. In 2012 Fr. I.P Sarto took up the charge as the Regional Coordinator for West Bengal Region.

7. North East

The efforts to initiate the SCC in the North East were begun in 1991 in Kohima Diocese with the keen interest of Bishop Abraham Alangimattathil SDB. Bishop Jose Mukala who succeeded Bishop Abraham continued this and later he himself became an SCC Coordinator at the regional level.

In 2000 as part of the YKJ 2000 celebrations, the North East regional bishops had their regional assembly. The fruit of their deliberations in the Assembly, a Pastoral letter with the vision statement on the SCC was published emphasizing the SCC. In 2001 the North East regional bishops decided to send 2 members (priests, Sisters and laity) from each of the 11 dioceses for an exposure programme on the SCC to Mumbai. After the 10 days of exposure in Mumbai, the 22 members of the North East Team came back with much enthusiasm to initiate SCCs in their dioceses.

Fr. Vincent Kympat, along with his collaborators of North East especially Sr. Martina L. Thabah MSMHC worked hard to promote SCCs by organizing workshops and awareness programmes all over the region. During the same year the North East Team was introduced to the National Team of Pallottine Animation Center  (PAC) Nagpur, and subsequently Fr. Vincent and Sr. Martina went to the PAC for various other animators training programmes in order to nurture SCCs in the region.

In 2002 the Shillong team invited the National Director Fr. Thomas Vijay and his team for animating the first team training at Shillong Archdiocese which was held at Cathedral Parish Laitumkhrah. From this training the North East Regional Team (NERT) was taught to animate Team Training and to form the Diocesan Animation Team (DAT) and the Parish Animation Team (PAT). Since then, the NERT organizes regularly workshops for the DAT in the region.

In 2006 when Fr. Vincent was appointed the bishop of the newly erected diocese of Jowai, the Regional bishops Conference asked him to be the Chairman of the Regional Commission for SCCs. In the same year, a new NERT was formed with Sr. Martina L. Thabah as the Regional Secretary, and Fr. N.V. Joseph, Fr. Lancy DSouza, Fr. Linesh Chako and Fr. Bosco Kujur as members. Since then, SCCs began to take   new shape in many parts of North East Region.

The North East Regional Commission for Small Christian Communities celebrated its 10th Anniversary with delegates from all 15 dioceses from September 9th to 12th, 2010. The celebrations took place at Rympei Ki Paidbah Pynthorbah Shillong. The theme of the celebrations was Sacraments And Small Christian Communities With Reference to Lay Ministries in The Church.

8. Delhi / Agra Region

Already from 1990, Bishop Joseph Pathalil of Udaipur diocese in the Agra region took personal interest in SCCs and promoted it in his diocese with much enthusiasm. That is how even today Udaipur remains the one diocese in the region where SCCs are part of the life in all the parishes. But SCCs in the other dioceses of the region became active and strong only with the appointment of Bishop Gerald Mathias of Lucknow as the chairman of the CCBI Laity Commission. He appointed Fr. Faustine Pinto as the Regional Secretary who then took great interest in arranging workshops at regional and diocesan levels to promote SCCs. Now all the 12 dioceses in the region have taken steps to initiate SCCs.

The Delhi Region began its efforts to promote SCCs already in 1991 with the support of Fr. Vincent Concessao. After he became the archbishop of Delhi in 2001, the SCC project in the region received a lot of support, with his personal interest in it. Several regional level workshops have been organized, and today there are SCCs in all the 4 dioceses of the region.

9. Orissa Region

Orissa had sent participants to the Lumko workshop held in Ranchi in 1990 and since then forming SCCs got importance with the support of Bishop Lucas Kerketta of Sambalpur diocese and Bishop Alphonse Bilung of Rourkela diocese. Fr. Scaria P took initiatives in translating AsIPA texts into Oriya for the use in local communities. Several workshops have been conducted at regional level as well as at the diocesan levels from time to time to sustain SCCs. After him Fr. Joe Dias continues to animate SCCs in the region. He has organized Regional SCC Conventions, regional formation of SCC leaders and special workshops for enabling clergy and religious to sustain SCCs.

10. Tamil Nadu Region

i. Initial Steps
The Biblical/ Liturgical renewal that swept the Universal Church in the late 1960-s and early 1970-s since Vatican II made a strong impact on the Church in Tamil Nadu, too. The Charismatic movement which was  popular with certain sections of the faithful also played a significant role in renewing the Church and activating the laity in Tamil Nadu. Thirdly the social service sector of Tamil Nadu dioceses brought about a huge awakening in the people at the educational, political, human developmental level and the empowerment process of the ordinary people. And these developments paved way for the growth of SCCs, as it were.
The  diocese of Kottar in TN has the unique honour to have started SCCs first in India already in the late1970s. The presence of SCCs in this diocese, somehow did not influence the other dioceses for many years.

ii. Renew 2000
Ahead of Yesu Khrist Jayanthi 2000 the Tamil Nadu regional bishops conference organized Renew 2,000 programme with a view to awkening the faithful. As a result a large number of renewal groups emerged in different parishes, albeit lacking in a clear vision and the support of the local clergy.

iii. Top Priority to the SCC
At the 2000 CCBI meeting in Calcutta it was decided that in the whole Indian Church top priority would be given to the SCC. Subsequently the Latin rite bishops of the Tamil Nadu region decided to promote SCCs in a big way, and constituted a team to promote SCCs in the region.

Then in 2007 an evaluation conducted by the Tamil Nadu bishops revealed that 40% of the parishes in the region had SCCs. In order to give further boost to the SCC in the region, a full time coordinator priest was appointed, and today most of the parishes in the region have SCCs.

Some of the benefits of the presence of SCCs are: the laitys active participation in parish activities, greater reconciliation among the faithful, return of lapsed Catholics, political awakening among the faithful and SCC-based overall organization of the parish, etc.

It is remarkable that such benefits have made the initially reluctant clergy to take interest and to promote SCCs in their parishes and dioceses.

Finally it should be acknowledged that in the overall growth of SCCs in Tamil Nadu the contribution of Bishop Singaroyan of Salem diocese has been great both in terms of pastoral visits and motivating the SCCs

11.   SCCs in Madhya Pradesh

The 2 dioceses in Madhya Pradesh that gave a lead in the process of promoting SCCs were Jabalpur and Indore. Fr. Dominic Thomas from Jabalpur was the only priest from Madhya Pradesh who attended the seminar conducted by Fr. Oswald Hirmer in Ranchi in 1990. Soon after words he began the process of establishing SCCs in the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral, Jabalpur where he served as a co-pastor. Later he continued to promote SCCs wherever possible. Fr. George Pallivathukkal, who became the director of the Diocesan Pastoral Institute at Tindini took interest in SCCs and began to promote them in the entire diocese through awareness and training programmes.

In the diocese of Indore, it was Bishop George Anathil, who after being impressed by the sessions on SCCs conducted by Fr. Oswald Hirmer at the CBCI meeting held in Pune in 1992, who  took a keen interest in the SCC and motivated his priests, sisters and the laity to the SCC. He also organized many seminars and workshops in the diocese to promote the SCC. Later in 1993 he along with Fr. Thomas Thennatt SAC who had attended the SCC sessions by Fr. Oswald in Guntur in 1991, reached out to the other dioceses in Madhya Pradesh and SCCs began to be established there as well.

An important milestone in the history of SCCs in Madhya Pradesh was the three-day seminar conducted in Indore, Bhopal and Khandwa by Bishop Soosa Pakiam and his team from Trivandrum in 1997. As a result all the dioceses in Madhya Pradesh have by now initiated SCCs. A Regional Service Team and Regional Resource Team are in place under the chairmanship of Bishop Mathew Vaniakizhakkel of Satna diocese, assisted by Fr. Thomas Lal Pathil, the regional secretary of the SCC.

12. Latin Church Kerala

The diocese of Trivandrum began its efforts to promote the SCC already in the 1980s (Cf. C.1 above). From Trivandrum SCCs spread to Kollam, Neyyatinkara, Alleppy and several other dioceses. Today following the model of Trivandrum, many dioceses organize pastoral activities with the support of SCCs. In fact, Pastoral ministry is divided into 4: Education, Liturgy, Social Service and Bible Ministry. Every SCC has lay leaders trained to organize these ministries and their representatives organize it at the parish and diocese levels. This is a unique model in which lay people are given an important place in organizing their pastoral structures on the basis of the SCC throughout the diocese. For example, Parish Pastoral Council members are elected through SCCs.

At present all the 11 dioceses in the region have SCCs, and there is a special commission to promote the SCC with Bishop Joseph Karikkassery of Kottapuram as the Chairman and Fr. Gregory Arby as the secretary.

13. Syro-Malabar Church in Kerala

The Syro-Malabar church in Kerala since long, had Kudumba Kootaima (literally meaning, Family Communion), which is neighourhood group of believers gathering to pray, to have fellowship and to help the needy. Today the increasing importance of the SCC has influenced them to give greater importance to these communities and sustain the them. Now this church has over 25, 000 such communities.


Name of Region No. of Parishes No. of Parishes with SCCs Total No. of SCCs No. of Dioceses with SCCs
Agra  (12) #    289*       111           549     10
Andhra (12)    NA     NA        1468   12
BIJHAN  (15)    353*       41           477     7
Chathisgarh (4)    165       41          270     4
Karnataka (12)   669*    360         2227   10
Kerala Latin (11)     NA     NA      12164   11
Malankara (8)    NA     NA          NA  NA
MP (9)   133*        93           428    9
North (Delhi) (5)    269     121           676     5
North-East (15)   423     156         1615   15
Odisha (5)      84       80           617     5
Syro-Malabar Kerala(12) 1639*    1571      23388    11
Tamil Nadu (17)  1534  1375       17120   17
West Bengal (8)     174       120        1360     8
West (15)    639*    471         5746    13
GRAND TOTAL 6082    4561    68105 137

# Number given in the brackets refer to the number of dioceses in the region
* Number given is not accurate
NA Data Not Available


In 1990, the CBCI Laity Commission with Bishop Bosco Penha as the chairman and Fr. Thomas Vijay as its secretary began the promotion of the SCC with the 2 Lumko workshops of 2 weeks duration in the month of October one in Ranchi and the other in Guntur. These workshops were animated by Fr. Oswald Hirmer from the Lumko Institute, South Africa and were huge successes. In 1992 Fr. Hirmer animated a 2 days programme on the SCC during the CBCI meeting in Pune and it led to the CBCI endorsing the SCC as a pastoral priority for the country. The Indian organizers were given permission to print the Lumko texts in India and Fr. Hirmer was invited to India for a month each for the next 6 years to hold Lumko workshops in different parts of the country. The CBCI meetings in Trivandrum in 1996 and in Varanasi in 1998 re-affirmed their intention to give SCCs pastoral priority. The CBCI Laity Commission kept focusing on the SCC till Yesu Khrist Jayanti (YKJ) 2000. This motivated more and more leaders to animate SCC workshops all over the country and each year the number of workshops kept increasing.


In 1995 the PAC at Nagpur was set up by the Pallottine Fathers under the guidance of Fr. Thomas Vijay. PAC became synonymous with the SCC movement in India and did a great service in training SCC animators, offering workshops, both at the PAC and at national, regional and diocesan levels. The PAC also took the initiative to produce 2 videos on the SCC in India.

1. DIIPA Vision

The PAC with the support of a team of 25 SCC animators, re-produced AsIPA texts for India and named these texts and methodology Developing Indian Integral Pastoral Approach (DIIPA). The acronym DIIPA has certain theological-pastoral underpinnings as discussed below:

Developing: Pastoral programmes keep developing continuously under the guidance of the Holy Spirit as times and needs change. We need to be discerning all the time to know what the Holy Spirit wants from us.

Indian: We need to place the vision given by the Asian bishops in the Indian situation so that the people of India can own it and actualize it in their context.

Integral: We seek the integral growth of the whole person and of the whole community integrating body and soul, the secular and the sacred, theory and practice, faith and life and bringing the clergy and the laity into one body, the Church.

Pastoral: Our concern is to enable our people to re-dream the dream of Jesus in their context, and to realize to it collectively in their neighbourhood. In this way they become instruments of God revealing the Indian face of Jesus to all the people of India.

Approach: DIIPA is an approach, a way to serve the Kingdom plan of God, but a very effective and biblical way. This approach has certain characteristics:  It is Christ centred (living the Word and Eucharist), community centred ( helps the whole community to get involved), mission-oriented (helping people to see their mission in the neighbourhood) and it provides a Non-dominating Leadership.

2. DIIPA Workshop Modules

Using the DIIPA methodology a number of several training modules have been developed, for various stages and groups in different Indian languages. The PAC provided trained animators to various regions who in turn trained the diocesan animators. In this way, there came to be a network of trained animators who met at regular intervals to share, pray, study, discuss, evaluate and plan SCC promotional activities in the country.

3. Net-working and Facilitating New Structures

In order to sustain the SCC, networking is crucial. The PAC has a strong network with dioceses and SCC animation teams across the country. The centre has trained thousands of SCC animators all over the country and strives to keep in touch with them through regular correspondence and refresher courses.


i. DIIPA Training Modules and Publications:

  1. DIIPA Introductory Workshop  > basically an awareness building programme.
  2. DIIPA Team Training  > programme to train team members.
  3. DIIPA Deepening workshop > to deepen the spirit and commitment to the New Way.
  4. The New Way of Being Church  > to have a deep insight into the AsIPA Vision
  5. New Wine in New Wineskins DIIPA PPC Training Programme..>
  6. SCCs Are Instruments of Evangelization..>
  7. DIIPA Immersion Programme ..> a programme to learn by observing many SCCs.
  8. Building up Emerging Leaderships  > reflections on the process of building up the SCC leadership.
  9. SCCs and Adult Catechesis (Introduction to Our Journey Together) ..>
  10. SCCs and Sacraments ..>
  11. SCCs and Families ..>

ii. 30 Days SCC Theology course:
This course in English is meant for clergy and religious only and helps them to re-organize their theological and pastoral understanding according to the spirit of the New Way of Being Church as proposed by the 1990 Bandung Statement of FABC and adapted by 17 Asian Bishops Conferences.

iii. DIIPA Publications ( Resource Materials for the SCC ):
1. DIIPA Introductory Workshop Book (English, Hindi, Sadri, Oriya, Bengali, Khasi, Malayalam, Konkani, Marathi)
2. DIIPA Team Training Manual (English, Hindi, Konkani)
3. Gospel Sharing Cards (English, Hindi)
4. SCCs are Instruments of Evangelization (English, Hindi)
5. Origin, Development and Theology of Gospel Sharing by Bishop Oswald Hirmer (English)
6. In the Path of the New Way – THE SCC Story Book (English)
7. DIIPA Swaranjali Hymn Book
8. New wine in New Wineskins Guidelines for PPC/DPC (English, Hindi)
9. New Way of Being Church (English, Hindi)
10. Teachings of the Church on SCCs.

iv. Reprints:
1. Our Journey Together
2. Journeying Together Towards the Third Millennium. (Final statement of FABC-1990)
3. LUMKO Texts no- 10, 15P,15M, 16P & 16M.