SMCA Family Units: bricks which build the community
Few years back SMCA introduced family units as its basic functioning unit, following the example of many other migrant centers including Qatar. The decision to reorganize SMCA as family units was taken under the initiative of Rev. Fr. Joseph Edappulavan OCD, based on the remarkable experience of those migrant communities in improving family relations and moral values among the adults and the young.
It was not at all a new idea, instead has been implemented successfully in almost all dioceses of Syro Malabar Church since many years. The earliest such communities emerged in Brazil and in the Philippines in the late 1960s and later spread to Africa and Asia. Pope John Paul II has expressed repeated and strong support for the development of such small christian communities over more than twenty years of his pontificate. "It seems timely to form ecclesial communities and groups of a size that allows for true human relationships. This will make it possible to live communion more intensely, ensuring that it is fostered not only ad intra, but also with the church communities to which such groups belong and with the entire diocesan and universal church. In such a human context it will be easier to gather to hear the word of God, to reflect on the range of human problems in the light of this word and gradually to make responsible decisions inspired by the all-embracing love of Christ." (Pope John Paul II). Many regard the emergence of the movement as part of the concrete realization of the communitarian model of the Church - as Communion and as People of God- promoted by the Second Vatican Council. The communities are considered as a new way of "being the Church"— the Church at the grassroots.
Experiencing the importance and success of this basic community formation, SMCA made Family Units a part of its constitution through the very recent bylaw revisions. Now each area is divided into many family units where our members meet at least once in a month. Family unit meetings are structured with a format based on the motto ‘pray- learn - share.’. The participation in family unit is made statutory requirement for a member if he wants to be elected as a committee member of SMCA. This ensures the grass root level involvement of our committee members, following the example of our parish council in native parishes. Notable increase is recorded in the growth rate of SMCA and in the turnout of members in activities of SMCA after the establishment of family units.
SMCA Family units follow the liturgical calendar of the Mother Church and provide opportunity to the young generation to know the liturgy of the Mother Church closer. It hence enables them to take part in the Syro Malabar Holy Mass and other liturgical services meaningfully. Family Unit meetings also initiate sharing of happiness and sorrow of all the members, generating a feeling of togetherness. The birthdays, wedding anniversaries and other happy moments are greeted and prayerful support is offered for those who are in sorrow and in trouble.
As said by Pope John Paul II in his encyclical Redemptoris Missio, "These basic communities are centers for Christian formation and missionary outreach. They are a sign of vitality within the Church, an instrument of formation and evangelization, a solid starting point for a new society based on a civilization of love." SMCA is proud to bear a true testimony to these words- may be the only one to bear such a testimony in Kuwait.