Mangaluru: As part of its commitment to holistic spiritual leadership, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Mangalore hosted a two-day seminar on drug and substance abuse from 9-10 Aug 2023 at Shanthi Kiran, Pastoral Institute, Bajjodi, Mangaluru.
The seminar, held under the theme “Pastoral Care towards People Affected by Drug Abuse,” aimed to equip priests with the knowledge and tools to provide effective support to individuals battling drug addiction.
Distinguished speakers graced the event, sharing invaluable insights into the complex landscape of drug abuse. Dr Karen Castelino, an esteemed Associate Professor and Forensic Medical Examiner at Father Muller Medical College Hospital, Kankanady, illuminated the priests with her extensive knowledge of various substances consumed by individuals and the telltale symptoms they manifest. She also offered practical advice on identifying victims and the necessary steps for their treatment and care.
Helen Lobo, the Administrator of the LINK de-addiction and counselling Centre in Bajal, Mangalore, brought the real-world aspect of treatment into focus, sharing her hands-on experiences in assisting victims on their path to recovery.
Denis D’Souza from Kelarai Parish, a seasoned Counsellor at the Prison, delved into the pressing issue of drug menace within the city. He emphasised the urgency of educating and raising awareness among children and youth to curb the spread of drug abuse.
The seminar’s span encompassed two days to accommodate the participation of multiple parishes. Priests from Mangalore City, Moodbidri, Bantwal, Pezar, Bela, and Vittal vicariates attended the session on the first day. Priests from Mangalore City, Surathkal, Kirem, Permannur, Puttur, and Belthangady vicariates joined on the following day.
In his address, Most Rev. Dr Peter Paul Saldanha, the Bishop of Mangalore, emphasised the destructive impact of drug abuse on families and young students. “We must collaborate with the Government to combat the growth of drug peddling and consumption,” he asserted. The bishop commended the seminar’s focus on enlightening families and involving the youth in safeguarding the well-being of the younger generation and families.
Bishop Peter Paul announced that the Month of September will be “Anti-Drug Month” in the Diocese of Mangalore. He revealed that the Diocesan Pastoral Parishad would lead a month-long campaign, spanning from September 1 to 30. The campaign will encompass a series of events and activities across parishes and educational institutions, aimed at raising awareness about the perils of substance addiction and fostering healthier choices within the community. The Bishop fervently called upon priests to unite and contribute to the creation of a safer, drug-free future.
The Diocese’s initiative to empower its clergy with the skills and knowledge to address the pressing issue of drug abuse showcases a steadfast commitment to the holistic welfare of its community members.
The seminar not only educated the priests of the diocese but also reinforced the Diocese’s dedication to being a beacon of support and care for those affected by the scourge of drug addiction.
Report and Pics: Fr Anil Fernandes, Canara Communication Centre