Part 1: The Beginning
Local president Mr. Joseph Bantleman shares his experience
Union of Catholic Apostolate was formed on 8th Dec 2013 at St. Vincent Pallotti Church , Bangalore (India). The LCC unit came into existence on 10th July 2016, two and half years after formation. The intervening period was a time for understanding UAC better and gaining insight into the vision of our Holy Founder, through practice of spiritual and corporal works of mercy. It was a period of consolidation of faith. A brief description of the organization and activities of the UAC follows.
I first heard of the ‘Union of Catholic Apostolate’ (UAC) during a Seminar on
19th Jan, 2013 in St Vincent Pallotti Church, Bangalore. Fathers Vijay Thomas, John Peter and Ralph Besterwitch conducted the seminar, attended by 65 parishioners. This was the start of my journey with the UAC.
I was encouraged and supported by Fr. Ralph Besterwitch, then parish priest, to get together a group of parishioners and begin formation of a small team for the UAC. It was a challenge I humbly accepted, as an opportunity to serve the Union. To make a start and move forward, it was imperative to know more about St Vincent Pallotti and the UAC. I managed to get some books and reading material and began to study the history of the UAC and life of St Vincent Pallotti.
I was deeply impressed with the simplicity and commitment of St Vincent Pallotti, to the service of God and mankind. His faith and love of God surpassed everything. All that he desired was to do everything possible for the “Infinite Glory of God”. He sacrificed his comforts and necessities of life for the less fortunate brethren. His compassion was unlimited. The more I read about our Holy Founder, the more I was convinced his holiness and purity was a gift from God, designed to take on the challenges faced by the Church in those difficult times. St Vincent Pallotti was well ahead of his time when he conceptualized the UAC as a Union of Clergy, Religious and Lay faithful, all united as one in the service of the Church and community.
Coming back to my task…formation of a few interested lay faithful began on 8th Dec 2013. We learnt to train ourselves by reading the standard formation manual “Chosen to bear Fruits” and got to know more about our Holy Founder and the UAC. After 5 months of training, we realized that mere reading and discussion was not enough. On 13th April, 2014 the first step was taken to translate our faith into deeds by forming action ministries. The outcome was formation of Prayer and Faith Ministry, Charity and works of Mercy Ministry, Social Outreach Ministry and Providence Ministry (this ministry handles finance). Each ministry is assigned specific roles and responsibilities. To maintain the momentum, the team meets every 2nd Sunday to discuss action plans and progress of tasks. These meetings give us a sense of achievement reaching out to people in need and serving the community.
The UAC team began to evolve as we devoted our time, energy and resources in the service of the Church and community. It gave us an opportunity to understand better the vision of St Vincent Pallotti and witness his charism of the UAC. Over a period of 2 years, we learnt to appreciate the deeper meaning of Communion and Co-responsibility in the Union.
On 24th January 2016, twenty three aspirants made their commitment to the UAC. On 10th July, 2016 the Local Coordination Council was formed. There are 6 Collaborators and 12 aspirants under formation to support the team.
I draw inspiration from the words of our Holy Founder, “Remember that the Christian life is one of action; not of speech and daydreams. Let there be few words and many deeds, and let them be done well”. My admiration of Father Vincent continues to grow.