Monday, December 24, 2012


God becoming human in Jesus was the beginning of a process of healing of a ruptured world.

That process has been carried on over the centuries by individuals and organisations committed to extending God’s designs for humanity.

Sumedha Centre is glad to be part of that process and contribute in a small way to the healing and transformation of individuals and organisations.

Christmas is an invitation to us to be or continue to be part of this healing and transformative process and be agents of peace, harmony and reconciliation in a world that continues to be ruptured and fragmented.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

SUMEDHA SADHANA Sept 25- Dec 03, 2012

Sumedha Sadhana (Sept 25 – Dec 03) brought to conclusion the Sumedha programmes for the year 2012. The Centre will remain closed for winter till March 2013.

The climax of the 70-day Sumedha Sadhana were the 10-day Group Therapy and the 5-day Spiritual Retreat. Most participants observed that these were the most transformative experiences they had at Sumedha.

Participants were divided into two groups for group therapy. One group was led by Dr. MC Abraham and the other by Dr. Peter Lourdes, both highly qualified, yet very humane, professionals with years of experience as psychotherapists. Their rich inputs as well as experiential exercises and their gentle, sensitive approach to each one were found to be extremely helpful in facilitating healing and transformation. The eight weeks of inner journey (see previous blog postings for details) that preceded group therapy was also a major factor.

Dr. Jose Parappully, the Director of Sumedha facilitated the spiritual retreat as a “desert journey.”  Taking his cues from the late Henry Nouwen, he helped the participants to experience the retreat as “wilderness” (the “wild beasts” of St. Mark’s Gospel) and “paradise” (the “ministering angels”). Besides the insights provided by rich inputs on the theme, praying with sacred scripture, including a day of prayer and fasting alone literally out in the wilderness helped participants to experience in a very bodily-felt way Jesus’ 40-days in the desert, encountering their inner demons and experiencing the intimate presence of God.

Some typical comments from participants about their Sumedha Sadhana experience:

Sumedha Sadhana provided human, spiritual, pastoral, physical, ecological, emotional, intellectual and sociological understanding and growth… I am able to move forward with hope and trust. I came here with a negative approach to the course and self... Group therapy changed my life. Alex

I have got what I came for. The module on spirituality helped me the most. It helped to deepen my quest for a felt sense of the Divine at this point in my life… The spiritual atmosphere of Sumedha is growth promoting. Although I came to learn, the spiritual journey gripped me and led me to renewal and transformation. Celine

God brought me to Sumedha to heal me. My lamp, whose oil had nearly run out and turned dim, has been replenished and the lamp is burning bright again. Chavala

Sumedha programme helped me to accept myself, recognise and reconcile with my ‘shadows,’ change my attitude toward self and others, gain appreciation for prayer and scripture, develop more positive attitude to life and feel empowered. Christina

Psycho-Spiritual healing and wholeness journey was a well integrated course…. On the whole, it was a lovely and wonderful experience for me… Welcome and hospitality was remarkable. Accommodation, services and facilities were very good. All our needs were taken good care of. The environment and the beautiful scenery were soothing and refreshing. I got what I came for. Emy

Sumedha has brought me a new springtime. I have grown deeper and discovered a new self… I feel vibrant, alive, having touched the edge of divinity... The modules were well connected and the facilitators were excellent. Group therapy was the best part of Sumedha Sadhana—a moment of new birthing, new awareness of unhealthy ways of being and relating. I take with me a totally transformed self.  Gregory

As a whole this programme was very useful and meaningful. It has been an important journey of my life, a great time which I never thought possible. I went through a transformation… My life changed at Sumedha … Every aspect of our needs were taken care of immediately, carefully. Onila

I am grateful for the grace of coming over here. The programme was genuine and  useful for me in every way. This is the best programme…I came here stagnated and broken. My experiences here helped me to transform my life and become an integrated person. Poornima

Sumedha Sadhana helped me to find true meaning in my life and led me to clarity and maturity. It challenged me and made me to begin de-constructing and re-constructing my life at this stage and enter into a more meaningful and purposeful life as a celibate religious….. I feel a kind of satisfaction that the purpose for which I came to this course has been fulfilled. Reena

My stay at Sumedha is a memorable one… I am able to renew myself both spiritually and psychologically. The meaningful Eucharistic celebrations touched me…. The climax of the course was the Retreat… The resource persons were wonderful with lots of experience …. Everything was available for a comfortable stay. I appreciate the warm welcome, the hospitality, the love and care I received during my stay here. Tresa

I needed to reflect on my life, discover what went wrong and why and make corrections. Found the Sumedha programme very useful for this…. It has provided a new light on my path. I feel more free and happy. Gained courage and conviction. Varghese

I came to Sumedha with lots of anxiety, fear, confusion, meaninglessness and stagnation. Sumedha experience banished all these and completely changed my attitude toward self, people, God. My life is really renewed. Vimala

I never experienced life like I did at Sumedha. It was a time to clean up my life, throw the garbage out, experience healing, gain new energy to move on… Waraporn

At the conclusion of the Sumedha Sadhana the participants organised a very fine felicitation function in which they expressed their appreciation to one another and the staff, acknowledging especially the very fine contribution of the various resource persons, all of whom they found to be “excellent.”

The next Sumedha Sadhana is from March 12 to May 10th, 2013.

Friday, November 16, 2012

STORIES – The Universe’s, Jesus’ and Ours

“Stories – The Universe’s, Jesus’ and Ours"  - was the Sumedha Sadhana module last week.

Gerard Alvarez, former General Council Member and Province Leader of the  Christian Brothers, used stories, movies and rituals to integrate the previous modules of Sumedha Sadhana, especially to experientially bring together psychology (the explorations of the self)  and spirituality (explorations our relationship with God, others and the Universe).

The outcome of the module was to awaken and deepen in the participants the sense of interconnectedness between themselves and the universe and to arouse in them a deep respect for all created reality and the presence of God in all these --holy ground--, and greater appreciation for the Word of God expressed in both Sacred Scripture, the Universe and our human relationships.

It also helped to bring together and integrate more deeply a number of themes touched upon earlier.

The exploration various themes through stories was embedded in the participants’ consciousness of their identity as priests and religious.

The participants found the module especially useful to deepen their spiritual journey.

Some typical comments:

“This module was very experiential. The stories and the way they were presented touched me very deeply and provided new insights for my life.” Poornima.

“Brother Gerard brought alive the Scriptures for me. I am able to see the stories in a new light; they are speaking to me in a new way.” Reena

“The rituals and exercises after the inputs were very meaningful and helped to interiorise.” Emy.

“Brother took great pains to create very meaningful liturgies.” Alex

“The movie Of Gods and Men helped to create a better understanding and appreciation for religious community life” Gregory.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


The module last week of the Sumedha Sadhana programme was “Sexuality, Celibacy & Intimacy” facilitated by Dr. Joe Mannath SDB and Dr. Jose Parappully.
Dr. Mannath took sessions from Sunday to Wednesday. He dealt with the following topics: Stages of psychosexual development; Psychosexual maturity; Healthy integration of sexuality and celibacy; Current issues in relation to sexuality and celibacy; Meaning of celibate chastity; Sexual attraction ministry; Helps for a happy celibate life; and Formation for celibacy.

The participants found the module very helpful. They found it very informative. What they appreciated most was the simple way he was able to present these topics which helped to clarify many of their doubts and confusions. The meaningful liturgies which integrated the themes of the day very meaningfully was also much appreciated.

Dr. Parappully followed up on Thursday and Friday by giving very detailed presentations on two important issues: celibate friendship and sexual abuse. He showed how friendships can contribute significantly to healthy psychosexual and celibate integration and explained the dynamics involved.

Dr. Parappully presented relevant research, as well as anecdotal evidence, to show that there is a high prevalence rate of sexual abuse in India, both of children and of adults. He described the effects of sexual abuse and outlined ways and means to heal from its effects as well as to help others to heal.

Sunday, October 28, 2012


Sumedha Sadhana participants were busy last week exploring the question “Who am I?” through the module “Self-Awareness through Jungian Perspectives.”

The module was facilitated by Dr. Ajoy Fernandes, a Salesian priest psychologist from the Province of Mumbai.

Dr. Fernandes first helped the participants to identify their MBTI types and then explained how the type influences the approach to life, work, relationships and spirituality.

He then helped the participants to discover, honour and integrate their “persona” and shadow through experiential exercises, active imagination, drawings and movies.

Participants appreciated the programme very much and found it very useful to discover themselves. Even those who have had experience with the MBTI Types earlier observed that Dr. Fernandes’ presentation and approach were far more helpful and richer than their previous encounters with Types.

Participants described Dr. Fernandes’s presentation as “very clear, simple and systematic.” They said it really helped them to identify their personality characteristics, their persona and shadow and move toward greater acceptance and integration of these.

Last week also witnessed the visit of the Salesian General Councillor for South Asia, Rev. Fr. Maria Arokiam, to Sumedha Centre. He arrived on 21st and left on the 22nd.

He met with the three Salesians at the Centre and spent time interacting with the participants of Sumedha Sadhana. The visitor planted a sapling and impressed on the participants the need for ecological sensitivity.

The Visitor described the services that Sumedha Centre offers as “very essential and much needed, something very much in keeping with what Don Bosco had done in his own time for Church and Society.”

Monday, October 22, 2012


Last week participants of Sumedha Sadhana completed the 2nd module of the programme — Feminist and Women’s Spiritualities — facilitated by Dr. Shalini Mulackal PBVM, professor at Vidyajyoti College, New Delhi.

Earlier to that Dr. Parappully, director of he Centre, in his module “Psychological Dynamics on the Spiritual Journey” had explored with the participants paradigms that influence spirituality; the shift from a dualistic-mechanistic to a holistic-ecological paradigm; distinguished between religion and spirituality; and presented 17 characteristics of a mature spirituality for today which paved the way for the more detailed exploration of Feminist and Women's Spiritualities.

Dr. Mulackal explored contemporary feminist movements, situation of women in the Church and society and presented an understanding of feminist and women’s spiritualities within these contexts, particularly the much needed emancipation and empowerment of women.

Some typical comments from participants:

Holy Cross Sister Onila found, like some others as well, the module “an all together new topic which was presented in a systematic way. The content and presentation were very good.”

For Sister Celine of the Congregation of Jesus, the module served as “an invitation to celebrate womanhood.”

It helped me to “change my attitude towards feminine spirituality and my understanding about myself as a woman,” observed Ursuline Sister Reena.

For Divine Word missionary and spiritual director Father Gregory, the combined explorations of Dr. Parappully and Dr. Mulackal provided “the most comprehensive and deepest understanding of spirituality that I ever received anywhere.”

The week concluded with an outing up the stream that lies below Sumedha Centre and the visit of Fr. Maria Arokiam, Regional Counsillor of the Salesians of Don Bosco for South Asia, who interacted with the participants.

Monday, October 1, 2012


110th Anniversary Special: National Seminar on Formation: “Psychosexual  Integration & Celibate Maturity. Venue: Bosco Psychological Services. Okhla, New Delhi. February 14-22. (Participants: Major Superiors and Formators)

2    (SS-22) Sumedha Sadhana (A Psychospiritual Wholeness Journey) - (60 days)
March 12- May 10

3    (SS-23) Sumedha Sadhana (A Psychospiritual Wholeness Journey) – (42 days)
May 20-June 30

4       (SD-8) Sumedha Dhyana (Retreat Exclusively for former Sumedha participants 2003-2012)
July 11- 20 (10 days)

5       (SD-9) Sumedha Dhyana (Retreat Exclusively for former Sumedha participants 2003-2012 primarily)
July 24- August 2 - (10 days)

6       (SM-08) Midlife Dynamics and the Spiritual Journey - (20 days)
August 12-31 (20 days)

7.   (SS-24) Sumedha Sadhana (A Psychospiritual Wholeness Journey) - (60 days)
September 25- November 23

Saturday, September 29, 2012


Another Sumedha Sadhana programme commenced on Sept 25.

During this first week the participants were helped to explore what is going on in their lives at this phase of their psychospritual journey and discern what God might me telling them through all that is happening. The main tool used in the process was Ira Progoff’s Intensive Journal Meditation.

The participants are already finding the programme very meaningful. It concludes on December 3.

The following is an appreciation from a participant of an earlier Sumedha Sadhana which attests to the usefulness of the programme.

“I landed up here with a feeling of burnout: spiritually, emotionally and psychologically.

The Process Spirituality and Centering Prayer helped me look back over my life… The classes on early development, midlife transition and its dynamics, sharing and meditation helped me to enter deeper into myself, especially my broken areas, where I had gone wrong (focus on work), what was missing in me (prayer life),my woundedness (from authorities) and chocked emotions (loss of my best friend)… The classes on Mature Spirituality helped me to re-affirm myself with my convictions and values.

As the days went by God was permeating my being and each of my life experiences… I was being healed by Jesus’ gracious presence through the meaningful and moving Eucharistic celebrations.

I became more and more aware of my being and its longing for purpose and meaning.

The movement meditations gave me the awareness that my body is sacred.

In therapy, listening to the life journeys of each, I was enriched and I too could disclose myself and heal myself. I appreciate the conducive atmosphere provided; I mean that here I found myself talking about the past and expressing my feelings without fear.

It was a pervasive and holistic experience – a blend of practical, intellectual, spiritual and psychological learning in the lap of nature’s beauty.

With a deep sense of joy and gratitude I express that I have received what I was looking for.


Monday, September 24, 2012


Jose Parappully, Director of Sumedha Centre, facilitated a four-day work shop (September 19-22, 2012) at Don Bosco Renewal Centre, Bangalore on the theme “Midlife Dynamics and Psychosexual Maturity.”

This workshop was part of a six-week long Salesian Renewal Course (somewhat ambitiously termed “Second Novitiate”) that has been organised by the Salesian Provincial Conference of South Asia.  All Salesians in South Asia within 15-20 years after Perpetual Profession are to attend these renewal programme that will be held every year.

This inaugural programme had 26 Salesians from 11 different Salesian Provinces of India. Forty eight had been expected.

Parappully presented how men and women in the midlife years experience gradually, and sometimes dramatically, discontent with how things are and desire something more in life. He described the various midlife dynamics, especially a re-awakening of sexuality and intimacy needs and how these can be integrated into one’s celibate commitment. He presented the major challenge in the second half of life for religious committed to the celibate way of life as moving away from the pressure of personal accomplishments based on self-reliance and self-sufficiency to deepening of one’s spiritual life and cultivating a more intimate relationship with God.

The participants found the workshop immensely useful for them at this time in their life. In fact, one suggested that “every Salesian at this period of their life should attend a programme like this. It will really improve our religious and community life.”

One of the things that the participants especially appreciated is the atmosphere created during the workshop that enabled them to share freely about sexuality and intimacy. As one 43-year-old priest disclosed, “This is the first time in my life that I have ever spoken to anyone on these topics. It has been very liberating.”

Many participants remarked that the workshop has given them a lot more of knowledge and awareness about midlife dynamics, sexuality and intimacy that has helped them to understand themselves and others, and which will also help improve their inter-personal relationships and their ministerial effectiveness.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Jose Parappully, Director of Sumedha Centre, facilitated a two-day workshop on “Midlife Dynamics and the Spiritual Journey” for 15 Capuchin Friars of the Lucknow Capuchin Province at St. Francis Asharam, Nainital, on 12-13 September.

The Workshop focused on four Journeys that midlifers are called make: Journey Inward, Journey into the Past, Journey Outward and Journey into the Future. The inputs presented various midlife dynamics and transformative processes especially the integration of the masculine and the feminine (animus/anima), the redemption of the “Shadow,” reclaiming of “Dreams” and the integration of sexuality, intimacy and celibate chastity. Participants had the opportunity to reflect on their experiences in the light of the inputs and share them in small and large groups.

The Friars found the Workshop very useful. “Very enriching”, “an eye-opener,” “gained very useful insights,” “awakened deep thoughts” and “very helpful” were some of the frequent phrases the Friars used to describe their experience of the Workshop.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Jose Parappully, the Director of Sumedha Centre, facilitated an eight-day Spiritual Retreat for the Animators of Communities of the Bombay Province of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary. It was held at Villa Theresa Convent in Mumbai from September 2 to 10. Twenty nine sisters participated.

The retreat was presented as a Desert Journey, using the metaphors of “Wilderness” and “Paradise” as presented by the spiritual guru Henry Nouwen. The theme for the day was introduced each morning at Mass and elaborated during the talk in the morning. Sisters were given scripture references and specific questions for prayer and reflection during the rest of the day. They also had opportunity to meet with the facilitator for personal sharing. The experiences of the day were brought to the Lord in prayer together in the evening.

Comments made after the retreat indicate that for the sisters this was a “unique” retreat, the kind that “we never had before.” They found it “really helpful” and helped them to have a “deep experience of God’s love” as also to bring attitudinal and behaviour changes. “A really nice retreat” was a common comment.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

MIDLIFE DYNAMICS – An “Excellent Programme,” say Participants!

The Midlife Dynamics and the Spiritual Journey programme at Sumedha Centre concluded yesterday (August 31) with the participants expressing immense satisfaction with the content of the programme, the organisation, the atmosphere at Sumedha, hospitality and facilities – and the scenic surroundings of Sumedha.

The dominant metaphor that informed the programme was that of “Journey” – represented by Scriptural journeys – that of Abram from Haran and that of the disillusioned disciples on the road to Emmaus. Abram, we are told, “journeyed by stages,” setting up an altar wherever he pitched his camp, turning wherever he stopped into “sacred space” – a place to encounter God. Jesus joins the disillusioned disciples, listens to their stories, reframes those stories and gives them a profound revelation of himself that transforms them, and they return to Jerusalem their “hearts burning” within them. The midlife programme was designed to provide participants similar experiences. Feedback from the participants confirmed that indeed was their experience at Sumedha.

Jose Parappully, the Director of Sumedha, facilitated the programme.

The psychological content of the programme was based on Erikson’s developmental stages, especially the stages of identity, intimacy, generativity and integrity. Rich input that integrated much of available literature on midlife, carefully selected journal articles and book chapters provided as reading material, expressive writing and drawing, somatic meditation which incorporated music, meditation, bioenergetics and dance, thematic movies, sharing in small and big groups, well-integrated liturgies, and an outing to the lakes provided a unique transformative experience to the participants. Some typical comments from participants:

“This was an inward journey for me. The inputs—especially on spirituality, sexuality, celibacy, intimacy—, the opportunity for quiet contemplation, provided me new and helpful insights.” Amal Raj

“The relaxing and trusting atmosphere created helped me open myself in ways I have never done before. New insights to enrich my consecrated life.” Archana

“A unique programme. From the very first to the very last session, it helped me to be in touch with myself in ways I have never experienced before.”  Biji.

“Feel very enriched.  The inputs and time for reflection were very helpful. Felt free to share my inner life. Gained better understanding of especially of spirituality, celibacy and intimacy.” Arul

“Feel energised. What was most helpful was getting deep into myself. The whole programme was arranged in such a way as to experience integration and wholeness. Very enriching.” Flory.

I had an excellent time here from arrival to leaving. The friendly and interdependent atmosphere, the hospitality, the food, the holistic approach. New understandings of spirituality and sexuality from the inputs, articles and sharing. Strengthened my values” Kumar

“This was a liberating experience. A well-integrated course –not just the rich inputs, but the drawing, writing, dancing, sharing and praying. Inputs clarified concepts. Drawings brought out what was hidden within. The dancing was very liberating.” Rethna Swamy.

“Enjoyed my stay here. Greatly enriched my knowledge on some very important topics and deepened my self-knowledge. I felt very comfortable in the group.” Rupa

“A very holistic experience. I feel more integrated and in touch with myself…The surrounding scenic beauty provided a rich environment.” Sangeeta.

“Really enjoyed the course, even though I did not know what it would be like. I gained so much more awareness of myself.” Sheryl

“Deepened my self-awareness. The sharing in groups helped me to come out of myself. I learned so much. Feel I can contribute better to others now.” Soucely.

“I really enjoyed my time here. The beautiful natural surrounding helped to create calmness and quietness. The dancing meditation helped in body, mind, and soul integration.” Xavier