In his introductory remarks, Fr Sebastian Poomattan, the president of Catholic Priests Conference India (CPCI) underlined the reasons for establishing this organization in 1987. He pointed out that for highlighting the selfless service rendered by the diocesan priests in various fields; it was decided to institute the CPCI National Award for Excellence from this year. Out of 35 recommendations received from different parts of India, 16 were finally selected by the governing body for this award.
Dolphy D’Souza, president of the Catholic Sabha, Mumbai, in his brief speech highlighted the need to integrate the Christian community with people professing different faiths in order to promote communal harmony. He emphasized that the diocesan priests can play an important part in promoting interfaith harmony and understanding.
The eleven awardees personally present for the awards function were:
* Fr (Dr) Valerian Fernandes, Vicar General, Procurator and Chancellor of Aurangabad Diocese
* Fr Joseph Muttumana of Ernakulam, Kerala, known as the ‘Milk Miracle Priest’.
* Fr Francis Britto of Mumbai, a prominent environmentalist and writer.
* Fr Theodore Lakra, the Human Rights Activist Adivasi Priest from Ambikapur, Chattisgarh.
* Fr R H Lesser, born in England but dedicated to missionary work in India; presently at Udaipur, Rajasthan. Known as writer priest, Fr Lesser has written over five thousand articles and 85 books on various themes
* Fr Zakarias M of Jabalpore, Madhya Pradesh has been known as ‘Priest-Doctor’, who has saved the life of over 3000 persons from snake-bite
* Fr Francis M Britto of Raipur, Chattisgarh, known as a ‘Priest with Thousand Stories’
* Fr Kuriakose Mampilly of Ernakulam, Kerala, who endevours for attainment of justice, peace and contentment for all through an inclusive financial security approach
* Fr Joseph Chittoor of Mananthawady, Kerala, a specialist in herbal medicine
* Fr Edwin M John of Kottar, Tamil Nadu, the promoter of neighbourhood parliaments
* Fr Allwyn D’Silva of Mumbai, founder-director of Jagruti Kendra, Jerimeri, Documentation Research and Training Centre, Goregaon, member of Asian Justice and Peace Commission, Coordinator of Prison Ministry in Mumbai.
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