In 1989 while Fr.Dheeraj Sabu I.M.S. was serving in the I.M.S. Retreat Centre in Alleppey, he heard a call - a compelling inspiration from the Lord to go to North India. The message he received from the Lord was to preach the Gospel and to prepare the laity for evangelisation, the implications of which he did not understand then. Initially he began a ministry known as Suvishesha Kahalam, which means Trumpet of the Good News, aimed at motivating Christians for evangelisation. Then in collaboration with Jesus Youth, he set about to gather some interested youngsters and to bring them to the north for an exposure to the missions. The ministry then came to be known as Preshit 2000. In December 1994, the team pitched its tent in Varanasi. Since then the team was called Santvana and gradually it developed into a community.
This is how the Community got the name Santvana. Once, in 1995, the team went to pray for a burn victim who was dying. As the prayer ended, the lady kept repeating the word “Santvana”, used in the course of the prayer over and over again. Listening to the word being repeated, the members in the team realized that this was what the Lord wanted to do through this budding group of evangelists. Santvana is a call to receive consolation from the Lord because we realize that we ourselves are wounded people and are in need of the healing touch of God. Santvana is a ministry “to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God” (2 Cor. 1:4).
The Sanskrit word ‘Santvana’ means consolation. Our loving Father’s most beautiful gift through which He consoles the humanity is salvation through Jesus Christ. Through the prophet Isaiah God says, “Console, console my people” (Is. 40:1). Hence, members of Santvana seek to bring the Good News of salvation to every strata of humanity. “For God wills everyone to be saved and come to the knowledge of truth” (1 Tim. 2: 4).
Refocusing on “prayer and ministry of the Word” (Acts 6: 4) Santvana Community’s focus is on “prayer and proclamation of the Word”. To understand the setting of Acts 6: 4, we must read Acts 4: 34-35 which says: “There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need”. As good stewards, taking care of the money entrusted to them by new believers and caring of the needs of every person in the community was indeed an enormous task for the apostles that demanded much of their attention and time. It might have surely resulted in having no time and energy left for prayer and the ministry of the Word, leading to the negligence of mission, which was more specific to them. “So the Twelve called together the community of the disciples and said, "It is not right for us to neglect the Word of God to serve at table” (Acts 6:2). Thus they came to the most important decision to re-focus saying “whereas we shall devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word” (Acts 6: 4). Provisions were also made to take care of every important responsibility of the community of believers by appointing Deacons.
Today the Church needs to refocus once again on “prayer and on the ministry of the Word”. Presenting the Gospel to the multitudes who have not heard or experienced the Gospel of salvation must be first the priority. The Lord had said that he would leave the ninety-nine and go in search of the one that is lost. Most of the pastors are probably busy today with the one that is not lost and more concerned about the institutions, forgetting the ninety-nine that are lost.
Difficulties both internal and external have weakened the Church’s missionary thrust towards non-Christians, a fact which must arouse concern among all who believe in Christ. (Redemptoris Missio 2.2).
Motivating the Faithful to Participate in the Mission
“The need for all the faithful to share in this responsibility is not merely a matter of making the apostolate more effective; it is a right and duty based on their baptismal dignity, whereby “the faithful participate, for their part, in the threefold mission of Christ as Priest, Prophet and King”; Therefore, “they are bound by the general obligation and they have the right, whether as individuals or in associations, to strive so that the divine message of salvation may be known and accepted by all people throughout the world” (R.M. 71). Today vast majority of Christian faithful are not aware of this obligation and are indifferent to the mission. Therefore, the Community strives to motivate, empower and equip the laity everywhere to participate in the evangelizing mission of the Church. For this purpose, the Community offers School of Love, School of Prayer, School of Evangelization.
The Logo of Santvana
The Symbols contained in the logo are the globe, a lighted candle and an open book. The candle lit is the symbol of disciple of Christ. It is aglow with the light of Christ. It glows, spending itself, and disappears in order to give light and warmth to others. The open book represents the Holy Bible. Disciple is the candle that gives light to help all people of this world to see, read and understand the word of God.
Santvana Community considers community life as a powerful means to draw people to Christ. “The life of communion in fact “ becomes a sign for all the world and a compelling force that leads people to faith in Christ.” (Vita Consecrata 46.) Regular members of Santvana are committed to community life. Missionary Families, Consecrated Singles and Priests together live as one large family.
The Characteristics of Santvana and its Policies
Minimum structure, maximum use
Work with a common vision, as part of the whole
Common life and sharing of resources
An open book - life style
Santvana an open family, a home
Make use of every opportunity and make opportunities to share the Gospel
Life in harmony with God, with the others and with the Nature
Preference for natural energy
For funds, work and earn as well as depend more on small contributors
Save Souls, Save Life, Save the Earth.
His new commandment is our rule of life,
His last commandment is our first mission.
His New Commandment, “Love one another, as I have loved you” leads us to:
* Love and respect people of all religions, cultures and languages
* Respect the dignity of every human person from conception till death, and beyond
* Believe that the greatest fulfilment of a human person is in giving oneself to serve the needy, even sacrificing one’s own life
* Help someone to face the struggles of life with courage
* Empower the underprivileged to find the way towards a more meaningful and wholesome life.
* Believe that the Earth is the Home of every human being and all other living beings. Human selfishness and greed has destroyed the earth, made life very comfortable for a few and difficult for the rest of the world. The Earth needs to be cared for.
His last commandment, “Go to the whole world and preach the Good News” leads us to:
* Present the Gospel of salvation to all people who have not yet received it, through person-to-person communication, with respect and esteem for the listeners.
* Make use of every opportunity and make opportunities to share the Gospel.
* Make the presence of the Lord available to all the people through perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament
* Bring divine consolation and healing upon people through prayer of intercession
* Motivate, equip and empower the Christian faithful to live and share the Gospel.