By Genevieve Pollock
BANGALORE, India, APRIL 2, 2010 (Zenit.org).- If newspapers abounded in the time of Christ as they do today, what would have been the headlines around the world on Easter Sunday?
For Salesian Father Gilbert Choondal, the editor-in-chief of Christimes, the big story of the day would have been titled “Son Rises at Sunrise.”
Father Choondal is the founder of Christimes, a biblical newspaper launched in 2008 to bring the stories of the Bible alive by publishing stories and interviews from the perspective of the contemporaries of Christ.
The “Christimes” publication for Easter 2010 is the newspaper’s fourth issue.
Father Choondal is currently a professor of catechesis and communications at Kristu Jyoti College in Bangalore. He is also serving as vice president of Indian Catechetical Association, and the president of the Bangalore chapter of the Conference of Religious, India.
The priest has written many books and articles on the topics of catechesis, youth ministry, the priesthood and spirituality.
In this interview with ZENIT, Father Choondal spoke about the project to interface the Gospel stories with modern society, and plans to future development of catechetical tools.
ZENIT: What are you hoping to accomplish with this newsletter? What would you like people to gain from it?
Father Choondal: I am basically a catechetical educator.
In my priestly experience I have realized that many in the Church including priests and religious do not consider this ministry as something the very essence of our mission on earth.
Catechesis gets “low-caste” treatment in our Church today.
While many are fed up with traditional methods of communicating faith, this newspaper is an attempt to communicate faith, rather, the Word of God, in an appealing manner to today’s faithful, especially the young.
This newspaper narrative may not be as compelling as the Gospels but I hope it will inform, form and transform every person who reads this.
I am trying to present the 2,000-year-old story in today’s language to make it our own. Through this I hope the newspaper may instill in others a real love for the Word of God, by reconstructing it in a journalistic manner.
We also try to provide the historical, cultural, social and religious situation of the times of the Bible in this newspaper.
We know that newspapers did not exist in the times of Jesus. If newspapers existed in the time of Christ, how would they have looked?
We are taking you to that imaginary media world of the times of the Gospels to bring alive the 2000-year-old story and to make it relevant, meaningful and faith formative.
The masthead is entitled, “Christimes,” which means, a newspaper to bring back the times of Christ today.
One of the objectives of this newspaper is to bring Good News to today’s world, which is bombarded with a flurry of bad news daily through television and newspapers.
The language is simple; it is the language of common man. Sometimes, the biblical language may not be comprehendible to laypersons.
The content of the newspaper is provided with interesting journalistic twists and turns that creates curiosity to know more about the incidents.
And we hope this newspaper will straight away lead the young and the faithful to go deeper into the Scriptures and search for a deeper reflection of the events in the Bible.
In short, it is catechesis in a creative way of mixing Scriptures and Tradition to bring alive the Word of God in our midst.
The latest Christimes brings the events that happened in the last days of Jesus’ life.
Christians of every tradition consider Holy Week to be a profoundly important time to observe and remember the passion, trial, death and resurrection of Christ.
The days prior to the death of Jesus receive considerable attention from all four Gospels, and have been the subject of substantial geographical and archaeological research for more than a century.
The evangelists recount the events leading to Jesus’ resurrection in considerable detail, and Christians throughout the world annually commemorate the incidents of that first Holy Week with great solemnity.
“Christimes” reports all the events of the Holy Week culminating the Good News of the Resurrection!
ZENIT: Who is behind the project? Did you have a team of writers, or who is responsible for putting it together?
Father Choondal: The idea of this newspaper started while I was studying catechesis a few years back.
I was thinking of ways of communicating faith to today’s youngsters in their culture.
What was most important in this project was ideas and imagination. I had to put myself in the times of the Bible, as a journalist, to reconstruct the Biblical events.
With the help of few our Salesian seminarians we drew out a few ideas and released the first Christimes the day after Christmas Eve in 2008, on the events of Jesus’ birth and related topics.
I am not a journalist. But, I believe God uses anyone who does his work. Perhaps, with the help of competent journalists this work may have the real look of a newspaper.
All the same, it is a formative experience for our seminarians and students in communicating faith today.
We are now hoping to publish more issues on the other events from the life of Jesus in the New Testament. Later, we may go over to Old Testament events too.
ZENIT: You are telling the same Gospel stories that we have heard, but you present them in a new and creative way. How can other people out there also bring the Gospel message to their world in attractive ways?
Father Choondal: I believe all Christians are communicators of the Word.
If I am not communicating the Word, I have failed to be a Christian, even not considering my priestly and religious identity.
This is not an option but the command of Our Blessed Lord.
Newspaper is not the only way to bring the Word of God creatively to our Good News starved world.
Television and the Internet are other forums for evangelization today.
Recently, after going through the “interviews” with the Biblical personalities and news reports of the events in the Bible found in our Christimes, a Catholic television channel in India approached me to ask to convert these ideas into a television series for our young people, in order to communicate the Gospel in an audiovisual language.
Through all these means, we bring Jesus to our people. That is catechesis, our mission.
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On the Net:
For more information, or to request a copy of Christimes, contact Father Choondal: www.visualcatechesis.com/contact_us.html
A preview of Christimes: www.donboscoguwahati.org/newsimgcrop.aspx?imgname=english/newsphoto/p3723.jpg&size=300