Brian and Ninette Lobo play an important role in pastoral outreach in the Archdiocese of Mumbai. She heads the local Commission for Human Life. Catholics should put Christian values into practice in the family, at work, in everyday life. The challenges of the modern world include abortion, euthanasia, gay marriage, and the role of women. “[O]nly when we exercise our faith and translate it into actionable works of God do we become an extension of Christ and his love for us.”
Mumbai (AsiaNews) – “True joy, much akin to a child-like feeling of bliss can only be experienced when we put our faith and trust in God,” said Brian Lobo, a Catholic top manager in Mumbai.
AsiaNews spoke to him and his wife Ninette about the World Meeting of Families that opens today in Dublin, Ireland. The couple talked about their experience as Catholic parents and discussed the challenges that families currently face, not only in India but also around the world.
“Our faith has proven pivotal for us as a family and allowed us to accept the cross regardless of its weight and the burden it carries, to take joy not just in the circumstance but take refuge in His plan and design of the cross we carry,” Brian said.
He is the executive vice president and head of Corporate Affairs with one of India's largest financial services firms with more than 10,000 employees. He is also involved in the pro-life movement in the Archdiocese of Mumbai and has built a tomb dedicated to unborn children.
Ninette has a degree in microbiology but gave up her career to dedicate herself to the family. She heads the Archdiocesan Commission for Human Life (DHLC) and last year represented India at a Bioethics Conference in Thailand.
The couple have three children: a boy, Alston (the eldest), and twin daughters Desiree and Danielle. All three live and work abroad.
For Ninette, "My journey with Christ has taught me to experience joy despite the trials and tribulations of life, trusting wholeheartedly in His unfathomable love and mercy. As Director of the DHLC, I have come to understand the impact we can have when we exercise faith. Because it is only when we exercise our faith and translate it into actionable works of God do we become an extension of Christ and his love for us.”
For Brian, “When we enact the true virtues and principles of our faith, only then are we fortified to overcome any adversity and positively impact the lives of those around us. Mary serves as an important example of unquestionable faith. She not only accepted wholeheartedly God's plan for her to be the Mother of Christ. Of course, she had fears and doubts but took joy and comfort in knowing that God had better plans for her.”
On the impact the life of Christians can have on others, Ninette is inspired by the First Letter of Peter: "Maintain good conduct among the Gentiles, so that if they speak of you as evildoers, they may observe your good works and glorify God on the day of visitation” (2:12).
The couple talked about the challenges of society to the Christian family. "As Indian Catholics, some of the contentious issues we grapple with are issues pertaining to abortion and euthanasia and how effectively we as Catholics have to fight almost vociferously to end these evils.”
"Today we as a society are dealing with sinister and corrupted ideologies such as gay marriage, Marxism, etc. And one of the challenges is trying to effectively shield our kids from these populist beliefs and go against the mainstream by instilling Catholic values in our children."
Very active in their parish, the couple financially help the sick and those who are forced into the home. They are involved in the education of the marginalised and the needy. Recently they offered to pay the school fees of their maid’s daughter at a good Catholic high school.
Brian believes that Catholics should not set an example only in their private life but also at work.
“It is incumbent for me to actively practise works of charity and live out the Christian virtue of humility no matter what my position in society may be. The material world and its sandstone image can appear to have a glittery appeal and it's important to therefore live out the simplicity and humility of God who came down to earth as a lowly baby. One of the ways I try to emulate this is to always have the Bible and crucifix on my desk. These are not just sacred objects but a constant reminder of my purpose in the world.”
Ninette agrees. “As a mother especially, my workplace is not just confined to an official setting but is the home. I truly believe that the children of today can serve as role models for tomorrow and it is therefore imperative to instil within them the values of faith.”
“More importantly, we must teach them not only to be good citizens in society but also disciples of Christ. If we as a society invest in children, we invariably invest in the future. And while the modern world lays more importance on building a professional career, for me, it all begins at home.”
Last year Ninette took part in the National Symposium on Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia. In her address, she stressed the importance of the role of women in the family and society.
"Any positive transformation of the role and dignity of women in society will have to start and be practised at the level of the family,” she said. “The role and mission of the family in bringing forth world renewal in a context of gender equality is well articulated in Pope Francis”.
“It is indisputable that the improvement in the status of women changes the social and economic status of the country. However, the traditions and ways of Indian life relegate women to be in subordinate positions to men”.
“Indian women often do not take full advantage of their constitutional rights because they are not properly aware or informed of them. Women also tend to have poor utilisation of voting rights because they possess low levels of political awareness and sense of political efficacy. Women are not often encouraged to become informed about issues. Due to this, political parties do not invest much time in female candidates because there is a perception that they are a ‘wasted investment’.”
For her, everything starts with the family, which “possesses the potential to shape the dignity of women [. . .]. A woman who feels respected within the family will, in turn, contribute all the resources in her control – emotions, effort and economic resources – in nurturing the family.”
As the pontiff highlights in Amoris Laetitia, "a family which respects its women, can nurture them to balance their ‘legitimate’ and ‘desirable’ wishes to study, work and have personal goals in addition to fulfilling their motherhood roles as creators of life.”