Snehalaya Family Service Centre is an organisation of the Archdiocese of Bombay (Mumbai) that is established to help families in Mumbai and also whenever possible, reaches out to families outside Mumbai.
Challenges facing Modern-day Families:
In a mega-city like Mumbai, the stress and strain of living, with problems such as poverty, lack of proper housing, displacement, unemployment and underemployment, socio-cultural differences, marital discord and so on proves too overwhelming for many individuals and families. Pandemics and Natural Disasters caused by Global Warming make the future more uncertain and even more unpredictable Under this stress many individuals feel lost, tried beyond their endurance, frustrated and defeated. People need to know where they can seek help when capacities for responding to the demands of life are strained, when desired growth seems unattainable, when important decisions elude resolution and natural support systems are unavailable or insufficient.
In general, many individuals not knowing how to cope with these problems, displace their frustrations on other members of the family or take recourse to substance abuse. Some break down with depression or fall victim to other psychological syndromes, thus creating a bigger problem for themselves and their families. Families can experience either the deepest love or great violence and destructive behaviour. Family Life can either be a hell or heaven.
Break up in Spousal Relationship & Challenges in Parenting
Where spouses move away from each other due to stressful relationships, we see a rising number of divorces and separations; parents are at conflict with their children; there is unhealthy sibling rivalry; consumerism contributes to a growing sense of emptiness and increasing family disharmony.
With the breakdown in the joint family system, rapid urbanization and nuclearization of families there is little or no support for individuals and families.
Parenting today poses new challenges. With children often better educated than their parents who were trained, differently in a pre-digital age, the parent does not easily become a role model for children to emulate or even obey.
Response: S N E H A L A Y A
The aim of the organization is to provide timely and adequate help to sustain marriages and enrich family life. A large amount of our energy is spent on building good marriages through Marriage Preparation Courses, Counselling and efforts to enhance and enrich married and family life. A good marriage can be a rock on which families are built.
Encouraged by the CBCI and CCBI
It was precisely in response to these challenges this that the CBCI Metropolitan Conference on the Family, held in Bombay, in 1976, strongly recommended the setting up of a Diocesan Family Service Centre to provide for a ‘package deal' of services, and to co-ordinate activities related to the Family Apostolate in the Diocese, and in the Western Region of India.
Accordingly, the Diocese agreed to set up a Family Service Centre, (SNEHALAYA- “abode of love”), in the premises of Victoria School Campus, Mahim. Msgr. Henry Lobo very kindly put the former parish house at the disposal of the Centre and Fr. Dawson Ambosta was its founding Director. In 1984 the baton was handed over to Fr. Joseph Fernandes. Fr. Cajetan D. Menezes took over from him in June 2003.
In June 2018 Fr. Cleophas D. Fernandes was appointed Director of Snehalaya while he was still Parish Priest of St Pius X Church, Mulund and took charge on June 1, 2019.
Fr. Cleophas D. Fernandes - Director
Snehalaya Family Service Centre of the Archdiocese of Bombay
Fr. Cleophas Fernandes has a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Theology from the Catholic Institute (University) of Paris and Bachelor’s Degree in Arts – specialized in Psychology, from the University of Poona.
Fr Cleophas has held various pastoral responsibilities as Parish Priest, Director of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Centre, Rector of the Seminary, St Pius X College; Director of NBCLC (National Biblical, Catechetical and Liturgical Centre), Bangalore; Coordinator of NETWORK PASTORAL ASIA (MISSIO), and now Director of Snehalaya, Mumbai.
SNEHALAYA – Family Service Centre, established in December 1976 is a registered Charitable Trust catering to people irrespective of caste or creed. Its main objectives are to strengthen family life and to promote family welfare.
Services offered -
• Marriage Counselling- includes pre-marital and post-marriage care
• Counselling services – for others
• Vocational Guidance and Aptitude Testing
• Marriage Preparation Courses (MPC) – conducted in English, Hindi, Tamil, and now even for the hearing impaired.
• Family Enrichment through videos and resource material on its website
• Family Enrichment Programmes
We always aim at making SNEHALAYA – a place where hurting families are healed, ordinary families become good and good families become better … all for the glory of God, the Father of our Families.