05/06/2016, 16.09
INDIA
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Vasai: inaugurated a new church for tribal Catholics

by Nirmala Carvalho

‘Holy Mother of God’ parish church is located in Talasari, in the heart of the Adivasi mission. During the celebration, the archbishop of Vasai confirmed 260 children and adults. “Our brothers and sisters are quite well settled as solid Christians,” Mgr Machado said. They will be the “the solid leaders of tomorrow”.

Talasari (AsiaNews) – More than 3,000 Catholics gathered in Talasari, a city in the Diocese of Vasai (Maharashtra), for the opening of a new parish church dedicated to the Holy Mother of God’ in the heart of the mission to the Adivasi.*

Mgr Felix Machado, bishop of Vasai, celebrated the first Mass on 30 April, during which he confirmed 260 children and adults. "It was a lovely gathering,” the archbishop said. “Our Adivasi brothers and sisters are quite well settled as solid Christians. The youth who were confirmed will be, I am sure, the solid leaders of tomorrow.”

The Talasari mission has 150 years of history. Founded by the Franciscans, it was expanded by the Jesuits, and now it is home to many religious communities and diocesan priests. Most locals belong to tribes and subtribes that speak the Varli language.

The Church’s thrust is “education and Adivasi empowerment through social outreach,” the prelate said. “Health has been given priority,” and “the Church has started schools in every little hamlet. There are also a couple of institutions of higher education (e.g. Junior Colleges).”

However, “For years, the Adivasi’s voice was suppressed, and Adivasi communities were systematically exploited and even at times abused.”

Over time, “Attracted by Jesus Christ and his Gospel, many Adivasi have embraced the Christian faith”, the archbishop explained. Now “They are fervent in their faith, and vocations to the religious life and to the priesthood have blossomed.”

“Adivasi culture has also been acknowledged, preserved and promoted,” he noted. “The Church has always kept the principle of serving the least, the lost and the last, regardless of caste, creed, race or religion.”

In practice, “The Church has reached out to help the poor. Many sisters are involved in women empowerment. Children are cared for and go to boarding schools.”

During the inauguration of the parish church, “I blessed the Community Hall,” Mgr Machado said, “which was built [. . .] to encourage people from the area to come together to pray, exchange ideas and foster fellowship.”

* The term Adivasi (Original inhabitants in Hindi]) refers to India’s Scheduled Tribes who are considered the indigenous people of the Indian subcontinent.

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