Some 600 young people pray for peace in Arunachal Pradesh (photos)

Catholics, Protestants and members of other religions attended the retreat. For “non-Christian youth, it was a learning experience about Christ, and for the others it was an event to remove all their misconceptions about Catholic Church.” During the retreat, 15 young women and eight young men felt Christ’s calling and plan to take their vows.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) – Some 600 young people, Catholics, Protestants and others, from eight districts, took part in a spiritual retreat in Arunachal Pradesh during which they prayed for peace in India.

“It was the best convention we have had by far in the Diocese of Miao in terms of the enthusiasm and active participation of the delegates,” said Fr Felix Anthony, spokesman for the Catholic Church in northeastern India, speaking to AsiaNews. “What made it even more special was the fact there were participants from other Christian denominations and a large number of non-Christians,” he added.

Participants “felt blessed to be part of the convention. For non-Christian youth, it was a learning experience about Christ, and for the others it was an event to remove all their misconceptions about Catholic Church.”

The spiritual retreat, called "leadership programme", was held from 19 to 22 May. it was organised by the Diocese of Miao (Arunachal Pradesh), in collaboration with the National Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services in New Delhi.

The retreat ended with a march for peace in Margaret, Assam, at the Divine Renewal Retreat Centre. Here, participants prayed and carried the statue of Our Lady in procession as well as signs calling for interfaith harmony and an end to violence. ‘Let us pray for peace’ and ‘Let's stop the killing of innocent people’, read some of the signs.

The special prayer for peaceful coexistence was also sparked by a major incident that took place recently, namely the murder of a local lawmaker and his family in an ambush in Tirap District. Several of his family members were among the people present at the spiritual retreat.

"Peace is a gift we give each other,” said Bishop George Pallipparambil, Bishop of Miao. “Today I stand before you with so much sorrow in my heart over what happened in Tirap district.”

What happened was “totally condemnable,” the prelate noted. “We all must put an end to this kind of barbarism in our villages, districts and the state. I look at you with hope, dear young people, that you may live in peace and promote it by obeying the rules of society, parents, respecting nature.”

“Our country, our state and our districts need peace now more than ever,” said Datliam Matey, the North East Regional Youth Representative from east Arunachal Pradesh. “We know that violence will not end with this rally but if all 600 of us return to our homes to be peace promoters, peace is possible in our districts, in the state and in the country.”

During the retreat, "Some 15 girls and eight boys decided to become nuns and priests during the convention,” said Fr Felix, and “All the delegates returned to their villages with their spirit filled with enthusiasm to share the Good News of Christ to everyone they will meet.”

(Photo credit: Fr. Felix Anthony)