05/25/2019, 12.04
INDIA
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Christians and Hindus celebrate Sister Lucy together, a survivor of the Orissa pogrom

by Purushottam Nayak

The Franciscan nun pronounced her solemn vows last month.  Priests, nuns and thousands of people gathered in Raikia for a thanksgiving mass.  Some repented Hindu extremists also attended the ceremony.  In August 2008, the radicals killed about 100 Christians from Kandhamal.

Raikia (AsiaNews) - On 10 May, eight priests, five nuns and three thousand Hindus and Christians gathered in Raikia on the occasion of a thanksgiving mass for Sr. Lucy Pradhan, who made her solemn vows in April.  The religious of the Franciscan nuns of St. Joseph (Fsj) is one of the survivors of the 2008 violence against the Christians of Kandhamal, a district in the State of Orissa.

In his introductory speech, Fr.  Pradosh Chandra Nayak, pastor of the parish of Our Lady of Charity, said: "The religious vocation is a divine call and implies great challenges in life to work for the Kingdom of God in a country with a Hindu majority like India.  We know that Christians are threatened, killed and deprived of many government privileges, although they are Indian citizens.  Most Dalit Christians are deprived of the structures and benefits granted by the government only because they are Christians."

The celebration in the village of Bakingia, near Raikia, was also attended by some of the Hindu extremists who brutally killed, murdered many Christians and chased away the family of Sister Lucy in 2008.  Dilip Pradhan, a 45-year-old Hindu, sat next to a family member of the nun.  "The nature of the people of Kandhamal - he says - is to promote love, peace, unity and brotherhood.  There have been some cruel Hindu extremists who, for selfish purposes, spread hatred against Christians among the minds of simple and innocent people ".

Prabodh Pradhan survived the 2008 massacres by hiding in the forest, without food and water for a week.  "Our people - he says - were nourished by cruelty against Christians by Hindu extremists who came from outside.  But can any threat or persecution hinder work in the Lord's vineyard?  No earthly power can become an obstacle to the will of God. He knows us from before we our formed in the maternal womb.  Despite the threats and today's persecutions of the existence of Christianity, God continues to call the survivors of Kandhamal for his Kingdom ".

Rosalo Pradhan and Debi Pradhan are the parents of Sister Lucy, who has a brother named Raphael.  "In 2008 we could have been killed by Hindu extremists and our daughter too.  Today I thank God because He saved her from anti-Christian violence and called her to His Kingdom.  If God is with us, who will be against us?" said Mr. Rosalo, quoting Saint Paul (Rom 8:31).

Sister Lucy was born on May 2, 1994. Between 1999 and 2003 she attended primary school in the village of Bakingia;  the public secondary school in Raikia in the following five years.  During the pogroms of 2008, she spent days in the forest with her parents, with nothing to eat or drink: throughout the sectarian violence she experienced persecution, pain and suffering but her faith in Jesus Christ remains steadfast.  The following year she entered the convent of St. Thomas Mount in Chennai - capital of Tamil Nadu.

On 27 April, the nun pronounced solemn vows in a ceremony presided over by Msgr.  Singaroyan Sebastianappan, bishop of Salem, in the presence of 16 priests and a hundred faithful.  Along with Sister Lucy, nine other sisters participated in the perpetual profession.  Five of these come from the Kandhamal, land of martyrs. THey are Sister Snehalata Pradhan, originally from Banjamaha;  Sr. Sujata Balliarsingh and Sr. Renu Balliarsingh, both from Bamunigam;  Sister Mariagoretti Prodhan, from Jidubadi;  Sister Manjuta Pradhan, of Badingnaju.

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