04/12/2017, 13.55
INDIA
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Kandhamal, three Christians baptised, willing to die for their faith

by Santosh Digal

Chandrika Digal and her two sons, Prabin and Rohim, were baptised today. The youngest also received the sacraments of confession and first communion. He wants to become a missionary. The three began reaching out to the Church six years ago and followed a training course with the help of local catechists.

Raikia (AsiaNews) – "For us, baptism is a new birth,” said three Christians, a mother and her two sons who were baptised today at Our Lady of Charity parish in Raikia, Kandhamal (Odisha).

Their baptism is even more meaningful considering that in 2008 the district saw India’s worst anti-Christian violence, with the death of almost a hundred people and the flight of 65,000 at the hands of Hindu radicals.

Chandrika Digal, 40, has two sons, Prabin (22) and Rohim (16). "We are grateful to God for giving us the opportunity of being baptised according to our intentions,” she said. “In Christ we have everything. We welcome Jesus as our saviour. This is a blessing from God and we are grateful to him for the gift of the Catholic faith."

Her son Prabin is equally committed. "We are willing to die for our faith and Christ,” he said. “For us, it would be an honour to die for the faith."

Chandrika is a housewife and a casual labourer. She said that in the past six years she and her boys took part in prayers and were followed by local catechists.

After a period of discernment and observation by Church leaders in the diocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneshwar, "we are now ready to embrace it [the faith] with courage."

"Inside of me I feel an immense joy,” she added. “Today I welcome the Christian faith, which my children and I have accepted freely, fully aware and willingly."

Speaking about the preparation they underwent during the years of discernment, she said she "did not know how to read or write, but I'm learning various prayers and the doctrine with the help of catechists.”

For her, “This is God’s will. Today is a wonderful day and Easter Sunday will be even more memorable for the three of us, because it will mark our new life in Jesus. We shall start a new life with faith in Christ."

For Prabin, her eldest son, "God’s love and his will are the reasons for our conversion. It was divine desire that greeted us in the Church."

Speaking about the persecution of Christians in Odisha and the constant intimidation minority Christians face in India, the young man stressed that "We will be firm in our faith, no matter what happens. We are ready to profess it with courage, conviction and openness. I shall not hesitate and I shall have no doubts about proclaiming my Catholic identity even in hostile or dangerous situations. "

The younger son, Rohim, is in 10th grade at the Vijay High School in Raikia. He will soon have exams to write but already has clear ideas: he wants to be a missionary.

For this reason, today he not only received the sacrament of baptism, but also that of confession and first Communion. On 7-9 May, he will participate in a vocational retreat organised by the Archdiocese.

"My greatest wish is to become a missionary with God’s blessing,” he said. “I am happy to have met Christ, whom I love and follow as my teacher and saviour.”

Finally, “We urge all to pray for us and for our journey of faith in the Catholic Church," the boys’ mother asked.

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