01/10/2004, 00.00
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New Santal priest, eleventh in a few years

Dinajpur (AsiaNews) – Deacon Raphael Rughu Murmu was ordained a priest in the parish of Mariampur.  The parish has been entrusted to PIME priests since the 1970s. Over the last 20 years, 11 priests have been ordained within the parish.

The Jan. 2 ordination was enriched by Santal dance and ritual. Santal and Oraon are the two main ethnic groups composing the parish community. On the evening before the ordination, the Gaye Holud was performed, a ceremony of atonement and greeting in which close friends and relatives anoint the candidate's forehead and face with oil. Santals consider the anointing to contain elements of purification and perfection; they also perform the anointing ceremony on males who are about to get married.   

The ordination mass was presided over by Msgr. Moses Costa, CSC, with 35 priests, several nuns and 2000 persons in attendance.  

Fr. Raphael is the eighth of 9 children, born in 1971 in India. To flee the war of "liberation" (which brought about the division between East and West Pakista, today's Bangladesh), Raphael's family escaped to India, to the village of Rajibpur.

Among the people who helped him mature in his vocation, Fr. Raphael cited the witness of Fr. Carlo Menapace, PIME, who died in 1991. He was Mariampur's parish priest for 12 years until 1990.  

The Mariampur parish, in addition to 11 priests, has produced dozens of religious vocations. (RR)
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