11/23/2020, 16.30
INDIA
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World Mission Sunday for Kandhamal’s most affected parish

by Purushottam Nayak

Despite COVID-19 restrictions, many worshippers took part in Christ the King celebrations. Our Lady of Charity parish was vandalised in 2004 and 2008.

Raikia (AsiaNews) – Yesterday, Catholics celebrate Christ the King of Kings in Raikia, Archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar (Odisha). Fr Pradosh Chandra Nayak, pastor at Our Lady of Charity parish, led the service with four other priests, 14 Daughters of Charity Sisters from the St Catherine convent and about 300 worshippers.

“Christ is the king of peace, truth and justice,” said Fr Nayak. “God has a special place for Kandhamal survivors. Neither the coronavirus nor human threats can become an obstacle to staying steadfast in faith with Christ the King of Kings.”

"Despite unemployment and the financial crisis related to COVID-19, Our Lady of Charity parishioners, the Catholic parish most affected by the anti-Christian violence of 2008 in Kandhamal, have contributed some 403,000 rupees (about US$ 5,500) for World Mission Sunday,” said the pastor.

Owing to COVID-19 restriction, only 300 worshippers were able to celebrate the feast day of Christ the King. Last year, thousands of Hindus and Christians took part in the evening procession into the city with lit candles chanting "Christ is the King of peace, justice and truth".

Our Lady of Charity parish was vandalised in 2004 and 2008. World Mission Day fell on 18 October, but the parish council decided to hold the fundraiser on the solemnity of Christ the King, the parish’s main feast day.

“God accompanied us in the time of violence,” said Ranjit Nayak, a catechist and a survivor of the 2008 Kandhamal massacre. And “He is doing the same in the time of the new pandemic. We learnt to make sacrifices from his death on a cross, which became his throne.”

“Despite the hardships the pandemic has brought us, we will use this opportunity with generosity and charity,” said Fr Bhanjakishre Nayak, another local priest who survived the massacre. “We extend our solidarity to the universal Church through the contribution of this fundraiser for World Mission Day,” he explained.

“We missed the peaceful and prayerful procession of candles during the feast of Christ the King,” said Raghunath Panda, 45, a local Hindu shopkeeper who attends the festival every year. "Christians are a peace-loving people," he added.

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