Kandhamal, a new priest from the most persecuted village
by Purushottam Nayak

Fr. Bikash Nayak: "During the violence of 2008 I had to hide in the forest with my family. I was inspired by the example of Fr. Digal, who was killed: the threat to my life did not stop my desire to dedicate my life to the Kingdom of God".

Kandhamal (AsiaNews) - The village of Tiangia, in the district of Kandhamal, one of the hardest hit in 2008 by the persecution of Christians in Orissa, has a new priest. Fr. Bikash Nayak was ordained a priest for the diocese of Buxar in Bihar and celebrated his first Mass in his village on Nov. 13, 2021.

"Neither persecution nor the threat to my life by fundamentalists," he says, "could stop my desire to dedicate my life to the Kingdom of God. During the violence against Christians in 2008, I had to hide in the forest. I was inspired and motivated by the example of Fr. Bernard Digal, the treasurer of the archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, who was brutally murdered. He was from my village; he was my relative. Innocent Christians fell victim to this wrath. But this threat made me stronger in witnessing about Jesus."

Fr. Bikash is the ninth priest from the village of Tiangia, which counted seven victims during the 2008 violence. The new priest is 29 years old and the youngest of three brothers. He entered Mashih Gurukul Seminary in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, in 2010, and then continued his studies in Nagpur and Delhi. He was ordained to the priesthood on Nov. 6, presided over by Archbishop Sebastian Kallupura of Patna. The diocese of Buxar numbers 33,000 faithful, with 17 parishes and 19 priests.

Bikash's mother said: "I am proud of my son whom God miraculously saved from the hands of radical groups. I remember the sleepless nights in the forest with my children without anything to eat or drink. At the end of the celebration in the village the new priest paid homage to the Memorial of the martyrs of the persecution.

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