08/13/2009, 00.00
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“I lost and God won,” Nepal vicar says on the occasion of the Year for Priests

by Kalpit Parajuli
After Mass in Kathmandu’s cathedral, Bishop Anthony Sharma related the story of his vocation to the 19 priests who operate in eastern Nepal and the valley where the nation’s capital is located. Fr George Kalapurackal, parish priest at the Cathedral of the Assumption, says that “lay people, by praying for priests, find more courage.”
Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – “I lost and God won,” Bishop Anthony Sharma said. His mother had only one son and could never have imagined that his future would be in the priesthood. She had hopes he would find a good job, become a “successful person” and be able to support the family. But on the day her Anthony was ordained she had to accept a reality that first began on a pew in a church in Mumbai, then still called Bombay, when her son heard the Lord’s calling. Speaking to the Lord on that day she said: “My son did as You called him, so now Your call is my wish!”

All this happened back on 4 May 1968, when Anthony was ordained. Ms Sharma could not image that on another day her son would become bishop and apostolic vicar to Nepal, the leader of the country’s small Catholic community of about 8,000 people out of a population of 27 million, 86 per cent Hindus, 7 per cent Buddhists and 3.5 per cent Muslims. 

Mgr Anthony Sharma related his own story after he brought together the 19 priests who operate in the eastern part of the country and in the valley where Nepal’s capital is located.  

Speaking to them and to the 500 faithful who had also come together in the cathedral, he retold the story of his vocation, explaining how he was torn between “answering the Lord’s call” and a family in which “my sister wanted me to be a doctor or a lawyer” and she and my mother “were counting on me for economic help.”

”In the end I just became nothing more than a priest,” the bishop said. Likewise “we are all chosen by God to be in the service of humanity.”

For the small communities in the Nepali capital, the Mass that was celebrated last Monday for the Year for Priests provided a moment in which people and clergy could share the evangelising mission which is every Christian’s responsibility.

Coming together gave the community an opportunity to celebrate, a community that is all too often targeted and threatened by Hindu extremists.

Fr George Kalapurackal, the parish priest at the Cathedral of the Assumption, told AsiaNews that “lay people, by praying for priests, find more courage.”

By the same token, “we are all called to make a greater commitment to the priesthood and encourage young people to discover their vocation.”

It was his church that was attacked by the Nepal Defence Army on 23 May in an incident that cost three people their lives.

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