10/24/2019, 15.36
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Card Gracias remembers Mgr Dominic Jala, beloved by his people

by Oswald Gracias*

About 100,000 people attended his funeral with 65,000 taking the communion. A great intellectual, he was working on a new Indian missal. The Archbishop of Shillong died in a car accident in California on 11 October. “I have lost a friend,” writes Card Gracias.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – In a show of love, at least 100,000 people took part in the funeral of Mgr Dominic Jala, with 65,000 taking the communion. The Bishop of Shillong (Meghalaya) died on 11 October in a car accident in California. Yesterday’s funeral followed the body’s repatriation.

Archbishop John Moolachira of Guwahati, who chairs the North East India Bishops Council, led the service in Mary Help of Christians Cathedral in Laitumkhrah. The archbishop was buried within its compound.

Bishop Jala was born 68 years ago in Mawlai. Ordained into the Salesian Order of Don Bosco in 1977, he was appointed archbishop of Shillong in December 1999. He took charge of the diocese in April 2000. He was the first ethnic Khasi to be become prelate. The Khasi are one of the most important ethnic groups in the State of Meghalaya.

A great intellect, he was also fluent in Latin, German, Italian, French, Spanish, Garo, Hindi, Greek, Hebrew and English. He supported small Christian communities and encouraged their development in north-eastern India, as well as Sunday catechism in every parish and village.

He was currently engaged in the first translation of the missal from Latin into Khasi. He was in charge of transcribing the translation from Latin into English and was in the middle of the work.

Below we publish the message of condolence from Card Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Mumbai and president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India.

The news of Archbishop Dominic Jala passing away in a tragic accident in California shocked all of us. We were together for the Ad Limina visit in Rome just 3 weeks back. He was the main celebrant at our mass at St. Paul’s Basilica. His presence at the meetings with the Roman Congregations during the Ad Limina visit always made a difference.

I thought I would go along with him to the Congregation of the Sacraments to present our new lectionary for India. The accident took place just two days before. At this Dicastery all expressed their deep appreciation for Archbishop Dominic Jala: Cardinal Robert Sarah, the Prefect and Archbishop Arthur Roche, the Secretary.

For the church in India his absence will be felt very much. In liturgical matters his role was simply irreplaceable. The CCBI relied on him totally for all liturgical issues. I was often told in Rome about the valuable contribution the Indian Church made. I knew that this was mainly because of Archbishop Jala. He recently presented a paper at their Plenary Assembly, which was much appreciated. He also represented India on the International Commission for the English in the Liturgy and was a valuable member.

We were together on several commissions both for the CBCI and the CCBI. He was always balanced, had good judgment and gave wise counsel. I have lost a friend.

Archbishop Dominic Jala was the undisputed leader of the Church in Northeast India. He recently told me about how respected his father was in the Christian community and the civil society in Shillong.

May God reward Archbishop Jala for his relentless work for the people in the North East. My heartfelt condolences to Archbishop John Moolachira and the Church in the North East.

*Archbishop of Mumbai and president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI)

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