02/13/2012, 00.00
INDIA
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Card. Gracias: Mangalore diocese, a Christian oasis, celebrates 125th anniversary

The president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India celebrates last Mass of the diocese’s Jubilee Year. Along with Card Gracias, the service was celebrated by Mgr Aloysius Paul D’Souza, archbishop of Mangalore, Mgr Salvatore Pennacchio, apostolic nuncio in India, Mgr Savio Hon Tai-Fai, secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of peoples. For Card Gracias, family and prayer are important to “make society a better place”.
Mangalore (AsiaNews/Agencies) – “What makes the Diocese of Mangalore special is its people. A generous people that bears witness to the deepest Christian values. It is an oasis of Christian life,” said Card Oswald Gracias, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) and archbishop of Mumbai. He spoke at the Mass that concluded the 125th Jubilee Year of the diocese of Mangalore (Karnataka), which was held yesterday at Nehru Maidan. Along with Card Gracias, the service was celebrated by Mgr Aloysius Paul D’Souza, archbishop of Mangalore, Mgr Salvatore Pennacchio, apostolic nuncio in India, Mgr Savio Hon Tai-Fai, secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of peoples.

Established in 1886, the Diocese of Mangalore has 373,492 members. That is 9.5 per cent of a mostly Hindu (78 per cent) population of 4.4 million residents. The diocese is divided in 158 parishes with 487 priests, 355 men religious and 1,714 women religious.

In his homily, Card Oswald Gracias stressed the importance of family and prayer. “Jesus is calling us,” he said, “to bear witness by using our talents to spread the word of God and make society a better place to live. Where is God’s place in our families? Where are we keeping God? We have to pray together as a family. God will make family bonds stronger and peace will prevail and spread across the society. Family prayer will protect and give hope in darkness and enthusiasm to the person who is in distress. The family that is unable to kneel together in prayer will be unable to live happily.”

At the end of the celebration, Mgrs Pennacchio, Tai-Fai and Moras along with Card Gracias blessed four new projects in the diocese: a shrine dedicated to the Blessed John Paul II, a diocesan museum dedicated to Our Lady and two hostels, one for boys and one for girls.

As he congratulated the archbishop of Mangalore for his service to the diocese, Mgr Tai-Fai said, “Jesus is in our midst and I can feel it. People get good recognition for their service to the society. The projects that are starting here bear unconditional love towards humanity. People are ready to help one another and there is no limit in helping the poor and the downtrodden.”

Karnataka Chief Minister DV Sadananda Gowda also took part in the celebrations. He stressed the importance of Catholics in Mangalore who through missionary-run hospices and hostels “help the poor, the lonely and the downtrodden.” For this reason, the “2011-2012 state budget” will allocate “50 crore (500,000) rupees (US$ 10 million) for the development of Christian institutions and churches.”

The chief minister also announced that the state government would work for the development of rural areas and minorities.

Gowda’s statement was unexpected since his party, the Hindu ultranationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has traditionally backed groups like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), the Rashtriya Savayansevak Sangh (RSS) and the Bajrang Dal, which have carried out anti-Christian attacks in the state.
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