03/02/2024, 13.22
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Khammam welcomes its new bishop, Mgr Prakash Sagili

In the diocese with the most Catholics in Telangana, the new pastor, originally from neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, met for the first time with his flock in a festive atmosphere. Appointed by Pope Francis two weeks ago, he will be ordained on 9 April. “I come to be one of you,” he said, citing Saint Charles de Foucauld as a model of spirituality.

Khammam (AsiaNews) – The Diocese of Khammam, in the Indian state of Telangana, yesterday welcomed its bishop-elect, Mgr Prakash Sagili, appointed by Pope Francis on 17 February.

The prelate, 67, comes from the clergy of the Diocese of Cuddapah, in nearby Andhra Pradesh, and oversaw pastoral care of the sick in the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI).

A large group of about 200 people, including members of the diocesan clergy, men and women religious, and lay people from the parishes, welcomed him at the diocesan retreat centre.

This first meeting provided an opportunity to prepare the feast for the new bishop’s ordination on 9 April.

Bishop Udumala Bala of Warangal, who is apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Khammam since Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Bishop Emeritus Paul Maipan, spoke about the history of the diocese, which was created out of the Diocese of Warangal along with that of Nalgonda.

"All these dioceses," he said, "are the fruit of the work of PIME missionaries, who started the first Catholic presence in this region 125 years ago."

Now the Diocese of Khammam has the highest number of Catholics in the Indian state of Telangana, which split off from Andhra Pradesh 10 years ago.

Mgr Prakash Sagili will be the diocese’s fourth bishop after Mgr Joseph Rajappa (appointed by John Paul II in 1988 when the diocese was created), Mgr Marampudi Joji, and Mgr Paul Maipan.

“The time of foreign missionaries is over," said the apostolic administrator. “Now it's up to us to continue their work.”

Following Indian tradition, Bishop Bala’s words were followed by floral tributes and the imposition of cloaks as a sign of authority, before a moment of prayer was held centred on the Gospel passage of the Good Shepherd (Jn 10).

For his part, Bishop-elect Prakash responded to the welcome by introducing himself. “I come to be one of you," he said, "to work together with you, not alone,” adding that he was looking forward to live in synodality with everyone.

"Just as vitamin D is processed by the body through exposure to the sun," he explained, "so I want to be here to expose myself to the sun of meeting people. This way my ministry among you will gain strength.”

The new prelate also said that devotion to the Eucharist is central to his life and that spiritually he feels very close to and inspired by the figure of Saint Charles de Foucauld.

He entrusted his diocese to four words that begin with the letter D (like the aforementioned vitamin): discipleship, determination, devotion, and discipline.

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