Maharashtra, masses for the dead on the graves swept away by the monsoons
2 November Fr. Alex D’Mello celebrated three liturgies in some mountain areas of the Diocese of Sindhudurg. The cemeteries are located near the rivers and were flooded; graves and crosses washed away by the current. "It was a magnificent Eucharist".
Mumbai (AsiaNews) - An experience that "touched the heart" says Fr. Alex D’Mello, director of Social Communications of the Diocese of Sindhudurg, in Maharashtra describing the celebration of Masses for the dead in three sub-stations of the Ajra mission.
On 2 November, the day when the Church remembers the souls of the deceased, he celebrated Mass in cemeteries without tombs or crosses, swept away by the monsoons of last August. "We did not have the facilities to conduct liturgical services - he says - but the faithful sat on the grass and listened to the Word of God. It reminded me of the first Christian communities that met in the catacombs".
The mission of Ajra, explains the priest, "is among the oldest in the diocese and includes vast territories. It was built around 250 years ago and has 14 sub-stations. In the beginning it was entrusted to the Jesuits, then in 2015-2016 it was handed over to the Diocese of Sindhudurg. Less than 1% of the population is Catholic ". For this reason, he underlines, "Sindhudurg is a true missionary diocese".
The inhabitants of the place, says the priest, "have lost the means to survive, the houses and the properties. The most damaged places were the cemeteries, located on the banks of the rivers. I was inspired by the faith of Catholics who have lived here for so many years. "
Fr. D’Mello visited three locations: Dhangarmala, Gavase and Kedge. The sub-stations are located in a mountainous area about three hours from the diocese and 15 km from each other. The inhabitants are mostly poor peasants. He left the diocese at 5 in the morning and reached the first destination at 8. "I wanted to help the priests serve our people - he declares - and it was very satisfying".
In Kedge station and in another nearby location, he says, "the cemeteries were next to the river. Some crosses and tombs have been swept away by recent floods. It was very touching to celebrate Mass for them ". Even the tombs of Dhangarmala, he continues, "have been swept away. Some are submerged and flooded with mud. The crosses no longer exist. The faithful have placed stones to mark the graves".
Fr. D’Mello notes that “the graveyards are permanantly damaged. Some gram panchayats have given them alternative land but some are yet to get attention from the government. " He concludes, the simple celebration of Mass for the departed "was an experience that raised my faith. In some places there were just 15-20 people, but it was a magnificent Eucharist. It was a joy to give them Jesus ".