03/17/2016, 16.04
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Mgr Barwa visits the archbishop emeritus, "pillar" of the Church in Odisha

by Nirmala Carvalho

Today, the diocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar celebrated the Chrism Mass. Mgr John Barwa paid a visit to his predecessor, Archbishop Emeritus Raphael Cheenath, who is in Mumbai for health reasons. His passion bears witness to “the experience of suffering endured by the Church” in Odisha. Mgr Cheenath, who built the diocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar working with Tribals and Dalits, sent his blessing to AsiaNews.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – The Archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar celebrated the Chrism Mass today in the presence of all the priests and religious of Odisha (Orissa).

With the celebration in mind, Mgr John Barwa, current archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, visited the diocese’s archbishop emeritus, Mgr Raphael Cheenath (pictured) two days ago. The latter is in Mumbai for health reasons.

Mgr Cheenath "tirelessly served the people of Odisha, building the diocese by the grace of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit,” Mgr Barwa told AsiaNews.

“When he headed the diocese, he worked hard so that Tribals and Dalits could receive a good education and have access to proper medical facilities so that they could be independent and to self reliant andempowered."

"This meeting gave me so much joy . . . and renewed my priestly vocation,” Mgr Barwa said speaking about the meeting with his predecessor, Mgr Cheenath. Mgr Barwa is himself recuperating after an operation.

“In Odisha, the Church, especially our diocese, is grateful to Archbishop Cheenath who always worked for the good of the people ".

Mgr Barwa conveyed the bishop emeritus’ blessing to the participants in today’s Chrism Mass, which was held at the Divya Jyothi Pastoral Centre.

The pastoral centre, the archbishop added, "has special meaning for the Christian community in Odisha, because it is here that Mgr Cheenath stayed on pastoral visits, as well as worked and prayed.”

"In this Jubilee of Mercy, it was essential I come to see my predecessor and pass onto our beloved archbishop the love, gratitude and affection of believers in Odisha, especially those in Kandhamal district".

“The archbishop’s passion bears witness to the experience of suffering endured by the Church in Odisha,” scene of one of the worst massacres ever perpetrated in India by Hindu radicals.

“Despite everything, he has remained quiet and serene, embracing his cross with joy. His words of comfort bring solace to every Christian in Odisha.”

At present, seven Christians are still in jail for the murder of Laxmanananda Saraswati Swamy, which ostensibly sparked an anti-Christian pogrom by Hindus.

“The Church in Odisha is working on getting them released,” Mgr Barwa said. “Soon, we hope to see significant developments with respect to the compensation due to Christian victims” of the pogrom.

Asked by AsiaNews for a message, Archbishop Raphael Cheenath spontaneously said, “God bless you, God bless the Mission of AsiaNews.”

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