08/06/2015, 00.00
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Msgr. Barwa: Kandhamal's priests, witnesses of hope for the universal Church

by Nirmala Carvalho
The Bishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar celebrates the feast of St. Jean-Mary Vianney, patron of parish priests, with 87 diocesan priests. Affected by the anti-Christian pogrom (2008), these priests have "touched the wounds of Christ through those of their people."

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - "My brothers in the priesthood are a sign, for the universal Church, of how sufferings and struggles transform us as priests. They are 'full of joy', even if afflicted, and live in Kandhamal, in uncertainty”, said Msgr. John Barwa SVD, Archbishop of Currack-Bhubaneswar (Orissa), on the occasion of the celebrations for the feast of St. Jean-Mary Vianney, patron of parish priests. Along with 87 diocesan priests, the bishop celebrated the feast day in the Divyajyoti pastoral center Kandhamal.

In fact, the pastoral center was home to one of the horrors of 2008 anti-Christian pogrom in Orissa at the hands of Hindu radicals. The then director,  Fr. Thomas Chellan was attacked stripped naked and beaten with sticks, crowbars, axes and spears. The nun who was with him, Sister Meena Barwa (the bishop's niece, ed), suffered the same abuses, only to become the victim of a gang rape. All under the eyes of the police, who stood silently by and never intervened to stop the barbarism.

Speaking to AsiaNews about the celebration, Msgr. Barwa said: "The fraternal communion and solidarity among our priests has been really a divine grace and a blessing. My brothers continue to find strength and consolation in the sacraments and in prayer, the source from which we draw in order to continue serving the least and the most marginalized”.

"In the words of Pope Francis – he concluded - each one of my fellow priests have 'the smell of the sheep' and have touched the wounds of Christ through those of their people, and this has strengthened their faith and vocation. We are witnesses of hope ".

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