Odisha archbishop among migrants in Mumbai impoverished by the pandemic (VIDEO)
Archbishop John Barwa led Mass for the tribal migrants from his region, helped by the Redemptorists during the lockdown. “We are the last, but God is faithful and never abandon us.”
Mumbai (AsiaNews) – A group of tribal migrants who came in search of work in Mumbai from the Chota Nagpur Plateau, a region that overlaps the states of Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, has been severely impacted by the economic fallout of the pandemic.
Following the sudden lockdown, they found themselves without jobs, wages, or a home, and turned to the Church for help in recent months. Yesterday, they gathered for a thanksgiving Mass organised through Pahunch, an outreach ministry set up by the Redemptorists that is taking care of them.
Archbishop John Barwa of Cuttack-Bhubaneshwar led the service held in the Parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Chembur, Mumbai.
The liturgy was celebrated with traditional tribal rituals, music and dance. The archbishop addressed the faithful, alternating between Hindi and Sadri, one of the languages spoken in Odisha.
Archbishop Barwa thanked Pahunch ministry for the kindness and mercy shown towards tribal migrants, especially during the pandemic.
“We are the last,” said the prelate, who is also of tribal origins, “but God is faithful and never abandon us. You came to Mumbai in search of what you need to live, but you must also remain strong in the faith.”
Archbishop Barwa urged the migrants to be inspired also in this new trial by the testimony of the martyrs of Kandhamal, killed during the 2008 Odisha pogrom, whose beatification is underway.
The archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneshwar also thanked the Redemptorist Fathers for the economic, health, social and spiritual help they are providing.
He also called on the Archdiocese of Bombay (Mumbai), represented at the service by Auxiliary Bishop Alwyn D'Silva, to provide concrete help in favour of migrants, like facilitating their registration by place of origin, place of work and parish, obtaining identity papers, and celebrating at least one Mass in Hindi on Sundays.
Speaking to AsiaNews on behalf of the Redemptorists, Father Joseph Ivel Mendanha said that “This liturgy was an opportunity to thank the Lord for the gift of recognising us as brothers even during the pandemic. Encouraged by this experience, we will go forward in our mission for this wounded humanity, as Pope Francis notes in the encyclical Fratelli Tutti.”