In northeast India, the Church is growing in terms of members and vocations

In northeast India, the Church is growing in terms of members and vocations

JOWAI: It is becoming more and more evident that the Church of Northeast India is fast emerging as a major force among the Christian believers in the country," says Mgr Thomas Menamparampil, archbishop emeritus of Guwahati (Assam) and former apostolic administrator to Jowai (Meghalaya).

Drawing a picture of 120 years of the Catholic mission in this part of the country, which has been marked by harsh conflicts between tribal people and army, he explains how "The leadership of the Church has moved from foreign hands to Indian hands, from Indian hands to indigenous hands."

With some pride, he says that the young Catholic community is now "close to two million members" in a community of 27.8 million Christians, or 2.3 per cent of India's population according to the 2011 census.

Mgr Menamparampil is a major supporter of talks between the region's warring factions, and has worked behind the scene to restore peace. In preparation for the 90th World Mission Day, on 23 October, we present his testimony.

The young Catholic community which is just over a hundred and twenty years old is close to two million members. They are grateful to their earlier missionaries from Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Ireland and other countries for the spirit they have left behind.

The leadership of the Church has moved from foreign hands to Indian hands, from Indian hands to indigenous hands. The recent appointment of Bishop Victor Lyngdoh as the new Bishop of Jowai marks new significant step.

He has already been doing an amazing amount of work at Nongstoin, many opportunities wait for him at his new assignment. Mostly composed of members of ethnic minorities, which in India are called tribal communities, the Catholic community of Northeast India has brought their spiritual genius into the Church to the edification of older believers in other parts of the country.

The encouraging fact is that vocations to priesthood and religious life are rising in this part of the world. This young Church has two theological centres, several institutions for the study of philosophy, and increasing number of houses for religious formation.  Religious publications are rising, theological reflection is deepening, inculturation efforts are diversifying; and what is most important of all, people are proud of their faith and are not ashamed to share it with others.

While they celebrate the Mission Sunday with enthusiasm, they believe that every Sunday is a mission Sunday and every day a day for evangelization.

(Source: Asia News)

Image: Asia News's feature image

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