Interreligious collaboration stressed at Easter Milan

The program aimed to bring Christians closer to their neighbors

New Delhi: People of various religions attended an Easter Milan (get-together) organized by a Delhi parish for its neighborhood on April 5.

This was the first time such a program organized in the Archdiocese of Delhi, said Rita S Aggarwal, secretary of the Catholic Association of Blessed Mother Teresa Church.

The parish covers Indraprastha Extension area of East Delhi that houses more than 125 group housing societies with more than 100,000 people.

Rita said the parish decided to organize such a program in the backdrop of recent attacks on Christians in various parts of India. Five churches and a Christian school were vandalized in the national capital alone since December 1, 2014.

The program aimed to help Christians network with other communities, organizations and the administration, she told Matters India. Christians, she added, needed to get out of their ghettos and interact with people of other religions to dispel misconceptions about Christianity.

The program tried to portray the positive and peaceful contributions of Christians toward development of the nation, Rita said.

Arun Kumar Saha, the top police official of the area and the chief guest at the program, commended Christians for bringing people of all religions together and setting an example of religious harmony. He also noted that religious and social groups in Indraprastha Extension area have undertaken various welfare programs for the poor and downtrodden.

The Station House Officer (SHO) of Mandavali said his department had taken special steps to safeguard religious places, especially churches, in his area during the Holy Week from March 29 to April 5.

The Delhi police had deployed their personnel to guard Christian places of worship in the national capital during the Holy Week.

The SHO promised all help to the Church in providing security and safety, he shared his mobile number with the congregation present and said he would assist them whenever approached.

Father Alex Toppo, the parish priest, chaired the program held in the Blessed Mother Teresa Church hall. The priest explained to the group of some 50 people various aspects of Christian faith and the Holy Week services.

Father John Puthuva, who coordinates the activities of the Prison Ministry of India in Delhi, said the 20-year-old organization tries to get prisoners released from jails, rehabilitate and renew them. More than 6,000 volunteers work in almost all prisons in the country, added the acting pastor of the Mary Matha Syro-Malabar parish.

Stanley Michael of the Vincent De Paul Society explained the works the organization.

A Chinappan, secretary general of All India Catholic Union, Maria Stanislaus, secretary of the Catholic Association of the Archdiocese of Delhi, Pramod Aggarwal, treasurer of the IPEX (Indraprastha Extension) Society, Father Balraj, assistant parish priest, and the Sisters of Nazareth also attended the program.

Aggarwal said he society too undertook several philanthropic works in the area and offered to collaborate with Christians to bring succor to the poor. He also urged Christians to use languages that the local people could understand while conducting their services.

He said he had attended services in the church as he was curious to know Christians and their works. However, he could not understand anything as the services were in Malayalam, an unfamiliar language for him.

N J Sebastian, a parishioner, advised Aggarwal to attend services in English and Hindi the parish conducts daily.

Nanu Ram, a Hindu, sang the opening prayer.

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