Odisha’s new Catholic converts ready for martyrdom
By Santosh Digal
Raikia: Prabin Digal knew the risks involved when he took the biggest decision in life: to become a Catholic along with his mother and young brother.
“We will stick to our faith in Christ no matter what happens. We are willing to die for our faith and Christ,” the 22-year-old tenth grader told Matters India on April 12 soon after his baptism at Our Lady of Charity parish Raikia, a town in the Kandhamal district of Odisha, eastern India.
Kandhamal was the scene of the worst anti-Christian violence in modern India nine years ago. Some 100 people were killed and more than 56,000 became homeless when radical Hindus targeted Christians in the district.
Digal’s mother, Chandrika, says there could no substitute for the “inner joy” she began experiencing after her decision to accept Jesus. “It is blessing that we have accepted faith with freedom, with full knowledge, will and freedom,” the 40-year-old mother of two, told Matters India.
The housewife who doubles up as a daily casual laborer says she is grateful to God for the opportunity to receive baptism and get closer to Christ. She and her sons have attended Catholic prayers for the past six years.
“In Christ, we have everything. Accepting Jesus is as personal savior is God’s blessing and we thank God for the gift of this Catholic faith,” she said trying to hide tears.
She said they were drawn to Catholicism several years ago and started attending prayers. After six years of observation and discernment, they felt ready to embrace the new faith with courage, said the mother. Easter this year will be memorable for us, said the woman who admitted that she was illiterate.
“I have learned prayers with the help of our local catechists,” she explained.
Chandrika says she knows the risks involved in becoming a Christian in India now. “It would be great honor to die for faith. We are prepared to profess our faith with courage and conviction. I would not hide my Catholic identify under any situation,” she added.
Her younger son, 16-year-old-Rohim, wrote the tenth grade exam from Vijay High School, Raikia, a Catholic institute, in March. He plans to become to join a seminary and become a missionary. As a first step, he would an annual vocation camp the Vocation Board of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar archdiocese plans to organize in a nearby town on May 7-9.
“I am happy that I am able to know Christ and love him and follow him as my personal savior and master,” Rohim told Matters India.