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Kandhamal tenth anniversary: Indian Church to pray for martyrs 

By Purushottam Nayak

Bhubaneswar: The Catholic Church in Odisha plans to invite all cardinals, archbishops and bishops of India to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the persecution of Christian in the Kandhamal district of the eastern Indian state.

The Church expects all prelates along with hundreds of priests and nuns from all over India at the solemn Mass on August 25 on the St Joseph’s School Ground in Bhubaneswar, the state capital.

“We are persecuted but not abandoned, knocked down but not crushed,” says a message from Archbishop John Barwa of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, the chief organizer of the program.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India will also collaborate with the program, says the prelate in the June issue of the archdiocesan official circular.

Archbishop Barwa says the Church has experienced God’s powerful presence and accompaniment during all hardships and persecutions down the centuries. Everything happens for a purpose, said the Divine Word prelate, who added, “Let’s pray for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the persecuted Christians of Kandhamal and for their continuous growth in faith.”

Kandhamal, a district in Odisha, witnessed the worst anti-Christian violence in modern Indian history. The community experienced violence during Christmas season in 2007 and again in the second half of 2008.

Around 100 people lost their lives and more 56,000 people were rendered homeless in the violence that began on August 25, 2008, and lasted for a few months. Thousands of houses and hundreds of churches and Church institutions were destroyed in the mayhem.

“Let us rise up from the ashes of 2008 Kandhamal riot. As we complete 10 years of the Kandhamal violence, we are planning to pray in the name of the Kandhamal Church,” Archbishop Barwa said.

The prelate said at the commemorative Mass on August 25 the Indian Church will pay homage to the Kandhamal martyrs, who inspire and encourage Christians in the country to witness their faith at all times.

The program, the prelate says, will help bring spiritual renewal for the Odisha Church and produce more devout Christians from Kandhamal. After the Kandhamal violence, hundreds of young people from the region have joined seminaries and convents to dedicate their lives to serve society and the Church.

“I also urge you to pray unceasingly for the cause of the martyrs of Kandhamal. May St. Thomas, the patron saint of the Archdiocese intercede for us to be healed of our wounds and live in harmony and peace as brothers and sisters, children of the One God,” Archbishop Barwa prayed.

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