By Matters India Reporters
New Delhi, April 28, 2019: Hundreds of thousands of Catholics throughout India dedicated April 28, the feast of Divine Mercy, to pray for neighboring Sri Lanka that was ravaged by serial blasts a week ago.
The Conference of Catholic Bishops of India, the national body of the Latin rite Church, had called for observing the feast with various programs to show solidarity with the victims of the blasts that killed 359 people and wounded more than 500 in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday.
The Catholic Church observers the Sunday after Easter as the feast of Divine Mercy associated with special promises from Jesus and indulgences issued by the Church.
Expressing solidarity with the Sri Lankan victims, Catholics of Arunachal Pradesh conducted special prayer service and candle light rallies in various parts of India’s northeastern most region.
About 3,000 people, mostly survivors of 2008 anti-Christian violence, joined similar programs in the Kandhamal district of Odisha state in eastern India.
At Our Lady of Charity Parish Church, Raikia, a major parish in Kandhamal, the survivors marched with lighted candles and sang hymns for the Sri Lankan victims. Catholics in Raikia were attacked twice in the past — 2004 and in 2008 — by Hindu extremists.
“How can we the victims of anti-Christian violence of 2008 fail to show our solidarity towards the victims of terrorists in Sri Lanka?” asked Anita Pradhan, a widow.
She said she could understand the agony of family members of Sri Lankan victims since “I had felt totally blind after the brutal massacre of my husband by the Hindu Extremist in 2008.”
In Arunachal Pradesh, the Catholics held special prayer service during the Sunday Mass in the morning and Eucharistic Adoration and candle light rally in the evening.
Bishop George Palliparambil of Miao, one of the two dioceses in the state, said what happened in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday was too painful and condemnable. “Sri Lanka as a nation has suffered enough violence in the past. We offer our condolences to the people of Sri Lanka. We assure our prayerful support to the church in Sri Lanka,” read a statement from the bishop.
The youth around Miao held a rally at the local market place in Namphai in Changlang district. “The news coming from Sri Lanka is very painful. What should have been a joyful day turned into a day of mourning and pain for our brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka,” said Nangtim Mossang, a youth leader from Miao.
Tumen Wangrai, a catechist from Changlang district, said Catholics have come together “to tell our suffering brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka that they are not alone in this time of great pain. Their agony is ours and we share their grief.”
Around 200 people attended a rally from the grotto of Sacred Heart in the town to the town’s Government Higher Secondary School.
The rally, which was preceded by Eucharistic Adoration, saw the participation of people from all faiths. The small community of Muslims living in the area and a large number of Hindus too were present.
Similar rallies were held at Tezu in Lohit district and Pongchao in Longding district of east Arunachal Pradesh.