22 National News

posted May 16, 2019, 2:01 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 16, 2019, 2:01 AM ]

Jean Vanier shared Mother Teresa's passion for the poor

Jean Vanier, who died on May 7, is well remembered in India. Mr Rana, director of Asha Niketan (Home of Hope) in Kolkata, recalled the friendship between the founder of L'Arche communities and Mother Teresa, the foundress of the Missionaries of Charity.

"Over the past 49 years, Jean Vanier visited India many times. Every time he was in Kolkata, he went to visit Mother Teresa," Mr Rana said. In many ways, "Jean Vanier and Mother Teresa were like brother and sister. They shared a love for people, especially those who were different."

L'Arche (The Ark) is a network of communities open to healthy people and people with disabilities. The Asha Niketan in Kolkata is one such community, founded by Jean Vanier in 1973. Its history is intertwined with that of Mother Teresa. "In 1990, we moved to our current location in Tangra," Rana said. "Jean Vanier himself came for the inauguration. The land was given to us by Mother Teresa. Our home is right next to one of the communities of the Missionaries of Charity, about 4 kilometres from the Mother Home."


SC orders bail for one of the seven innocents of Kandhamal

The Supreme Court of India granted bail, on May 9, to Gornath Chalanseth, one of the seven innocent Christians languishing in jail for a decade, thanks to a bail application led by the legal team of ADF (Alliance Defending Freedom). The New Delhi-based ADF, a Christian rights' group and an advocacy organisation, protects fundamental freedoms and promotes the inherent dignity of all people. Gornath, along with six others, including mentally challenged Munda Badamajhi, had been convicted to life imprisonment for the murder of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati on Janmashtami night of 2008, by a third judge in 2013, after two judges had been transferred abruptly.

While their bail pleas had been twice rejected by the Odisha High Court, Cuttack, last in December 2018, their appeals against the conviction by subversion of the judicial system have been dragging on for over five years in the Odisha High Court, said Anto Akkara, a senior journalist and author, who has been advocating the release of the seven innocents.


Persecution led to vocations

Hundreds of Christians and Hindus attended a thanksgiving Mass for two sisters who became full-fledged Catholic nuns after suffering religious persecution as teenagers in Odisha's Kandhamal district. While Manjuta Pradhan professed her final vows as a member of the Franciscan Sisters of St Joseph on April 27, her elder sister pronounced her vows in the Daughters of Charity two years ago.

"During the 2008 communal violence, they underwent pain, agony, persecution; but they remained very strong in their faith in Christ; they have now become an inspiration to many Hindu neighbours. Nothing is impossible in the eyes of God," Fr T Francis Kanhar told the gathering at the Eucharist.

"Nothing can separate me from the love of God; neither persecution nor threat in life," said Manjuta recalling the persecution her family had suffered.


Indian Salesian appointed to Asian Youth Office

Salesian Fr Jacob Anil D'Sa has been appointed the Asian International Young Catholic Students (IYCS) chaplain. The 40-year-old Indian priest will be based at Manila, the capital of the Philippines.

The IYCS is a Catholic action movement of the apostolate of Laity. As an International Catholic organisation, it functions under the Pontifical Council for the Laity. The IYCS is committed to the United Nations with a consultative status to the Economic and Social Commission and operational status at UNESCO. IYCS is present in 87 countries, including in Asian countries.


Church-run training changes lives for young Indians

At the age of 35, Renu Chouhan had already been married for 22 years. But then she got divorced. Unskilled, unemployed and with no source of income, Renu joined her parents at a shanty on the outskirts of Indore in Madhya Pradesh. But she fell into depression, because her presence exacerbated their "hand to mouth" reliance on meagre daily wages. Renu, who had previously studied up to grade 11, was told by a friend that she might be able to get help from the Catholic Church-run Jan Vikas Centre. Upon completion in December of a three-month beautician course, she began working for a private firm in Indore and takes home US$350 a month. The Jan Vikas classes also developed her communication skills, including basic English. "That helped me get the job," Chouhan explains.

She is among 624 women and men that Jan Vikas assisted through skills training to obtain jobs during the past 18 months.