22 International News

posted May 23, 2018, 10:00 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 23, 2018, 10:00 AM ]

Centenary celebration of first native priest

Around 4,000 people from various parts of Odisha attended the concluding programme of the year-long celebrations of the birth centenary of Fr Pascal Singh, Odisha's first Catholic priest. Bishops, priests, nuns and people from all over Odisha gathered at Fr Singh's birthplace in Allanjuri, Kandhamal district, for the closing ceremony on May 17.

The concluding day saw the blessing of newly built St Thomas Church in the village.

Fr Singh was ordained a priest on December 31, 1945, at Kattingia, the oldest parish known as the mother parish of Kandhamal. His only brother, Cyprian Singh, was ordained four years later as the second native priest of Odisha. Since then, Odisha state has seen a steady increase of priestly and religious vocations.

Currently, Kandhamal, Sundargarh and Gajapati districts of Odisha are the favoured places for the promotion of vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

"Fr Pascal was a dedicated educationist and social reformist," said Bhaktanath S, old student and retired teacher.

Bishop Aplinar Senapati of Rayagada said Fr Singh knew that only education could bring development of communities.

"Hence, along with his younger brother, he was instrumental in establishing educational institutions in different parts of Odisha that empowered the downtrodden, marginalised people of the then Cuttack diocese," said Ambrose Sualsingh, another old student and a retired teacher.

Several speakers recalled their experience with the two brother priests as students of schools they established, or how they were inspired by the lives of these great visionaries.


Minor rape victim dies of burn injuries

A 16-year-old girl who was raped and set on fire in Jharkhand's Pakur district succumbed to her injuries on May 18, after two weeks in hospital.

According to the police, the girl was raped on May 4 by a neighbor, Bacchan Mandal, at her house in Kakarwana village, when her family members had gone out for work. When the victim cried for help, Mandal took her to a toilet and set her on fire.

She was rushed to a local hospital, but later shifted to the Bokaro General Hospital. The victim's family members first assumed she had attempted suicide, but the girl regained consciousness and revealed to the police that she was raped and set on fire.


Rani Maria's story deserves to be told: Filmmaker

Shaison P. Ouseph, an internationally acclaimed documentary filmmaker, is all set to make a film on Blessed Rani Maria, who was assassinated by a contract killer in central India in 1995.

The Franciscan Clarist Congregation nun, who was 41 at the time of her death, incurred the wrath of landlords for encouraging landless agricultural workers to demand just wages and their other rights. The assassin inflicted 54 stab wounds on her body.

Rani Maria was beatified on November 4, 2017, at Indore, the commercial capital of Madhya Pradesh state.

Shaison, as the filmmaker is popularly known, says the film on the martyred nun is a dream project for him. The credits of this native of Kerala's Chalakudy range from director of photography to art director on many documentaries and independent feature projects.


Archbishop calls for prayer campaign ahead of 2019 elections

Msgr Anil JT Couto, Archbishop of Delhi, issued a pastoral letter with a prayer to be recited in all parishes of the diocese, together with fasting and Eucharistic adoration, every Friday until the 2019 elections.

In his statement, the prelate expressed concern about India's "turbulent political atmosphere which poses a threat to the democratic principles enshrined in our Constitution and the secular fabric of our nation."

His letter, dated May 8, was released May 12, eve of the anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady of Fatima. The archbishop emphasised the value of prayer and the importance of fasting as redemptive practices.


Nipah virus kills 10

After three lives were lost to Nipah virus (NiV) and eight battling the disease in Kerala's Kozhikode district, both the state and the Central governments took comprehensive measures on May 21 to contain the outbreak of the rare virus. Doctors say it is just another viral infection, and there is nothing to panic.

Kerala Health Minister K.K. Shailaja said all arrangements are in place, things are under control, and there is no need to panic. The state government has sanctioned an emergency fund of Rs 20 lakh to the Kozhikode Medical College to tackle the present fever outbreak.

Nipah virus, spread by fruit bats, that infects both animals and humans, first claimed the lives of two brothers and their aunt in Perambara of Kozhikode district within a few weeks, and eight more people passed away later.