|Father Munib Pradhan|
When newly ordained Father Munib Pradhan offered his first Holy Mass in Raikia parish of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar archdiocese, thousands gathered leaving behind the pains of anti-Christian riots that hit their community.
Some 1,500 people joined the ceremony with over 20 priests and 15 religious nuns when Bishop Aplinar Senapati of Rayagada ordained the priest on Dec.12 in the Kandhamal district of the state, which was attacked by Hindus fanatics in 2004 and 2008.
During the 2008 attack, a group of militant Hindus attacked the church of Our Lady of Charity in the parish, and torched Christian homes, threatening Christians to abandon their faith.
The seven-week long violence claimed some 100 lives when mobs of Hindus burnt down Christian homes, destroyed churches and convents and butchered Christians in public. At least five people from the parish were killed, two of them burnt alive, according to church officials.
“There was fear when the church was attacked. People cried bitterly,” the newly ordained priest said. “But that only strengthened my faith to follow Jesus and do the work of the Lord,” he said.
“Eight years ago, during this time, our communities in Kandhamal had to go through the furnace of communal violence. But we never lost our serenity and faith,” said Father Pradosh Chandra Nayak the parish of Raikia.
“People in the region are poor but rich in faith and in their unity and Christian integrity,” added the pastor.
India: Violence is never justified, say catholic leaders.