|Tribal Oraon dancers lead the procession during the ordination of Fr Promod Toppo|
The country’s first tribal Oraon priest was ordained yesterday in Damak parish at a ceremony overseen by Apostolic Vicar Bishop Anthony Sharma and concelebrated by around two dozen priests.
Fr Promod Toppo was ordained at a ceremony in the Suryodaya High School complex, which also houses the Immaculate Conception Church and the convent of the St Joseph of Cluny Sisters.
Fr Toppo, 34, who was born in Damak, said he was grateful for the opportunity to serve the community in which he was raised.
“As a rule you are never posted in your birthplace, [but] I am not here to serve just my people. Jesus himself did not work only for the Jewish people but for all. So I will go out and preach and do His ministerial work.”
Damak is considered one of the oldest parishes in Nepal. Located near the country’s tea plantations and Bhutanese refugee camps, and just two hours from the Indian border, the parish has historically been served by Indian missionaries that began arriving during the 1940s.
The Oraon are an Adivasi tribe originally from India but which settled in Nepal generations ago.
Sister Winifred Mukhia of the St Joseph of Cluny convent helped found Suryodaya High school in 1986 and remembered Fr Toppo as a student at the school.
“I was the principal when he was studying here. He was a gentle and a peaceful kind of person from an early age.”
Bina Toppo said the ordination was a blessing for the parish.
“We are so very happy, as he is the first ordained priest from our community. He is a great example and an answer to our prayers.”
Less than a dozen ethnic Nepalese priests serve in the country, where a total of 69 priests, including 36 Jesuits, are assigned.
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