The Catholic Church in Tamil Nadu during this Lent season is urging members to donate blood and register themselves as organ donors.
Every Friday and Sunday of the 40-day Lent period, parishes, including the Madras archdiocese, have been urging the laity to take the initiative.
"The Tamil Nadu Bishops' Conference had circulated a pastoral letter in 2007 highlighting organ donation. It says that body donation for medical research is in continuation of the total donation of self by Jesus," says Jesuit Priest Fr. Jerry Rosario of the Dhyana Ashram.
Rosario has pledged his organs and has conducted more than 500 blood donation camps across the city.
The priest said that the pledge has gained momentum this year because the organs of Fr Manthara of the Coimbatore diocese, who had signed his Living Will during the Holy Week in 2009, were donated after his death on December 28, 2012.
"He was the first Catholic priest from Tamil Nadu to donate his body," said the priest.
He said that circulars have been issued across parishes focusing on organ donation this year.
Last Sunday, the congregation of the Annai Velankanni Church in Sriperambudur was surprised to find their parish hall set up like a hospital, complete with doctors, nurses, and beds.
"In my sermon, I urged the congregation to step outside after mass and donate blood and pledge their organs. I told them that God had given them a body and the best use of it was to help save another," says Fr. Edwin Lawrence.
His sermon inspired 40 members of the congregation.
George Victor, a 35-year-old mechanic at Hyundai Motors, was one of them.
"If that simple act of mine can save even one life after my death, then my life is blessed," says Victor.
Fr. Rosario said the idea is to make Lent other-centric, rather than self-centric. "That is true sacrifice," he added.
Tamil Nadu state cadaver organ transplant convener Joseph Amalorpavanathan said the number of organs donated never matches the need across the world.
"The need is 10 times the actual donation," he said.
Source: Times of India
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