Support the Work of Catechists in India
Project Code: 317-07-49
Miao is a remote township in the northeast of India, on the frontier with Burma. You would need a detailed map in order to find it, in fact. Situated not far from the Namdapha National Park, in the state of Arunachal Pradesh, Miao has since 2005 been the seat of the Catholic diocese of the same name. Its first bishop is a Salesian, George Pallipparambil, and the diocese, while not large in relation to the size of the population, is nonetheless a relatively substantial one, with close to 80,000 Catholics.
As Bishop George explains, the people live from the produce of their fields, just barely managing to subsist in this way, especially since the harvests are often destroyed by the torrential monsoon rains and the consequent soil erosion. Health care and education are substantially lacking in the region, and there is a shortage of medical establishments and of medicine in general. Many people die from what are essentially treatable illnesses, such as flu-like infections, tuberculosis and malaria. Some 2% of the population do not live beyond the age of 40, according to the bishop. Most of the people, up to 90%, are simple peasant farmers, who either have not the means to send their children to school or else need them to work at home and on the land. And what schools exist are often simply too far away.
Yet despite their hard lives, these are a cheerful and optimistic people, something that applies especially to the Christians. The diocese has now extended its missionary work to the 22 parishes within the diocese. As Bishop Pallipparambil observes, globalization can never extinguish the people's hunger for the Word of God: "God has blessed us here with many people who accept Him. We are growing. In some villages, chapels have been built; more priests and sisters have come to join us, and the laity are more active than ever, above all since the crisis," he says, adding, "We are a lay Church." He also points out that the rapid development of the diocese is in no small measure due to the work of the 150 lay catechists.
The fervent wish of this Salesian bishop is that "through the hard work of our catechists more and more people will be drawn to God." So far the catechists have been meeting monthly, in order to exchange ideas, pray together and plan ahead. These meetings are an excellent idea, the bishop believes, for the catechists are fully committed to their work. And yet they are working almost entirely voluntarily, being paid only a very small amount. In consequence, Bishop George would like to offer them regular in-service training and further theological courses. For this he is counting on the help of ACN, and we fully support him and would like to help with a sum of $5,500. Will you help us fulfill this process to support these catechists in India?