The Catholics of Bansikar, India, Thank You for their New Church
It is a day of great joy. At last the new church in Bansikar, for which the Catholic faithful have so long been waiting, is to be blessed. It is to be dedicated to Saint Francis of Sales. Even the Bishop Emeritus of Rourkela, Alphonse Bilung, has traveled to this remote jungle region to be present at this great feast. The faithful have decorated the entire church with colored garlands. In fact, as soon as the news came through that ACN was willing to support the building, their joy knew no bounds, and the parish priest Father Bijay Kerketta celebrated a Mass of thanksgiving with his faithful.
Bansikar belongs to the mission Parish of St. Joseph in Ambapani, which was established in 1998. At that time there was nothing here–no church, no presbytery, no place for the parish work–so that work had to start from absolute zero. The parish, in fact covers a large and largely undeveloped area, whose members for the most part belong to the ethnic minorities.
The people tend to live from hand to mouth and just 3,500 or so are Catholics out of a total population of some 50,000. The parish priest is very happy that the Catholic faithful feel a strong sense of identity with their parish and are very committed. And the number of Catholics is growing from year to year.
Bansikar is one of the three out-centers of the parish. It is situated about five miles from the parish center, in the jungle, and there are 700 people living here. But, given the distance and the difficult routes, the Catholic faithful cannot regularly get to the parish church, and at first they had nowhere suitable where they could gather to pray or for Holy Mass. Above all in the rainy season this was a major problem.
Then one member of the community gave the Church a plot of land on which to build a chapel. By their own efforts the people built a small mud chapel, but the heavy monsoon rainfall and the wild elephants in the jungle caused serious damage to it. What they needed was a solid and permanent church.
Thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, ACN was able to help with $23,200. Now Father Kerketta has written to say, “Many thanks for your generosity, your love, your understanding and your concern for our mission. We pray for each and every one of you, for all the intentions of our benefactors and of your wonderful organization. May God the Lord bless you all abundantly!”