Vatican ambassador visits Nagaland; urge catholics to live Christian life

Kohima: Vatican envoy Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, Apostolic Nuncio to India and Nepal, who is on a 4-day visit to Nagaland, on Sunday, urged faithful of the church to joyfully live the Christian vocation and bear witness to the Christian faith. 

During a felicitation programme held at the Bishops’s house hall in Kohima, the Vatican envoy acknowledged the catholic community in Nagaland and lauded the Diocese of Kohima for providing partial and full educational scholarships to poor children. 

“The gospel journey is a challenge and every step we take, we need the grace of God. As lay faithful, you are called to joyfully live your Christian vocation, bearing witness of your faith in daily life,” he told the faithful.

He also advised the catholic leaders to be primary instruments in renewing the earth with their leadership and faithfulness in the community. 

Johnny Ruangmei, president of the Catholic Association of Nagaland, in a brief address informed that the catholic community is the second largest Christian faith in Nagaland. He assured that faithful of the Church are trying to live according to the catholic values and teachings.

Most Rev. Dr. James Thoppil, the Bishop of Kohima, informed that within a span of 70 years from no catholic in the state, the number has grown to about 62,000 members among all Naga tribes. He informed that there are 49 diocesan priests at present and 11 religious priests along with 200 religious sisters from the various tribes of Nagaland.

“It is the laity that shouldered the responsibility of spreading the faith and they continue to do with great zeal and enthusiasm,” he said. Despite the low numbers, he said that the influence of the church through educational institutions, medical institutions and social involvement is very high.

Some challenges he mentioned that the church faces include lack of communication and transport facilities, upholding the tribal and gospel values at the face of onslaught of materialistic and hedonistic pursuit in life, prioritizing proclamation and catechesis, and so on. 

The vatican envoy also felicitated Venuzo Timothy Dawhuo, reigning champ and two-time Naga wrestling champion on Sunday. 

Ahead of the felicitation programme, the Vatican ambassador paid a visit to the Kohima war cemetery, Naga Heritage village at Kisama and St. Joseph’s College (Autonomous) college Jakhama.

Earlier during the day, while interacting with students at St. Joseph’s college (Autonomous) Jakhama, the archbishop lauded the college for contributing towards the formation of young students into people of character, compassion, responsibility, accountability, and moulding them to become worthy citizens. 

Expressing delight at visiting the first college established by the Diocese of Kohima, he said “It is in education, that the promise of a more human future and a more harmonious society lies”. At present, he said that all Catholic Schools and Colleges have a challenging task in carrying out the church’s educational apostolate, of not only striving to excel in pedagogy and the pursuit of knowledge but to imbue the students with the spirit of Christ.

Your aim of providing quality education,  particularly to the marginalized sections of society is truly noble, he said. 

The envoy encouraged the professors and faculty of the college to closely bound up with the holistic development offered to the students by providing them a balance of the cognitive, affective, social, professional, ethical and spiritual aspects and not be disheartened in the face of the difficulties that the educational challenge presents.

“Educating is not a profession but an attitude, a way of being; in order to educate it is necessary to step out of ourselves and be among young people, to accompany them in the stages of their growth and to set ourselves beside them,” he said.

To the students, he said that the purpose of education is to make them “fully human and fully alive” and to transform their lives. “It is my fervent hope that you will always uphold the Christian values of love, self – sacrifice , concern for others , forgiveness and peace,” he said as he blessed them.

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