Nagaland: Catholics celebrate jubilee in spirit of joy, gratitude

Kohima: Catholics in Nagaland celebrated the golden jubilee of the Diocese of Kohima with great enthusiasm at the Mary Help of Christians Cathedral Church on Saturday.

The jubilee celebrations began with the unveiling of a plaque, followed by a Holy Eucharist celebration led by Archbishop Emeritus of Imphal, Most Reverend Dominic Lumon DD.

During the Holy Mass, Bishop of Agartala, Most Reverend Lumen Monteiro DD, spoke to the gathering and said that the jubilee was a time for thanksgiving.

Bishop Monteiro noted that thanksgiving is central to Christian worship, and that faithful should always give thanks to the Lord, no matter what the circumstances are. As the diocese celebrated its 50th anniversary, he reminded the congregation of the challenges faced by the early pioneers of the Church.

He said that as the diocese celebrates its 50th anniversary of evangelization, the golden jubilee will mark a new chapter of evangelism in the state.

The Holy Eucharist was followed by Marian procession where thousands marched in prayer.

Later that day, the cultural night was honored by the presence of Nagaland Governor La Ganesan as the special guest and Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio as the guest of honor.

In his address to the congregation, Bishop of Kohima, Most Reverend Dr James Thoppil, recognised the American Baptist Church’s glorious history, work, and influence in Nagaland for over a century, and acknowledged its significant impact on the people.

“In fact, Christianity gave a new identity, unity, a new relationship and vision of life to the people of Nagaland and to the entire Northeast India. The late entry of the Catholic Church only helped to fulfill the aspirations of the people more realistically” the bishop said.

He also reiterated that the Church’s role in preserving and promoting local culture and tradition has been a significant contribution, and that the Cathedral has become a Kohima landmark.

“It is an attempt to integrate and blend the Naga cultural element with Christian faith and symbols. I hope that one day it will become a national pilgrim centre, where universality of the Church is proclaimed and lived,” he added.

Nagaland Governor La Ganesan, in his jubilee greetings, praised the dedication, resilience, and tireless efforts of the many individuals who have been the backbone of the diocese for the past half century.

He said that Kohima Diocese holds a unique and a significant part of Nagaland and that the coming of the Catholic Church to Nagaland has had a huge positive impact on the state and its contributions extend far beyond mere spirituality, reaching into the very fabric of the society.

Ganesan said that with a strong commitment to educational upliftment, cultural development, social enrichment and economic enhancement, the Diocese had, over the years, served as a beacon of hope and an anchor of stability in the Naga community.

The Governor said one of the noted achievements of the church was encouraging the people to give up conflicts and leading them to national integration.

Ganesan observed that catholic population in the state was about 63,000 with 109 Diocesan priests, 100 religious priests and 493 religious nuns, sisters and was also running 106 schools including 28 Hr Sec Schools, 6 colleges, 1 university, 1 teacher Training Institute, 4 vocational training centres, 1 Media and Publication Centre, one Rehab centre for alcoholics and substance abusers, 1 Rehab centre for differently abled, 2 children’s Home, one Mother Teresa Home for the homeless, 1 Home for the affected and infected HIV, 1 Health Centre, 2 Dispensaries, 3 Social Work Centres, 2 Retreat Centres and one Palliative Care Centre.

CM Neiphiu Rio in his address said since the inception of Kohima Diocese in 1973, the Catholic Church has been a vital force that touches, influences and shapes the lives of many Nagas through its various Church activities, as well as through its many other institutions, such as schools, colleges and universities in Nagaland.

He said the advent and acceptance of Christianity in Nagaland was a turning point in the life of Nagas as it had taken the Naga society to a new era of spiritual and material growth, progress and identity at the same time it has also played a great role in shaping of moral standards and social cohesion of the Naga society through its catholic faith, and through its other social, cultural and developmental activities.

Rio said as the Diocese of Kohima celebrates its golden jubilee, the government of Nagaland gratefully acknowledged the services rendered by the Catholic Church to the people of Nagaland.

He pointed out that the strong belief and efforts of the Catholic Church for brotherhood, unity, and common good for all human beings were indeed noble goals and should be upheld and practiced by all.

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“During this auspicious occasion, let us also re-examine our relationships, write-off whatever is useless, or burdening us in our relationships, so that we can move together forward in the service of mankind,” Rio said.

Papal representative, Monseigneur Juan Pablo Cerillos Hernandez, US consul general Kolkata, Melinda M. Pavek and auxiliary bishop, Münster, Germany, Most Rev Dr Stefan Zekorn also addressed the gathering.

PWD (R&B) G. Kaito Aye, advisor for NRE & NSDMA, Z Nyusietho Nyuthe and chief secretary, J Alam also attended the event.

Also Read | From medical to ‘divine’ interventions: How Catholics made their way in Nagaland

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