Easter blessings from UCAN
There is no more important week in the year for Christians than this Holy Week. We call it Holy because of the mystery we celebrate - God's gift of His son who loves us to his death on Calvary and beyond.
Because of that love, we wish each other Happy Easter even when we know there is a lot of tragedy about it - Good Friday. As Christians, we know that what we see happening with and in Jesus goes to the heart of what we know from our own experience of life.
At the Second Vatican Council, the Christian lives we all lead were described as being shares in the Paschal Mystery. We have our share in the death and resurrection of Jesus every day. Our lives are part of the Paschal Mystery.
At UCAN, we work to describe that mystery in the unfolding tragedies and astonishing blessings of the people we seek out and report, feature and comment on.
While at times deeply distressing work, this effort of ours gets its coherence in the same way the death of Jesus did - because of the astonishing grace of a God who never gives up on life and love.
Because of that, we can wish you Happy Easter.
Fr. Michael Kelly SJ
'Whispering' archbishop earns wide acclaim
Salesian prelate called a 'messenger of peace'Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil of Guwahati
- Lissy Maruthanakuzhy, Guwahati
- October 26, 2011
His seven successful peace-keeping initiatives in the region are well-known across the country and earned the Salesian prelate, who turned 75 on October 22, a Nobel Peace Prize nomination this year.
His achievements notwithstanding, Archbishop Menamparampil refuses to accept accolades for his courageous work.
âThese works came up because the members of my team have worked. Our goals were clear and we knew how to work together,â he said, adding however that âthere were moments of pain.â
The archbishop is perhaps better known for introducing the Asian Church to a new way of evangelization, which he calls âwhispering the Gospel to the soul of Asia.â
This approach came at a time when the Church was struggling between a triumphalistic proclamation of Christ as savior and a total denial of Christâs mission of salvation.
âWhen I say âwhispering,â it is not a sign of timidity or diffidence. It is, rather, a sign of seriousness and depth. It stands for respect,â he said.
When we are close to the soul of a community, we are at a profound level of a personâs being and a whisper is more than enough. However, what we fail to do is to get close to the soul of a community.â
Archbishopâs insightful approach caught the attention of Pope Benedict XVI, who entrusted him with the task of writing the meditations for the Way of the Cross on Good Friday at the Colosseum in 2009.
Born in Palai in Kerala state, Archbishop Menamparampil was appointed bishop of Dibrugarh in Assam before taking the reins of Guwahati as its first archbishop in 1995.
A prolific writer, the septuagenarian has authored 30 books on wide-ranging themes, including evangelization, peace and pastoral work.
Fr Varghese Kizhakevely, vicar general of the archdiocese, says the archbishop will be remembered for helping the new Christian communities in Arunachal Pradesh, where missioners were banned until two decades ago.
In 1996, Archbishop Menamparampil formed an Ecumenical Peace Team in 1996 in the wake of ethnic strife between Bodo and Adivasi-Santal tribes in Kokhrajhar in Assam.
He said the peace team side-lined political leaders and vociferous elements and brought together sober, moderate and farsighted people respected by their communities.
âWhen they made an appeal for peace, everyone listened,â he said.
Two years later, the Baptist Church sought his help during a conflict between the Kuki and Paite tribes.
His team has also assisted in the Dimasa-Hmar conflict in 2003, the Karbi-Kuki clashes in the same year and the Dimasa-Karbi tensions in 2004, as well as several more recent tribal conflicts.
Be it conflicts over land ownership, political power distributions, educational opportunities or employment, the prelate seemed to operate everywhere as a broker for peace.
âThere have been heartbreaking moments, much fatigue, no results after an enormous amount of effort, total failure. But we continue trusting in the Lord.
There were also moments of encouragement.
His interventions earned him the title âmessenger of peace,â in large part for his focus on fostering dialogue and negotiation instead of conflict and confrontation.
Archbishop Menamparampil has also left his mark as a prominent leader in civil society. Presently, he is engaged in spreading awareness about the need for probity in public life.
During two decades of service in Guwahati, he has established more than 50 parishes, schools, hostels, institutions for the disabled, two seminaries and five hospitals.
He has also served as chairperson of the Indian Catholic Bishopsâ Conferenceâs Commission for Clergy and Religious for Proclamation, and currently serves as the chair of the Office of Evangelization of the Federation of Asian Bishopsâ Conference.
Prelates vow to work for good of all