UCA News


Marian procession in war-torn Kachin State prays for peace

Catholics displaced by ongoing conflict in northern Myanmar join procession to pray for peace and reconciliation

Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Marian procession in war-torn Kachin State prays for peace

Kachin Catholics carry a Marian statue during a peace procession held in Myitkyina, Kachin State on May 28. (Photo by Hkun Awng Nlam)

Share this article :
Catholics displaced by the ongoing conflict in Myanmar's Kachin State joined thousands of others for a Marian peace procession through the state capital Myitkyina.

Some 7,000 Kachin Catholics took part in the procession led by Bishop Francis Daw Tang of Myitkyina on May 28.

Father Peter Hka Awng Tu, parish priest of St. Columban's Cathedral in Myitkyina, said some 1,000 internally displaced people (IDP) now living in nearby camps joined the procession.

"We prayed and said the rosary to Mother Mary, who is the Queen of Peace, for peace in Kachin State and elsewhere in Myanmar," Father Awng Tu told ucanews.com.

The priest said hostilities between Kachin rebels and the Myanmar military was ongoing. He said there were reports that some civilians trying to avoid the fighting remained trapped in jungle areas.

More than 3,000 people have taken refuge at Catholic Churches in Myitkyina, Tanai, Letwa, Namti and Tangphre, said Father Awng Tu.

Procession attendees at the Marian grotto at St. Columban's Cathedral in Myitkyina, the capital city of Kachin State. (Photo by Hkun Awng Nlam)


Joseph Tang Sham who is newly displaced from a village near Inngyanyan township said he hoped God would fulfill their prayers for peace in Kachin State and elsewhere in Myanmar.

"We want to go back home but we can't return because fighting may erupt again," said Tang Sham who took part in the Marian procession.

Patrick Gum Seng, a Catholic in-charge of St. Joseph IDP camp in Maina, Waimaw township, said Catholics in the area had a strong faith in God and hoped  their prayers would be answered.

"We haven't lost hope in peace. We keep praying for an end to the fighting," Gum Seng told ucanews.com.

In total the U.N. says that more than 7,400 people have recently been displaced by fighting in eight townships including Tanai, Ingyanyang and Hpakant. They have since been sheltering at both Catholic and Baptist churches.

Kachin Catholics during the Marian procession for peace in Myitkyina, Kachin State on May 28. (Photo by Hkun Awng Nlam)


Renewed fighting erupted in 2011 following the collapse of a 17-year ceasefire and since then, more than 120,000 people have fled to 179 IDP camps in Kachin State and neighboring Shan State.

Myanmar's military stepped up its offensive in Kachin State in early April by launching attacks against the rebels using heavy artillery, helicopters and jet fighters.

On May 8, Bishop Francis Daw Tang of Myitkyina and two other Kachin bishops gave a letter focusing on the conflict to Pope Francis during their ad limina visit to the Vatican.

"In the letter, we requested Pope Francis help Myanmar's peace efforts and to appeal to the country's leaders — the civilian government and military leaders," Bishop Tang told ucanews.com. "We stressed the importance of negotiation and dialogue for attaining peace."

Pope Francis made a three day visit to Myanmar last November and urged the country's people to work towards peace and reconciliation.

Most of Kachin State's 1.7 million population are Christians, including 116,000 Catholics.

Support UCA News...

As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.

That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.

Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.

UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.

And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.

We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.

With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.

Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...
UCAN Donate
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter
Support UCA News

William J. Grimm, MM


Union of Catholic Asian News

"As Pope Francis has said, we live not so much in an era of change as in a change of era. That is especially true in Asia and for the churches of Asia. UCA News is the dedicated, Asia-wide news and information service for the Church in Asia and we need your help to maintain the service."