Vocations increase from ethnic minority groups in India

Indigenous congregation boosted by new members is conducting work in remote villages once done by missioners
Vocations increase from ethnic minority groups in India

Newly professed nuns pose for a photograph after their oath taking ceremony in eastern Jharkhand state Dec. 8. Church leaders say vocations from ethnic minority groups are increasing. (Photo supplied)

 

Forty-one young women from ethnic minority groups took vows to become Catholic nuns in a rare event of this scale in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand.

Church leaders welcomed what they described as a trend for more tribal people to choose a religious path in life.

More than 1,000 Catholics, including families and parishioners of the women, gathered Dec. 8 for the ceremony at the Nirmala Catholic Church in the state capital, Ranchi.

The women took vows to become nuns of the indigenous congregation of Daughters of St. Anne.

"This is a great sign that young people are attracted to religious life," Cardinal Telesphore Toppo of Ranchi, who officiated at the ceremony, told ucanews.com.

It also showed that the Indian Church was thriving despite opposition from Hindu nationalist groups, the cardinal added.

Cardinal Toppo noted that such vocations were fast replacing missioners who earlier came to where there were pockets of Catholics.

 

Superior General Sister Linda Mary Vaughan said the new members came from indigenous communities in the states of Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and the Andaman Islands.

The congregation has 142 houses in India, eight in Italy and one in Germany.

More than 1,100 nuns of the congregation are mostly engaged in remote missions aiming to empower villagers.

A local catholic woman, who later came to be known as Mother Mary Bernadette Prasad Kispotta, founded the congregation in 1897.  Three companions assisted her.

Mother Bernadette died in 1961 aged 82.

She became the first ethnic minority Indian nun to be put on the path towards canonization when she was named a "Servant of God" on Aug. 7, 2016.

The congregation now has no shortage of vocations.

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Sister Vaughan said another 38 novices were ready to be professed next year and 50 more in 2019.

Newly professed  Sister Nishi Barla, 20, said her childhood dreams had come true.

Being a Catholic nun was challenging, particularly when Christians faced persecution across the country, observed the nun from the Munda ethnic minority group.

Christians, especially in northern Indian states, face increased attacks from hardline groups that want to make India a Hindu-only nation.

Alice Kullu, another newly professed nun, said; "Jesus too suffered persecution and we are also prepared for it."

Poor villagers needed help to enter the main stream of society, said the nun who hails from the Kharia ethnic minority in neighboring Chhattisgarh state.

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