DUMKA

I.

THREE YEARS AGO, IN THE TIBETAN PLATEAU, THE OGP’S TEAM PREACHED THE CATHOLIC FAITH TO PURAN, A PROTESTANT PREACHER WHO CONVERTED HUNDREDS OF SOULS IN HIS NATIVE PLACE, DUMKA, IN INDIA. WE FOUND PURAN SUPERVISING A GROUP OF AROUND EIGHTY ADIVASIS WHO, IN OUR MISSIONAL ZONE, THEY BUILD UP ROADS, SURVIVING IN MISERABLE CAMPGROUNDS, STACKED, MISPRIZED AND UNDERPAID. HE BROUGHT MANY OF THEIR OWN TO OUR MISSIONAL CENTRE AND WE PREACHED TO THEM, WE BLESSED THEM AND THEY PARTICIPATED OF THE HOLY MASS SEVERAL TIMES. WE HAVE NOT SEEN PURAN IN A WHILE SINCE HE WENT BACK TO DUMKA A FEW MONTHS AGO. AS FAR AS WE CAN RECALL, THE LAST TIME WE HAVE SEEN HIM IT WAS IN THE TIBET BORDER WITH CHINA. THAT VERY SAME DAY, PURAN RECORDED A VIDEO MANIFESTING HIS STRONG WILL TO BECOME CATHOLIC AND HE SIGNED A DOCUMENT CONTAINING THAT SAME MESSAGE. AFTERWARDS, WE HAD NO NEWS OF HIM. WE FEARED HE HAD GOTTEN BACK TO PROTESTANTISM. BUT, A FEW DAYS AGO, SURPRISINGLY, FROM DUMKA, PURAN CAME WITH MANUEL (AND ADIVASI FRIEND OF HIM) TO VISIT ME. THEY SUFFERED A LONG JOURNEY WITH THE SOLE PURPOSE OF VISITING ME.

II.

AS SOON AS THEY ARRIVED I BECAME AWARE OF THE NEWS. WHEN WE WHERE IN THE VESTRY PREPARING THE HOLY MASS, I ASKED PURAN IF WE SHOULD COUNT A COMMUNION WAFER FOR HIM AND HE ASSENTED. WE WERE FULL OF JOY. WE CELEBRATED MASS ENLIVENED WITH LATIN HYMNS AND CATHOLIC SONGS IN THE SHANTALI LANGUAGE, WHICH IS THE LANGUAGE SPOKEN BY THE ADIVASI ETHNIC GROUP, TO WHICH PURAN AND MANUEL BELONG. BUT, WHY DID THEY TOOK SUCH A LONG JOURNEY TO VISIT US? IT WAS BECAUSE MANUEL NEEDED HELP. FURTHERMORE, WHO IS MANUEL? LET ME INTRODUCE HIM IN A COUPLE OF LINES.

III.

MANUEL MURMU IS 24 YEARS OLD AND WHEN WE HAS 19, AFTER OF GOING BACK AND FORTH OF THE SEMINARY DUE TO HEALTH REASONS, HE FOUNDED TWO CATHOLIC SCHOOLS (WITH ACCOMMODATION) IN DUMKA. IT IS A MASSIVE APOSTOLATE SINCE BETWEEN THE TWO SCHOOLS (ST. PETER AND EMMANUEL) THEY SUM UP SEVEN HUNDRED STUDENTS, FROM WHICH HALF OF THEM ARE DIRMI PUJA, WHICH MEANS THEY ARE TREES AND STONES WORSHIPERS. THEY DO NOT BELONG TO ANY “ORGANIZED” RELIGION (JUST LIKE BUDDHISM OR HINDUISM) THEY SIMPLY WORSHIP TREES AND STONES. THEY LIVE NOT JUST IN A MATERIAL BUT ALSO SPIRITUAL MISERY. THEIR BIGGEST PENURY IS SPIRITUAL, WHICH IS THE PHYTO-STONE IDOLATRY AND GOD’S IGNORANCE. BUT, AT THE SAME TIME, THEY ARE EXTREMELY POOR MATERIALLY SPEAKING. THEY LITERALLY GO OUT HUNTING RATS AND TOADS TO EAT AND THEY EVEN FIGHT OVER THIS, SINCE IT IS CONSIDERED AN APPETIZING FOOD.

IV.

AS WE WERE SAYING, MANUEL IS THE PRINCIPAL OF TWO SCHOOLS, WHICH HAS 700 VERY POOR STUDENTS. HE ASKED FOR HELP. THAT IS THE REASON WHY WE WENT THERE AND TO GIVE HIM ALL WHAT WE HAD: BLESSINGS AND CATECHISM, MASS AND SMILES. BUT THEY ALSO NEED FOOD AND CLOTHING. SOMETIMES THAT EAT JUST ONE MEAL A DAY BECAUSE THE RICE IS NOT ENOUGH. THEY KIDS ARE EXTREMELY SKINNY. THEY DO NOT EAT MEAT, BUT NOT BECAUSE THEY WANT TO BE VEGAN AND TRENDY, BUT BECAUSE THEY HAVE NO OTHER MEAT THAN THE RATS AND THE TOADS. BUT MANUEL BANNED EATING RATS IN THE SCHOOL. WHEN THE OGP’S PRIESTS GO DOWN TO VISIT THEM, THEY CELEBRATE MASS, THEY PREACH AND THEY TEACH THEM THE SACRED CATECHISM. THEY PARTICIPATE WITH FASCINATION. THEY ARE EXTREMELY HAPPY ABOUT LEARNING THE MASS IN LATIN. MANUEL IS BEGGING US TO BUILD UP A CHAPEL. THE LAND IS ENORMOUS. IF THE PERIPHERIES EXIST, THIS IS THE PERIPHERY PAR EXCELLENCE. ABOVE ALL, BECAUSE THE TRUE GOD DOES IS NOT KNOWN HERE. THE EPISCOPAL VICAR DECIDED TO TURN THE SCHOOL CHAPEL INTO A PARISH. THE OGP ACCEPTED THE CHALLENGE. WE SEEK TO PLANT THE PARISH AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. THE EPISCOPAL VICAR ASKED US, IN RETURN, TO HELP ANOTHER PARISH, WHERE THERE ARE MULTITUDES OF SOULS WHO STILL ADORE STONES AND TREES. THE OGP MISSIONARY TEAM, IN RETURN, MADE AN EXPEDITION TO THE MOUNTAINOUS AND IMPOVERISHED AREA OF THE PARIAH TRIBE, WHICH HAS LONG PROFESSED PROTESTANTISM. IN A VILLAGE, THE PARIAH TRIBE ASKED THE OGP TEAM TO SETTLE A SCHOOL, WHICH IS ANOTHER OBJECTIVE THAT WE SEEK TO ACHIEVE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, TO THE EXTENT THAT GOD SENDS US MORE VOLUNTEERS AND DONATIONS.

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