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ACN Success Story – India

Renovation of a building for use as a pastoral centre

The Diocese of Kohima lies in the state of Nagaland, in remote and underdeveloped Northeast India. It is home to diverse Indigenous tribes, each of which has its own language. Most live from what they can glean from the soil, many are unemployed, and the majority of people in the most remote villages can neither read nor write. Still, there is a strong sense of social cohesion in these villages.

The Catholic faith first arrived to what is now the Diocese of Kohima in 1948, with a community of religious sisters. Initially they faced great opposition, and those who embraced the Catholic faith often suffered harsh punishment. As a result, very few dared to approach these sisters. Today, there are approximately 61,000 Catholic faithful, 200 diocesan and religious priests, and 425 religious sisters in the diocese, as well as 54 parishes. And there are also many local vocations, with 250 sisters and 58 priests coming from Indigenous communities.

Renovated in spite of many setbacks

Bishop James Thoppil is concerned above all with the religious formation of the laity, and he has identified a great need for catechists, marriage preparation courses, and intensified work with women, children, and young people, amongst others. But until now, he had no kind of pastoral or training centre for this purpose. A new, befitting centre was out of the question due to cost, therefore he decided to use the building of the former minor seminary. However, this old building required extensive renovations and over the years, the timbers had largely been eaten away by termites. Needless to say, there was much still to do.

Thanks to our generous benefactors who contributed $31,350, the renovations could finally begin. It was far from easy, though. The start of the pandemic threw a wrench in the plans and the builders who came from various parts of the country were forced to return home. Further lockdowns ensued, along with numerous restrictions by the government. Following this, it proved difficult to persuade the workers to return to the project, and this was compounded by the rising costs due to inflation. Despite the many hurdles, work eventually resumed, slowly but surely, with the help of local villagers.

By the end of March 2022, to the great delight of the bishop and all the faithful, the work was finally complete and the centre formally blessed. There was a joyous celebration and even the apostolic nuncio was present. Bishop Thoppil expressed his “immense gratitude” to all who made this possible. May God reward each and every one of you!

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