Agartala 8 Nov, 2015 (matters India): More than nine thousand faithful from all parts of the state converged at Agartala today to be part of the The 7th Annual Eucharistic Procession, making it a record of sorts in the 19 year old diocese.
The day’s program began with a solemn Eucharist officiated by Most Rev Lumen Monteiro, CSC, DD, the Bishop of Agartala along with 35 priests in the presence of many Religious and thousands of lay faithful from different Parishes, at Don Bosco School Grounds, Agartala. The Eucharist was a celebration of faith, God and family, with a melodious choir and meaningful homily.
Recalling the 50th anniversary of the International Eucharistic Congress in Bombay Bishop Lumen offered some reflections on the Eucharist calling it the “fount and apex of Christian life” (Lumen Gentium, n.11). He recalled how Pope St. John Paul II had convoked the Year of the Eucharist in 2004-05 and in his Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia wrote of the Eucharist as being the “most precious possession which the Church can have in her journey through history.” (n.9). Quoting Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai Bishop Lumen said that we must “Appreciate the Eucharist, Live the Eucharist, and Share the Eucharist. Eucharist is the comfort and the pledge of final triumph for those who fight evil and sin; it is the “bread of life” which sustains those who, in turn, become “bread broken for others”, paying at times even with martyrdom their fidelity to the Gospel.” Fr. V.M. Thomas, SDB, Chancellor of Assam Don Bosco University, Provincial of Guwahati Province and National CRI President was the special guest. Fr. Rodney Borneo and Fr. Jilson, CSC, animated the congregation and led the Praise and Worship segment. The crowd comprising the young and the elderly who had come in large numbers from all parishes of the Diocese made it truly a ‘diocesan’ event. Many of them expressed their joy in seeing the large number of priests and religious and were taken up by the size of the crowd, a first of its kind for the Diocese, in terms of numbers.
“Tears flowed from my eyes out of joy, after seeing such a large crowd gathered in the name of Jesus in our Tripura”, said Mr. Kishor Kumar Uchoi, one of the faithful. The huge crowd at the procession brought to the mind of Mr. Dominic Jamatia, the years he spent in Shillong. “Before I used to see such a big crowd of Catholics gathered in thousands only in Shillong; now Tripura also has such a big number of Catholics and I feel very proud to be one of them” said Mr. Jamatia. Mr. Sandhna John Jamatia a teacher by profession from Khumlung Parish expressed happiness at being able to “walk along with thousands of (my) Catholic brothers and sisters, praising God as one family under one umbrella”.
For the past seven years the Eucharistic Procession has been happening uniterruptedly making it now an eagerly awaited annual rallying point for all Catholics of the Diocese. Each year, a particular route is chosen for the procession and all preparations are done well in advance. The AICU wing of the Diocese takes leadership in the preparation and organization of the event.
Expressing his desire for more of such programs, Mr Lala Halam said, “It is good to have this kind of Eucharistic procession, to show our Catholic presence in Tripura. People will see and they will come to know about Christians better”.
For the clergy, priests and religious of the Diocese too, the annual procession is an important event in their calendar. Fr Shaji, CSC, Parish Priest of Bagbasa Parish is emphatic when he sums up this year’s procession, “I felt the whole program was well organized and the response of the faithful was way more than what I had anticipated. Calling it a ‘unique’ event, Sr. Teresa Nongkseh says, “What makes this unique and different from other processions is, here I feel that Jesus is walking along with us and I feel happy about it.”
Agartala, one of the 15 dioceses of Northeast India, comprises the entire state of Tripura, home to over 3.6 million people. Erected in 1996 the Diocese of Agartala now has 20 parishes.