Australian group sees mercy at Kolkata’s Nirmal Hriday, L’Arche

The group came to India in early February for a pilgrimage with the aim of reinvigorating interfaith dialogue.

Mumbai: Visits to Mother Teresa’s Nirmal Hriday and L’Arche community’s Asha Niketan gave insight about ‘Mercy’ in this Holy Year to a group of Australians.

The group came to India in early February for a pilgrimage with the aim of reinvigorating interfaith dialogue. After visiting Indian shrines of various religions, they return captivated by the selfless Acts of Mercy they witnessed in Kolkata, the last city in their itinerary.

Fr John Dupuche, who chairs the Catholic Interfaith Committee of the Archdiocese of Melbourne and is an expert in Sanskrit and Kashmir Tantric Shaivism, led the eight-member group that included four lay people and three religious.

They halted first in Delhi, where they met several Muslim experts and vetted Islamic texts. This was followed by a visit to Varanasi, the city that symbolises Hinduism. The third stop took them to Bodh Gaya, where they meditated under the Bodhi tree, where, according to tradition, the Buddha attained enlightenment.

Speaking about this leg of the pilgrimage, Fr. Dupuche noted that “there were huge groups from overseas” and so “we were not able to pray together; however, we stood in silence in the presence of the sacred. Silence is also an important aspect of dialogue.”

“This place,” he added, “reminded me of the Holy Sepulchre, the empty tomb in Jerusalem where Jesus rose from the dead.”

The last city they visited was Kolkata, which for Christians symbolises Mother Teresa’s charities. This city was a crucial part of the pilgrimage, because “we did not come here only as pilgrims, but also to serve.”

They visited the Nirmal Hriday, the hospice for the sick, the poor and prostitutes founded by the Blessed in Kalighat, Kolkata, where she served the poorest of the poor.

Mother Teresa’s teachings “are important,” said the clergyman, “not only for Christians but also for all religions; they symbolise inter-faith dialogue. Every religion that serves shows the true depth and meaning of its teachings.”

After visiting L’Arche community in Kolkata, home to people with different disabilities, Fr Dupuche said, “This trip has taught us that serving others, regardless of creed or race, is a source of intense joy and peace. Conversely, religious fundamentalism is not only negative, but also counterproductive. It leads to war rather than peace. What we have to do instead is follow Pope Francis’ call for this Year of Mercy to open doors, minds and the hearts of others.”

Source: CBCP News

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