Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 30, 2008
Eucharist crucial to 'miracle of Chotanagpur,' says cardinal
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
"For the early Christians, the Eucharist lost much of its meaning if it did not inspire compassion, mercy and love,"
In 1845, the first Christian missionaries arrived, but Toppo said they had little success. Though some Tribals eventually became baptized, it was only after the arrival of Jesuit missionaries 30 years later that the Christian faith grew.
He singled out Jesuit Father Constant Lievens, who is now known as the apostle of Chotanagpur.
When Lievens arrived, there were 56 Christians in the area. When he died seven years later of exhaustion and tuberculosis, the region counted 80,000 baptized Catholics and more than 20,000 catechumens, the cardinal said.
He credited their success to the way the Catholic missionaries "understood, celebrated and lived the Eucharist."
The Loreto Nuns followed the Jesuits to the Tribal region and soon attracted indigenous women, he said. They formed their own order in Ranchi called The Daughters of St. Anne. This indigenous religious order has grown to 1,000 sisters present in 23 dioceses.
The extraordinary growth of Christianity in the tribal region is known as "the miracle of Chotanagpur." Christians in the Tribal area comprise 10 per cent of the 18 million Catholics in India.
Mother Teresa of Kolkata "is part of this miracle, too," he said.
When two Albanian Jesuits returned home to give a talk at a school, the future Mother Teresa, then teenaged schoolgirl named Agnes, heard their stories of the Kolkata mission that included the Ranchi area. She later joined the Loreto Nuns in order to come to India, he said.
Toppo said he later got to meet Mother Teresa and have her accompany him in his car. He knew she had been working late the previous night. He asked her where she got her strength. "Her reply came with a bullet-like speed: Jesus in the Eucharist," he said.
The cardinal is known in India for helping the poor through detox programs, education, and assistance for lepers. He has also fought against the illegal caste system that still plays a role in Indian life. He also supports a network to support needy children.
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